Why I Am A Calvinist

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  1. Shaun Sells says:

    My first, first.

    Now I will read the article!

  2. Shaun Sells says:

    Ok, now I have read it. I had no idea that you were booted from two denoms. Facinating and scary. What a blessing your pain has turned into in both your life and the life of others.

  3. brian says:

    I am not really a Calvinist I often struggle being considered a human being. I do not want sympathy a sin one can not ever recover, but I did struggle with being on of God’s eternal enemies. It is a profound thing to be told one hates God from eternity past. Even before I drew breath I loathed God and was His eternal enemy. I could not bring myself to hate God as was my cast. I wanted to love God, now I know that is irrelevant in the apologetic but in my reality I bed God daily not to hate me. It is a profound thing to pray to God not to hate you. Even thinking God hates you is hard to conceived. Not for me I always assumed God hated my guts from day one, basically because that is what I was taught. Basically God created me to burn in hell and I should get over it an burn with dignity as a heathen.

    As an apologetic it is effective thus supporting its use.But I could not bring myself to loath God, a moral failing on my part, if I would grow a pair I would blaspheme God and get it over. Take on my low falling as a creature of Satan. I never got that. I have begged daily to be forgiven, to no avail. now I have tried to repent of needing forgiveness, because needing is weakness of the worst kind. But I get lost in our, no your Gospel. Is that not what the gospel is about? I still do not get why needing the Gospel is such a vile sin, I understand it is, and it is, but I dont get it. On my soul I really dont get it, I never have.

  4. dansk says:

    I have known a few Calvinists.

    I have never known one any to be near as genuinely respectful of non-Calvinists as you are.

    Is there some large group of less supercilious Calvinists out there who, like you, are genuinely respectful of the beliefs of non-Calvinists?

    Or are you unusual in that regard?

    If so, why?

  5. michael in Chandler says:

    Michael et al,

    It might be helpful and enlightening to have a point by point discussion on the Five Points. Some of those who declare and extole the virtues of Calvinism may be suprised at the ‘mystery’ with which the system deals with the contradictions. Among the topics that might get better play would probably be the limited atonement and unconditional election. As you can prob tell, I am not a fan of Calvin, Pink, or Packer.

  6. Lutheran says:

    While I’m not a moderator or anything, I think it behooves each of us to review what Michael wrote at the start of the first of these “Why I Believe” posts:

    “Today we begin a series of celebrations…celebrating and learning about traditions other than our own.

    Eugene Peterson wrote wisely:

    “Maturity develops in worship as we develop in friendship with the friends of God, not just our preferred friends.

    Worship shapes us not only individually but as a community, a church. If we are going to grow up into Christ we have to do it in the company of everyone who is responding to the call of God.

    Whether we happen to like them or not has nothing to do with it.”

    Hopefully we’ll learn to like each other as well…”

  7. Lutheran says:

    Michael: Is there any one best book that you’d recommend for someone about the life of John Calvin?

  8. papias says:

    “The years have mellowed me…I went through the “cage stage” where when one sees the beauty of freedom in the doctrines of grace they try to convert everyone to their systematic theology and need to be caged till they calm down.”

    I love the cage stage! I wish we could temper that enthusiasm and keep it under lock and key until they see the other side of Calvinism – the “I’m more reformed than you are…”

    I still don’t think Calvin would believe in Limited Atonement… 😉

  9. papias says:

    Lutheran – I read

    I thought it was pretty good.

    There’s a bunch of Calvin bios out there.

  10. Lutheran says:

    Packer’s book “Knowing God” is a classic. I read it as a college student and it has had a huge impact on how I see God and His ways.

    I would guess that the large majority of educated evangelicals are Calvinists, at least in some measure. That’s because most of them are Reformed (by that I mean they come from the Reformation churches). Here I’m thinking of Anglicans, Lutherans and Presbyterians, who make up much of the educated class. For example, the editors at CT…

  11. papias says:

    Lutheran – That book I recommended – I found it at my library.

    Better when you don’t have to buy and you only have to borrow! 😉

  12. Lutheran says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Papias. I’ll see if our library system has it.

  13. Tim says:

    Michael –
    Thanks for sharing your story! I especially like this quote:

    “My God can’t be controlled or even partially understood…He is God and I am not and as my teacher says when we don’t understand something, that is a call to worship.”

    Amen to that. God cannot be contained in any systematic theology. Infinity has a tough time being kooped up like that.

  14. Na'amah says:

    The Cage-stage…. socks sticking out of the well packed theological suitcase.

    makes me giggle…who would ever think a Calvinist would make someone giggle?! must be bad PR or something.

    thank you Michael

  15. Fred says:

    “I would guess that the large majority of educated evangelicals are Calvinists, …Here I’m thinking of Anglicans, Lutherans and Presbyterians, who make up much of the educated class.”

    Wow! I have not read such a statement in awhile, and I am the number one promoter of education and knowing God’s written scriptures I know.

    While I’m not speechless, I am controlling what I would like to say.

  16. Lutheran says:

    Aw, c’mon, Fred…

    You didn’t want another humdrum day on PP, did you?

    Glad it got you going…


  17. Michael says:


    I’m going to write a follow up on this called “Why I Don’t Fit Anywhere”.

    Humility and ecumenicism do not come easily to Calvinists…probably because of the fact that they are generally confessionalists.

    We tend to think we have it down…but God disabused me of that notion long ago.

  18. Michael says:


    I second Papias recommendation…Seiderhuis has written the best of all the Calvin bios.

  19. Michael says:


    Calvin did not hold to limited atonement.

    Calvin held to a universal atonement with a limited application.

    I’ll come out of the closet…I agree with Calvin and hope Packer forgives me. 🙂

  20. Captain Kevin says:

    Re-reading Packer’s Knowing God this summer. Good stuff…no wonder it’s a classic!

    Thanks for the write-up Michael! Especially this:

    “The truth that nothing either good or evil could happen to me without first passing through a nail scarred hand was the truth that set me free…free to risk, free to love, free to enjoy my liberty in Him,free to fail…free to really live.”

  21. filbertz says:

    I’m unclear as to the pressing need some feel to have everyone subscribe to one system of thought/belief. A gem is pretty boring if it doesn’t have many facets. Architecture is awfully boring when one style predominates. Our physical body has more than one circulatory system, the blood and the lymphatic, and they work in harmony though they are very different from each other. Few things in life are single in perspective, Christian theology being one of them. “I just want to be right” needs to be replaced with the higher calling “I just want to love better.” Unity doesn’t require uniformity.

  22. Em says:

    ahem, if we look around, most of the ‘educated’ class are Roman Catholic, Jewish or Mormon from where i sit. Among the Protestants, maybe just that nebulous category called ‘evangelical,’ we kill and eat our young… we don’t mentor and educate them in “worldly” disciplines… IMO

    or were we just talking about educated in the Faith? 😀

  23. Captain Kevin says:

    michael in Chandler,
    It’s all been discussed before, so let’s not go there.

  24. Captain Kevin says:


  25. Em says:

    Michael, i don’t want to hex your #19 with my ‘amen.’ But… amen – it’s the only logical conclusion and it carries over into other aspects of that question, “who can be saved?” IMO – again 😉

  26. Michael says:


    I wish I’d said that… 🙂

  27. Michael says:


    Calvin taught election and predestination…but when it came to the scope of the death of Christ he is very clear, it was for all men.

    All men do not receive all of it’s benefits, but Christ died for all.

  28. Em says:

    filbert, for man the joy is in the search, the growth – it’s sad when any puny little man announces “here it is; i’ve figured it all out, everybody!” The atonement (“Christ and Him crucified”) is the only universal truth that all men can grasp, i suspect – that and our depravity … and we even have trouble with that – sigh

  29. Em says:

    Michael, Calvin was right as i see it 😀 – the debt was paid for all mankind and now what stands between us and God is our own self-justifying arrogance of heart

    predestination? maybe we should just take that out in the backyard and bury it? seems like it causes an awful lot of unnecessary angst – dunno… obviously God knows and obviously we don’t

    just sayin – again

  30. Believe says:

    Wow. Such good stuff. Really enjoying this series.

    …got to say, that so far, I relate to Michael’s journey most closely, not to discount others and their journey or to invalidate others…not at all.

    There’s a real peace that comes with knowing that God is…and I am not. There is a comfort in God’s Sovereignty…and a mystery in the doctrines of Grace.

    Whenever I start taking my eyes off of God’s Sovereignty…it’s like Peter looking at the waves.

  31. Em says:

    i was Presbyterian bred, but not one of the faithful, i guess…

  32. Tim says:

    Em –
    I guess you just didn’t persevere. 😉

  33. Michael says:


    I embrace the doctrines of election and Calvinistic predestination because I do believe they are biblical.

    I have absolutely no problem with God doing the choosing…if He is the God of the Scriptures, who else would you want to call the shots? 🙂

  34. Michael says:


    The sovereignty of God is the pillow I lay my head on…someone else said that first, but I can’t remember who.

    It’s still true.

  35. Em says:

    Michael, experientially they make sense to me, also… but i’m sure not qualified to debate or defend them… which God may hold me accountable for – dunno yet

    Tim, 🙂 nope, guess not; that just proves election and predestination, eh? … 😆

  36. Em says:

    i’m looking forward to a good read here later today – praying for more Christ

  37. ryan couch says:

    Good stuff Michael…Sproul has a book called “What is Reformed Theology” that might be helpful to those looking to explore that tradition.

    Desiring God has some seminars as well.

  38. Michael says:

    I greatly respect Dr. Sproul…but I think Packers “Knowing God” is still and will always be, the best book ever written from a Calvinistic perspective.

  39. Babylon's Dread says:

    Thanks for the frame….now I get the picture a bit more clearly… and the limited atonement thing is REAL helpful as most of us have had it pressed upon us that without that piece the cards fall. I have some struggles with this package as you know and happen to be a fallen Calvinist… as it lost itself for me in a number of ways.

    1. Election as pertaining to individual destinies… it pertained to the seed.
    2. Sovereignty of God as precluding random acts… permission vs precision
    3. Hyper-depravity…dead in sin does not mean unable to receive revelation
    4. Faith …comes by hearing and seeing… not by choosing and willing

    I can go on but for the most part I love the mild Calvinism that sustains people in distress it is working out the details of that logically that puts me into distress.

  40. Babylon's Dread says:


    #39 spoken with the real affection of a son… but surely there is room for greater expression in different seasons…

  41. Michael says:


    Perhaps… 🙂

    I turn to Packer because he is firm in both his convictions and his love for all who call on the name of Christ.

    Some Calvinists are not so irenic…

  42. Babylon's Dread says:

    None of my response was intended as a polemic nor as a desire to debate…

    My respect for the scriptural tenacity of Calvin’s kin is unrivaled.
    And it has no better representative that our own Michael….

  43. Michael says:

    michael in chandler,

    I won’t get into a debate about the five points…I don’t believe that one can honestly boil theology down to sound bites or bullet points.

    Calvin didn’t…so I don’t have to either. 🙂

  44. Michael says:


    Thank you…we’re waiting for your article. 🙂

  45. dansk says:

    Well, that explains it.

    In my experience, a four-pointer is to a five-pointer as a human being is to an android (not the phone).

    You can have lunch and laugh with with four-pointer.

    I love ’em both, but hopefully we can all agree that they are very different creatures.

  46. Xenia says:

    I enjoyed reading your story, Michael. As you know, my Church preaches free will but look at this prayer that is in many EO prayer books and that I myself try to pray each morning:

    O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.

    At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.

    Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.

    Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

    O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

  47. Michael says:


    Four pointers and five pointers end up in the same place, they just take different routes to get there.

    There is great pressure in Reformed theology to conform to a given standard and it’s easier to conform than to be scorned.

    Me…I’m used to scorn. 🙂

  48. Michael says:

    Xenia…whoa…that was worth coming here today just to read that.

    I think I just found my new morning prayer… thank you!

  49. Babylon's Dread says:

    Yes Michael…every time I write I have to go back with the admonition… “Half as long” so I am trimming….and slimming

  50. Michael says:

    Weakest points of Calvinism in my eyes…very little room for experiential faith and a very small view of worship…and we can be arrogant as hell.

  51. Michael says:


    As long as I know it’s coming… 🙂

    Don’t worry about length…I am so proud of our readers for being willing to read these testimonies despite their size.

    Our readers are smarter than most. 🙂

  52. Michael says:

    I am off to job search and then to the warm environs of the skatepark. 🙂

  53. papias says:

    Michael – On your job search…sent you an email.

  54. Josh Hamrick says:

    Good article Michael, and may I commend everyone here…the discussion has been uplifting.

    As far as Calvinism goes, I basically am one. I hold pretty tightly to the 4 points, depending on how they are worded. However, most of my 5-pointer friends still refer to me as an Arminian…and we know that to most Calvinists that can be translated to “unsaved”. Oh well.

    In the end, I am sure there are good and bad Calvinists alike, just as there are good baptists and Ergun Caner, good renewal guys and Todd Bentley, etc. My experience has largely been with the bad sort, and has kept me from ever claiming the name as my own.

  55. Captain Kevin says:

    Praying for your job search, Michael.

    Thank you for posting that prayer. Wish I’d had that about five hours ago!

  56. Michael says:

    Papias…where did you send it?

  57. Michael says:


    If we regarded it as our job, not simply to present Christ, but actually to produce converts – to evangelize, not only faithfully, but also successfully – our approach to evangelism would become pragmatic and calculating… This shows the danger of forgetting the practical implications of God’s sovereignty.  It is right to recognize our responsibility to engage in aggressive evangelism.  It is right to desire the conversion of unbelievers… But it is not right when we take it on us to do more than God has given us to do.  It is not right when we regard ourselves as responsible for securing converts, and look to our own enterprise and techniques to accomplish what only God can accomplish.  To do that is to intrude ourselves into the office of the Holy Ghost, and to exalt ourselves as agents of the new birth.  And the point that we must see is this: only by letting our knowledge of God’s sovereignty control the way in which we plan, and pray, and work in His service, can we avoid becoming guilty of this fault.  For where we are not consciously relying on God, there we shall inevitably be found relying on ourselves, (pg. 27-29).

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As a Lutheran, I am a weak 1.5 pointer. 🙂

  59. Em says:

    “O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.”

    can i pray that and just add: “and all those other things Xenia posted, too, Lord.” 😕

  60. Em says:

    MLD never posts without a point 🙂 so now he’s got me wondering just what one and a half points he’s referring to….

    we had a pointer once, german shepherds are easier to live with…

  61. Em says:

    3 dogs in a row… time for me to get busy here for awhile and quit avoiding “stuff” that requires my brain

  62. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My one point is total Depravity.
    My 1/2 point is unconditional election (of the saved) – I drop the 2nd half of election of some to reprobation.

    Although it may sound a little inconsistent one must remeber that Lutherans think in different categories (surprise!) but had the theology figured out before the Reformed decided to have their intra mural dispute. 🙂

  63. Michael says:

    What he meant to say was that Calvin clarified Luther… 🙂

    Well, maybe not…

  64. mike macon says:

    I’d also like to put in a plug for the Selderhuis book. Very engaging, written from the perspective not of Calvin’s theological writings so much, but from the perspective of his personal letters. Quite the insight into his mind and heart; brings a lot into perspective.

  65. Augustine says:

    Hi dansk,

    Most of us Calvinists are very respectful of the positions of others, just as most non-Calvinists are like Oden and Dave, very respectful of our positions. The problem is, as with most things, the rude people on the various sides tend to get the most attention because they scream the loudest.

  66. dansk says:

    That may be true, Augustine, but some subcultures value being right, and above all certainty, whilst other subcultures value being loving, and embrace ambiguity.

    I find it reasonable that the subcultures that value certainty and rightness are more vulnerable to smugness.

    Most Calvinists are white males who got the “revelation” at age 25, plus or minus 8 years.

    Of course you can point to the rare woman or person of another race that had that same epiphany, at perhaps another age, but that does not disprove the pattern.

    Calvinism is a pathology of the maturing male Caucasian brain and its predilection for order.

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “That may be true, Augustine, but some subcultures value being right, ”
    So yours values being wrong?

  68. Em says:

    at the risk of sounding like a seer of some kind – i’ve really been convicted by the Holy Spirit all this afternoon – strange sense of ‘not right’ with Him
    when i posted my #59, i was thinking that i was not awake enough to remember that prayer early morning and in posting a quip, i had an ‘oops’ moment – i walked on something that God holds sacred – strange indeed, maybe it’s just that i’m tired today, dunno tho
    would it sound too weird if i said what is being discussed here on this thread is Holy ground today?

  69. Em says:

    dansk,”Calvinism is a pathology of the maturing male Caucasian brain and its predilection for order.” a beautiful thing IMO … doesn’t God send a spirit of confusion when He’s displeased? Or knows we can’t handle “it”?

  70. Michael says:


    Thats not weird at all….

  71. Em says:

    well, for me it is…

  72. Believe says:

    Dansk said, “Calvinism is a pathology of the maturing male Caucasian brain and its predilection for order.”

    That’s an interesting assertion…and “pathology” is a rather cynical conclusion.

    …is “Calvinism” simply a discovery of what exists in Scripture…or a Theological machination imposed on Scripture?

    I believe I know Dansk’s answer…

    When applying the Greater Truth principle to competing “truths” within Scripture…many of Calvin’s presuppositions make “sense” within a framework of “reason”…whereas the Arminian positions are virtually illogical when faced with competing “truths”.

  73. Believe says:

    …the only sound Arminian argument I’ve entertained is the postulate that God is Self-Limiting.

  74. Believe says:

    …any takers?

  75. Tim says:

    Believe –
    I’m not sure you’ll get too many responses on that one. Not too many people here (that I know of) self-identify as Arminian.

  76. Xenia says:

    Believe, I’m not an Arminian because that’s a Protestant term but I do belong to a Church that believes in free will. We say free will is a gift from God which we can either use for good or for evil. Our goal should be to conform our wills to God’s will.

  77. Believe says:

    X, what Scripture do you cite as your main proof text that man necessarily has free will…defining “free will” as the ability for man to initiate regeneration…meaning causality for regeneration resides in man’s “free will” to choose in a position of preeminence to God?

  78. SC says:

    One simple name when thinking of Calvin, Servetus.

  79. Mark says:

    Believe- not to answer for Xenia- but although I do not agree with your characterization that “free will” puts man in a position of preeminence to God, I would start by citing Luke 23:39-43- the thief on the cross. One chose Jesus and was saved- the other rejected Jesus and was condemned. Also- Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” There is an invitation given- and an action of free will required to accept it. Also- your statement that Man initiates regeneration is not a correct summary of the free will argument. In MT 16:17 Jesus is clear that it was God that showed Peter that Jesus was Messiah. There is some kind of mysterious meeting of the Holy Spirit with our Spirit when we come to believe. It is not all us – but we are not removed from the equation either.

    I do not intend that this thread be taken over with this debate- I was blessed by Michael’s story- as he shared how the Word of God was opened up to him in a whle new way. That is what we all should be seeking. Michael acknowledges that there are “chinks” in his system, just as I acknowledge there are chinks in the free will system. Let’s not turn this thread into a debate over the chinks. 🙂

  80. Believe says:

    Mark…thanks. That’s why I quit posting last night…came to the same conclusion…not a time for debate. Michael’s post is pure (in heart terms) and debate isn’t appropriate now.

    X, I respect you greatly…and disagreement over “Theological/Doctrinal” issues is just that…my opinion…Regeneration and Salvation are Supernatural…and it doesn’t matter if one comprehends “correctly” how it happened or not. When you are saved you are saved…and I sure believe you are, FWIW.

    …I also accept the fact that what I believe (Theologically) I believe accepting that I may be wrong and you may be right…or we may both be wrong in some form or we may both be right in some form.

    The only things I know for certain: God Is, I am not God…Jesus Christ is Messiah…and Salvation is through Him.

    ….I did find Dansk’s comment to be offensive (“pathology”), which set the tone, IMO, for debate mode…but, I’ll let it go.

  81. centorian says:

    Wow, tossed out of two denominations….. One for cussing, the other for sipping kahlua… and then you became a Calvinist….lol!!!! stay cool….. 8)

  82. Believe says:

    Centy…Michael is like the James Dean of “Churchdom”…and he may be one of the “most interesting mans in the world”… 8)

  83. Pardon the Interruption says:

    This point is absolutely brilliant:

    “Calvinism is a pathology of the maturing male Caucasian brain and its predilection for order.”

    I might add, however, what you call “pathology” could also be called “maturity” in some cases.

  84. Em says:

    SC, since i’m the only one here this morning… it is odd that one who is so devoted to the papacy would use the proud, stubborn heretic Servetus as a benchmark… Calvin’s value lies in what his devoted study of the Faith has brought us, not in his omnipotence or infallibility IMO
    one of the biggest traps we fall into as Believers is to look for men to follow – we learn from men as we can, but we follow the Lord

  85. Em says:

    well, i thot i was the only one here… good morning, PTI and amen to your #83

  86. Pardon the Interruption says:

    Personally, sometimes I’m sad that Servetus lost the argument. And he really did love John Calvin.

  87. Rev 3:16 says:

    Michael, I went to the key life site.
    There’s a lot of stuff!
    Any particular beginning point you recommend?

  88. mike macon says:

    The point of these “Why Am I…” posts was to celebrate and learn of traditions not necessarily our own. To begin to debate those traditions on these threads is to miss the point entirely.

    Do more research on the Servetus issue, BTW, before bringing it up again.

  89. Lutheran says:

    One simple name when “thinking” (used very loosely) of a sixth grade assertion: “moronic.”

  90. Pardon the Interruption says:


    What’s your point regarding “more research”?

  91. Michael says:

    Rev 3:16,

    The book I mentioned “If God Is In Charge” or “Born Free”.

    I’ve given away many copies of both.

  92. mike macon says:

    That was in response to linking Calvin’s name with Servetus – which is usually done pejorative sense.

    The actual story of Servetus is far more complicated than what anti-Calvinist writers make it out to be…and Calvin’s actions on behalf of Servetus militates strongly against the canard that Calvin executed or caused his execution.

  93. Michael says:

    I’m going to waste what little use of my hands I have left this morning and talk about Servetus and the 16th century.

    During this time in Europe, the church and state acted together.
    Heresy wasn’t just a religious issue, it was a state issue, because heresy could destabilize things politically.
    Heresy was considered an act of sedition.
    Servetus spent the better part of twenty years baiting Calvin and trashing orthodox Christianity.
    Calvin at one point went to Paris to meet with Servetus at his invitation to reason with him out of care for his soul, despite the fact that Calvin had a price on his head.
    Servetus stood him up for his efforts.
    To get to Geneva, Servetus had to escape from a Catholic prison where he was scheduled for execution by Rome.
    He went to Geneva, was arrested ,tried and convicted by the city council for heresy.
    Calvin represented the church as the prosecutor…he had no other role as he was not yet even a Genevan citizen.
    The rest of the Reformed cantons were asked what the sentence should be and they all agreed that the man should be put to death.
    We can argue that this was a terrible mixture of politics and the church…and perhaps it was.
    Arguing about what should have ben in the 16th century from the 21st is rather pointless…

  94. mike macon says:

    Also, Servetus’ views were almost universally condemned, not only by Catholics and Protestants, but by the Lutherans as well.

    We may condemn the breach of freedom of conscience (a concept which really didn’t exist at that time), but the fact remains that if Servetus was alive today, he would still rightly be considered an enemy of the Gospel.

  95. Pardon the Interruption says:


    A “canard”? No.

    As in much history, there is disagreement concerning the facts of Servetus and Calvin. I have seen Calvinist Apologists ( read: James White) not able to properly cope with facts placed before them by Muslims and Christians alike who also happen to oppose the doctrine of the Trinity.

    Servetus fled from Roman Inquisition for a supposed freedom in Geneva from a man, Calvin, he admired and loved. Was he perfect? Not at all. Neither was Luther or Calvin, though.

  96. Lutheran says:


    Great point.

    Servetus denied the Trinity, among other things. And as Michael said, it was more than doctrine — it was a church/state thing — dynamics were much different back then.

    “Arguing about what should have ben in the 16th century from the 21st is rather pointless…” Unless you want to score a cheap point.

    I wish people would consider historical context before they make shallow judgments.

    “Reformed churchmen reacted promptly and harshly to events that seemed to threaten either church or state…

    “Calvin’s condemnation of Servetus was all too typical of Christians in the sixteenth century. Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics all believed that protection of true religion
    required harsh measures against the ignorant, the immoral, and the unorthodox.”
    (Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries, by Thomas F.X. Noble, p. 427)

  97. Pardon the Interruption says:

    To me, the real clash between Calvin and Servetus was that of the Trinity. Can God be compartmentalized? Just my view, though.

  98. Michael says:


    Servetus hated Calvin…we have many letters and documents to clearly show that.

    I don’t know where you’re getting your history, but you may want to find another source.

  99. Pardon the Interruption says:

    A relationship that began in civility, even admiration, ended in flames.

    I’m not debating this any further.

    Apologies for not broaching the subject with greater sensitivity.

  100. SC says:

    It’s funny the reactions one gets when Servetus is brought up, kind of like the reaction he stirred in his time. My guess is one is either pro-Calvin or anti-Calvin in this situation, there appears to be no middle ground.

    As far as Servetus being non-trinitarian, that is true. I believe his biggest plus was his push to return people to a more “gospel” oriented approach and less big church to Christian living. I will also guess that really was the biggest “heresy” of the time and caused the RCC to work with Calvin in prosecuting him.

    Oh and history records Calvin demanded Servetus death by the sword, beheading, and the civil government decided to burn him SLOWLY at the stake. They used green wood.

    Also do not forget Calvin is often referred to as the “Protestant Pope” as a reference to the extent of his authority amongst reformed church and governments of the time.

    Glad those days of church authority are over.

    Yes he also was Calvin’s number one critique, publicly and privately.


  101. SC says:


    History shows Servetus was captured in Geneva, where he had gone to hear Calvin preach. The RCC had captured him previous to this but he had escaped.

    Would he be an enemy to the gospel today, as Mike Macon states? I don’t know, you might compare his teachings to TD Jakes, and his many followers. People die but ideas can carry on.

  102. Michael says:

    What’s funny is that on my computer I have over a thousand volumes that are related to Calvin and Calvin studies.

    My bookshelves are full of the same including the most recent research from the library in Geneva.

    Your post is 85% in complete error, but I’m sure you know better than I .

  103. SC says:

    What 85%? Since I mention very little and all of it, except my idea about the “biggest heresy,” is right out of history.

    You are very sensitive about it, which is why I made the post because there are others who really don’t see Calvin as a complete hero of the faith. You need to lighten up a bit. Servetus is a part of Calvin’s history and is recorded quite well and I have not refuted any of what you have written.

    BTW I have always respected the views of Calvin and do have his writings on my computer also. I’m just not in the camp of complete 4 or 5 pointers. But I coudln’t publicly say that in his time, which is the beauty of ours.


  104. Michael says:

    Let’s take two examples of error.

    “Oh and history records Calvin demanded Servetus death by the sword, beheading, and the civil government decided to burn him SLOWLY at the stake. They used green wood.

    Also do not forget Calvin is often referred to as the “Protestant Pope” as a reference to the extent of his authority amongst reformed church and governments of the time.”

    Calvin requested mercy for Servetus by beheading…the council had passed the sentence of burning.
    Calvin could demand nothing, as he was not even a Genevan citizen.

    As to his influence and the ridiculous “Protestant pope” reference, the reality is that he had no more influence at the time than Martin Bucer, Pierre Viret and many others.

    I’m done now…it’s not Calvin that I’m defensive about, it’s being accurate with history.

  105. Pardon the Interruption says:

    Modalism just should not be the big bad boogey man that Christiandom has made it out to be. Mystery is good. And this is coming from a guy who loves the far reaching implications of Trinitarian Doctrine. Just my view, though.

  106. Pardon the Interruption says:

    If memory serves me correct, Calvin advocated for a more humane death. For the record.

  107. SC says:


    You are being sensitive to Calvin.

    The record I read was Calvin called for Servetus death as a heretic nearly seven years prior to the court and during the trial itself.

    Over 30 years ago I was taught about the authority of Calvin and the term “Protestant Pope” while in University. Oh and it was not a religious University so the prejudice of denominations was not an issue. Plus even a simple “google” of the internet will many reference to both of these positions.

    “Servetus has just sent me a long volume of his ravings. If I consent he will come here, but I will not give my word for if he comes here, if my authority is worth anything, I will never permit him to depart alive ” Letter to friend, W. Farel, 1546

    Court 1553

    “I hope that sentence of death will at least be passed on him; but I desired that the severity of the punishment be mitigated.” Letter to friend, W. Farel, in response to court actions, 1553

    The mitigation was death by the blade.

    Things are much better today!

  108. London says:

    My bookshelf is better than your bookshelf….

    such a Calvinistic thing to say 😉

  109. Believe says:

    …Bookshelf Envy. 8)

  110. papias says:

    “My bookshelves are full of the same including the most recent research from the library in Geneva.”

    I want to get a library card from THERE!

    SC – can you take your rantings on Severtus elsewhere? This is a thread to celebrate and perhaps discuss some of Michaels “distinctives”. Read a balanced historical book on Calvin – I recommended one earlier in the thread.

  111. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The best way to handle this is to accept the “good, the bad and the ugly” of these church “biggies”. I can accept all of the jerky things Luther did (either claim he was drunk or a man of his times) and still follow the good teachings etc.
    The actions of these guys are set in real time history – you cannot judge them by today’s standards.

  112. JimB says:


    Thanks for sharing your tradition and how you arrived at it. I won’t dispute with you your points of doctrine since you and I have sparred many times over the years. I do have to say that prior to getting to know you I had one view of what a “Calvinist” was like that had been framed by contact with web sites and books of Calvinists, and this was not a complimentary view. However, having seen how you have chosen to approach different traditions and your realization of the complimentary nature of various traditions, I now view Calvinism in a much better light. I have some disagreements with you about things like limited atonement, how predestination works, and how a man’s will is affected by God. But, I don’t consider you any less of a saint or any less of an effective Christian as a result of your beliefs. So, that is all to say that I have learned a lot from you and respect what God is doing through your life. Keep up the good work!

  113. SC says:


    So at PP one can’t rant, as you claim, (personally I think I have been am still am very calm and relaxed over the subject with no ranting or yelling), since a large portion of this site is filled with “rants” and far more vial words than I have spoken today.

    Basically I agree and respect with many of the writings of men like Calvin, Luther, Augustine, yada yada yada, and it these abuses are why I can never be called a Calvinist, Lutheran or such. I identify with parts of their teachings but not with their actions and therefore their names.

    MLD – We can judge them by the standards of scriptures and I believe history is doing so without any present day cultural revisionism.

    OK I will take off and celebrate elsewhere papias.

    Jesus is Lord and the only Name over all!

  114. Michael says:

    Thank you,JimB.
    My apologies for indulging in the my library is bigger than yours game to the rest.

  115. Believe says:

    …yikes. I’ve got a problem with the “we can’t judge their actions…context to the times, etc.”

    Embrace the error. They were men, they sinned, they were wrong. You don’t need “context” to say they were wrong in some areas and on some issues. “Wrong” doesn’t necessarily require historical context…”wrong” is timeless, IMO.

    …just as today…the ends don’t justify the means.

    King David was far from perfect…however, he confessed and repented when confronted by Nathan…and still suffered consequences. No one that I’m aware of spends time defending David’s legacy…they embrace his sinfulness…and point to his repentance and his reaping of what he sowed…and learn from it.

  116. Believe says:

    [Sarcasm Alert]:

    SC, absolutely no ranting allowed! 🙂

  117. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    King David was a man of his times – that is why he had wives and concubines – whereas if my pastor tried that today, we would judge him by present times.
    Besides I said to accept the “good, the bad and the ugly.”
    SC wants to discard these guys based on their bad acts regardless of the good.

  118. Believe says:

    MLD said, “that is why he had wives and concubines – whereas if my pastor tried that today, we would judge him by present times”

    You aren’t suggesting it was “right” are you? Just that it was socially acceptable during David’s Vapor…correct?

  119. Believe says:

    …there’s a difference, IMO, between “right” and “socially/politically accepted”….

  120. papias says:

    My apologies SC. Please forgive me.

    I was feeling a little bit frustrated and I took it out on you and your comments.

  121. Believe says:

    For instance…Slavery in America was at one time “socially and politically acceptable”…yet it was “wrong”.

  122. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Just as blasphemy was a capital offense during the days of Luther & Calvin.

  123. Believe says:

    Luther’s bigotry towards Jews was “socially and politically acceptable” in his Vapor…but it was still “wrong”.

    King David’s multiple wives and concubines was “socially and politically acceptable”…but it was still “wrong”.

    The Pharisees and there actions and heart that Jesus addressed in Matthew 23 was “socially and politically acceptable”…but they were still “wrong”.

    …and so on and so forth.

  124. Believe says:

    Just because something is deemed “legal” and socially/politically acceptable in our Vapor…does not make it “right” in the eyes of God…i.e. Abortion.

  125. Em says:

    MLD,”The actions of these guys are set in real time history – you cannot judge them by today’s standards”…

    good words …

  126. Believe says:

    Potential response, “But God told the Israelites to kill the Amalekite women and children…isn’t that ‘wrong'”?

  127. Em says:

    thinking… if we cannot judge our neighbor (yes, if he commits murder we can say that’s a bad thing), how can we possibly judge those who’ve been long gone from the scene?
    we can’t police the dead, all we can do is examine what they’ve left us in ideas… and try to let their earthly conduct – RIP

    was going to use Adolph Hitler as an exception, but i won’t 😆

  128. Believe says:

    Does “right” and “wrong” change over time…in different Vapors? Is “right” and “wrong” absolute…or relative?

  129. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Believe, you seem to miss the point. I included “the bad and the ugly” in my statement, but I am willing to look at the whole body of work. SC seems to be indicating that Calvin loses all standing because of the incident with Servetus.
    So, do you stand with me or SC or somewhere else?

  130. London says:

    No apology for the book shelf comment needed Michael. I thought it was funny!

  131. Believe says:

    MLD, I find myself agreeing with parts of both arguments….and am still wrestling with it.

  132. Em says:

    Believe, i’ll take the bait – but better thots than my obvious thots will follow…

    1- God believed in killing and it was a time to kill
    (i know: “He’s not ‘willing’ that any should perish – different chapter)
    2- His Church in whom the Holy Spirit dwells has another mission entirely and it is never the time for us to kill in the name of our Savior. He’ll do it when He gets back, tho – so pray for the lost…

  133. Believe says:

    The whole “right” and “wrong” argument…in terms of objective/absolute vs. subjective/relative has serious Theological implications…

  134. Pardon the Interruption says:


    You are framing SC’s words wrong as you seek to be his/her spokesman.

    SC never said the incident with Servetus causes Calvin to lose all credibility.

    Just some of it. 😉

  135. Believe says:

    Em, regarding the Amalekites…I’ve wrestled with that one before.

    We know God is perfect…and cannot sin.

    We know that God does not command us to sin.

    Therefore, it is only logical that God’s command to the Israelites was just and holy.

    Therefore, the killing of women and children in the context of “war” with God’s “enemies” is not sin and not wrong.

    Tough to fathom and resolve…but the logic, assuming one believes in the attributes of God and that God is perfect…is hard to argue.

  136. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You could be right, however, SC seemed to discount Calvinism altoether based on Calvin’s actions toward Servetus.

  137. Pardon the Interruption says:


    “BTW I have always respected the views of Calvin and do have his writings on my computer also.”- SC.

  138. Em says:

    it might shock us all to know just how many murders we have committed over our lifetimes…

  139. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    PTI, having Calvin on your computer is not nearly as affirming as having the books. 😉

  140. Believe says:

    MLD…I’ve got the scrolls…top that 😆

  141. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Believe, let’s try this one – American slave holders, who treated their slaves well. Right or Wrong?

  142. Pardon the Interruption says:


    Did they ever have some kind of Jubilee or Year of Release? No. So they were wrong.

  143. Believe says:

    MLD…I’ve wrestled with that one before 🙂 Not a very PC argument…and it was “wrong” IMO for American slave owners to have owned any slaves (whether they treated their slaves well or not), but there is much Scriptural support for it being “right”…which begs many more questions…

    When one really takes an honest look at “right” vs. “wrong” and “absolute” vs. “relative”…one can end up in some places well outside the comfort zone…

    …which brings me back to the “consensus” argument I’ve made on here many times before. 🙂

  144. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    That was Israel under the old covenant – do you think that Philemon was under those statutes?

  145. Believe says:

    …this discussion winds in the direction of Catholic Theology and Venial vs. Mortal sin and “knowing” something is “wrong” for it to be sin…interestingly enough.

  146. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Believe, you are taking it too far – no one is excusing anyone’s sin or misapplication of liberty. What I am saying is that when we look back it is easy to point the finger at others who were doing what their “times” called for and it is not just a case of “going out to sin.”

    As I tried to say, blasphemey was a capital crime (which it is not today), so if Calvin called for the death of Servetus he was following the laws of the land and there was nothing contrary to God’s word going on.

  147. Believe says:

    MLD said, “As I tried to say, blasphemey was a capital crime (which it is not today), so if Calvin called for the death of Servetus he was following the laws of the land and there was nothing contrary to God’s word going on.”

    So, that makes Man’s Law preeminent?

    How does one pick and choose? The OT had lots of punishments for disobedience…stoning etc…

  148. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Can you show me God’s word that outlaws blasphemy as a capital offense? As far as I know, it may have still been in effect.
    If it is, are we following man’s law by not putting blasphemers to death today?

  149. Believe says:

    MLD said, “If it is, are we following man’s law by not putting blasphemers to death today?”

    …now you’re asking some serious questions…:smile:

    …so if Man says Abortion is okey dokey…does that make it necessarily right? If “Sanctity of Life” is a Biblical Principle…and Man’s Law is “wrong”…is it incumbent on Bible Believers/Christ Followers to use their God-given Stewardship to influence a Nation’s Man-Made Laws?

    …you knew we’d end up renewing this discussion between us 🙂

  150. Believe says:

    We seem to lean on “context” when defending certain positions…and when we have the power to influence the “context” of our Vapor by influencing the Man-Made Laws and “consensus” of our day…some recoil to a position of inaction or apathy.

  151. Believe says:

    ….what did Jesus our Christ mean when He said, “I did not come to destroy the Law and Prophets but to fulfill them…”?

  152. Em says:

    Believe et al, if i may interject, it seems to me there is a line dividing The Law and the host of commandments recorded… wouldn’t you agree that Jesus did fulfill The Law? He lived it? …and, of course, the Prophets, ie “prophesy” are obvious IM (shallow) Opinion

    nap time ( if finished 5/6ths of my work today and my head is swimming – so you’re all safe from my pontificating anymore … for now) 😀

  153. Em says:

    also,… 😉
    we are now, no longer, under the curse of The Law, eh? – Praise His mighty Salvation!

  154. Believe says:

    The Law…in the context of “right” vs. “wrong”…not the yoke of the Law for Salvation…

  155. Believe says:

    …we are saved by Grace through Faith…however, every jot and tittle of the Law still stands…as a guideline for “right” vs. “wrong”…does it not?

    …while none of us can fulfill the Law ourselves…Jesus did not eliminate “right” vs. “wrong”…He took our place to pay the penalty for sin.

  156. Em says:

    Believe, yep, that’s the way i see it, too 😉 – but there’s a lifetime of truth to be mined and pondered below that overview, isn’t there?

  157. Na'amah says:

    ok perhaps i am being ‘remedial’ asking this…but i am impacted by the previous posts by (her initials elude me at the moment) the Catholic poster and i know Jesus fulfilled the law, the law is meant to convict us and draw us to Him…

    so… i continue to sin after my initial recognition of His sacrifice for my sin… so is there a belief in some theologies that my sins after ‘knowing’ are not covered by the work on the Cross and require some other intervention or act on my part other than confession…

    this even ‘sounds’ remedial to me but my sense of security is grounded in He covered my failings and i pursue to become more like Him in my life… and now…

    reading Packer’s Knowing God (and Hunter’s book and a growing list 🙂 )

    will probably require extensive ‘debriefing’ by the end of my summer reading list

  158. BrianD says:

    Good job, Dread…and Michael, and Xenia, and MLD!

    Linkathon will be at my blog in 2 hours…replay here at 10 PT/1 ET

  159. Augustine says:

    I am really enjoying the series and most of the comments.

    But don’t worry, Michael. My name is not a-changing.

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