I have the authoritative, 2 volume Battles edition of Calvin’s Institutes. I must confess that I have only read portions of them, so in the strictest sense of the word, one could say I am not a Calvinist. I would imagine R. Scott Clark would certainly say that.
But I am a Calvinist as far as the five points are concerned. Actually, that, and Calvin’s commitment to expository preaching are the main things that label me “Calvinist.” I would be a Baptist of the immersionist stripe, a position Calvin abhorred.
Honestly, I was a “Calvinist” before I even knew who Calvin was. No one taught me the “Calvinist” view of predestination. I didn’t learn it from R.C. Sproul or John MacArthur for that matter, though John taught on election when it was discussed in the text he happened to be preaching through. I was even a Calvinist when I was holding to KJV-onlyism. Talk about a strange combination of convictions.
The first “Calvinist” writer I ever encountered was A.W. Pink, but I read him for nearly a year before I got a hold of his Sovereignty of God and learned he was a “Calvinist.” My views on election were shaped all by myself from my study of scripture. Later, when I was really introduced to Calvin, I was pleased that my convictions on the matters of election, predestination, and God’s sovereignty were confirmed by someone who lived so long ago.
I still marvel at the hatred Calvin stirs in the minds of his detractors. Usually the vitriol is aimed toward his views of salvation, but election and predestination was not really emphasized by Calvin in his earlier editions of his Institutes. Luther taught on the doctrine much more during his lifetime than Calvin did in his. It wasn’t until much later during Calvin’s ministry when he engaged Pighius, a Catholic apologist who wrote against the doctrine of predestination, that Calvin’s pen was moved to write on the subject. Yet it is Calvin’s views on election that draws the most fire from his theological enemies.
One of my fellow Calvinist seminary students use to forward me anti-Calvinist articles. My favorite one was written by an internet personality named “kingsknot” if my memory serves me, who claimed Stalin went to Geneva in order to read up on how John Calvin ran his brutal dictatorship. Hence, the Gulag system in Russia was really the brainchild of John Calvin.
But I figure if folks like Jimmy Swaggart, Tony Campolo, Charles Finney, and Dave Hunt have gone out of their way to decry Calvinism so loudly, I must be in good company.
So here’s to 500 more years, John Calvin. Thanks for all you have done.