Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beliefs of John Calvin - Part 1

**This series was taken from a term paper submission for my studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary**


The number of books, articles, and papers written about John Calvin over the centuries is such that a small library would be required to contain them all. As such, the scope of the current work must necessarily be rather narrow while still thoroughly academic in the treatment of the subject matter selected. Here it is appropriate to make mention of the eagerness with which this particular work is approached. Whether or not one agrees with Calvin, one must admit that he is one of the giants of the Protestant Reformation. While not in agreement with many of his doctrines, Calvin is a personal hero.

Rather than provide survey of the life of John Calvin and his ministry that students at the master’s level should already be reasonably well acquainted with, this paper will instead focus on what the author views as the core of Calvin’s theology. A second generation reformer and careful thinker, Gonz├ílez refers to John Calvin as the most important systematizer of Protestant theology in the sixteenth century.[1] The work Calvin did binding together the various doctrines of Protestantism has survived the centuries and can still be strongly felt to this very day. The key parts of Calvin’s theology that will be discussed here are his views on the Scriptures, our Lord, the fallen nature of man, and the church.[2]

It also bears noting what this paper is not intended to do. As this work is in partial fulfillment for a course on church history, the topics discussed will be focused on in a historical context. The nature of these topics are theological but must be approached from the historical perspective. Calvin’s theology will certainly be on display but will neither be defended nor refuted. Such would be well outside the scope of this work and more than likely beyond the modest academic qualifications of this seminarian.

[1] González, Justo L. The Story of Christianity Vol 2: The Reformation to the Present Day. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985), 61.

[2] The perseverance of the saints, or more commonly known as “once saved, always saved”, is intentionally not discussed here as it is the area of agreement of LBTS with John Calvin’s theology as well as that of the author. Omission of the subject by no means suggests that such a discussion would not be profitable. Rather it is believed to be unnecessary in the context of this work.

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