John Calvin: The Accidental Reformer

ZA Blog on 5 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

John Calvin

John Calvin was a sixteenth century French theologian, best known for his prominent role in the Reformation and his influential theology. More than four and a half centuries after his death, Calvin’s teachings continue to shape Christian beliefs, particularly regarding predestination and God’s absolute sovereignty.

In his lifetime, Calvin became a well-known (and controversial) Christian leader and a major fixture of the Reformation—but that almost didn’t happen. If it hadn’t been for a fateful encounter in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin may have never stepped into the limelight.

In their online course, Church History 2: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day, scholars Frank A. James III and John Woodbridge discuss John Calvin’s life and influence, and expose the moment when his life dramatically changed course in…

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3 Misconceptions of One of the Most Unknown, Fruitful Theological Ideas

Jeremy Bouma on 3 years ago. Tagged under ,,,,,,.

Luis de Molina by Kirk MacGregorMolinism and the doctrinal equivalent of scientia media (middle knowledge) is perhaps one of the more fruitful Reformation-era theological thought-systems that’s largely unknown.

Arminianism, check. Lutheranism, check. Calvinism, big check. But Molinism, named after the Catholic reformer and Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina? Mostly unknown.

Yet, as Kirk MacGregor reveals in his new book Luis de Molina, “Molina’s thought is quite relevant to Christians of all theological stripes, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.” (12) In fact, middle knowledge is “one of the four principal views on divine providence and omniscience, alongside Calvinism, open theism, and simple foreknowledge.” (13)

Perhaps the reason why Molina’s theology is so unknown is because he is largely unknown. While Bainton gave us Here I Stand and Cottret Calvin: A Biography,…

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[Common Places] New Studies in Dogmatics: Election

Oliver Crisp on 3 years ago. Tagged under ,,.


When thinking about the doctrine of election is it impossible not to stand in the shadow of great thinkers that have gone before. Aside from the biblical witness (where the name of St. Paul looms large), there are figures like St. Augustine of Hippo, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Karl Barth. Of these, Calvin and Barth are the ones with whom I have found the most fruitful dialogue. There is debate about Calvin’s position, of course, but not really about the nature of the view he espoused, but more about the implications and consequences of the doctrine of double predestination he avowed. (This is the notion that God predestines some, the elect, to salvation and in some sense predestines the rest of humanity to perdition as the reprobate.) But debate about the shape of Barth’s view as well as…

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[Common Places] The Promise and Prospects of Retrieval: Recent Developments in Protestant Scholasticism

J. Todd Billings on 4 years ago. Tagged under ,,,,.


Many people who think that they despise the theology of John Calvin change their mind once they actually take time to read his writings. I’ve seen it again and again in the classroom—both as a student, and as a teacher.

When this has happened, however, I’ve often heard a warning: Calvin may be biblical, dynamic, and Christ-centered, but steer clear of those seventeenth century “Calvinists.” Rather than going straight to the Bible, they got distracted by the medieval scholastics; rather than being pastoral and Christ-centered, the Reformed Scholastics were rationalists whose writings don’t edify the church.

Twenty years after hearing these warnings in college, I can say that they reveal more about those giving the warnings than the Protestant Scholastics themselves.

There has been a sea change in scholarship on Protestant Scholasticism, and its…

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Developments in My Field of Study — Schreiner Says Luther & Calvin Were Right About Paul

Jeremy Bouma on 5 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

(Can't see the video? Watch it here)

9780310326953In 2010 I had the chance to listen to one of the heavy-hitting voices in one of the most significant developments in Pauline studies, the New Perspective on Paul. That voice was Tom Schreiner, professor of NT studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and contributor to Four Views on the Apostle Paul.

Today Schreiner looks back on this development, particularly how it's grown from an obscure academic subtopic to a more mainstream one in churches.

He also shares what he consideres to be his conclusions on the matter:

One of the things I've argued for and I believe…is that the Reformers were…

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Carolyn Custis James, John Piper and Collin Hansen – Panel Discussion on New Calvinists

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,,,.

This video was posted by Desiring God ministries. Carolyn Custis James, John Piper, and Collin Hansen participated in a panel discussion on the New Calvinists for the Religious Newswriters Association.

There are video and audio clips of John Piper's and Collin Hansen's presentations here. There's also a video of the panel's Q and A time with the newswriters – don't miss it.

Carolyn Custis James (MA, Biblical Studies) travels extensively as a popular speaker for women's conferences, churches, colleges, seminaries, and other Christian organizations. Her ministry organization, Whitby Forum, promotes thoughtful biblical discussion to help men and women serve God together. She is a consulting editor for Zondervan's Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament and author of When Life and Beliefs Collide, The Gospel of Ruth and Lost Women of the Bible.…

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John Calvin’s Institutes: 2.11.1 (on Justification)

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,.

Justification by Faith: First the Definition of the Word and of the Matter

Christ was given to us by God's generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace; namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ's blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ's spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.

Excerpt from Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion 1, ed. McNeill, John T. Westminster, 1960, pg.725

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John Calvin: Why He Would Have Embraced Social-Networking
(and Why We Should, too) by Douglas Estes

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,.

John-Calvin-FB John Calvin is up late reworking some rudiments of the faith and preparing for tomorrow’s lectures.

11 minutes ago · Comment · Like

There is no doubt that John Calvin, had he lived during our time of blogs and tweets, would have fully embraced social-networking technologies—even though he was not known to be a strongly social person.

By all accounts, John Calvin had a choleric personality. As a result, he had a passion for what he felt was truth, and an unending desire to see that truth known. At times, that made Calvin as pleasurable as sandpaper on bare skin, especially to those with whom he disagreed. Due to the success of his ministry, as well as some of his more visible personality flaws, Calvin’s detractors had a great deal of ammunition to use against him.

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John Calvin, Virtual Church Pioneer by Douglas Estes

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,.

(Z Academic welcomes author, pastor, and NT scholar, Douglas Estes, for a week long series on Koinonia!)

Calvin-3 John Calvin was not only one of the church’s greatest trailblazers; he was also one of the virtual church’s leading pioneers. In fact, John Calvin was all about virtual churches. Even though Calvin lived almost a half-millennium before the first virtual church was born, were he alive today he would be a fan—though he also would be unsatisfied with the direction that most virtual churches are taking.

Calvin was a pre-Enlightenment Christian, meaning that he was born before the modern ideal became the mindset in the Western world. As such, he held many non-modern viewpoints about the church. Let’s look at two examples.

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Happy Birthday, John Calvin by Michael E. Wittmer

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

CalvinJ John Calvin is one of the most misunderstood men in church history. Contrary to popular opinion, John Calvin was not:

1. the dictator of Geneva. Calvin did not gain a free hand in Geneva until 1555, when his Libertine opponents miscalculated and allowed French refugees to purchase the right to vote. These refugees were sympathetic to their fellow Frenchman and they swept the Libertines from power. So Calvin only had the run of Geneva for the last nine years of his life. He never became a citizen of the city, but for most of his life was merely a registered alien.

2. the one who burned Michael Servetus at the stake. Servetus was killed in 1553, when the Libertines governed Geneva. Calvin visited Servetus in prison and pleaded with him to recant his views. When Servetus refused, Calvin agreed that he deserved to die, but recommended a less painful beheading. The Libertines, ever looking to antagonize Calvin, opted to burn him instead. It is true that Calvin thought that Servetus should die, but so did most everyone in the 16th century, including the Roman Catholics, who were furious that Servetus had escaped from their Viennese prison, thereby depriving them of the honor of killing him.

Who was John Calvin?

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John Calvin’s Commentary: John 1:6

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,.

6. There was a man sent by God, whose name was John. 7. He came for a testimony, that he might testify of the light; that by him all might believe. John 1:6-7

6. There was a man. The Evangelist now begins to discourse about the manner in which the Son of God was manifested in flesh; and that none may doubt that Christ is the eternal Son of God, he relates that Christ was announced by John the Baptist, as his herald. For not only did Christ exhibit himself to be seen by men, but he chose also to be made known by the testimony and doctrine of John; or rather, God the Father sent this witness before his Christ, that they might more willingly receive the salvation offered by him.

But it might at first sight appear ridiculous…

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John Calvin’s Commentary: Psalm 1:1

ZA Blog on 9 years ago. Tagged under ,.

1. Blessed are they who are upright in their way, walking in the law of Jehovah. Psalm 1:1

1. Blessed are they who are upright. In these words the prophet sets forth the same paradox which we met with at the commencement of the Book of Psalms. All men naturally aspire after happiness, but instead of searching for it in the right path, they designedly prefer wandering up and down through endless by-paths, to their ruin and destruction. The Holy Spirit deservedly condemns this apathy and blindness. And but for man's cupidity, which, with brutish impetuosity, hurries him in the opposite direction, the meaning of the words would appear quite plain to him. And the farther a man wanders from God, the happier does he imagine himself to be; and hence all treat, as a fable, what the Holy Spirit…

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