The Theology Of Calvin— Is It Worth Saving? -- By: Edward A. Lawrence

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 040:159 (Jul 1883)
Article: The Theology Of Calvin— Is It Worth Saving?
Author: Edward A. Lawrence


The Theology Of Calvin— Is It Worth Saving?

Rev. Edward A. Lawrence

Some say yes, and some say no. Who are right depends on the answer to another question: What is Calvin’s theology? It is just what John Calvin taught; nothing more, nothing less, and nothing otherwise. It has been criticised discriminately and indiscriminately. It has been commended as essentially biblical and Christian, and reprobated as anti-biblical, unchristian arid cruel. The disrepute of the “Five Points of Calvinism” has reached the outmost bounds of Christendom. As it is the type of the Puritan and New England Theology adopted by the Congregational and Presbyterian churches, the great body of the Baptists’ of the Old World and the New, and is imbedded in our Confession of Faith now, after almost two centuries and a half, wisely undergoing revision, anything that seems to make it as a system, more distinct, and its merits and defects more visible, may not be untimely.

It is declared by an eminent preacher “not to be a system of remedial mercy, but quite the opposite, and as unscriptural

and false as it can be. A God who created the world to pour into the eternal sphere endless woes and tribulations — that is the God of Calvinism. Take a chapter of Calvinism on any of the great themes of Christian experience, and you may read it a hundred times over, and you will be like a man skating on ice; it makes no impression upon you.” A widely-circulated weekly represents it as “a sovereignty of power and will”; that “modern orthodoxy seats love on the throne, and leaves it white, unstained with cruelty.” A popular writer says “Calvinism sets power above love as the divine instrument for controlling the hearts of men.”

Another able writer who proposes a “New Consensus” for our churches, says, — “They are not Calvinistic;” that “Calvinism does not contain their faith. It does not fit the age; it draws its spirit from divine sovereignty, which means power, force, and is not founded on divine righteousness. It no longer represents the philosophy, the ethics, or the religious life of either clergy or laity, except in some feeble sense. It proved an enthralment of souls.” Charles Kingsley calls it “a grisly chimera,” and Moses Coit Tyler, “a narrow, ferocious creed;” Dr. Channing, “that cruel faith which, stripping God of mercy and man of power, has made Christianity an instrument of torture to the timid, and an object of doubt or scorn to hardier spirits.” Mr. Belsham declares it “a mischievous compound of impiety and idolatry.”

If this indictment is proved, there can be no doubt what to do with Calvin’s theology. Down with the despotism; away w...

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