Problems in John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion

I have been studying and confronting the problems of Calvinism for a little while now.  But now I want to go right to the source, to John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.  This is a long, rambling, confusing book about Calvin's theological views, written when he was about 27 years old.  And I think it's full of problems.  (And I've only read 4 chapters so far.  But maybe it gets better, I don't know.  And of course, there will be some correct things in there, some wise things.  But don't let that blind you to his errors.)

I am going to do my best to, well, understand his writing, for starters.  It's really confusing writing.  It sounds more like philosophical ramblings than inspired doctrine.  And I am going to do my best to point out some of what I think are Calvin's biggest theological blunders, the things that make his theology wrong from the very start.

I'm not going to look at everything, just mainly at his teachings of predestination, free-will, God's total control over things, salvation, etc.  The things that deeply affect our faith, our view of God, our understanding of salvation, God's character, our responsibilities, etc.  

And I am only going to bring up some of the problems, not all of them.  But I think it's enough to show that Calvin's theological views - that Calvinism - should not be trusted.

[I also broke this long post up into some smaller pieces.  For those, see ...


I will start in Book 1, Chapter 15, since this is where Calvin starts talking about free-will.  And in this post, I will only look at Book 1, Chapters 15 - 18 (and a few things in Book 2).  

[I was going to break this post up into smaller posts, but the points all kinda interlink, so I will leave it in one huge post.  I'm serious ... pack a lunch ... you're gonna be here awhile.  But I think it's better that it's all in one place than spread among a bunch of posts.  (Although, I will eventually break this up into smaller posts.)

And if you think this post is long, you should see the full title of Calvin's book:  The Institute of the Christian Religion, Containing Almost the Whole Sum of Piety and Whatever is Necessary to Know in the Doctrine of Salvation, A Work Very Well Worth Reading by All Persons Zealous for Piety, and Lately Published.  A Preface to the Most Christian King of France, in Which this Book is Presented to Him as a Confession of Faith.

Phew!  Wow!  Say that tens times fast.  Okay ... so ... piety?  Nearly the whole sum of piety and everything else that is necessary to know about salvation?  From a 27-year-old?  That's amazing!  And here's an amusing little thing:  One definition of piety is about being religious or reverent ... but a second definition is about accepting beliefs or viewpoints with "unthinking" reverence.  Blindly accepting beliefs without really thinking about them!  Ha-ha-ha, that's so rich!  It's so what Calvinism is about!  And he put it right in the title ... and people still eat it up.  Ha-ha-ha!  Of course, he didn't mean the second definition when he wrote his title, but I am going to think of it this way ... because it's delightfully ironic.  A book "very well worth reading by all persons zealous for piety"!  Too funny!  And so humble too!]

Here are links to Calvin's writing, if you want to look it up for yourself:
Book 1, Chapter 15
Book 1, Chapter 16
Book 1, Chapter 17
Book 1, Chapter 18

Problems with Calvin's theology:
(Some of these overlap because Calvin himself rambles and addresses issues in different ways, at different times.)

Calvin contradicts himself.

In Book 1, Chapter 15, section 1, Calvin is basically saying that we can't blame God for mankind's problems or try to excuse ourselves for the problems we cause.  He says we must "diligently guard" against the "depraved procedure" of blaming God and trying to excuse ourselves.  (Totally true!)  

Yet later, Calvin clearly teaches that humans have no free-will, that God controls everything, even all evil, even our wills, and that we can't make any choices or even any utterances on our own.  Calvin clearly believes that there is only one operating force in the world, only one thing that affects anything: God.

Calvin's own words:

Man "cannot even give utterance except in so far as God pleases..." (chapter 16, section 6).  
            [So then, did God cause Moses to argue with Him in Exodus 4, to the point that God's anger burned against him?  Did God cause the Israelites, when they were being led by Moses out of Egypt, to complain about His care for them, to worship the golden calf, to anger Him so much that He punished them with death in the desert?  So God, for His pleasure, causes people to argue and rebel, and then He gets angry about it and punishes them!?!  Interesting!  Sounds more like the actions of an irrational mythological Greek god than the God of the Bible.]  

"... everything done in the world is according to His decree..."  (chapter 16, section 6).  
            [So I am going to have to assume then that Calvin never read Hosea 8:4:  “They [Israel] set up kings without my [God’s] consent; they choose princes without my approval.”  And that he never heard of Isaiah 30:1:  “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine.”]

"... 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 much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as [God] permits - nay, unless in so far as he commands ..."  (chapter 17, section 11)  
            [I could agree that Satan and the ungodly are reigned in by God, that God gives them boundaries and decides what to allow them to do and what to not allow.  And yes, sometimes God does use them to carry out His plans, by letting them be evil and working their evilness into His plans.  But Calvin pushes it further by saying that God "commands" everything they do.  It's one thing to say He allows it or that He uses their wickedness for His plans; it's quite another to say He always commands/causes them to be wicked and to act wickedly.  This would mean that God commands demons and wicked people to kill, steal, and destroy, etc., that He commands people to cheat on their spouses, abuse their children, worship other gods, spread lies, etc.  This would mean God commands us to do the very things He told us not to do.  How contradictory!  At this point, Calvin's gone too far past what Scripture says about God and His character and about who's responsible for what.  He adds his own ideas to the Bible and, in doing so, disqualifies himself from being a trustworthy presenter of the Gospel Truth!]  

"The counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined" (chapter 16, section 8).  
            [Funny, 'cuz Jeremiah 19:4-5 says “They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods … They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offering to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”  
            If God directs all men's actions and wills, then God must have directed these people to sacrifice their children.  Interesting how He can cause something He never commanded, nor mentioned, nor even thought about.  I'm really curious how that works!  Or maybe it's that God simply wrote His Word down wrong, that He didn't really mean what He said.  Silly God!  He really should have checked with John Calvin first, before writing these Scriptures down.  Because it kinda contradicts Calvin's theology, which, as we all know, is THE GOSPEL, of course!!!  
            Now, yes, I agree that God has over-all, long-term plans for mankind that He is working towards, in general.  He is building His eternal family right now, calling as many people as possible to join Him, to accept eternal life.  And we are all on the path to the ultimate ending He has planned, when He will get rid of all evil, do away with death, separate the sheep from the goats, renew all things and make everything right again, etc.  But He doesn't dictate if we walk that path obediently or disobediently.  He doesn't decide for us if we choose Him or reject Him.  He leaves that up to us.  And we will reap the consequences of our choices.
            But He can and does use our obedience or disobedience to accomplish His short-term plans, the things He wants to have happen on earth.  He is wise enough and sovereign enough to know how to work our choices into His plans, how to put them to good use, how to make something good out of them.  
            But if we do disobey, it's not because He caused it.  It's because we chose to disobey.  And we will justly reap the consequences of it.  Consequences He never wanted for us.  
            Think of when God took the Israelites into the Promised Land.  His plan was to use Moses to lead them from Egypt into Canaan.  But they chose to rebel in the desert.  So God let them die off in the desert as a result of their resistance.  But He ultimately did accomplish His plans, by taking the next generation into Canaan, those who were willing to obey.  God had a plan.  He ultimately accomplished His plan.  But He allowed the people to choose whether they would obey or resist His plans.  And they reaped the consequences.]

"... it is certain that not a drop of rains falls without the express command of God" (chapter 16, section 5).  And "... no wind ever rises or rages without His special command"  (section 7).  
            [Really?  So in Job 1, God sent the sky fire to burn up the sheep and servants, and He directed the wind to knock down the house on Job's children?  I suggest reading it again more closely.
            It's one thing to say God "allowed" it; it's quite a different thing to say He "caused" it!  And this is where Calvinism goes wrong!  It attributes everything to "God caused it," instead of realizing that God works in different ways: sometimes by causing things, but many other times simply by allowing things, such as allowing us to makes decisions, allowing us to sin, allowing nature to stir up disasters, allowing Satan and demons to interfere and cause trouble.  
            Calvinists do not correctly understand what "sovereignty" means, how a sovereign God acts.  He doesn't have to control every little thing in order to be "in control."  But Calvinism assumes that an "in-control" God has to control everything.  This then naturally leads to huge theological problems and contradictions.  Because then they have to explain how a good, righteous God can cause people to sin and cause people to be unbelievers, and how He can then punish them for something He caused.  They have to try to find "reasonable" answers for why God causes every single tragedy, for His purposes and pleasure, even childhood abuse and child rape.  
            But their answers are always round-and-round, nonsensical ramblings, doing their best to make sense out of nonsense.  "God causes all things but isn't responsible for our sin.  God causes us to sin but we are still responsible for it.  We don't know how this works, but we just have to accept it.  Blah, blah, blah..."  Trying to shove square pegs in round holes.  They just can't accept that a sovereign God can - and has - chosen to allow people to make choices, to allow things to happen that He didn't want or cause, but that in His sovereignty, He will work it all into good.
            I guess their God is not powerful enough or wise enough to grant men free-will and yet still be sovereign.]

Calvin goes on and on about how we have no control, no ability to act or even speak on our own.  That God controls every action of His creation, even all the tragedies.  But then he contradicts himself by admonishing us to "diligently guard" against blaming God for the bad things that we cause ... as if we have any power, influence, or control over ourselves or our circumstances ... as if God is not fully in control over everything, including the bad things we cause ... as if we can "diligently" do anything on our own.  And later in Chapter 17, section 3, he says that we should "inquire and learn from Scripture what is pleasing to God, and then, under the guidance of the Spirit, endeavor to attain it."  As if we can choose to "endeavor to attain" anything for ourselves, apart from God causing us to.  As if the Holy Spirit needs our efforts to get something done.  Totally contradicting his own theology!

So, which is it?  Is God responsible or not?  Are we responsible or not?  Does God fully control us ... or do we have some sort of choice, responsibility, and influence in life?  

Calvin talks out of both sides of his mouth and expects us to accept it.  

Make up your mind, Calvin!

I also love how in Book, 2, Chapter 2, section 8, Calvin is condemning the use of the term "free-will."  And he says, "If any one, then, chooses to make use of this term ... but I am unwilling to use it myself; and others if they will take my advice, will do well to abstain from it."

Hmm!?!  So let me see here: God controls and causes everything, even our utterances, and so therefore there can be no free-will.  BUT Calvin has the freedom to will himself to not use the term "free-will"!?! 

Ha-ha-ha!  What irony!  

And he says that others could "choose to make use of this term," but that they would do well to take his advice and not use it.  AS IF they had any control over themselves, or any ability to use their free-will to make decisions about their free-will!  Something Calvin totally denies is possible.  

Ha-ha-ha!  You can't have it both ways, Calvin.  Make up your mind!  

[The only way Calvin affirms the idea of free-will is to use it to make us responsible for sin, as if we somehow willingly sin, even though, as Calvin claims, God is really the one who controls all sin and wickedness and rebellion and unbelief.  

Calvinists still deal with this messy contradiction - believing that God causes all evil and unbelief but that He is not responsible for it, that we are still somehow responsible for our sin and unbelief even though God caused it and created us that way.  And the only answer they can come up with is "Well, the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and mankind's responsibility, so we have to believe both, even if we can't understand it."  

But the problem - as I said - is that Calvinists misunderstand what sovereignty means, how God works sovereignly in the world.  They say it means He causes all things ... but then they run into the problem of who's responsible for evil.  

But if they would just view it properly - that God works in various ways, sometimes by causing things (but never sin) and sometimes by just allowing things (such as sin, unbelief, disobedience, nature problems, etc.), and that He knows how to weave it all into His plans - then it's not hard to understand at all.  

God lets us choose to sin and to disobey ... because He made it that way, giving us the power of choice, voluntarily restraining His own use of all-controlling power over us, choosing to work with and through mankind to a degree ... and so we are responsible for our sins and disobedience and unbelief because we chose it.  But in His wisdom and sovereignty, He knows how to weave our sins and disobedience into His plans, to make something good out of it.  There!  See how easy that was!  If you view it rightly, you have no trouble understanding it and making it fit with Scripture and God's character.

But no, this is simply too straightforward for Calvinists!  They can't accept something that is so simple that even a child or a seeker could understand it.  They love their "superior theological intelligence" too much.  And those with "superior intellect" want confusing and difficult teachings, a challenge, a workout for their brains, something that normal people can't grasp with their tiny brains.  And so they have to twist the basic truths of the Bible, and complicate and alter God's character and how He acts, and add secret and hidden meanings to words and verses in order to make it all more complex, so that it's something only they can truly understand with their superior intelligence.  So that it's something that's so unpleasant sounding - teaching things that sound so repulsive to us, like God predetermines who goes to hell and we have no ability to make any choices and everything that happens is because God caused it - that we have to be "super-humble" (like them!) in order to be able to accept it.  (Because otherwise we would rebel against that kind of teaching and that view of God ... and then John Calvin and other dogmatic Calvinists would be ashamed of us and accuse us of being a bad Christian, of rebelling against God and dishonoring Him.)  

Calvinists turn God's simple, straightforward, hope-filled Word into a difficult, distasteful, confusing theology that only the "smartest and humblest" Christians can accept. 

Hooray for the Calvinist and their superior intelligence and ultra-humility!  The best kind of Christian!

FYI, I believe most average Calvinists are good, godly, humble people just trying to do their best to live out their theology as they've been taught.  But they haven't really explored Calvinism enough to see the problems in it.  They don't stop to think it might be nonsense because there are so many Calvinists out there that it must be true, right!?!  They don't stop to consider it might be wrong because they've been taught that it's unhumble to question it, as if they are questioning God Himself.  They've been taught that if they have any trouble accepting Calvinism, the problem is not with Calvinism but with them, with their tiny brains, with their level of pride and their lack of humility.  

It's sad.  

Calvinism is not too different from a cult or a false religion.  It traps people with fear, telling them they can't understand the Bible without Calvinist theologians telling them what to think, making them feel ashamed if they question it, and mocking or silencing any view that opposes it.  

I have great respect for the average, well-meaning, unaware Calvinist who is just trying their best to honor God as they've been taught to, but I have almost zero respect for Calvinism!  Because it destroys the Gospel, God's grace, God's love, Jesus's sacrifice, people's hope, our view of God, etc.  And honestly, with as much as it twists Scripture and God's character and Jesus's sacrifice ... I can't imagine God has any respect for Calvinism either!]   

Calvin "infers" things he shouldn't be inferring, like when (as seen above) he infers that no wind ever blows without God's special command.  He didn't find this in a verse in the Bible; he "inferred" it.  Calvin makes a lot of assumptions about God and about how God should act, based on one example in the Bible or only on his own reasoning of how things should work.  He makes these assumptions, and then he bases his theology on his assumptions.  

Basically, Calvinism is mankind telling God how God has to act in order to be God.

Book 1, Chapter 16, sections 1-3 is where everything goes really wrong.  It epitomizes the problems with Calvin's theology.  (Read the chapters I linked to earlier.  You might be surprised at how much of his theology is based on his assumptions.  As you read, don't just assume he's theologically on-track or accurately representing Scripture.  Ask yourself, "Where did he get that idea?  What is he basing it on?"  Look up the verses he refers to and read them for yourself, in context.  Think critically about what he says.  I will only look at several of his assumptions here.)

False Assumption #1:  In section 1, he says that we can't believe that God just set creation in motion and then stopped being an active part of it.  He says we "must forthwith infer" that God is also the Governor and Preserver of all of His creation.  But the problem is that Calvin assumes that being "governor and preserver" means God controls every detail of life, every movement of His creation, including us.   

We must be very careful about "inferring" anything about God, especially if it contradicts Scripture, muddles Scripture, and alters the character of God!  Which is exactly what Calvinism does!

But, yes, I agree that God governs things and preserves things, that He didn't just create the world and then "check out."  But my idea of "govern and preserve" is different than Calvin's.  And I do think there is a degree to which He does sit back and let things happen.  Such as sometimes He waits for the people to cry out to Him before He acts, as seen in Exodus 3:7 and 16:12 and 22:23, Genesis 18:20-21, etc.  And in the book of Job, He sat back and watched what Satan would do to Job, and He watched how Job would respond.    

It's not that He didn't know what would happen; it's just that He didn't cause what happened.  He let Satan and people make choices, and He waited for it to happen and watched it happen and responded accordingly.  

God is aware of all that happens and of all that will happen.  He chooses what to allow and what not to allow.  He is working, over all, to bring about His ultimate plans for humanity.  He can and does intervene when called upon.  

But He's not always intervening in everything, all the time.  He doesn't micromanage everything.  Many times, He works in response to men, to whether or not we cry out to Him, pray to Him, obey Him, invite Him into our lives.  God works in a variety of ways: sometimes by causing things (but never sin), sometimes by just allowing things, sometimes by stepping in on His own, sometimes by waiting to intervene until and unless we call on Him.  This is my idea of "govern," which I believe is supported by numerous biblical examples of how God works in the world.  

However, as I said, Calvin assumes that "govern" means "micromanaging," that God completely controls and causes every little thing that happens, "down to the minutest detail, down to even a sparrow."  

Calvin uses Psalm 33 (verses 6 and 13) to support this, saying that "God created the heavens, He beholdeth the children of men."  He assumes that since God caused/controlled the creation of the heavens, He must also necessarily cause/control every detail of His creation, including us.  And if He controls every detail of His creation, there can be no free-will, no human ability to make choices or cause anything that He hasn't caused through us. 

Let me ask, why does "creating the heavens" necessarily have to lead to "controlling all of mankind"?  Just because a verse about mankind is in the same chapter as a verse about God creating the heavens?  

verse 13 (NASB) says is "The Lord looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men."  Explain to me how "looking at/seeing" all men has to mean "controlling all men"!

And Calvin clearly ignores verse 10"The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples."  If, as Calvin says, God controls all men's wills, even down to the things we say, then how can we have any "counsel" or "plans" that contradict God, to the point that He needs to nullify or frustrate them?  Aren't all "counsels" and "plans" from Him, if He causes all things and controls all men?  Is He not then nullifying His own counsel and frustrating His own plans?  

Calvin's God, Calvin's theology, doesn't make sense!

"We must forthwith infer" is where Calvin goes wrong - horribly wrong - from the very beginning.  He is using his own logic and reasoning as the basis for his theology.  And that is dangerous!

False Assumption #2:  (section 3) Calvin determines for himself what "omnipotence" means.  He says that for God to be truly omnipotent, it means God has to control everything.  He claims that it wouldn't be omnipotence if God simply created nature with natural laws and boundaries and then let nature run its course within those boundaries.  Calvin assumes that in order for God to be omnipotent, it means God has to control every detail of His creation.

Calvinism is mankind telling God how God has to act in order to be God!

Such as, Calvin states that it wouldn't be omnipotence if God simply created a stream with boundaries that it can't go past.  No!  For Him to be truly be omnipotent, He has to control every action of that stream, every tiny wave.  

Calvin says God is considered omnipotent not because of the fact that He can act whenever He wants to, but He can only be considered omnipotent if He does act, all the time, in every detail, by controlling all things.

Who is Calvin to tell God how God has to act in order to be God!?!

This is Calvin's own logic about how God must act in order to be considered an omnipotent God.  It's as if Calvin says "This is how an all-powerful God should act.  And anything less than this means He is not all-powerful.  And since we all know He is all-powerful, then He has to act the way I say an all-powerful God should act."  

First of all, find me one verse that says "omnipotence" means "controlling every detail and causing everything that happens."  That if God doesn't control/cause everything, it means He is not all-powerful.

This is purely John Calvin's own reasoning.  But he states it as biblical truth.

(Calvinists do this today with "If you say that there is something God doesn't control then you are saying there are things He can't control, that He is not in control and not all-powerful.  If He doesn't control everything then He doesn't anything!"  But that's bad logic!  It's manipulative hogwash!  I am not saying God can't control everything, just that He has chosen to not always control everything.  Yet He will work everything into His plans or work something good out of it, showing just how sovereign He really is.)

In both of these two assumptions above, Calvin states the very things that are true - that God has set boundaries and natural laws that govern how nature runs, that He generally lets things run within those boundaries and natural laws without necessarily causing everything that happens within those boundaries, that in His sovereignty He can act whenever He wants to but doesn't necessarily have to act all the time - and yet Calvin says that these things can't be true!  That we must infer the opposite thing.  And then he formulates his theology based on his own ideas.  

Basically, Calvin states the truth, says it can't be the truth, and then makes up his own truth and bases his theology on it!  Yep, sounds Holy Spirit-inspired to me!  

But ... biblically, there are times when God does indeed set boundaries and let things run within those boundaries.  Consider Job in the Bible.  God set certain boundaries around Job's life that Satan couldn't go past, but God let Satan do to Job what Satan wanted to do, within those boundaries.  God didn't cause the tragedies that happened to Job; He let Satan choose what to do, within boundaries.

Also consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  God put all these trees in the garden and then told Adam and Eve that they may eat from any tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God set up a boundary, but gave Adam and Eve freedom of choice within those boundaries.

Job 38:10-11 says that God "fixed the limits for [the sea] and set its doors and bars in place, then I said 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt."  

Sounds like boundaries to me!  (Why "fix limits" for the sea if He controls every wave of the sea anyway?)

And don't forget what God said when He made Adam and Eve!  In Genesis 1:26, He said "Let them rule ..."  God Himself decided to give mankind a certain dominion over the earth.  He decided to voluntarily limit His own power and control, granting mankind the right to make decisions, to have an effect, to cause consequences.  And, ultimately, He allows mankind to make a decision about Him, to obey or disobey, to accept Him or reject Him.

Calvin's theology has problems from the very beginning because he states what is true but denies that it's the truth.  And when you deny what's actually true from the start, you then have to formulate your theology based on falsehood, on your own ideas of truth.  And Calvin decides for himself how God should act and what God should do and what it means to be God.  

"We must forthwith infer" is a dangerous way to formulate your theology, especially when it contradicts Scripture and destroys God's character and ruins Jesus's sacrifice!

False Assumption #3:  Along the same lines as the other two, Calvin turns the truth of "God created everything" and "God cares for and provides for His creation" (Psalm 104:27-30) into "God controls everything."  He says that nothing happens without God's counsel (sections 2 and 3).  

(I say that nothing happens without His knowledge and without Him allowing it, but this is far different than Calvin's idea that God controls and causes everything that happens.)

Creating things and caring for things doesn't have to mean controlling everything!  And, hmm, let me think ... didn't we just read about things that happened without God's counsel, without Him causing it?

Hosea 8:4:  “They [Israel] set up kings without my [God’s] consent; they choose princes without my approval.” 

Isaiah 30:1:  “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine.”

Jeremiah 19:4-5:  “They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods … They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offering to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

And how about one more:  Acts 14:16:  “In the past, [God] let all nations go their own way.”  (How can we "go our own way" when it's all God's way?  How can God "let" anyone do anything if He Himself controls it all?) 

I'm not sure what Bible Calvin read, but it's not the one I'm reading.

Here are few examples of how God works in the world, showing that He doesn't always tightly control all things, that we have the right and responsibility to make choices, to choose to obey Him or disobey Him, that we have an effect on things:

1.  During Passover, God was going to kill all the first-born of the Egyptians.  But He told the Israelites that they had to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorframes if they wanted the Angel of Death to pass over them, to not kill their first-born.  God told them what His Will for them was - to spare their first-born.  He told them how to stay safe in His Will - to put the blood on the doorframe.  But it was up to them to obey.

2.  When the Israelites were in the desert, God sent poisonous snakes among the people as punishment for complaining against Him.  But when they repented, God had Moses create a bronze serpent (Numbers 21) and place it where it could be seen so that anyone who was bitten by a poisonous snake could look up at it and be healed.  God offered all the people the chance to be healed, to be saved from the punishment they deserved.  And He gave them instructions on how to obtain that healing.  But in order to be healed, they had to obey and do it the way God said.  (This is a foreshadowing of Jesus's death on the cross.  He came to pay the penalty for our sins so that we don't have to face eternal punishment, so that we can be healed.  But it's up to us whether we will "look up" at Jesus or not.  God doesn't make us do it or prevent us from doing it.  He makes salvation possible for all.  But to obtain it, we have to do it the way He told us to do it.  Look up and be healed.)

3.  When Paul was sailing on a boat as a prisoner, a huge storm came up, threatening to sink the ship and kill all on board.  Paul told the people that God was going to spare everyone on board,.  But later, when some of the people were trying to get off the ship during the storm, he told them that they would live only if they stayed with the ship. God had a Will, a plan to spare the people.  But the people had to obey Him, to follow His plan - to stay on the ship - if they wanted to be safe in the center of His Will for them.

4.  Saul lost his kingship and died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and because he "did not inquire of the Lord."  (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)  But if Saul had stayed faithful, God would have established Saul's kingdom (1 Samuel 13:13).  Was God lying when He made it sound like Saul had an effect on what happened?  Does this sound like God caused Saul to be unfaithful, to not inquire of Him?

5.  When Job's friends gave all their religious lectures about what Job must have done to deserve the tragedies he got, God tells them that they spoke wrongly of Him.  And He says that He will have Job pray for them and then He will forgive them.  (Job 42)  God had a plan to forgive the friends.  But first, Job had to pray for it.  God expected Job to do his part before God would do His.

6.  As I pointed out earlier, God had a plan to get the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.  And I believe God would have taken that first group right into the Promised Land if they had just done what God wanted, if they had obediently, willingly followed Moses without complaining or rebelling.  But they chose to rebel and complain.  And this earned them death in the desert.  But then God took the next generation into the Promised Land, the ones who were willing to follow Him.  God had a Will, a plan for the Israelites.  But they had to choose to follow Him in it.  But even though the first group earned themselves death, God still accomplished His plan ... but it was just with the next generation, those who were willing to follow Him.

What we do has an effect on our lives because God has given us the right and responsibility to make decisions.  For good or bad.

False Assumption #4:  According to Calvin's theology, the way God acts in one biblical example is the way He must act in everything.  It's like "If an apple is a fruit, then all fruits must be apples."  So if God causes one hail storm in the Bible, it means all hail storms are caused by Him.  If He sent a storm once to accomplish something, then every storm must be sent by God for a reason.  If God actively causes one thing to happen in the Bible, it means all things are actively caused by Him.  

Calvin often refers to one specific thing God did in the Bible, and then he applies it to all of life.  Yet he ignores the multitudes of examples that contradict him or that show a different side of God.  

In Chapter 16 section 3 and chapter 18 section 1, Calvin uses Psalm 115:3 - about God doing whatever He pleases - to "prove" that everything that happens does so only because God was pleased to cause it to happen.  Since Psalm 115 says God does whatever He pleases, it must mean - according to Calvin - that everything that happens is because God was pleased to do it.  Since all apples are fruit, all fruits must be apples, right!?!

However, couldn't it possibly mean simply that when God has something in particular He wants to do ... He does it (such as freeing His people from Egypt or sending Jesus to die for us)?  That whenever God thinks up a plan that pleases Him, He does it?  Not that everything that happens is because He was pleased to cause it?

I think that if God has something He wants to do, a specific plan He wants to carry out, He will cause it, one way or another.  But that doesn't mean that everything is caused by God, that everything that happens is because He is pleased to cause it to happen.  This is going above and beyond what Scripture says, and it flies in the face of many biblical examples where God didn't cause something to happen, where God gave men a choice.  God does indeed cause things, but this doesn't mean everything happens because He caused it.  As seen in the above examples.

You know, if Calvin wants to use one biblical example to decide how God works in everything, why not apply these verses to everything:

"Then the Lord said, 'The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.  If not, I will know."  (Genesis 18:20-21)  Why doesn't Calvin use this verse to say that God never knows what's going on unless people tell Him, that He can't know what's happening unless and until He comes down to earth to see for Himself, and that He won't do anything unless people cry out to Him.

Why not use “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine.” (Isaiah 30:1) to "prove" that God never has any control over plans, over what happens in this world, over His people?  If He didn't have control over the people's plans that one time, then He never has control over anyone's plans ever!  Right, Calvin!?!

Why not use the verse about God looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned - "Where are you?" - to show that God never knows where His people are or what they are doing?

Why not use the verse where God tells Satan that he can do whatever he wants to Job, except for touching Job himself, to show that God always lets Satan do whatever Satan wants, that God never protects His people, that He never decides what should happen but always lets Satan or others decide what should happen?

Why not use the example of Nineveh - when God told them they would be destroyed in 40 days but then they repented and so He didn't destroy them - to show that God always lies to get people to repent?  (If Calvinism is true, then God predestined that they wouldn't be destroyed and He caused them to repent, which then means that - since destruction was never in His predestined plans - He lied to them when He told them they would be destroyed if they didn't repent.)  Why not use that example to show that God always makes blank threats and never carries out the punishments He said He's going to dish out? 

And why not use one of the other verses in Psalm 115 to "prove" man's control over the earth:  "The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to men" (verse 16)?  Why not use this to say that men own the earth?  That God has no authority over the earth?  That everything that happens here is because of us, not God? 

Do you see how dangerous is it to apply one verse, one example of how God works, to everything?  To compartmentalize Scripture and God?

But this is what Calvin does!  It's how he formulates his view of God and his theology.  

Calvin's view of God and of how God works is simply too narrow.  Calvin's God is a one-dimensional God.  

But God is actually much bigger than that!  Much more amazing and complex than Calvin gives Him credit for.  According to Calvin, God has to cause everything, for His plans ... as though God can only use what God causes.  There can be no other factors at play, no one else who causes anything.  As though God simply can't handle anything other than what He actively causes.  

But God's wisdom and power and sovereignty is so much greater than that.  He can work all things into His plans, even the things He doesn't cause, even the things He lets us choose to do, even our sins and disobedience and Satan's actions.  The God of the Bible is much bigger and smarter than Calvin's micromanaging "God" who can only handle what He causes, who can manage no other factors but Himself.  

(Honestly, his writing makes me very disturbed and sick to my stomach!  And I haven't even finished reading chapter 17 yet!  I was going to make this post a "part 1" about Calvin's Institutes, with more to follow, but I am not sure I can take much more.  But even if I don't go on, there is more than enough here to show how twisted and off-track Calvin is.  When someone is this off-track, they show how little they know about Scripture as a whole and how NOT Spirit-led they are, and so there really is no reason to address all that they write.)

False Assumption #5:  Calvin says (Chapter 16, section 3) that believing God is fully in charge of evil (controlling/causing every little thing that happens) should be comforting to us, for then we know that nothing can happen to us unless God causes it.  

Yes, I understand that it's comforting to trust that God is so in-control that nothing can happen to us unless He allows it, that He knows about everything that happens to us, and that He can and will bring something good out of the bad things He allows.  And this is biblical!

But this is far different than saying God causes all the bad things, such as sin and abuse and rebellion and all diseases and all natural disasters, etc.  How does believing that God caused it comfort someone who was abused as a child?  Who lost their friends or their limbs in a war?  Who lost a loved one to cancer?  Who lost a home to a tornado or wildfire?  Whose child was born with a terminal problem or a severe handicap?  How does it comfort them to be told that God Himself deliberately caused it, for His pleasure?

Calvin agrees with Augustine (section 8) that if anything is left to "chance" then the world would move at random.  Basically, if every detail is not fully controlled by God, then it all happens by chance and everything moves at random.

But this is NOT true!  It's another false assumption.

Just because God doesn't actively cause/control something doesn't mean it's left fully to chance.  Just because God didn't actively cause some natural disaster doesn't mean it happened "by chance," outside of God's control and sovereignty.

God is still over and above all things, knowing what will happen, choosing what to allow to happen and what to block, pleading with people to obey and to do things His way because He knows what's best, working all things into something good, even the things He doesn't deliberately cause.  Just how is that "randomness"?  How can God knowing what will happen, choosing to allow or not allow what will happen, and using what happens for good be called "chance"?  Just because He didn't actively cause it?

Being "in control" doesn't have to mean "predestining, causing, controlling everything" ... because God can and does work in many various ways.  He's set up boundaries that we can't go outside of.  He sees everything that happens.  He decides what to cause, what to simply allow, what to block, what to override, etc.  He decides when to step in, and when to sit back and watch.  He can and does weave everything into His plans, into good, even the bad things, our disobedience, our sins, natural disasters, etc.  He works in many different ways, sometimes more directly and sometimes more indirectly.  But just because this isn't "actively controlling everything" doesn't mean the world is left to move at random.  It just means it's not as actively-controlled and predestinationally-caused as Calvin assumes it is or has to be.   

Calvin doesn't give God enough credit for the many different, amazing ways He works in the world!  Calvin limits God to "He must cause it all, or else He's not God and not in control of things."  He tries to make it sound like he is elevating God's sovereignty and power ... but he's actually shrinking God, turning God into little more than a solitary child in a sandbox playing with toys, acting out little dramas with his toys, controlling everything that happens, and kicking out anyone who tries to join in and play too.  Calvin's God is not big enough to handle anything other than what He causes.  

But the God of the Bible is much bigger than that and can weave everything - even our self-chosen sins, our decisions, our disobedience, our obedience, Satan's actions, nature's actions, etc. - into His plans. 

[I am not saying that God doesn't sometimes cause things we consider "bad" (but He never causes sin), but who are we to know which problems/tragedies God caused and which He just allowed?  Who are we to say that God surely causes all the bad things, when it's more likely that God simply allowed them to happen?  That He allowed people to make bad choices and to hurt others, that He allowed fallen nature to run its course to a degree, that He allowed Satan to interfere and cause trouble, etc.?  

I know this might not bring much comfort to someone who knows that God could have stopped a tragedy but didn't.  But it is about truth, about who is really the cause of tragedies and sin and unbelief.  Saying that God is only and always the one who causes these things is biblically wrong.  The truth is that sometimes God causes things (never sin!) ... but then, with God's knowledge and because He allows it, there are times when we cause things or Satan causes things or nature causes things, etc.  And God allows it because He can use it and bring good out of it.  This is the biblically-accurate way to view it.  

And it helps us properly understand who is responsible for what happens, who is responsible for sin and unbelief, and why God can hold us accountable for sin and unbelief.  He can hold us accountable for the sins we commit and for our unbelief because He didn't cause it.  He lets us decide if we want to be obedient or disobedient, if we want to accept Him or reject Him.  And so He can justly hold us accountable for our choices.]

Calvinism does not allow for any other operating, active force than God alone.  But this is not biblical.  There are other factors at work, all under the watchful eye of God, all within His general care and overarching plans.  And in no way can life be considered "random," just because God isn't an all-controlling,  micromanaging God.  

False Assumption #6:  Calvin assumes (Chapter 16, sections 5-8) that God always causes good natural events as blessings, and bad natural events as judgments, as punishment.   

Yes, God often blesses or punishes through nature, by providing a good harvest or by bringing a famine.  But we cannot apply this to every natural instance.  Was God punishing Job when He allowed all of his animals and children to be killed in freak "accidents" of nature?  No!  Job was actually highly favored by God, and Job would be blessed for his faithfulness through the painful trial.

We cannot assume that we always know why God does what He does, or why He allows what He allows.  Assuming things about God and His nature and His actions is Calvin's biggest theological blunder.  And we all know what happens when we
assume things!

False Assumption #7:  (Chapter 16, section 3)  Calvin also - along with deciding for himself what "omnipotence" means - decides for himself what brings God glory.

Calvin basically says that we deprive God of His glory and we dishonor Him if we say He doesn't control every detail, every action.

But who are we to decide how God gets glory?  Who are we to decide that He couldn't possible get glory through men freely choosing to obey Him and love Him and worship Him?  To decide that He can only get glory and be honored if He controls our decisions about Him?

Could you imagine God saying to Satan, "Look at all these people that worship Me!"

And Satan says, "Big whoop, God!  You created them to worship You.  You gave them no choice.  They are not worshipping You because they want to, but because they have to.  And You're also controlling my response to You, so big whoop there too.  None of it means or accomplishes anything!"

Where is the glory in that!?!

I mean, isn't that what the whole book of Job is about - that God would get glory when Job still chose to worship Him despite all the tragedies!  

If God causes us to choose Him or to reject Him, Satan would simply say, "Big deal, God!  Job had to worship You because You controlled him."

How would that bring God glory!?!  Yet this is what Calvinists believe, that God controls all things - even our decisions about Him - for His glory.

But wouldn't it be more glorifying for people to willingly choose to love and worship God than to be forced to?  Isn't it more honoring and meaningful to you to be in a relationship with people who want to be with you, not who have to be with you?  Maybe God allowed us to have a choice about Him because it delights Him when people willingly choose to love Him, because it brings Him glory to be able to tell Satan - who rebelled against God and has been trying to steal as many people as possible from Him - "Look at all these people who still chose Me, despite all the pain and trials in life.  Despite not being able to physically see Me, to stand in My throne room, like you have, Satan.  These humans have it worse than you do.  They have physical bodies with limitations and problems.  They have more obstacles to faith than you do because they are human while you are a spirit.  And yet they still chose Me over you."

Now doesn't that sound glorifying to God!     

Additionally, in then same section, Calvin further emphasizes how God causes all things for His pleasure by using a horrifying example, one that should make Calvinists sit up and take notice about what Calvin really teaches about God and how Calvinism really views God.  

Calvin says that even nursing babies bring God glory when they are nourished through breastfeeding.  But, Calvin says, we can't close our eyes to the fact that some mothers have full provision for their babies (I am guessing he means an ample milk supply) and that some have almost none.  And then Calvin says that this happens because it is the pleasure of God to nourish one child more liberally and another more sparingly.

What!?!  WHAT!?!

It is for God's pleasure that He causes some babies to virtually starve to death by causing their mothers to not have enough milk!?!

Hear it from Calvin himself:  "Indeed, if we do not shut our eyes and senses to the fact, we must see that some mothers have full provision for their infants, and others almost none, according as it is the pleasure of God to nourish one child more liberally, and another more sparingly."
What kind of frickin' nonsense is that!?!

Calvin assumes God causes everything, therefore if a mother can't provide enough milk for her baby, it's because God caused it to be that way, for His glory and pleasure.  

But why can it not be that when Adam and Eve fell, they lost the perfect world they had, that nature was cursed and is now fallen and broken too, and that it leads to problems in our world, such as storms and diseases and bodies that don't function properly?  Why can't the bad things simply be consequences of the Fall - consequences that happened because we ushered them into the world through sin, because Satan was allowed a certain dominion over the earth when we chose to listen to him instead of God, because God allowed these bad consequences but didn't necessarily cause them?  

Not glorifying enough to God for the Calvinist, I guess!

No ... it's much more glorifying for God to cause all the tragedies and sins and wickedness!  It's much more glorifying to God to deliberately starve some babies to death, to take away the ability of certain mothers to breastfeed their babies!  And how dare we try to take His glory or downplay His glory by saying that there are any other factors at work in the world, that He doesn't deliberately cause each and every tragedy, heartbreak, and disaster!

Calvin states that the only way we can be calm and secure is if we believe that all good and evil are caused by God.

"This rather is the solace of the faithful, in their adversity, that every thing which they endure is by the ordination and command of God..."  (Not just that He allowed it and will work it into good, but that He commanded it to happen!)

What comfort does this bring a mother who is watching her children die of starvation?  What comfort does this bring someone who was neglected or abused as a child, or a woman who was raped?  What comfort does this bring children who watched their family get slaughtered in a bloody civil war?  What comfort does this bring a parent who is watching their child slowly kill themselves with drugs?  What comfort does it bring a prisoner of war in an enemy camp?  What comfort does it bring someone whose loved one committed suicide?  What comfort does it bring people to be told that God causes people to be unbelievers and then sends them to hell for their unbelief, for His glory?

What comfort does it bring us to be told that God caused all this to happen for His pleasure, and that it should make us feel calm and secure?  Oh, yeah!  That's a God people are going to want to trust and worship and love!  (And if God causes all this bad stuff to happen, then why would we try to fight against any of it?  Wouldn't we then just be fighting against His plans, against the things He's doing for His pleasure, and against His efforts to get glory?)

Hogwash!!!  Frickin' nonsense!  Just where is Calvin's head!?!  (I'll tell you where it is!)  What glory does all this bring God?  To portray Him as a God who causes all evil and sin, but who then punishes people for the evil and sin He causes?  A God who causes all tragedies for His plans and pleasure ... when actually His original plan was a perfect world, when He promises to heal all wrongs and to fix all the bad things in the end, to return everything to perfection, to bring good things out of bad, to get rid of all death and tears?  

Calvinists say God purposely damns most people to hell ... when, in reality, God sent Jesus to the cross to save people from hell!  Do you see how wicked this theology is!?!  Denying salvation for most people by saying that Jesus only died for the elect and that God Himself decides who gets to be one of the elect and that there's nothing you can do about it.    

Calvin completely misrepresents God, and then uses "God gets glory from it" to excuse it, to keep us from questioning it.  (Here's a post on how today's Calvinists manipulate people into accepting what they say.  Or at least not vocally disagreeing with them.  And here's one on "Confronting Calvinism's Deceptive Nonsense."  Just for fun!)  And Calvinists today do this too, saying that God is glorified by predestining people for hell and causing all the bad things.  

And who's going to argue with it when we are told that it's "all for God's glory"?  Who's going to question God's right to get glory?

And so we just accept what we are told.  Like good, little Calvinists.


(Oh yes, I did ... and I'll say it again ... frickin' hogwash!  In fact, I'll sing it too, along with a little dance.  I'm cabbage-patching right now while I sing "It's frickin' ho-og-waaash!  Oh yeah!  It is!  It really truly is!"

Ahh, just crackin' myself up here.  And I'd be using the real four-letter words here if I wasn't concerned about offending young, innocent eyes that might be reading.  I think Calvinism deserves the harshest four-letter words!  I really do!)

Calvin accuses others of doing what he himself does, while at the same time assuming something about the Fall of man.  Two blunders for the price of one!   

In Book 1, Chapter 15, section 8, Calvin says that at creation, Adam had a perfect nature and the power to choose. So when he fell, it was by choice, by Adam's will.  Then after the fall, he says we became so depraved that we lost that free-will.  (Show me in the Bible where it says that losing free-will was an effect of the Fall!  Show me where it says that being "depraved" means we can't make choices!)  Calvin says that anyone who now tries to say mankind has free-will is mixing inspired doctrine with philosophical opinions, and that they then err in both.  

This is funny because it's exactly what Calvin is doing - mixing his philosophy of how things work with Scripture.  Erring in both.  But I guess if he accuses others of doing it then they won't notice that he's the one doing it!

Let's see a little of what the Bible says about whether mankind has free-will or not, whether we can make decisions apart from God or not (emphasis added to these verses):  

Hosea 8:4:  “They [Israel] set up kings without my [God’s] consent; they choose princes without my approval.”

Acts 14:16:  “In the past, [God] let all nations go their own way.”

Isaiah 30:1:  “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine.”

Jeremiah 19:4-5:  “They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods … They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offering to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

Romans 1:21, 28:  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind ..."  

Romans 10:3:  "Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."  

Romans 11:20, 23:  "But they were broken off because of unbelief ... And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in..."  

James 1:13-15:  "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.'  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."  

Matthew 23:37:  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."  

John 7:17 "If anyone chooses to do God's will ..."

Joshua 24:15:  "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ..."

Hmm ... yep, no free-will here!  No choice!  God controls all, just like Calvin said!  

(You know, if God had just consulted Calvin before He wrote the Scriptures, we wouldn't have this confusion, these verses that seem to teach that people make choices.  But thankfully Calvin came along 1500 years later to clarify what God really meant to say in His Word.  How lost and confused we'd be without the great John Calvin and his superior theological intelligence!)

Also, in this section, Calvin says that it would be "unjust" of us to claim that God should have made men unable to sin (basically, it's unjust of us to tell God how He should have created things to be) ... yet he fails to see how unjust it is for him to decide how God has to act in order to be God, to say that God must be the cause of all sin and unbelief and all tragedies if He wants to be considered "omnipotent."  

Basically, Calvin's saying "You can't tell God how He has to be, but I can!"  

In Chapter 17, section 2, Calvin accuses people of being led astray by their own ideas, of failing to give God more "license," more control, because they are limiting God according to their own reasoning.  Yet he himself is the one who uses his own reasoning to go the other way, to attribute too much to God, accusing God of being the cause of all things, even all evil and sin and unbelief, when in reality God has decided to allow mankind to have some freedom of choice.
So tell me, who exactly is the one telling God how God has to be in order to be considered God!?!

Yep, that's right: Calvin!  

In the last line of Chapter 15 - to help explain why Adam got to "choose" to eat the forbidden fruit, when nowadays we don't get to "choose" anything - Calvin says that God gave Adam "intermediate and even transient will" to cause Adam to fall, to bring death on himself ... for God's glory.  (Once again, find me the Bible verse that teaches this!)

Hmm?  So, God gave Adam a temporary Will specifically for the purpose of getting Adam to eat the fruit of the tree that God commanded him not to eat from ... so that Adam would sin and bring death on himself ... so that God could get glory from it?

Yep ... makes perfect sense!

It's one thing to say that God allowed Adam to sin, that God knew mankind would fall and so He preplanned a way to redeem us through Jesus's death, gaining glory for Himself in the process.  But it's another to say that God caused Adam to sin, for His glory.  

One is letting mankind choose to sin or not sin, working it into His plans, and holding us accountable for our choices.  

And the other is causing mankind to commit the very sins that God commands us not to commit and then punishing us for it.  For His glory.  

Yep, totally glorifying, isn't it!  What a just, righteous, holy, good, loving God  that John Calvin teaches, huh?

Calvin adds things that aren't in the Bible (at least not in our translations of the Bible).

Such as (these are just a couple examples), in Book 1, Chapter 16, section 5, he refers to Matthew 10:29 by saying, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of his Father."  However, he basically added the word "will," which makes it sound more like God willed the sparrow to die, that every time anything happens it's because God actively willed it to happen.  But there is only one translation I can find that has the word "Father's will" in it, the World English translation.  Every other one just says something like "apart from Father" or "the Father's permission" or "the Father's knowledge."  The general consensus is that no sparrow dies without the Father knowing about it, being aware of it, allowing it.  NOT that God causes each and every sparrow's death exactly when and how it happens.  But Calvin uses "by the Father's will" to support the idea that God wills each and every thing that happens.

In section 9, Calvin makes a very interesting assessment.  He basically says that if someone wanders from their group in a woods and is killed by robbers, his death was not just foreseen by God but had been "fixed by His decree."  (Let's ignore the fact that Calvin called the man "imprudent" for wandering away on his own, and that "imprudence" is about not showing care for the consequences of an action.  However, if, as Calvin says, we don't have any control over our actions anyway because God causes all the things we do, then "imprudence" or "prudence" is a non-existent concept.  How careful we are in making our decisions matters not when God is actually making our decisions for us.)

Anyway, Calvin uses Job 14:5 to support this idea that God doesn't just foresee the length of our lives but that He controls and orchestrates the circumstances of our deaths.  However, this is going above what Job 14:5 says:  "Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed."  Just because God knows the length of our lives and has set limits, doesn't mean He causes our deaths to happen as they do.  Calvin adds meaning to the verse that isn't there.  (And doesn't setting "limits he cannot exceed" imply some sort of roaming freedom within those limits?)  

(So, Calvin, God determines the events of our deaths, huh?  So then what about suicide?  Has God determined who commits suicide, when and how they do it, causing them to kill themselves?  Interesting!)

Also, I believe that Calvin errs when he uses the desperate, cry of a hurting man (Job) as Gospel truth about God.  Just because Job said it in his pain, doesn't make it Gospel truth.  If that were the case, these gems would also be Gospel truth:  

Job 12:6:  "Those who provoke God are secure..." (Are they really!?!) 

Job 13:24:  "Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?"  (Did God really think of Job as an enemy?  Or was Job actually highly favored by God and respected by God?  Just because Job cried it doesn't make it true.)

Job 9:13:  "God does not restrain his anger..."  (Never?  Never ever?  So God is always acting out in anger, always giving full vent to His anger, never acting in mercy?  Wow, that's a mighty big accusation to level against God, that He does not restrain His anger.)

Job 9:23:  "... he mocks the despair of the innocent."  (Does He?  Does He really?  What kind of a monster God would that make Him?)  

Job 16:12-14:  "All was well with me, but [God] shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me.  He has made me his target; his archers surround me.  Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground.  Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior."  (So is all this "Gospel Truth" about God?  Or is it just the cry of a hurting man?)

Job 12:7-8:  "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you." (Anybody ever ask the animals a question and get a verbal answer in response?  Anybody?  Anybody?  Job is saying that we can learn about God from nature, but some people could use this to teach witchcraft or New-Age-type worship of Mother Earth, if they wanted to.)

We have to be careful about twisting verses to say what we want them to say and to support the ideas we want them to support.  (I'm looking at you, John Calvin!) 

And, jumping ahead a little, in Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 27, Calvin tries to support his idea of "total depravity" - that men are so depraved and fallen that we are incapable of having any good thoughts or desires or actions unless God causes us to - by quoting two verses.  One is "every imagination of man's heart is only evil continually" (Genesis 8:21) and "we are incapable of thinking a good thought" (2 Corinthian 3:6).

Umm ... here's the thing ... 2 Corinthians 3:6 says "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  Okay, so maybe someone just got his Scripture reference wrong, but I can't find the "incapable of good thoughts" verse anywhere.  Does anyone else know where it is?  And I am not talking about a verse that says we tend to think bad things, but one that says we are "incapable of thinking any good thoughts," as Calvin asserts.  I even tried looking up "incapable" and "think/thinking" and "good" and "thought/thoughts" in my concordance, and I can't find any verse in the New Testament that seems to fit what he's saying.

And on top of that, Calvin goes a bit above and beyond what Genesis 8:21 says.  In the NASB Bible, it simply says, "the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth."  Not "every ... only ... continually."  It's simply that our natural tendency is towards evil, not - as Calvin and Calvinists say - that we are completely incapable of doing, thinking, or wanting anything good (even wanting God in our lives), unless God makes us do it.  That's adding things to the verse that aren't there.  In fact, no version I checked said it like Calvin did.  I'm not sure what version of the Bible he used, but why don't any of our other translations say it the way he did, if he is right in the way he's saying it?  And if you have to add words to the Bible that aren't there, could it be because you are trying to support a teaching that isn't there?  Just because we have a tendency towards something, doesn't mean it has to happen and that we are incapable of doing anything else.  We can have intentions to do one thing, but choose to do another.

(However, Genesis 6:5 does say something like what Calvin said:  "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continuously."  Maybe that's the verse he was referring to.  But it is important to keep in mind whom God was referring to.  He was referring to those on the earth at that time, the people who were demonic offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men.  A demonically-inspired generation that was so wicked that God chose to flood the earth to cleanse it, to start over.)             

Calvin manipulates people into agreeing with him in subtle ways: reminding us of how small our minds are, how incapable we are of comprehending God and how God works (after, of course, teaching us all about his grand, inspired ideas of who God is and how God works), and telling us that if we resist believing what he says, it's because we are rebellious or small-minded.

Calvinists do this same kind of thing today.  They get you to agree with them (or at least to shut up if you disagree) by convincing you that you simply don't - can't - understand what the Bible really says and so you just have to trust them, that you are questioning God if you question them, that you are being proud and unhumble if you disagree with them, etc.  (See "Predestination Manipulation" and "What's The Best Way To Make People Agree With Your Calvinist Views" and "Why Is It So Hard For Calvinists To Get Free From Calvinism?")   

When you read Calvin's writing, pay attention to the ways he manipulates people into agreeing with him (by making them feel smart and humble if they do) and into not disagreeing with him (by making them feel unhumble and unintelligent if they disagree).  

Notice words and phrases such as (the red words are his words, but I paraphrased his points to make them more understandable) ...

1.  Book 1, Chapter 16, Section 1:  "For although all do not reason so accurately..."  Calvin is saying that not everyone is as accurate as he is, that he is accurate when he assumes that "God created the heavens" means that God controls all details, even people.  Calvin says that the writer of Psalm 33 (he says it's David) had "good reason" and "admirable order" to make the connection that "God created the heavens" also means "God controls all men."  (Yet the Psalm doesn't imply what Calvin says it does!)  He goes on to say that there are those who fail to "reach the height" of David, by failing to see the connection between "creating" and "controlling," that they are "far from having a serious apprehension of the grace which [David] commends."  

Basically, Calvin makes us feel like if we agree with him, then we are thinking accurately, have good reason, and are admirable ... and if we don't agree, then we are not as intelligent as he is and cannot understand grace like Calvin and David do.  

It shames you and manipulates you into seeing things the way Calvin does because ... who wants to sound unintelligent and like we just don't get it?  

If Calvin's theology was accurate then, yes, we would be wise to accept it.  It would be humble of us to submit to it.  But Calvin's theology is more about his assumptions, about twisting the Bible to support his assumptions.  And, therefore, his attempts to convince us that "humble, intelligent people will agree with him" simply come across as manipulative, trying to force us to accept a view that isn't supported by the Bible.

2.  Chapter 16, Section 2:  If we have "learned from the mouth of Christ" then we will conclude, like Calvin, that all events are governed by the secret counsel of God (predetermined/caused/controlled by God).  

Who's going to say they don't believe that God controls all events if Calvin makes it sound like only those who believe it have "learned from the mouth of Christ"?  We all want to sound like we "learned from the mouth of Christ," and so we will be shamed into agreeing with him.  

If we don't know any better about what Scripture really teaches, then we will agree with Calvin just so we can look like we learned from Christ too.  

Calvinists today do this with "Calvinism is what the Bible teaches.  You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept it ... or else you'll be disagreeing with God."  They paint anyone who disagrees with them as unhumble Christians who are opposing God's Word.  And so who is ever going to oppose them and risk looking like they are fighting against God?  We are shamed into agreeing with them.  Or at least into keeping quiet so that we don't look like we are disagreeing with God.

3.  Chapter 16, Section 3:  It is "insipid" to say that God is just the originator of all things, and not the controller of all things.  It's "childish cavil" (a childish, petty objection) to simply believe that God started everything in motion but isn't tightly controlling/causing all details.  We "defraud God of His glory" if we do not think God causes all thing.  

Well, of course we are going to believe what Calvin says ... if disagreeing with him makes us look "insipid and childish and like we are robbing God of glory"!  

People are so easily manipulated into submission if you just paint a very unflattering picture of those who oppose you!  

Calvinists do this today with "God deserves all the glory, right!  Everything He does is for His glory, right!  So whatever He causes - all the tragedies, all the sins, all the unbelievers He puts in hell - is for His glory, right!"  

Once again I ask, who is going to argue with God's right to get glory?  So if they tell us that God causes everything for His glory, then we will simply nod our heads in agreement so we don't look like we oppose God's right to get glory.  

But ... what if they are wrongly representing God and how God acts and who is actually responsible for what happens, for our sins and our unbelief and for tragedies?

But we don't stop to question them because they've already painted those who disagree as unhumble, resistant, unintelligent Christians who are not being true to Scripture or bringing God glory!

Calvinism is all about the manipulation!  It has to be ... because it doesn't hold up against the truth of Scripture.  If you study Scripture alone, apart from Calvinist theologians telling you what to think, Calvinism falls apart.  So they have to keep you from looking at it all too closely.  

It's like a cult or a false religion that shames you into submission, that manipulates your desire to honor God to get you to agree with them, that keeps you from looking at it all too closely by telling you that you can't understand Scriptural Truth without their interpretations and their understanding of God's "secret wisdom."


(When you hear "Calvinism" from now on, I want you to think of one word: Hogwash!  And if you're feeling a bit spicy, you can add the "frickin'" if you want to.)

4.  Chapter 18, Section 3:  "As I have hirtherto stated only what is plainly and unambiguously stated in Scripture, those who hesitate not to stigmatise what is thus taught by the sacred oracles, had better beware what kind of censure they employ.  If, under a pretence of ignorance, they seek the praise of modesty, what greater arrogance can be imagined than to utter one word in opposition to the authority of God... Such petulance, indeed, is not new.  In all ages there have been wicked and profane men, who rabidly assailed this branch of doctrine."   

Okay, first of all, I am a bit confused about the "hesitate not to stigmatise" part, but from what I gather from the rest of this ... Calvin is saying that those who disagree with his view of God's all-controlling micromanaging are going against the rambling, nonsensical, contradictory ideas of Calvin the plain and unambiguous teachings of Scripture, as Calvin has altered, twisted, and misrepresented so clearly taught.  They are operating under ignorance.  Seeking praise.  Arrogant.  Opposing God.  Petulant.  Wicked and profane.  Viciously attacking doctrinal truth.

Yep ... who is going to disagree with him when this is how he paints those who disagree with him?   

Way to ensure that no one will disagree with you, Calvin!  Way to discredit anyone who does!  

For the record, I have no problem with God's authority.  I am not speaking against God's authority.  But I do have a problem with Calvinism's view of God's authority.  And there's a big difference!  

[And regarding Calvin's question of "what greater arrogance can be imagined" ... 

... hmm, let me imagine for a moment ...  

I imagine that a "greater arrogance" would be acting like you have the right to alter God's character and the truth about Jesus's sacrifice and God's saving grace and His love for all men, to decide for yourself that God doesn't love all men enough to die for them, that He predestines people to hell for His glory and pleasure, that He causes evil and sin and unbelief but then punishes us for it, and that He doesn't give people a choice about Him ... when SCRIPTURE CLEARLY TEACHES THE OPPOSITE!  And then to go out and spread your heresy among men, convincing them that your Calvinism is the Gospel, manipulating them into spreading your heresy as truth.  

I would think that would be a much "greater arrogance" than saying that God doesn't cause/control everything that happens because He has chosen not to, that He has decided to give men a certain degree of free-will and influence and responsibility in this world, and that He is righteous and just when He holds us accountable for our choices - a view that is supported by Scripture and upholds God's revealed character.

But I'm just thinking out loud here.  But I guess we'll find out for sure later when we stand before God and have to explain how we handled His Truth, what we said about Him, what we taught others about Him and His love and His grace and His sacrifice.]

5.  Chapter 17, Section 1:  "Such is the proneness of the human mind to indulge in vain subtleties ..."  Basically, he is saying that we foolishly get caught up in "vain subtleties" (pridefully entertaining nonsense and insignificant ideas) if we contemplate the doubts we have about "God causes/controls/ordains all things," if we explore the inconsistencies of it and the unreasonableness of it.  

But if we have "sedate and quiet minds" (like a humble, good, obedient Calvinist) then we would understand it.

In section 2, he basically says that we commit blasphemy if we "refuse to admit that every event which happens in the world is governed by the incomprehensible counsel of God" (that God controls/causes everything).  

Yes, we need to believe that God is over all things, that He holds all things in His hands, that nothing happens without His knowledge and permission.  But this is far different from Calvin's belief that God causes all things.  

And which is more blasphemous:  To say that God has decided to allow people to make choices ... or to say that God causes evil and sin and yet punishes people for it?  To say that God allows us to either choose Him or reject Him, so that if we end up in hell it's by our own decision to reject Him ... or to say that God Himself predestines who goes to hell, that Jesus didn't die for the unelect, and that there's nothing they can do about it?

In section 4, Calvin says that Solomon "derides the stupidity of those who presume to undertake anything without God, as if they were not ruled by his hand..."  He's saying that Solomon calls us stupid if we believe that we make any decisions on our own, that we are not fully controlled by God.  

Once again, who is going to disagree with Calvin when he calls it "blasphemy" and "stupidity"?

Also in section 2:  "Therefore, since God claims for himself the right of governing the world, a right unknown to us, let it be our law of modesty and soberness to acquiesce in his supreme authority regarding his will as our only rule of justice, and the most perfect cause of all things..."

Basically, God rules all, controls all, causes all ... and we would be modest and sober (humble and wise) to accept that!  

Calvinists do this today with "You don't have to understand it; you just have to accept it.  Humble people have no trouble accepting that God predestines and causes everything, even sin and unbelief.  We don't have to like it or understand it; we just have to accept it.  Because it's what God says."  They stop you from looking too closely at Calvinism and from questioning its illogical issues and contradictions by telling you to just accept it, like a good humble Christian.

Shaming!  Manipulation!  Hogwash!

(Again, I remind you that God gave Adam and Eve a certain amount of control and dominion over His creation.  He voluntarily limited Himself and His use of power.  And now, He often works in conjunction with and in response to men.  But when Adam and Eve fell, they gave Satan some of that power and authority, which is why Jesus calls him the prince - the ruler - of the earth (John 14:30).

So ... No, Calvin ... God alone is not the cause of all things because God Himself decided to not be the cause of all things, the controller of all things.  He chose to give some power and control and authority to men, and we gave it to Satan.  So, biblically, there are other factors at work.  Although, as I've said, it all operates under the sovereign and watchful eye of God, and He will work it all into His plans and into something good.)

When I first started reading Calvin's Institutes, I thought maybe I'd learn that todays' Calvinists are nothing like him, like maybe he taught something completely different from what they believe today, that I was being unfair to pin Calvin's blunders on today's Calvinists.  

But the more I read, the more I realize that they are just like him, in beliefs, in prideful smug attitude, in manipulative tactics, etc.  (I am talking more about the dogmatic Calvinists.  But there are many good, humble Calvinists out there, ones who are just trying to live their faith as best they know how, to honor God.  But I think their problem is that they just haven't looked closely enough at Calvinism and Scripture, to see the irreconcilable differences.)  

I could find many more examples, but I just can't stomach it anymore!  Read it for yourself, and you might be surprised about how much of his theology is based on his own assumptions and on shaming and manipulating people into agreeing with his assumptions!  It doesn't take a genius to see it.  And it doesn't take a genius to see how different his theology is from what the Bible says.  It just takes a willingness to question Calvin's beliefs and to read the Bible on its own, without Calvinist glasses on.

Chapter 17 and Chapter 18 are about Calvin trying to make sense out of how God can be the "cause" of evil yet not be held accountable for evil, how we are "controlled" by God yet can be held accountable for what we do.  

In Chapter 17, section 5, Calvin addresses the dilemma of "If God controls us and we do the evil He wills us to do, why is He not accountable for it?  Why are we?"  As I said before, Calvin's problem is his view of sovereignty and God's control.  Calvin causes his own theological problems by assuming that God causes all things - even sin - and so he has to then try to explain how we can be held accountable for the things God causes and how God cannot be held accountable for the sin/evil/unbelief He causes.

But you can't make sense out of nonsense!  So it's just ends up being a bunch of rambling, round-and-round nonsense, trying to rationalize a belief that shouldn't be rationalized.

Calvin also flops back and forth in what he teaches.  He teaches that God controls all we do and that everything happens according to God's Will and by God's divine decree.  Therefore, as Calvin acknowledges, we have to conclude that those who commit crimes are simply operating in God's Will.  But then he tries to explain how we can punish those who are simply doing the evil that God has predestined them to do by saying that they are not really doing God's Will after all.  

About the actions of wicked people, Calvin says "I deny that they serve the will of God."  He says that we cannot say that "he who has been carried away by a wicked mind are performing service on the order of God" because the evil person is "only following his own malignant desires," not acting in obedience.

Wait just a second, Calvin!  You say that everything - even our utterances, every bad natural disaster, all evil, everything we do - is controlled by and ordained by God, according to His Will and purposes and pleasure.  You even say in section 4 that "prudence and folly are instruments of divine dispensation," that God either causes us to be prudent and safe or to be foolish and to bring disaster on ourselves.  

But now you are going to say that wicked men doing wicked things are not controlled by God!?!

Basically, Calvin's theology is "Everything that happens is done by the Will of God, by the hand of God.  We can't do anything, even evil things, unless God wills it to happen.  But if we do evil, it's not God's Will because only obedience to the Word is God's Will, even though God controls all we do and we can't do any evil unless God wills it.  And if you don't agree with me then you are a bad, unhumble Christian who dishonors God, and I will burn you at the stake with green wood that takes longer to burn."

"Hi, my name's John Calvin.  And I'm a schizophrenic megalomaniac with irrational thinking, delusions of grandeur, and a messianic complex.  Would you be my disciples?"

Calvin says that "Obedience is when we are instructed in his will and hasten in the direction he calls."  But that if we act wickedly, God didn't commanded it.  

First of all, doesn't needing to be "instructed in his will" imply that there are things that happen outside of His Will?  Hmm, let's see what Calvin says about this elsewhere ...

  -- God completely controls and causes every little thing that happens, "down to the minutest detail, down even to a sparrow."

  -- "it is certain that not a drop of rains falls without the express command of God"

  -- "Therefore, since God claims for himself the right of governing the world, a right unknown to us, let it be our law of modesty and soberness to acquiesce in his supreme authority regarding his will as our only rule of justice, and the most perfect cause of all things..."  

  -- And according to Calvin, Solomon "derides the stupidity of those who presume to undertake anything without God, as if they were not ruled by his hand..."   

  -- And we commit blasphemy if we "refuse to admit that every event which happens in the world is governed by the incomprehensible counsel of God."

  -- And it is "insipid" to say God is just the originator of all things, but not the controller of all things.

  -- "The counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined" 

  -- "everything done in the world is according to His decree"  

  -- and "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 much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetuate, unless in so far as he permits - nay, unless in so far as he commands" 

So ... everything that happens in this world is "by His Will," yet there is still some need to be "instructed in his will," as if anything can happen outside His Will!  

Ha-ha-ha!  Oh, that's rich!  Calvin (Calvinists) constantly contradicts himself and expects us not to notice.

And how exactly can we "hasten in the direction" of anything if God controls the direction we take?  How can we choose obedience if, as Calvin says, God controls everything we do?  How can Calvin say that everything happens by God's command except wickedness, after already stating that God controls all evil?  

In Chapter 18, section 2, Calvin says, "The sum of the whole is this, - since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence; so that he not only exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, but also forces the reprobate to do him service."

Hold your horses there, mister ... 

"I deny that [wicked men] serve the will of God.  For we cannot say that he who is carried away by a wicked mind performs service on the order of God ..."  

But now you say "the reprobate do him service"!?!

Hmm?  Which one is it?  

Calvin says God controls all evil when he's trying to uphold God's "sovereignty" (by that, he means "micromanaging control"), but he denies that God controls all evil when he's trying to figure out who to "blame" for it.

"Confused, inconsistent theologian, table of one!"

Make up your mind, Calvin!  You can't have it both ways!  God either does cause everything or He doesn't cause everything!

If God is so "in control" (as Calvin says) then how come He's only in control of the obedient people and not the wicked people?  So we are responsible for our disobedience, as if we ourselves choose disobedience ... but if we are obedient, it's because God caused us to be?  Wouldn't us having some sort of responsibility for our disobedience somehow negate God's "sovereign, micromanaging, control," as Calvin defines it?  Didn't Calvin himself just say that the greatest arrogance ever is to utter one word against God's authority?  That even Solomon would call us stupid for presuming to undertake anything without God, as if we are not fully ruled by God?  Aren't we "defrauding God of His glory" if we say there is something He doesn't control?

And yet now Calvin is going to say that those who are carried away by a wicked mind are not doing the will of God?

Round-and-round, nonsensical, rambling hogwash!  

(It would be comical, laughable even ... if it wasn't such a destructive, widespread, faith-damaging theology.)  

Of course, God doesn't command that we do evil, and doing evil is not obedience to God.  Calvin is right about that.  It's what we should believe, based on the Bible.  But Calvin cannot make that truth mesh with his belief that God is the cause of all things and that God controls the course of everything.  And that's why these are such rambling, nonsensical chapters.

One thing we learned in my graduate school psychology classes was that the more words people use, the less truthful they are.  And I think Calvin's 1000+ pages of trying to describe his theology are 1000+ pages of trying to make nonsense into sense.  And since that's not possible, he has to constantly add more words and ideas to try to make his errors and inconsistencies sound reasonable and biblical.  By comparison, the Bible's book of John - which pretty much contains the foundational things we need to know about mankind and Jesus and the path of salvation - is only about a couple dozen pages long.  Interesting!

This mixture of truth and error is why it's so hard to fight Calvinism and to detect the heresy of it.  They say enough truth to get you to think they are accurately teaching the Word of God and they make you feel humble for accepting it.  But you have to always view their "truth" through the lens of their fundamental theological errors, which completely discredits even the "true" things they say.

#7:  And lastly, a few points about Chapter 18:

1.  In Chapter 18, section 1, Calvin actually addresses the issue of "God causes things" vs. "God simply allows things".  He acknowledges that it sounds absurd to say God causes men to be spiritually blind but then punishes them for their blindness.  

However, then Calvin tells us that God Himself says that nothing happens without the "secret instigation of God," without Him directly causing it for His purposes, proven (so says Calvin) by a number of passages in the Bible.  (I would say "misunderstood, misapplied, and taken-out-of-context passages in the Bible.")

Hmm?  Let's see what some of the passages in the Bible say, some of God's own words ...

Hosea 8:4:  “They [Israel] set up kings without my [God’s] consent; they choose princes without my approval.”  

Isaiah 30:1:  “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine.” 

Jeremiah 19:4-5:  “They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods … They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offering to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

Yep, totally sounds just like "everything happens because God causes it"!

2.  And also in section 1 is another instance of Calvin assuming things, of taking one verse and applying it to everything.  "What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men" (meaning that whatever we do is because God caused it, because it pleased Him to cause it). 

But ... what if it shouldn't "certainly" be extended to say that God causes everything we do?  What if Calvin errs in taking one verse and applying it broadly, to everything?  What if God simply meant that when He has a plan He wants to do, He does it ... not that everything that happens is because He is pleased to cause it to happen?  

(Except for, of course, the actions of those who are carried away by a wicked mind.  Right, Calvin?  God doesn't control those things, does He?  But how then does that fit with your assertion that God Himself says that nothing happens without His "secret instigation"?  I'm confused here, Calvin.  Help me understand better.  Maybe a couple hundred more pages added to your Institutes would help explain it all more clearly.  I don't think the 1000+ pages was enough to express your theology in a clear, consistent way.  And you know what they say: "More rambling equals better theology!")

3.  To his credit, Calvin does say something that is borderline true in this paragraph, that Satan couldn't attempt to do anything against Job without the will of God.  It sounds like nothing can happen unless God allows it, which I agree with.  But then he goes on to use Job's words about "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away" to "infer" that God "authored" Job's tragedies.  Once again, Calvin is inferring things about God, using the cries of a hurting man as Gospel Truth, ignoring the fact that Satan was the one who asked to test Job, that Satan chose which tragedies to cause, and that God simply allowed it.  

And Calvin adds something that isn't in most translations of the Bible.  He says that Job 1:21 says "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done..."  However, out of 27 translations, I could only find 2 that added the phrase "as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done": The Douay-Rheims Bible and the Brenton Septuagint Translation.  

The Douay-Rheims is a Catholic Bible, translated from the Latin Vulgate, with the intention of preserving the Catholic tradition during the Protestant Reformation.  Its New Testament was translated in 1582 and the Old Testament in about 1609.  And the Brenton was published in the 1800s, using the Codex Vaticanus as its base text.  However, John Calvin first published his Institutes in 1536, so he couldn't have used either of those.  

But he could have used the Codex Vaticanus as his Bible translation, because that is dated to about the 4th century.  It's based on the correspondence between Erasmus and the Vatican Library.  I have found other people who suggest that Calvin's Bible was based on Erasmus's writing.  However there are questions about the accuracy of the Codex Vaticanus since most of the translations that came after it differed from it in how they translated passages.

Overall, the point here is that the words "as it pleased the Lord" do not appear in most Bible translations.  And that is the phrase Calvin is basing his whole point on in that passage, trying to support the idea that the Lord caused Job's trials because it pleased Him to do it, and that He likewise causes everything that happens because it pleases Him.  


4.  And for the record, I could agree with another point Calvin makes here, that God decided that Ahab would be deceived.  But I believe God did not cause Ahab to believe lies, contradicting Calvin's belief that it pleased God to cause Ahab to believe in lies.  

I believe God didn't necessarily want Ahab to believe in lies or cause Ahab to believe in lies.  God simply gave Ahab what Ahab wanted.  

Ahab wanted to believe lies, so God allowed Satan to present him with lies so that Ahab would believe them.  But God did not cause Ahab to choose to believe in lies, and God did not lie to Ahab.  God just let Ahab believe what he wanted to believe, and He let the lying demons lie like they wanted to do.  And God used it for His purposes.  This is different from Calvin's idea that God caused Ahab to believe lies because it pleased Him to do so.

5.  And, referring to Calvin's point in section 1 that God excites the wicked to war, God can and has caused war in the Bible.  He has used wicked nations to discipline His people.  BUT ... He did not make them be wicked and violent.  He just worked their wickedness into His plans.  He didn't cause the playground bullies to be playground bullies; He just let the playground bullies loose in the direction He wanted them to go so that they could accomplish what He wanted accomplished.  This is the graceful balance of mankind's free-will and God's sovereign control.

6.  And I can agree that God predestined Jesus's death (also section 1).  I believe that God knew from the beginning that mankind would fall, and so He devised a plan from the beginning to fix it.  Sending Jesus to the cross for us.  And God knew when the best time to send Jesus was going to be, and He knew the people He would use to carry out His plan.  But He did not cause the people to be wicked and to rebel against Jesus.  They chose to be the way they were, and God worked their rebellion into His plans. This also is different from how Calvin (and my Calvinist pastor) would view it.  They would say that God caused the people to be wicked so that He could carry out His plans.  I do not agree that God causes evil and wickedness.  I think this goes against the very nature of God.  But God can use our evil and wickedness.  In His sovereignty, wisdom, and foreknowledge, He knows how to work our choices and self-chosen character into His plans.

7.  I can also agree with Calvin's line (section 1) that "Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of His judgments" ... if Calvin simply meant that God can work any and all of our choices into His plans.  But Calvin goes too far by saying that God causes everything we think and every evil thing that happens (remember ... "unless in so far as he commands"). 

According to Calvin, God doesn't just allow the bad things and the plans we devise; He causes them.

And that's going too far!!!  (As I said, Calvin mixes some good theology with bad.  So much so that you always have to read his good theology in light of his bad theology about what he really believes about God and mankind and evil, etc.  His bad theology taints his good.  It contradicts his good.  And it disqualifies him from being a reliable teacher of God's truth.)

8.  In Chapter 18, section 2, Calvin opens with another inference, applying one verse to everything.  He says that Solomon's point that God turns the hearts of kings anyway He pleases "certainly applies to the whole human race, and has the same force as if he had said, that whatever we conceive in our minds is directed to its end by the secret inspiration of God."

Hmm?  So a verse about God directing kings should "certainly" be used to mean that God controls the thoughts of all men?  Interesting!  I love how Calvin feels he has the freedom to "certainly" apply any verse he wants to whatever he wants.  Must be nice to be able to make up your own theology like that!

You know what?  I think I'll take the passage about an angry God providing the Israelites with an over-abundance of quail (Numbers 11) as punishment for their complaining, leading to the death of a bunch of them, as proof that God has given us all meat as punishment.  So anytime we eat meat, God is punishing us.  And we might die.  Enjoy your burger!

9.  Also in section 2, Calvin addresses the idea of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh and blinding the minds of people.  He calls it "silly cavil" to say that Pharaoh's heart was hardened as a result of him first hardening his own heart or that God just allowed Pharaoh's heart to be hard but had no part in hardening it.

While I agree that God did not just permit Pharaoh's heart to be hard, that God actually did cause Pharaoh's heart to be hard ... I believe Scripture shows that Pharaoh had a choice in hardening his heart, that God did not just arbitrarily harden his heart.  

Pharaoh first chose to harden his own heart, for the first several plagues ... and then, in response to Pharaoh choice, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, making Pharaoh's choice permanent.  And He worked it into His plans.  

Plus, according to the concordance, the word "hardens" shows that it's a punishment for having first hardened our own hearts, even after God is patient and long-suffering with us.  So I agree with Calvin that God did harden Pharaoh's heart, but I disagree that it was all God's doing and that Pharaoh had no choice about it.  (For more on this, see "God Set Pharaoh Up" and "According to the concordance ... It's NOT predestination" and "Are We Forced To Be Obedient or Disobedient?")

10.  Section 3 really bugs me.  It's full of problems.  First off, this is the paragraph where he says that he has only stated what is clearly taught in Scripture ... when what he should say is that he has totally misinterpreted and misapplied what is taught in Scripture.  But, who's going to admit to that?  Especially when they can't see it for themselves?

Anyway, he goes on to try to prove that God causes all things, with some pretty flimsy reasoning, and accusing those who disagree of directing their foolishness (for disagreeing) not towards him but towards the Holy Spirit.  "Hey guys, if you disagree with me, you are disagreeing with the Holy Spirit!"  So like today's Calvinists: "Calvinism is the Gospel.  If you disagree with it, you are disagreeing with God's Word."  Manipulation!

His flimsy reasoning includes "evidence" like ... 

... Job saying that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, meaning (according to Calvin) that God was pleased to cause Job's tragedies, instead of that God simply allowed them.  (And on a side note, it really bothers me that Calvin says that Job admits that the tragedies were God's "chastisement," punishment for Job.  They were NO SUCH THING!  Job was very righteous and highly favored by God and blessed by God.  That's why Satan asked to test him.  The tragedies were from Satan, even though God allowed it.  They were not for punishment in any way.  But God allowed Satan to afflict Job because He knew Job would bring God glory through it all.  Has Calvin not read the book of Job!?!  Because it sure seems like he hasn't!) ... 

... and Eli's sons disobeyed their father because it was the Lord's will to put them to death (meaning that God caused them to disobey so that He could punish them with death, instead of - more accurately, as seen in other examples of how God works - God first let them choose to be the kind of people they wanted to be, and then He made their choice permanent.  They chose to be disobedient, and God hardened their hearts as punishment.) ... 

... and that God "forms good and evil; that no evil happens which he has not done" (which totally contradicts his earlier point that those carried away by a wicked mind are not doing God's Will or performing service for God).  I'm not sure who inserted the reference verses into Calvin's writing, but they don't fit for this example.  
          Isaiah 45:7 does not say God forms good and evil; it says "... I bring prosperity and create disaster ..."  Disaster is essentially different from evil.  They are not interchangeable.  But Calvin chooses to say "evil" instead of "disaster," so that he can support his idea that God is the cause of and controller of all things, even evil things.  But I think the verse is simply saying that God can and does decide whether to bless with abundance or to punish with ruin.  Far different from "God causes all evil things."  
          And Amos 3:6 does not say that "no evil happens which he has not done"; it says "... When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it"?  Once again I think this is saying that God chooses whether to bless or punish a city, not that God causes all evil that happens.  
          And Calvin says that if a man is accidentally killed by an ax, it was that God smited him, that God Himself handed him over to the guy who accidentally killed him, as if God causes all "accidents" as punishment.  But Deuteronomy 19:5 simply says that if a man is chopping wood and his ax head flies off and kills a nearby man, then the one who accidentally killed the other man can run to a refuge city so that no one will kill him in revenge.  There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in here about God smiting the man who was killed or causing the man to be killed.  
          Calvin's choice of words changes the meaning of the verses and the character of God.  But, hey, at least it makes his theological views seem accurate and biblical, right?  After all, if you can't find a Bible verse that says what you want, simply alter the ones that are there to fit your view.  And tell the people that if they disagree, they are disagreeing with the Holy Spirit and God's Word.  Works like a charm! ...

And this paragraph also contains some more great examples of manipulation.  Instead of considering that he might just be understanding God's Will wrong, Calvin blames "the feebleness of our intellect" and "the dullness of our sense" for having trouble understanding how God can cause the things He also forbids, how He can will and not will the same thing.  Oh, that's right ... the problem isn't with Calvin's understanding of Scripture or of God; the problem is that our tiny brains are simply too stupid to grasp the mysterious "truths" Calvin teaches us about God.  Brilliant!  Well done, Calvin!

"Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which he forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility ..."

Freakin' brilliant!  Always deflect scrutiny of your views by blaming the people for being too stupid to understand the "truth" you share!  Then they'll accept what you say without question - because you are the brilliant, God-inspired teacher while they are merely the simple-minded pupils who have to rely on you to tell them what to believe and how to understand the Word.  

My goodness, Calvin's writing is a treasure trove of advice on "how to brainwash people to join your cult"!

And I love how he says that objections against his views are "easily disposed of" and that they "spontaneously vanish," making it sound like his views are so rock-solid that it takes little effort to defeat arguments against him or the problems we have with his teachings ... when in reality, it took him over 1000+ pages to try to explain his views and make it all sound like it fits (when all it really did was sound like a rambling mess that created more questions than it answered and more inconsistencies and illogical ideas than it explained).

One more interesting point:  At the end of section 4, Calvin says that God looks "not to what men could do, but to what they wished to do, thus taking into account their will ..."  A human Will that Calvin repeated says we don't have, yet now says that God sees.  Interesting! 

(Side note: Honestly, I think Calvin is more a disciple of Augustine than of Christ, with all the times he upholds what Augustine says as Gospel Truth, viewing Scripture in light of Augustine's teachings.  After all, "All pious and modest men will readily acquiesce in the sentiment of Augustine ..."  and "Modest minds will always be satisfied with Augustine's answer ..."

"Our true wisdom is to embrace with meek docility, and without reservation, whatever I, John Calvin, the Holy Scriptures, have delivered.  Those who indulge their petulance by disagreeing with me, a petulance manifestly directed at God because disagreeing with me is the same as disagreeing with God, are undeserving of a longer refutation than the 1000+ pages I have already written to manipulate you into agreeing with my theology."  (How the first draft of the end of chapter 18 must have looked!)   

Calvin - Calvinism - makes a mess of the Gospel, of God's Truth, of God's character, of Jesus's sacrifice and what it accomplished, of our understanding of who we are and how God relates to us, etc.  

And his efforts to try to make sense of how God can cause evil but not be responsible for it  - of how God can cause things He forbids - won't work.  His reasoning won't make sense.  Because he has a wrong view of sovereignty and of how God works from the very beginning.  

But if Calvin and Calvinists would just view things correctly, taking Scripture as a whole and keeping God's revealed character in mind, it would all fit nicely and make sense and uphold Truth and the character of God.  

God does not cause sin and evil, but He does allow us to choose sin and evil.  And then He works it into His plans.  This is why we can be held accountable for our choices, and why God cannot be accused of causing evil and sin.      

Why is this so hard for Calvinists to grasp!?!  Why do they have to keep trying to define "God's sovereignty" as "God causes all things ... but man is responsible for sin and evil, even though God causes it"?  


But ... such is Calvinism!

(See this post for a much more biblical explanation of "God's Will" than Calvin's idea that God wills everything that happens and that everything happens because God wills it.)

You know what?  I'm done for now.  I can't take any more of this nonsense.  I can't even read my own writing on it anymore.  It just makes me so sick to my stomach.  So I leave it to you to read Calvin's stuff for yourself.  

And for any dogmatic Calvinists out there: Pray before you read.  Pray that God would open your eyes to the truth.  

If you don't see the severe problems in Calvinism, if it doesn't make you sick to your stomach too, then you either don't really understand Calvinism or you don't really understand Scripture!

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