Posts Tagged ‘john calvin’


The following excerpt is from Calvin’s Institutes where he makes a clear logical case for infant baptism. This is not his end all argument but one of the many he uses in contra the Anabaptists of his time. Enjoy!

“In order to gain a stronger footing here, they add, that baptism is a sacrament of penitence and faith, and as neither of these is applicable to tender infancy, we must beware of rendering its meaning empty and vain, by admitting infants to the communion of baptism. But these darts are directed more against God than against us; since the fact that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture, (Jer. 4:4.) Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faith, (Rom. 4:11.) Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give any thing to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say, then, that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptism, unless men choose to clamour against an institution of God. But as in all his acts, so here also, enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature,—a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the fact, that children are baptized for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. This answer at once overthrows all the objections which are twisted against us out of the meaning of baptism; for instance, the title by which Paul distinguishes it when he terms it the “washing of regeneration and renewing,” (Tit. 3:5.) Hence they argue, that it is not to be given to any but to those who are capable of such feelings. But we, on the other hand, may object, that neither ought circumcision, which is designated regeneration, to be conferred on any but the regenerate. In this way, we shall condemn a divine institution. Thus, as we have already hinted, all the arguments which tend to shake circumcision are of no force in assailing baptism. Nor can they escape by saying, that everything which rests on the authority of God is absolutely fixed, though there should be no reason for it, but that this reverence is not due to pædobaptism, nor other similar things which are not recommended to us by the express word of God. They always remain caught in this dilemma. The command of God to circumcise infants was either legitimate and exempt from cavil, or deserved reprehension. If there was nothing incompetent or absurd in it, no absurdity can be shown in the observance of pædobaptism.”

John Calvin, vol. 3, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 369-70.

Here was Calvin’s argument in case anyone missed it.

Calvin had just argued that X can be applied to children. Anticipating objections, he mentions one that argues that X cannot be applied to children because X is a sign (think symbol, not evidence) of repentance and since infants cannot experience repentance, they therefore cannot receive a symbol of repentance.

How does Calvin answer this objection?

Calvin, assuming that the objector accepts the Bible as the word of God and accepting their premise that X is a sign of repentance, reduces the argument to an absurdity by pointing out that Y was also a sign of repentance (X=Y) and yet God commanded Y to be applied to infants.

Given that X=Y (only in the case that both served as a sign of repentance) how then can one thing be conceded to Y but not be conceded to X?

It can’t!

So then, what should a rebuttal to this argument look like? How can one get around it?

Logically, one can not get around it. It is impossible. Does logical validity constitute truth however? No.

So that leaves an objector to explain why one or more of the premises are false. In other words, as far as this argument goes, one needs to explain why X is not a sign of repentance and/or why Y is not.

Advertisements

Mangled History

In the age old debate between Calvinist and Arminians you have good thorough scholarly work on both sides though disagreement arises in the exegetical (interpretation) portion of such writings. But then you have what you mostly see on the internet, what I like to call “internet theologians” and I’m using the word “theologian” very lightly in reference to these individuals. What you will find is that these self proclaimed “teachers” in their blind zeal do not actually do their homework and research before attempting to come against other points of view and or doctrine they disagree with, they don’t read original sources but instead depend on second and third party sources such as other internet theologians and self proclaimed teachers and they also base their theological backg round information and teaching on Wikipedia in doing so misinterpret not only the view they have taken up to critique but also with this lens misinterpret scripture to back their claims up, the blind leading the blind. In the debate world this is called a strawman argument which means that they build a weak and false version of the view they are attempting to attack hence the straws and then they proceed to tear down this strawman they have falsely built and then proclaim some type of victory or sound critique when in fact what they did was actually attack and tear down a point of view of their own imagination, not dealing with the actual arguments of the proposed view and not only that but also, and what is more disturbing, accuse the other view of error by attempting to use church history but what is actually being taught by these guys is historical opinion based on unhistorical events. This type of rhetoric is really frustrating for those who actually know what they believe because all it does is complicate the matter worse and tends to keep honest discussion going in circles and people talking past each other. This type of stuff is what you mostly see on blogs and Internet articles that attempt to discredit Reformed theology and or Calvinism. It is with this in mind that I will attempt to tackle a few recent articles written by a fellow blogger whose HipHop name is Justparadox which is also his screen name not sure what his real name is actually, who uses such erroneous techniques to proclaim a sound defense against Calvinism. The first part of this critique of his critique will then focus on the inaccurate historical statements. All in all I am contemplating that this entire critique will consist of 3 or 4 parts but we will just have to see. You can read these critiques for yourself at his blog paradoxparables.wordpress.com for further reading.

Why have I taken it upon myself to focus on this brother’s article out of the plethora of erroneous articles out there? Well, because this brother is part of my culture and pretty much have the same audience not to mention like myself he is also a member of a pretty large Christian hip hop community that gather at a website called Holy Culture Radio and also contributes to the message boards there where these things are discussed ad naseum. For those who don’t know me, I don’t claim to be some scholar or heavy theologian, yet hehe, so my critiques will not be so intellectual and professional that I omit my own character in it, I am going to be myself and speak as I always do speaking the truth in love, with a hint of sarcasm and comedy lol…

So then, first and foremost this part of my critique will consist of simply showing the historical errors this individual has made concerning Calvinism and its effects on the Church, people usually just cut to the chase and engage in a proof-text war with each other but I would like to take a different approach and start with the critiques use of history to support its assertions and false claims. I will be quoting him extensively to leave no room for speculation or claims of misrepresentation and will quote him as each misrepresentation appears chronologically in his article, his words will be in blue. Let us begin……..

Historical fallacies in part 1 of Justparadox’s critique

“To understand the Calvinistic Order of Salvation (Ordo Salutis) you have to understand the Catholic Ordo Salutis and Catechism.”

Really? How so? Where is his sources for such assertions? On the contrary the Ordo Salutis that is taught by Reformed theology is found in Romans 8:29-30 and has nothing whatsoever to do with a parallel or response to the so called Catholic ordo salutis and or their Catechism. The Romans passage reads as follows:

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

This is what we call the Golden Chain of Salvation aka the Order of Salvation aka Ordo Salutis (Latin). Foreknowledge(fore loving not foreknowing our actions) predestination, calling, justification, glorification and all these ALREADY DONE in a true believer, the only step missing is Sanctification which is a ongoing process through the power of the Holy Spirit in us though technically also already done since it is God that gives us the want and ability to walk according to His statutes and His law that is ENGRAVED in our hearts.

“I’ve heard the debates for and against Arminianism and Calvinism and have always took a more balanced approach than either side takes this is not a new discussion just one that needs to be revisited in favor of balance and real reform, not just “Reformed” Catholicism. Martin Luther’s goal was to Reform Catholicism not repent and return to pre-Catholic biblical faith.”

“Martin Luther never sought to leave the Catholic Church, therefore all his followers are Reformed Catholics whether Episcopalian, Lutheran or any other form of Reformed follower of Martin Luther or his disciples.”

Here is our first example of his poor use of history but even worse his self claim of omniscience since he claims to know Luther’s heart in asserting that Luther’s goal was not to repent and return to pre-Catholic truth. Serious students of theology and Church history know that this statement is false reformed or not. While it is true that Luther wanted to Reform the Roman Catholic Church, his main objective was in fact to bring Rome back to the scriptures and eliminate all the man made traditions and man made sacraments of Rome as evident in his famous 95 thesis that he nailed to the castle church of Wittenburg. Most importantly what struck Luther was the phrase in the book of Romans that read “the just shall live by faith” and realized that faith is the sole means of justification and salvation without works of which Rome vigorously taught and in doing so Luther indeed did repent of his traditions of Rome and false teachings which resulted in his excommunication from Rome and enflamed the zealous fire of the Reformation. In other words since Rome did not accept Luther’s revisions and reform he was kicked out of the Roman Church his life also being threatened and Luther started a reformation of the people instead which spread like wild across Europe. Therefore Luthers and the Reformers main objective and teachings were to actually return to pre-Roman Catholic biblical faith hence the Great Reformation of the 16th century and its latin slogan POST TENEBRAS LUX when translated means AFTER DARKNESS LIGHT and what they meant by that is that the Church was in biblical darkness for many years but now has the Holy Spirit brought them back to its Biblical truth with its Light of the True Gospel. Thank God for Luther and the Reformation or we will still be worship ping Mary and praying to statues of saints which is Idolatry.

As far as his calling us reformed folk “Reformed Catholics” I don’t mind accepting that label as long as it is understood that it is NOT Roman Catholic and being the fact that the term “catholic” means Universal, therefore “Reformed Catholic” meaning the Universal Reformed Church. Lets move on then.

“The founders of many pseudo Christian cults (Jehovah’s Witnesses & 7th Day Adventist for one) have used this doctrine as a spring board to start anti-Christian doctrines.”

Now this assertion is extremely false and not even close to being a historical fact. I was almost not going to even entertain this assertion but for the sake of the uninformed I thought it would be best to at least say a little sumtin sumtin bout it, lol.

First of all, these cultic movements did not appear til like 200yrs later. Second of all, 7th day adventist are purely Arminian in their soteriology and heretical in their view of the atonement. Third and most importantly, the “spring board” that started the JW movement was their heretical view of the person of Christ (Arianism resurge) not double predestination which again the JW’s are Arminian to the core in their soteriology hence why I am baffled by such claims as this as an attempt to poison the well of Calvinism and make us look like something we are not. If you read his article you will see no actual sources for these claims whatsoever.

“Calvin’s first point asserts that the entire human (body, and soul, intellect and will) are fallen and helpless, passive and dead.”

This statement shows the lack of research in this paper. Calvin did not formulate the Doctrines of Grace aka 5 points of Calvinism a thorough investigation would have corrected this mistake. What’s interesting is that he got it right the first time in the beginning of this paper where he stated that the 5 points were a response to the Arminian 5 points of Remonstrance but then turns around and states that it was Calvin. I scratch my head and wonder if the writer of this paper even understands or is paying attention to what he is reading instead of just searching for points to attack, well I am not omniscient so I don’t know but it just seems that way.

“The inappropriate and false teachings of predestination have caused many to turn to false religions and paganism and as such are doctrines that do cause offense.”

Again, where is the proof? Where is his sources? Was there a consensus done to come up with this statistic? This is also a mere assertion that holds no weight.

“Calvin makes this his first point as a point of contention yet they seem to be in agreement at least in essence in the first part that man can not save himself.”

Once again this is incorrect. Calvin did not formulate the 5 points and so it cannot be stated that the first point of Calvinism was Calvins first point of contention, this is not a fact nor historical truth.

“The term saint was used for believers who were walking in the way of the Sect of the Nazarene, some came and some went, they are the foundation for the true Church.”

Wrong, the term “saint” was most vigourously used by the Apostle Paul to identify and refer to ALL Christians world-wide as found in most of his epistles, lets take a look a few:

Romans 1:7
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor. 1:2
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

2 Cor. 1:1
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

Ephesians 1:1
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful [1] in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 1:1
1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants [1] of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers [2] and deacons: [3]

I assume you guys get the point.

Now the following statements by Justparadox were in response to my replies in his blogsite where he posted this paper. These few will also be historical errors one or two restated from above comments.

“Reformed theology has spawned the Jehovah’s Witness and Seventh Day Adventist, because the hard line they take both cults reacted to Calvinistic over reactions. Bet you didn’t know that.”

This is a reiteration of an above comment he made that I already spoke to. But suffice it to say once again that this assertion is false and unhistorical and once again, where are his resources for making such an assumption? He has none but probably false bias websites who make such false claims against Calvinism to make the system look evil, pure absurdity if you ask me. This tactic is dishonest and unscholarly.

“Martin Luther was only a reformed Catholic, the reformation didn’t fulfill its call to return to the first love it only reformed some bad Catholicism and kept other bad doctrine.”

Lol, he asserted something similar above to which I also already responded to. But let me add that the SOLE purpose of the reformation was in fact to return to sound biblical teaching as evident in the Reformers deeds and writings, now whether you agree with Reformed theology or not thats a different case but to claim that Luther and the Reformers (John Calvin, Zwingli, Knox to name a few) intention was to only remove some bad Catholicism is utterly ridiculous and false.

I conclude this first part with some advice to those seeking to really understands these debates and or disagreements. Really simple, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! No really if you are going to engage in study of this subject or ANY subject then actually study and thoroughly read the actual writings and works of what it is you are studying whether it be Calvinism, Eschatology, Apologetics or whatever, be of sound mind and actually do honest justice to what the subject at hand.

To be continued……………………..part 2 dealing with the strawmen and false charactitures next……stay tuned