John Calvin and His Unsound Doctrine

Charles Spurgeon claimed, “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” The Gospel? Good luck finding Calvinism in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 (where the Scriptures defines the gospel by which we are saved).

  1. Calvin’s hero was Augustine, and he followed his teachings.
    • Calvin wrote, “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fulness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.”
    • Augustine is referred to as “the first real Roman Catholic.”
    • “There is scarcely a single Roman Catholic dogma which is historically intelligible without reference to his teaching.”1 This includes worship and prayer to Mary, to saints, and the whole nine yards.
    • Augustine was the “first true Predestinarian.”2
    • Augustine believed in the allegorical method of interpreting the Bible from Origen and the Alexandrian school. This means he did not really believe the Bible but took it all figuratively.
  2. John Calvin was a Nicolaitan. Jesus said he hates their deeds and doctrine (Revelation 2:615).
    • Nicolaitans are those who conquer and rule over the laity.
    • Calvin is referred to as “the Protestant pope of a pope hating people.”
    • He ruled Geneva in some attempt to have the church reign over the literal kingdom of heaven just like the Roman Catholic Church and the Muslims.
    • So naturally, since he was reigning on earth himself, he denied the literal millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was referred to as “the Genevese dictator.”3
    • He banished Anabaptists from Geneva for their theological views.
    • He would burn you at the stake if you did not agree with him doctrinally.
    • He jailed and punished people for all kinds of reasons, like not naming their children approved names, etc.
  3. He believed in Baptismal regeneration.
    • He believed in sprinkling babies.
    • Calvin believed non-elect babies go to hell.
  4. He believed that Jesus died only for some men and not others.
    • He taught God purposefully damned sinners before they were born, and “elected” them to hell by making sure not one drop of Christ’s blood was shed for them.
    • He denied that all sinners have the capacity to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
    • He taught that conversion begins with the new birth without the convert believing the gospel, but that believing came after the sinner was saved against his will.

Foundations of Calvinism

Two Philosophers

See Colossians 2:8 for the Biblical view of man’s philosophies.

  1. John Calvin
  2. Augustine

Two Councils

The Scriptures present a very negative view of councils.

  1. The Canon of Dort
  2. The Westminster Confession of Faith

The Philosophy Called Calvinism

This is a product of philosophy and theology. It is NOT the result of taking Scripture in context and comparing Scripture with Scripture. The main points of Calvinism are summed up in the acronym TULIP:

  • T – Total Depravity
  • U – Unconditional Election
  • L – Limited Atonement
  • I – Irresistible Grace
  • P – Perseverance of the Saints

Total Depravity – Has To Do With THE WILL & ABILITY

What is said: Depravity means “moral corruption.” The depravity of man is a Biblical doctrine and used as a smokescreen to cover up to what they are really referring. This is why they add the word “total” to the beginning.

What is meant: Total depravity to a Calvinist has nothing to do with man’s sinful nature or fallen condition, although they emphasize these truths. What a Calvinist really believes is Total Inability. This means that a man has no ability to freely believe and receive Jesus Christ.

They arrive at this by denying man has a “free will,” which the Bible plainly teaches. So the belief is that the GRACE of God over-powers the will of those pre-chosen to be saved and saves them without their believing or using their will. This overlooks the conscience and the law of God written in the heart of man (Romans 2:14-15). The bottom line is that Calvinism teaches that man is totally incapable of believing the gospel or choosing Jesus as Savior.

Unconditional Election – Has To Do With God CHOOSING Heaven Or Hell Before They Were Born

What is said: Unconditional election is God choosing people for Heaven and hell in eternity past before they were born. Some were created for destruction.

What is meant: This based upon a perversion of the Biblical terms of election and predestination. In Calvinism, everything that happens is based upon God’s “eternal decrees” from eternity past. This makes God the author of sin.

Limited Atonement – Has To Do With Jesus ONLY DYING FOR THE ELECT

What is said: Jesus died only for the elect.

What is meant: Jesus did not pay the price for the sin of the whole world, but only for those preselected and created for life. Is this what Jesus meant by John 3:16?

Irresistible Grace – Has To Do With God’s Grace Overpowering The Chosen

What is said: Irresistible grace is the Holy Spirit working against the will of man and forcing them to be changed from evil to good people.

What is meant: This assumes that God’s will cannot be resisted (despite tons of Scripture pointing out the opposite). Everything in history, according to Calvin’s tale, is predetermined (predestined) to happen.

Perseverance of the Saints – Has To Do With

What is said: God perseveres in keeping the believer saved.

What is meant: The main emphasis is that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end in the faith.

This of course denies the possibility of carnal Christians (even though there are – 1 Corinthians 3:1 “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”).

The one thing Calvin had right was eternal security. Ironically, this belief does not lead to eternal security. Spurgeon and Calvin can both be shown to have doubts and hope that they were part of the elect.

“The only difference between a Calvinist and an Arminian when it comes to assurance is that the Arminian requires holiness to prove salvation while the Calvinist demands holiness to demonstrate election, which then substantiates salvation”4

Or as well known Calvinist Lorraine Boettner states:

“We can never know that we are elected of God to eternal life except by manifesting in our lives the fruits of election – faith and virtue, knowledge and temperance, patience and godliness, love of the brethren. It is idle to see assurance of election outside of holiness of life” (Predestination, p. 309).

It should be noted that this philosophy is “Lordship Salvation.” As Laurence Vance points out:

In seeking to justify their position, lordship salvation advocates do appeal to the Scripture for support. The problem, however, is that they rely almost entirely on modern versions of the Bible for their proof texts.5

The topic of Lordship Salvation is a whole other study itself. It is part of Perseverance of the Saints under Calvinism.

Key Verses To Defeat the Follies of Calvinism

Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Calvin’s Lordship Salvation crowd says that opponents believe in cheap grace. Cheap grace? In the Bible grace is not only cheap, it is FREE!! If it is not free, it is not grace at all!

Romans 5:15 “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”

So, Mr. Calvin, everything is eternally decreed before the foundation of the world?

Jeremiah 19:3–5 “And say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:”

Results of Calvinism

  • It kills soul winning.
  • It kills personal responsibility.
  • It kills missions.
  • It kills reconciliation (if you are not as they are, you are not elect and not saved)
  • It kills honesty.
  • It kills the gospel.
  • It kills sound doctrine.

How To Recognize a Calvinist.

The main weapons of Calvinism are ignorance and intimidation. They call anyone who doesn’t agree with them an Arminian and then proceed to apply every heresy to Arminians. The Bible believer is neither a Calvinist nor Arminian. Here are the words and catchphrases used by a Calvinist:

  • “Reformed Theology”
  • “Calvinist,” “Calvinism”
  • “Sovereign Grace”
  • “Common Grace”
  • “Doctrines of Grace”
  • Although sometimes they just hijack the word “grace.”
  • “Providence” is used to mask a Calvinist indoctrination.
  • “Total depravity”
  • “Total inability”
  • Use of the terms predestinated, election, and chosen contrary to Scripture.
  • The Westminster Confession
  • Frequent reference to prominent Calvinists: John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, Author W. Pink, John Gerstner, John Piper, Albert Mohler, James Montgomery Boice

King James wrote regarding the Synod of Dort (Unconditional Election):

The doctrine is so horrible, that I am persuaded, if there were a council of unclean spirits assembled in hell, and their prince the devil were to put the question either to all them in general, or to each in particular, to learn their opinion about the most likely means of stirring up the hatred of man against God their Maker; nothing could be invented by them that could be more efficacious for this their purpose, or that could put a greater affront upon God’s love for mankind, than this infamous decree by the late Synod, and the decision of that detestable formulary, by which the greater part of the human race are condemned to hell for no other reason, than the mere will of God, without any regard to sin; the necessity of sinning, as well as that of being damned, being fastened on them by a great nail of the decree before-mentioned.

Charles Wesley’s poem entitled “The Horrible Decree” puts is this way:

O Horrible Decree,

Worthy of whence it came!

Forgive their hellish blasphemy

Who charge it on the Lamb6

“The Other Side Of Calvinism”

For further study on Calvinism, I highly recommend “The Other Side Of Calvinism” by Laurence M. Vance. This book is the definitive work on the subject and is available on Amazon and from Vance Publications.

  1. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949-1950)., s.v. “Augustine,” vol. 1, p. 368.
  2. Paul K. Jewett, Election and Predestination (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985), p. 5.
  3. Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy (London: Cassell and Company, 1936), p. 107.
  4. Vance, Laurence M. The Other Side of Calvinism. Revised Ed. Orlando, FL: Vance Publications, 2014. Page 596.
  5. Ibid. 583.
  6. G. Osborn, The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, Vol. III (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1869), p. 34.
Posted in Articles.