CALVIN BELIEVED IN INFANT BAPTISM
Calvin said, "Baptism is properly administered to infants is something owed to them."
CALVIN BELIEVED IN SACRAMENTS EQUAL TO GOD'S WORD
"Therefore, let it be regarded as a settled principle that the sacraments have the same office as the Word of God: to offer and set forth Christ to us, and in him the treasures of heavenly grace."
CALVIN BELIEVED IN AMILLENNIALISM
AND WAS AGAINST PREMILLENNIALISM
Calvin said, "But a little later there followed the Chiliasts, who limited the reign of Christ to a 1000 years. Now their fiction is too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation. And the Apocalypse, from which they undoubtedly drew a pretext for their error, does not support them. For the number 1000 does not apply to the eternal blessedness of the church but only to the various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on the earth."
CALVIN BELIEVED IN PREDESTINATION TO HELL
Calvin said, "We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or death."
CALVIN BELIEVED IN BEING A DICTATOR IN GENEVA
Calvin was forced to flee his native France and eventually found refuge In Geneva. A man of tremendous political and organizational talents, he manipulated himself, and his fellow refugees, into absolute control over the city which gave them protection against the Catholic Inquisition. What came to be known as Calvinism grew out of the policy and writings of John Calvin after he became the ruler and dictator of Geneva, Switzerland (1541-1564).
CALVIN BELIEVED IN RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
The outstanding work of Calvin, from a practical point of view, was his municipal dictatorship in the city of Geneva. The literature on the subject is exhaustive. Striking instances of discipline in Geneva are these:
A man was banished from the city for three months because he heard an ass bray and said jestingly, "He prays a beautiful Psalm."
Three men who had laughed during a sermon were imprisoned for three days.
Three children were punished because they remained outside of a church to eat some cakes.
A child was whipped publicly for calling his mother a thief.
A girl who struck her parents was beheaded.
A person was imprisoned for four days because he wanted to call his child Claude (the name of a Catholic saint) instead of Abraham.
It can be seen from the above that many of the persecutions which John Calvin endured were not for "well doing" (1 Peter 2:15): they were for carrying on like a fool engaged in trying to "bring in his Kingdom."
In Geneva, a secret police was forged under the name of The Consistory. Every home was compulsorily examined and searched. The City was divided into districts and committees of the Consistory were empowered to search and interrogate all residents without previous notice. Attendance at public worship was commanded and watchmen were directed to see that people went to church. The one thing that Calvin did not endorse was religious liberty.
From 1541 to 1546, John Calvin caused 58 people to be executed and seventy six were exiled. His victims ranged in age from 16 to 80. The most common capital offense was the opposition to infant baptism. Today, baptism only for accountable believers, is a Baptist distinctive. In Calvin's time it was punished either by drowning, a drawn out and slow burning at the stake, or beheading. All this was done in public, with city residents compelled to watch the butchery. The executions were spaced out so as to exert a continuing policy of fear and terror. Others were killed for advocating local church autonomy; opposing the tie-in of church and state: and preaching that Christ died for all sinners (unlimited atonement). Press censorship continued in Geneva until the eighteenth century.
THE KILLING OF MICHAEL SERVETUS
It is Servetus1 religious views that we are now concerned with, for that is what got him killed. He was premillennial and rejected Calvin's doctrine of predestination. So far so good. Servetus was also strongly anti-Catholic. He referred to the Mass as "a Satanic monstrosity and an invention of demons." To these sentiments the Reformers could agree. So what was the problem with Servetus? His trouble was twofold: rejection of infant baptism and holding unorthodox views of the Trinity.
According to Servetus, infant baptism was "a doctrine of the Devil, an invention of popery, and a total subversion of Christianity." He wrote two letters to Calvin on adult baptism and exhorted him to follow his example. The marginal, notes against infant baptism that Servetus wrote in Calvin's Institutes were used as evidence against him during his trial. Servetus admitted at his trial that he had referred to infant baptism as a "diabolical invention and infernal falsehood destructive of Christianity." Regarding the Trinity, Servetus was not a Unitarian but had a strange view of the Trinity in a great measure peculiar to himself. Now although Servetus' Trinitarian views were not orthodox; they were by no means criminal. Calvin wrote in a letter, "Servetus lately wrote to me... He takes it upon him to come hither, if it be agreeable to me. But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety, for if he shall come, I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail."
While in Geneva, Servetus made the mistake of attending church on Sunday where he was recognized and arrested. It was on Calvin's information to the magistracy that Servetus was put in prison, which fact Calvin did not deny. The trial lasted over two months and Calvin himself drew up a document of thirty-nine accusations against Servetus.
On the way to the stake, Servetus besought God to pardon his accusers. On account of the use of green oak-wood, Servetus suffered for half an hour. His last words were: "Jesus Christ, thou Son of the eternal God, have mercy on me!" At twelve noon on October 27, 1553, Servetus passed into his eternal destiny. Nine years afterward, Calvin still justified his actions.
The strongest recorded statement from Calvin on the Servetus affair is a 1561 letter from Calvin to the Marquis Paet, high chamberlain to the King of Navarre, in which he says intolerantly:
"Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels, who stir up the people to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard."
The respected Lutheran historian, Mosheim (1694-1755), judged in favor of Servetus. The historian Gibbon remarked: "he was more deeply scandalized at the single execution of Servetus than at the hecatombs which have blazed in the Auto da Fes of Spain and Portugal. The zeal of Calvin seems to have been envenomed by personal malice, and perhaps envy."
A man who would burn another man at the stake for disagreeing with him doctrinally is not a man to be emulated or followed or admired.
WHAT DID CALVIN BELIEVE?
Calvin's Institutes just what it is claimed to be: a Protestant Reformed theology. If you want to know the truth about baptism, the Church, dispensations, the Millennium, or the Second Coming of Christ: don't waste your time looking for them in Calvin's Institutes. One of the few books in the Bible that Calvin never wrote a commentary on was the Book of Revelation - he acknowledged that he couldn't understand it.
The Reformed Faith is an amalgamation of biblical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and allegorical speculations. When Loraine Boettner wrote his book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, he told the plain truth: "predestination in the Calvinistic system is a Reformed doctrine just like the Catholic Mass is a Catholic doctrine."
THE HARM DONE BY CALVINISM HERESY
Among Baptists, the Five Points of Calvinism are often called the "Doctrines of Grace" to remove the stigma of being associated with the baby-sprinkling John Calvin.
In dealing with the Five Points of Calvinism, It is certainly fitting that five is the number of death, so the Five Points of Calvinism will kill anything near it. Just as it takes no keen intellect to see that five is the biblical number of death, so no insight is necessary, other than an ability to read the Bible, to see the flagrant perversion that the Five Points of Calvinism make of Holy Scripture. Satan, the angel of death is the fifth cherub (Ezek 28:14) and has the power of death (Heb 2:14). The first man dies in Genesis 5:5. In Acts 5:5, Ananias dies after being asked five questions about his sin ("The wages of sin is death" [Rom 6:23]). Paul was whipped five times (2 Cor 11:24). Jesus Christ had five wounds. In Revelation chapter five, we see the Lamb that was slain (Rev 5). During the Tribulation, locusts will torment men for five months (Rev 9:5) until they seek death (Rev 9:6). When the fifth seal was opened, John saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain (Rev 6:9). There were five men stoned in the Bible that died. The "sin unto death" is in First John chapter five. The greatest chapter in the Bible on death, describing two men whose deaths affected billions of people, is Romans chapter five.
The Five Points of Calvinism are the sum and substance of the Calvinistic system: it is the distinguishing mark which separates Calvinists from all other Christians. This is stated in no uncertain terms by the Calvinists themselves. Boettner says, "The Calvinistic system especially emphasizes five distinct doctrines. These are technically known as the Five Points of Calvinism, and they are the main pillar on which the superstructure rests."
Calvinism goes into a realm of human philosophy. It is NOT a Bible doctrine, but a system of human philosophy appealing somewhat to the proud mind. Consider first that what we are discussing is called "Calvinism." Dr. Loraine Boettner says, "It was Calvin who wrought out this system of theological thought with such logical clearness and emphasis that it has ever since borne his name". How strange that, after 1,400 years of Christianity, practically no one had understood the Bible to teach Calvin's doctrine of predestination until he formed the philosophy! What a strangely hidden doctrine, that New Testament Christians could go for nearly for 1400 years until the days of the reformers, when Calvin developed the doctrine fully. It is obvious that great groups of Christians have always found salvation by grace in the Bible. The Bible is very clear on that. It is also clear on every other great doctrine.
A doctrine cannot be unscriptural without doing actual harm. God's way is right; man's way is wrong. And when the doctrine on the matter of salvation is wrong, it is certain to hinder the cause of Christ. So the human philosophy of Calvinism, the doctrine that every detailed event that happens in all the world was foreordained of God and had to happen, every sin was ordained of God, every act of a Christian or of a sinner, and that everyone was either foreordained to be saved before he was born, without having any free choice in the matter, or was damned without any possibility of his being saved-that doctrine is hurtful and has done great harm to the cause of Christ.
CALVINISTS ACTUALLY HINDER AND OPPOSE SOUL WINNING
If it seems shocking to accuse any group of opposing Gospel preaching and hindering soul winning, a little thought here will show that Calvinists must inevitably oppose soul-winning activities of those who try to get every sinner to repent, of those who offer salvation freely as purchased on Calvary for every person.
One shocking example deals with a Baptist preacher who could easily preach two hours on predestination, but his own grown sons were unconverted, and the father was not only totally indifferent about that matter, but insisted that no one else should try to win them to Christ.
Of course there will be exceptions. Some people who are Calvinists do love Christ in their hearts and so feel His moving of concern for sinners. And most Calvinists will profess that they believe in the preaching of the Gospel to all the world. But in actual practice. Calvinism cuts the nerve of soul winning on the foreign mission field as it does at home.
Did a great foreign mission program arise through the teaching and preaching of John Calvin? Many Calvinists will regret this fact. But the simple truth is that today those most active and most burdened about soul winning on the foreign field among Presbyterians are not those who believe in Calvin's doctrine of predestination. In fact, nine out of ten Presbyterians do not believe it, and the great mission program of Presbyterians was not built by Calvinists.
As the Wesleyan revival spread in England, of course it affected many others besides Methodists and many besides Arminians. Most of the Bible-believing, soul-winning Christians in the world are NOT Arminian. But very few soul winners are unreserved Calvinists. Calvinism does not produce a passion for soul.winning.
Calvinism appeals to those who think that it is the only answer to Arminianism. There are very many Christians that are soulwinners, love God, seek the salvation of the lost and yet ARE NEITHER Calvinists nor Arminian.
BIBLE DOCTRINES SHOW THAT CALVINISM
IS MORALLY IMPOSSIBLE
God could not predestinate one to do right and another to do wrong, one to be saved and one to be lost. Those who believe that God predestined some people to be saved by God's coercive grace, and that others are predestined to be lost and cannot be saved because of God's deliberate choice, are foolishly wrong. They are wrong in having a doctrine that goes totally against so many emphatic Scripture statements inviting all to be saved, showing that Christ died for all, that God is not willing that any should perish. The Bible pictures man as a free moral agent capable of choice, he is morally responsible.
There is the nature of man as it is pictured in the Bible and as it actually exists. God breathed into Adam's nostrils and he "became a living soul." He was made in the image of God. And what is this about man that is God-like? He is a reasoning creature with a moral responsibility, a conscience toward right and wrong, with the freedom of choice in right and wrong. The simple truth is that men can make a computer which can go through complicated mental processes of adding, subtracting, remembering, judging, hundreds of times faster than man can do it! But the computer has no will, no conscience of right or wrong. Hence it has no personality. It lacks the God-given moral nature of man.
Why did God allow Adam and Eve to fall, and so bring a curse on the whole human race? It was inherent in the kind of being that God created; man must be allowed to choose. But knowing man sometimes would choose wrongly, God planned with His Son before the world began to offer an atonement for the salvation of sinning men! So Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."