Brotherly love and Calvin


Calvin, as if standing on the precipice of our good opinion

Some Christians who reject the doctrine of election are loving toward and tolerant of those who believe in it. Others not only reject the doctrine itself but in their genuine zeal for God’s glory hate Calvin, thinking that he not only invented the doctrine but was a murderer, because in Geneva, where he pastored, heretics were executed. (He was an expert witness – or prosecutor – in the case against Michael Servetus, who denied the Deity of Jesus Christ.)

Because of their rejection of God’s work in election and hatred of Calvin, they sometimes do their best to get Christians who believe in election to confess to being a “Calvinist”, even when in most circumstances these people would rather simply bear the name of Christian. They also will try to make a Reformed Christian feel and look guilty if they don’t acknowledge that Calvin had “blood on his hands.”

At the risk of raising a ruckus by writing about this poor sinner saved by grace, I would like to offer some counsel which I want to take myself. At all times, and especially in trigger issues, we need to remember to be careful in what we say – a tough thing to do, and I fail.

James 3:2-3

2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

And the LORD gave us this command:

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

That is, if in their zeal they’ve taken up an offense against John Calvin, they need to examine how much of his history they truly know.

Also, we cannot be filled with hatred toward him and still be walking in the light. Let’s remember God’s mercy toward us. Plus, we’re commanded to love him. (And to pray for James White.)

1 John 5:1

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 

Calvin was a Christian, begotten by the Word of truth, the Gospel. I 💗 my brother. Since the Lord forgave him, should I do less?

There are probably people who want to be called by Calvin’s name as a prideful thing, because of his intellect, and others who idolize him. (I don’t know any.) But there are some who use his name simply to be clear about what they believe, that is, that they believe in God’s election of sinners. And there are some who are cornered, made to admit that just as he did they believe in election and then slandered or injured in the process.

Please allow me to confess my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by calling myself a Christian. This name is my treasure.