Thursday Thought — John Calvin: GEM of a quote
Recently Pastor Sam Powell posted a gem of a quote by John Calvin on his Facebook page. In addition to adding the quote to our GEMS page, we wanted to highlight the quote in a stand-alone post along with the excellent conversation that ensued between Pastor Powell and Pastor Crippen.
John Calvin quote
…it would be better for robbers to remain in the wood and there to kill strangers, than to entice guests to their houses and to kill them there and to plunder them under the pretext of hospitality. This is the way in which you act; for ye destroy the bond of marriage, and ye afterwards deceive your miserable wives, and yet ye force them by your tyranny to continue at your houses, and thus ye torment your miserable wives, who might have enjoyed their freedom, if divorce had been granted them. (John Calvin on Mal. 2:16.)
Conversation between Pastors Powell and Crippen
Jeff Crippen: Calvin sure gets a lot of undeserved accusations from people who have been taught to hate him and his theology. How many people would have guessed that it was Calvin who said this?
Sam Powell: Perfectly said! I always find it strange that those who claim total depravity have such a hard time applying it to their own circles. We are SHOCKED when men act exactly the way the bible says that they act. Weird.
Jeff Crippen: It may seem like the Calvinists are hiding this little treasure, but the real Calvinists are not hiding it. Yet many who claim to be reformed in their theology are, that’s for sure. Accurate, confessional, historic Calvinism recognizes the total depravity of the unregenerate man and acknowledges that there are people who are reprobate and destined for destruction — people who freely choose to hate and reject Christ rather than repent and believe. This is what we teach regarding the abuser who has faked his Christianity for decades, cruelly abusing his wife and children yet putting himself off as a pillar and holy saint in his church. In my opinion, accurate reformed theology gets it right when it comes to handling these kind and that therefore much of what is parading today as reformed theology simply is not.
Sam Powell: Yup. I don’t know when the verse got mangled out of recognition, but it’s taken on the opposite meaning lately. When did that happen?
I hold to the creeds of the reformation, but I don’t use the term “Calvinist” to describe myself anymore. Not because my theology concerning salvation has changed, but because the word has taken on many strange bedfellows. Usually when people say Calvinist, they mean that they hold to a pop-culture view of predestination that looks a bit more like fatalism than the Biblical doctrine.
The weird complementarianism that modern pop-Calvinists subscribe to wouldn’t have been even recognizable in the 16th century.
Jeff Crippen: That’s good advice. It does seem that “Calvinism” hits a hot button with so many people and in fact has almost become meaningless because it is usually used for a caricature of what historic reformed theology is.
Sam Powell: I sent a young woman a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism. She’d been hurt greatly by wicked men. She read #105: “What does God require in the sixth commandment? — That I do not revile, hate, insult or kill my neighbor in thought, word, gesture, much less in deed, whether by myself or by another…” That’s when it occurred to her that domestic abuse is a violation of the sixth commandment.
This is a sixteenth century creed, used by reformed churches for centuries. I memorized it as a lad. Beautiful. And it has abuse pegged — just uses another term. Reviling, hating. It’s murder.
Jeff Crippen: And yet over and over again I hear of churches commonly allowing these murderers to remain in their pews, still maintaining that they are Christians. Recently a survivor of years of abuse told me that her abuser held a gun to her head and that her pastor knows full well that he did it. Yet the abuser is still in that church, even allowed to “serve” in a “ministry” there while the victim has had to leave that church. And this is no wild, liberal, church that denies the deity of Christ or anything. It professes to be a Bible-believing church. Guess what? It isn’t.
Sam Powell: Wow.
Link to Sam Powell’s Facebook page where he posted this quote.
Link to John Calvin’s entire commentary on Malachi 2