Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Calvin: Mankind Fallen BEFORE the Fall

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 22, 2013

For some time I have heard teachings coming from Calvinists that seem to insinuate that man was fallen before the fall. A popular teaching in the Patriarchy movement is the idea that Adam sinned before Eve bought into the idea that she needed a mediator between her and God. In fact, the need for mediation between man and God before the fall is very prevalent in Calvin’s writings. Francos Wendal, in his work, Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thoughts (Presses Universitaires Defrance 1950) states the following on page 216:

Indeed, for any contact to be established between the most holy God and sinful man, it was necessary for God to come right down to man, since man would never, of his own strength, have been able to raise himself up to God. ‘The majesty of God is too high,’ said Calvin,

For us to say that mortal men could attain to it, seeing that they can do no more than crawl over the earth like little worms,*

That, of course. Is the state of man since the Fall. But Calvin had no very high opinion of humanity even before the original sin. It is not so surprising therefore, that he could write:

Even If man had remained in his integrity, still his condition was too base for him to attain to God. How much less could he have raised himself so far, after having been plunged by his ruin into death and hell, after staining himself with so many defilements nay, even stinking in his corruption and all overwhelmed with misery?** [The Calvin Institutes 2.12.1: Henry Beveridge transaltion varies slightly]

The more Calvin is studied, the more it is realized that he sought to upend every element of truth in the Bible. The root of this is Calvin’s Platonist underpinnings that of course would have to see a problem with man before the fall because of his material essence.

Again, in regard to the pastorate of our day, who knew what and when? And in regard to those who didn’t know, why not?



* Inst., 2.6.4.  Among numerous similar passages, the Course upon Hosea, Opp. 42, 264: “Deum a nobis quaeri non posse, nisi in mediatore Ghristo. . . . Nisi Christus se medium nobis offerat qua via possemus ad Deum accedere?” Or again, the sermon on I Ephesians 1.1-3: “Without this Mediator, it is certain that we are all foreclosed [by God] and the majesty of God ought to make the hairs of our head stand on end.” Opp.9 51, 256.

** The Institutes 2.12.1.

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8 Responses

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  1. […] via John Calvin: Mankind Fallen BEFORE the Fall. […]


  2. A Mom said, on December 22, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Those “From the horse’s mouth” comments & quotes are so helpful. We need to go right to the source of any doctrine, in order to understand it. And shouldn’t that be our goal? To understand doctrines? To know what we say we believe as we accept or reject, defend or contend?

    Merry Xmas to you & Susan & all your family. 🙂


  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on December 23, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


  4. A Mom said, on December 24, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    ‘The majesty of God is too high,’ said Calvin, ‘For us to say that mortal men could attain to it…’
    Is religion about attaining to the majesty of God? What does it mean to “attain to the majesty of God”? To become God. That’s not the goal of religion. The goal is not to attain to God’s majesty but to please God. It matters not whether we are able to attain to his majesty or not, but whether we are able to please him.

    ‘Even If man had remained in his integrity, still his condition was too base for him to attain to God.’
    Again this nonsense of ‘attaining.’

    Calvin thought in extremes, maybe? Man can’t be like God, therefore man is totally incapable of doing any good? Man is not as majestic as God, so man’s condition was so low, so base, so depraved, even before the fall? It’s one extreme or the other, by default. Is there diagnosis for this type of conditional thinking?

    Thanks davidbrainerd2, This is a great observation. Also, I need to be alert to either-or or half-truths. In this case, just because it’s true that man can’t be God does not mean man is totally incapable of doing any good. I wonder just how much Calvin used the tactic of half-truths & either-or statements. They are logical fallacies.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 24, 2013 at 7:03 AM


      It’s Platonism. Man is material so he’s evil. When Christ came, He obviously blew all of that up. Platonism was the primary mindset of that day because of the influence of Philo. And that’s why the whole concept of being born from above smashed Nicodemus’ cookies. As far as interpretation, EVERYTHING is either good, or evil–NO in-between. That’s the interpretive prism. It’s either Luther’s glory story or the cross story, “the knowledge of good and evil.”


  5. trust4himonly said, on December 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Merry Christmas Paul and Susan!
    Glory be to God in the Highest and with thanks for sending us His Son to die for us and giving us the free will in choosing Him as our Savior!


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 24, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Same to you my friend. Have a blessed holiday season.

      Paul and Susan


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