Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Calvin’s Anti-Love Trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 18, 2013

ppt-jpeg4St. Augustine was a strong advocate of allegorical interpretation for obvious reasons; the Reformed gospel cannot withstand a commonsense interpretation of Scripture. Reformed writings are often in blatant contradiction to the plain sense of Scripture.

While the apostle Paul instructed us to make it our goal to please God, and John recorded Christ’s instruction to love Him by keeping His commandments, John Calvin denied that the Christian could do either. This can be found in the Calvin Institutes (3.14.9-11).

Calvin’s primary argument for this supposed inability to love God through obedience is also extremely problematic. Calvin insisted that justification is defined by the Law of Moses, and a perpetual perfect keeping of the law has to be maintained in order for justification to be valid. Not only does the Bible state that justification is apart from the law, the apostle Paul stated that there is NO law than can give life. Hence, who keeps the law for us is irrelevant—the law can’t give life.

Calvin sanctified this egregious error by making the perfect obedience of Christ part of the atonement. Supposedly, Christ came to die for our justification, and also came to fulfill the law through perfect obedience to maintain that justification. This leads to even more egregious error: the idea that justification isn’t a finished work.

This also leads to a works salvation by the practice of antinomianism in sanctification. Because the law defines justification and mortal Christians cannot keep it perfectly, they must live out their Christian life by faith alone. If they do this, the perfect obedience of Christ will be applied to their Christian life and they will remain saved. So, Christians must live by the same gospel that saved them in order to keep themselves saved. The Reformed mantra, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” is a means, or a practice, something WE DO in order to keep ourselves saved.

Therefore, according to Calvin, Christians love Christ by applying His obedience to their lives by faith alone.

Secondly, Calvinism denies biblical love by calling on Christians to live in constant fear of the final judgment. Calvin believed that falling short of the law’s standard separates Christians from grace. As a way to motivate Christians to return to the same gospel that saved them, Calvin prescribed a focus on the final judgment and the fear of it (CI 3.3.3-9).

This is in direct contradiction to 1John where the apostle states that there is no fear in love because fear has to do with judgment. This blatant contradiction to Scripture by Calvin is mindboggling.

In addition, this whole idea of calling on the same atonement that originally saved us turns the book of Hebrews completely upside down. The Hebrew writer states that those who have tasted of grace, and turn away from it, cannot be brought back to a place of repentance. Calvin prescribed a use of the law that shows this very turning away, and a need to be brought to repentance again. The Hebrew writer states the following: that’s impossible!

Moreover, this is in direct contradiction to the Bible and its eschatology: Christians will not stand in the final judgment because that is a judgment according to the law. Christians are not under the law, and will stand in a separate judgment that will determine rewards. In fact, in direct contradiction to the apostle Paul, Calvin’s gospel is one that keeps Christians under law and a subsequent need for continued grace. That’s NOT “under grace.” Under law is the very definition of a lost person in the book of Romans. Christians are not under law…for justification, but rather under grace. The law now informs our sanctification and Christian living. This very fact is behind the “T” in TULIP, the idea that Christians are still under the law and unable to keep the law in a way that pleases God. Perfection is NOT required to maintain our justification because we are not under the law; under grace means that we are able to use the Bible to love God through obedience, and our shortcomings are a family matter of sonship—not a salvation issue.

And lastly on this second point, it turns the book of James completely upside down. James stated that faith without works is dead in the same way that a body without a spirit is dead. Calvinism states that the Christian life is lived by faith alone and that all of the works are of Christ; ie., Christ supposedly loves Himself with His own works. And apparently, when Christ will say, “Well done faithful servant,” He will be supposedly talking to Himself. Of course, Calvinists would say that the “well done” refers to living a life of faith alone, but specific works are cited by Christ, not faith alone. If that’s what they really accomplished apart from works, why wouldn’t Christ simply say so?

Thirdly, Calvin believed that the Christian lives out their baptism through a process of “mortification and vivification.” Mortification and vivification is a formal part of Reformed systematic theology. It is repentance for sins that separate us from grace (mortification) resulting in the joy of our original salvation (vivification). In other words, a focus on evil leads to joy. The apostle Paul said that love does not rejoice in evil, but according to Calvinism, a focus on evil is efficacious to having joy.


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  1. […] via John Calvin’s Anti-Love Trilogy. […]


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on December 18, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


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