John Calvin Quotes – The Calvinism of John Calvin – Are Calvinists REALLY “Calvinists”?

John Calvin Quotes

As I have dealt with Calvinists throughout the years, there has been one objection that has stood out the most.  There is one thing that I hear them say, more than anything else.  They say this on YouTube videos, on Facebook posts, through email correspondence with them, etc.  They are constantly accusing people of misrepresenting Calvinism, of not knowing what Calvinism “REALLY IS” and of engaging in straw man arguments against their doctrines.

You know what I think the problem is?  I think that that most “Calvinists” aren’t REALLY Calvinists.  They don’t even know what “Calvinism” is.  I’ve been studying Calvinism for about 10 years now.  I’ve studied a lot about Calvinism, both from Calvinists and from those against Calvinism.  I’ve watched videos from both sides, listened to sermons from both sides, read books and articles from both sides, etc.  For the most part, those who are against Calvinism have properly represented it.  There have been those who have engaged in straw man arguments, but they have been few and far between, from what I have seen.

I think that many people who call themselves “Calvinists” haven’t studied much about Calvinism.  They probably heard a passionate sermon from Paul Washer (and YES, HE IS a Calvinist), read an article by Charles Spurgeon, read a book by John Piper, listened to a James White debate, watched an R.C. Sproul lecture or read a John MacArthur Commentary.  Then they put their theological “stake in the ground” and say, “I’m a Calvinist”.  Also, some people are just “bandwagon” Calvinists.  They see it as a popular trend in the circles they are in and “jump in”.  I wonder what will happen when it’s no longer a “popular trend”?

These are some of my observations over the last 10 years or so.  Now obviously, I am not referring to EVERYONE who goes by the tag of “Calvinist”.  There are some Calvinists who have studied Calvinism and know what it teaches.  I would say that they are the minority, though.  Yet, even they don’t seem to like to talk about the “bad side” of Calvinism.  They seem to “hide it” and only talk about it when someone presses them on the issues.  Or they engage in linguistic revision, regarding words like, “free will”, “sovereignty”, “author of sin”, etc.

Either way, going back to my original point, most “Calvinists” don’t know what “Calvinism” is.  In my study of Calvinism, I have personally put together quotes from John Calvin.  These aren’t quotes that I got from a website or from anyone else.  I personally typed them up, straight from John Calvin’s book, Institutes of Christian Religion.

Some of these quotes from John Calvin, will be astonishing to you.  Some of these quotes from John Calvin, will disgust you (and rightly so).  Some of you will actually agree with these quotes from John Calvin (which is very sad).  Then there will be some “Calvinists” who won’t be able to agree with these John Calvin quotes.  If you can’t agree with Calvin on these issues, then I don’t think that you should call yourself a “Calvinist”.  And if you don’t call yourself a Calvinist, then I call upon you to make all Christians aware of TRUE Calvinism, so that they don’t become Calvinists, either.

“But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labor under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 15, Paragraph 8)

 

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

 

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed.  Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

 

“thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which he has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

 

“The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

 

”He testifies that He creates light and darkness, forms good and evil (Isaiah 45:7); that no evil happens which He hath not done (Amos 3:6).  Let them tell me whether God exercises His judgments willingly or unwillingly.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 18, Paragraph 3)

 

“How few are there who, when they hear free will attributed to man, do not immediately imagine that he is the master of his mind and will in such a sense, that he can of himself incline himself either to good or evil?  It may be said that such dangers are removed by carefully expounding the meaning to the people.  But such is the proneness of the human mind to go astray, that it will more quickly draw error from one little word, than truth from a lengthened discourse.  Of this, the very term in question [free will] furnishes too strong a proof…I think the abolition of it would be of great advantage to the Church.  I am unwilling to use it myself; and others, if they will take my advice, will do well to abstain from it.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 2, Paragraphs 7-8)

 

“…salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 5)

 

“We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 5)

 

“The very inequality of his grace proves that it is free.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 6)

 

“…we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction…he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 7)

 

“God could foresee nothing good in man except what he had already determined to bestow by the benefit of his election.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 22, Paragraph 5)

 

“God is moved to mercy for no other reason but that he wills to be merciful.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 22, Paragraph 8)

 

“… predestination to glory is the cause of predestination to grace, rather than the converse.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 22, Paragraph 9)

 

“…although the voice of the gospel addresses all in general, yet the gift of faith is rare.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 22, Paragraph 9)

 

“We cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just as it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 22, Paragraph 11)

 

“Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

 

“…it is very wicked merely to investigate the causes of God’s will. For his will is, and rightly ought to be, the cause of all things that are.”…”For God’s will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteous. When, therefore, one asks why God has so done, we must reply: because he has willed it. But if you proceed further to ask why he so willed, you are seeking something greater and higher than God’s will, which cannot be found.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

 

“Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an individual charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated. This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no election without its opposite, reprobation.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

 

“…it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan… God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

 

“…the will of God is not only free of all fault but is the highest rule of perfection, and even the law of all laws.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 2)

 

“I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 4)

 

“With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has willed.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 5)

 

“…individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

 

“…it is vain to debate about prescience, which it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

 

“But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, when it is clear that all things take place rather by his determination and bidding.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

 

“Again I ask: whence does it happen that Adam’s fall irremediably involved so many peoples, together with their infant offspring, in eternal death unless because it so pleased God? The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree. And it ought not to seem absurd for me to say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his own decision.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 7)

 

“For if predestination is nothing but the meting out of divine justice–secret, indeed, but blameless–because it is certain that they were not unworthy to be predestined to this condition, it is equally certain that the destruction they undergo by predestination is also most just. Besides, their perdition depends upon the predestination of God in such a way that the cause and occasion of it are found in themselves. For the first man fell because the Lord had judged it to be expedient; why he so judged is hidden from us.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

 

“Man falls according as God’s providence ordains, but he falls by his own fault.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

 

“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

 

“Even though by God’s eternal providence man has been created to undergo that calamity to which he is subject, it still takes its occasion from man himself, not from God, since the only reason for his ruin is that he has degenerated from God’s pure creation into vicious and impure perversity.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 9)

 

“Moreover, the wicked bring upon themselves the just destruction to which they are destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 24, heading)

As you can see, if you want to check the accuracy of these quotes, I have given the references to each one.  John Calvin was not a “great man of God”, a “great theologian” or a “great reformer”.  In fact, I don’t think that he was a Christian at all.  John Calvin might have been a Christian at one point in time, but not when he wrote any of the above nonsense.  The “god” of John Calvin and the God of the Bible are NOT the same God.  The Calvinism of John Calvin is NOT “Christianity”.

Hopefully now, all of the “Calvinists” out there can see exactly what I am “coming against”.  I haven’t misrepresented Calvinism.  I haven’t engaged in straw man arguments against Calvinism.  I have properly represented the Calvinism of John Calvin.

Am I saying that a “Calvinist” must agree with John Calvin on EVERYTHING in order to be a “Calvinist”?  No.  BUT, I am saying that you must agree with him on issues concerning soteriology, if you are going to call yourself a “Calvinist” – issues such as predestination, free will, sovereignty of God, etc.  If you aren’t willing to agree with the T.U.L.I.P. of John Calvin, then stop calling yourself a Calvinist.  If you aren’t willing to agree with the above quotes from John Calvin, then stop claiming that people don’t understand Calvinism, are misrepresenting it or are straw manning Calvinism.

Lastly, here is a video, on this same topic:

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13 thoughts on “John Calvin Quotes – The Calvinism of John Calvin – Are Calvinists REALLY “Calvinists”?

  1. “John Calvin might have been a Christian at one point in time,…”

    He had the opportunity to become one, his cousin was a Christian – History (and the quotes you proved) shows he never got humble, repenting, etc… and joined the Christians. Instead he became what he became – a disciple of a Manichean.

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  2. Those who have studied Calvin’s Institutes, it this a mis-print from Calvin’s Institutes, Book Second, Section 4 or a well-known mistake on his part that he misquotes scripture when he says, “The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge
    of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing
    submission to the command of God.”? It was Eve who said they were not supposed to touch it – mis-quoting God’s command

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  3. Nowhere did you refute anything Calvin said. All you did was post quotes and expect us to be horrified. As far as I can tell, everything in those quotes (although I might’ve changed the wording on some) is Biblical and Calvin cites the Scripture to back it up. Can you do the same?

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