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Calvinism: Did John Calvin kill rival theologians?

Gary Googe Mar 27

No, he apparently didn’t do that himself, but history tells us he certainly said and taught things that promoted it, leading others to do it.  Calvin specifically justified the execution of people he disagreed with theologically, speaking of them as heretics deserving to die.  He even quoted and used Scripture like this first passage we’ll note to justify his views—

Leviticus 24:16

16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger [speaking of unbelieving Gentiles], as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. [Emphasis added]

It is passages like this that remind us of the importance of understanding and applying the principle of right division stated by the apostle Paul.

2 Timothy 2:15

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

Calvin appears to have known absolutely nothing about the right division of Scripture.  Are we today to abide by commands like the one above stated in Leviticus of the Law of Moses? Are we to believe we’re under that system of law today? Certainly, there are moral principles that are stated in what is typically called the Old Testament that have and will continue to be for all people of any and every generation.  For instance, such things as theft and murder will always not only be sinful but criminal.  But are we today under the judicial system of that law that was given to Israel by God through Moses? We are not! We are not Israel!  We are not spiritual Israel or any other kind of Israel.  We, like other Gentile nations, are a part of this century and have our own set of principles God has given us through a man called the apostle Paul.  Note what he said about this to Gentile believers in the Roman province of Galatia [modern day Turkey].

Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

To redeem them that were under the law [speaking of the Mosaic Law], that we might receive the adoption of sons. [Emphasis added]

Here he’s speaking of THEM that were under the law, not us today.  Believers today are not under God’s condemnation.  Spiritually we have been delivered of that.

Romans 8:1

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul plainly states that we are not under the Mosaic Law today.  Instead, we are said to be under grace

Romans 6:14-15

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. [Emphasis added]

We are today living in a time which is called the Dispensation of the Grace of God.  That system was provided of God through the revelation and writings of the one known as the apostle Paul.

Ephesians 3:1-3

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [MUSTERION = mystery or secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words, [Emphasis added]

So far as the moral principles of the law are concerned, nothing ever changes on that.  However, the judicial system of the Mosaic Law is not authorized of God for us today.  All nations are free to make their own laws and penalties for wrongdoing. Stealing is stealing, murder is murder, and so on but the citizens and governments of nations are free to determine what the penalties will be for such crimes.  In other words, nations can certainly learn many good things about laws and justice from the Law of Moses but they’re free to create their own judicial system.  That system is used to punish criminals and to deter other people from committing those crimes.  The apostle Paul speaks of this.

Romans 13:1-7

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

In other words, God authorizes governments to create their own judicial system so as to have what we typically speak of as law and order.

For rulers [of government] are not a terror to good works, but to the evil [those committing crimes]. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power [those in authority]? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God [public servants of God] to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil [speaking of what is thought to be criminal activity], be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Yes, God uses even unbelievers in government to administer justice.  When this passage was written there was a Roman government in place. Unlawful citizens were at times executed by decapitation [the sword] while unlawful noncitizens were crucified.  Here we are informed that these authorities, even today, serve temporally as public servants of God.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath [for fear of being punished], but also for conscience sake [because we know that certain things are wrong, even criminal].

For this cause pay ye tribute [taxes] also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. [Emphasis added]

Certain acts are wrong for everyone at any time in history.  But the Mosaic Law with all its judicial and ceremonial laws have now been set aside as a prescribed way of life for God’s people.  We know this through the special revelation God gave to the apostle Paul about it. It is in his writings that we find God’s orders for His people today.  Here is a small portion of what he says to us about this.

Romans 6:12-16

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield ye your members [the various part of your body] as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Then, again, we have this statement that so clearly lets us know that we are under a different system today.

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law [speaking of the Mosaic Law and what it represents as a system of law], but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? [Emphasis added]

John Calvin’s interpretation of the Bible didn’t set certain parts of it aside as they should be.  He taught many things that are contrary to the teachings of the apostle Paul.  In fact, here’s a short summary of two of Calvin’s false teachings.  He seemed to pull away from the first one of these two in his later years, but by then so much damage had already been done.  We see that damage even today when people go by this teaching, speaking of themselves as five-point Calvinists.  You can find out a lot more about why his teachings are false by reading articles about it all on this website—4Us2UsMinistries.com.  Here is the name of one of the articles.

Calvinism:  Is it a false teaching?

1–John Calvin taught that Jesus Christ didn’t die for the sins of all people.  This, of course, has a devastating effect on evangelism. The good news of our message today is that ANYONE can be saved because Christ died for ALL, not just some.  How do you honestly tell someone they can be saved if you’re not even sure God made provision for it at the cross and through Christ’s resurrection.  In giving the gospel message, aren’t we supposed to tell people Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again to provide a way for their salvation? Isn’t that the heart of our gospel message? We see that in what Paul reminded believers in his letter to the Corinthian church.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Five-point Calvinism asserts that Christ didn’t die for everyone or even most people.  But look at what the Scriptures tell us.

1 Timothy 2:4-6

Who will [THELO = desires] have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]

Doesn’t “all” mean anyone and everyone? Furthermore, where in the Bible are we told that we’re to just assume or hope this was done for people we present with the gospel message? We are not! Instead, we’re to tell people that because of His love God sent His Son to die for ALL people, paying the full penalty for their sins.  Not only Paul but even the apostle John taught this.

1 John 2:2

And he [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation [the one who satisfied the justice of God] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]

Doesn’t “the whole world” mean everyone, with no exceptions? Aren’t we told that this is the fundamental reason why God sent His Son into the world? It surely is! But according to Calvinism and what is often spoken of as Reformed Theology, such is not the case.  This fundamental teaching of Scripture is rejected by these people.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Emphasis added]

2–Coinciding with this first item is Calvins’s teaching that only some are elected or chosen for salvation while for all others it has been predetermined of God that they’ll spend eternity in hell and The Lake of Fire.  Even though it seems many of them don’t like to admit it, this is definitely the teaching of pure Calvinism.  I should know because I’m a graduate of a seminary where I spent three years listening to this teaching and was tested on it. I didn’t believe it then or now, but I surely had to learn it.  So, I’m quite familiar with the Scripture they use and abuse to justify their beliefs.

What is very important to know about how these people use Scripture is to realize that they have their own set of made-up definitions for certain words they use to back up their beliefs.  For instance, to them all doesn’t mean ALL without exception and the word world doesn’t refer to ALL mankind.  To them, “all” means all the ones God has preselected and “world” means all those God has predetermined or predestined for His salvation and blessing. 

Does the Bible teach predestination? Yes, it surely does, but not the way Calvinists teach it! What has been predetermined is the eternal destiny of all those who accept God’s provision for their salvationIt has been predetermined that all those who will accept His provision for their salvation will obtain it and get to enjoy His blessing forever. There are several passages that speak of all this.

Romans 8:28-30

28 And we know [by our knowledge of God’s actions in the past] that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Being “called” is speaking of being one who is elected IN CHRIST for this blessing.

29 For whom he did foreknow [ones he foreknew would freely choose to believe the gospel message], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. [Emphasis added]

It is personal faith expressed in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that is the sole basis for one’s salvation that guarantees this for anyone.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us [those who have accepted Him and His provision by personal faith] with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world [this provision was made for us in eternity past as ones who would freely choose to believe in Him for our salvation], that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [a position of privilege] by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

This speaks of the certainty of this blessing He’ll provide for each and every one who accepts His provision.

To the praise of the glory of his grace [because we didn’t earn it or deserve it], wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. [Emphasis added]

Again, it is simple faith in His provision for us that makes all this come to pass.  The bottom line to all this is the need people have to personally accept Jesus Christ as their Savior to gain God’s blessing.  Positionally we as believers already possess these things because of our relationship with Christ in salvation.

Ephesians 1:11

11 In whom [speaking of Christ as the means] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [Emphasis added]

Again, positionally this blessing is already ours.  When we step into Heaven, we’ll then get to experience the reality of this.  It was God who determined that this blessing of salvation would be provided for all who freely choose to believe the apostle Paul’s gospel message.  What a great and wonderful God we serve!

Acts 4:27-28

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. [Emphasis added]

Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 2:7

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [Emphasis added]

All this demonstrates the greatness of our God.  It should not surprise us that He is able to bring all these things to pass without controlling us as though we were His robots.  Never let anyone, any Calvinist lead you to believe that we don’t have free will.  How else would He be able to justly hold us responsible for anything if it was otherwise.  Furthermore, what would be the basis for any reward for us if He was totally responsible for somehow causing us to do what we may do in service to Him.  It is because of such matters that the psalmist was caused to utter these following words.

Psalm 145:3

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. [Emphasis added]

But John Calvin and Reformed Theology would have us believe God robotically predetermined EVERYTHING.  Truly God is sovereign! But that doesn’t mean He chose to make us all a bunch of robots only doing what He predetermined.  Here, again, these people make up their own definitions for words.  To say that God is sovereign is simply to say that He has the wisdom, power, and authority to do anything He chooses with His creation. But, as I’ve stated, He is the one who chose to give man free will by which to determine whether we’d accept or reject God’s provision for salvation and so much more.  Some of many examples of this are seen in passages like these next ones I’ll mention.

Deuteronomy 30:14-16

14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

God gave people then the freedom to choose just as He gives people that freedom of choice today.

16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. [Emphasis added]

In every generation man is free to choose to obey or disobey what God has commanded. But what would be the point of such commands if it was God who predetermined what man would do? God made man with volition, having both a positive and a negative pole.  He’s given man the freedom to choose either way.  Such was true before man’s fall into sin and still now.  There’s no Scripture that tells us that ever changed because of man’s fall into sin.  He still has free will.  Both before and after his fall into sin man exerts the freedom to choose.  This is one of the most important issues of man’s life.

From times past God has issued warnings to man, telling him that if he chose to resist His will there would be undesirable consequences.

1 Kings 9:6-7

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:

Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: [Emphasis added]

Again, what would be the point of such statements if it was God who was actually the One determining all that man was going to do? But such were John Calvin’s beliefs and teachings.  He believed God was the cause of all sin and evil.  Here are Calvin’s own words about it.

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what He has knowingly and willingly decreed.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

Then here’s more.

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to His own wisdom, He decreed what He was to do, and now by His power executes what He decreed.  Hence, we maintain that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which He has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, paragraph 8)

He often spoke of these things in his writings.

“Thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which He has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, paragraph 5)

Is this how the Bible defines God? Is this what we’re to believe about Him? Certainly, He PERMITS sin and evil, but are we to believe God is the AUTHOR of these things? God’s role regarding sin and evil is never as their author! There’s certainly plenty of evidence that He permits evil agents to work in every generation.  He has even at times overruled them for His own wise reasons to make them all work together for a greater good [Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11]. But God is never the One causing sin and evil. Because he is a responsible creature, man will be judged by his self-determined deeds.  This is true for believers and unbelievers.  For unbelievers we have Revelation 20:11-15.  Please see my article about it.

Judgment:  Who will be at the last one?

Then there’s the judgment you as a believer need to be concerned about and prepared for.   

2 Corinthians 5:10

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [Emphasis added]

This is referring to those things WE have freely chosen to do, not things God predetermined that we would do.  For more details you can read about this judgment in my article about it on our website at 4Us2UsMinistries.com.

Rewards:  For what will God wish to reward you in eternity?


Again, as a graduate of a seminary where I was thoroughly taught and tested on the teachings of John Calvin and others who had and have similar beliefs, I’m very familiar with this teaching.  I’m also very familiar with the fact that this man was completely intolerant of anyone who disagreed with him. He was not one who would patiently discuss his differences with people who promoted competing ideas.  Calvin requested beheadings, made death threats, and praised God for orchestrating the torture of these people.  He spelled out his vengeance in a personal letter that is quite revealing of his thinking—

“I am persuaded that it is not without the special will of God that, apart from any verdict of the judges, the criminals have endured protracted torment at the hands of the executioner.” (John Calvin’s letter to William Farel)

These “criminals” he spoke of were simply people who disagreed with his teaching.  If you’re one who has followed the path of John Calvin’s thinking, I hope you’ll give some honest and objective thought about the things I’ve written in this article and my others.  You’ll find well over a dozen other articles on this website that address this subject and the fallacies of that which is typically called Reformed Theology and/or Calvinism. Here are the names of some more besides the ones I’ve already mentioned in this article.

Calvinism:  What is it all about?

Calvinism:  Does God love ALL mankind?

Hell:  Are there people there for whom Christ died?

Hell:  Does God pick and choose who’s going there?

These articles are here to be a help to you and others.  Thank you for reading this one!

All I’ve said in this article isn’t to say that everything John Calvin taught was wrong.  By no means! But much of what he taught clearly didn’t and doesn’t line up with Scripture, particularly the teachings of the apostle Paul which are ones specifically addressed to us today.  Even the general teachings of Christ during His earthly ministry were ones Calvin and others rejected. Here are some examples of that.

Matthew 5:43-44

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [Emphasis added]

John Calvin went way beyond arguing with people who didn’t agree with him.  He was in no way compliant with the directives of Scripture on this.

2 Timothy 2:24-25

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive [MACHOMAI = fight or quarrel]; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves [ANTIDIATITHEMI = people who place themselves in opposition to]; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [Emphasis added]

No, Calvin was out for the blood of those who opposed his teaching.  He was not one to discuss his areas of disagreement with them.  Instead, he requested beheadings, made death threats, and praised God for the torture of all those he believed to be heretics. Aren’t we all glad that such people are not allowed to carry out such things today in America! We all need to pray and work to keep things this way.

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