The Calvin behind Calvinism

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In today’s church, there are those who ascribe to a theological system termed Calvinism. This system of theology is named after John Calvin. He was a second generation Reformer, having left the Roman Catholic Church around 1530 and joining the Reformation in 1537. He was 27 years old when he wrote Institutes of the Christian Religion… which live on to this very day. John Calvin was an intellectual genius yet a moral reprobate, being a wicked man who, as the historical record shows, certainly did not display personal regeneration. In fact, the record shows that John Calvin was an evil man who was guilty of heresy as well as murder (as we will see).

While Calvin’s teachings have influenced millions upon millions who now unashamedly call themselves “Calvinists”, he was a man who I can only describe as reprobate; a person who could spew out all sorts of theological nonsense while wrapping it all up in Biblical language. The great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, said of John Calvin:

“Among all those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin; no age, before him ever produced his equal, and no age afterwards has seen his rival. In theology, he stands alone, shining like a bright fixed star, while other leaders and teachers can only circle round him, at a great distance — as comets go streaming through space — with nothing like his glory or his permanence” . . . “the longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system is the nearest to perfection.”

C.H Spurgeon was a great Man of God … just as many Calvinists are. His ministry continues to touch multitudes of lives even to this very day. Yet, we see that Spurgeon himself, by seeing his own words above, was blinded by the theological heresies of John Calvin. This should serve to show us that even the greatest Men of God can be blindsided by satan’s ministers!

Many today who love the Lord Jesus and obey Him hold to the teachings known as Calvinism. For the sake of this article, I won’t go into the actual teachings but will rather focus on John Calvin as a man in light of the historical record. I simply want to be clear that I in no way somehow believe that “all Calvinists are lost”. On the contrary, I think of great men of God such as Paul Washer, John Piper, Francis Chan, matt Chandler and others; these men of God are Christ-Followers who are known as men who hold to John Calvin’s teachings. Holding to Calvinism as a theological system certainly isn’t a damnable sin yet holding to them is for certain holding to forms of error concerning who God is, the work and ministry of the Lord, etc. But again, we won’t delve into that in this article; I’ll save that for a separate one.

John Calvin’s influence did not stretch only to those within the church; he influenced everything and everyone around him, including the famous atheist, Voltaire, so stated concerning John Calvin:

“The famous Calvin whom we regard as the apostle of Geneva raised himself up to the rank of pope of the Protestants.”

John Calvin wasn’t a lazy man; he wasn’t sitting around in a dark room somewhere writing books. No! He worked hard to bring those around him into agreement with his theological positions and ministry practices. Working 12 hours a day and up, he wore many hats! He preached, advised, administrated.. you name it, he was doing it!

While he worked tirelessly in his ministry, just what did John Calvin himself believe which would place him in the category of a lost person? Sure, he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion; sure he wrote a commentary on almost every book of the Bible… but what beliefs, if any, did he hold that can be considered indefensible? Brothers and sisters, there are many!

First, you may be shocked to know that John Calvin, like Roman Catholics, believed his reformed Church to be the true church as this shocking quote shows:

“Herman has, if I am not mistaken, in good faith returned to the fellowship of the Church. He has confessed that outside the Church there is no salvation, and that the true Church is with us. Therefore, it was defection when he belonged to a sect separated from it.” (Letters of John Calvin, trans. M. Gilchrist, ed. J.Bonnet, New York: Burt Franklin, 1972, I: 110-111.)

John Calvin believed concerning the Eucharist in a similar way to what Roman Catholics believe about it, that the Eucharist gives “undoubted assurance of eternal life to our minds, but also secures the immortality of our flesh.” ( Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.32)

Next, Mr. Calvin was a racist, hating Jews and calling them names as he said, and I quote, “I have had much conversation with many Jews: I have never seen either a drop of piety or a grain of truth or ingenuousness – nay, I have never found common sense in any Jew.” ( Calvin’s commentary of Daniel 2:44–45 translated by Myers, Thomas.Calvin’s Commentaries. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948, quoted in Lange van Ravenswaay 2009, p. 146)

Calvin wanted Jews to suffer as he says that “their rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.” (A Response To Questions and Objections of a Certain Jew (Ad quaestiones et objecta Judaei cuiusdam responsio)

He said that Jews are “profane dogs” who “under the pretext of prophecy, stupidly devour all the riches of the earth with their unrestrained cupidity.” (Quoted in Essential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict by Jeremy Cohen.)

John Calvin taught that God predestined multitudes of people to damnation; that God made them, not with an opportunity to repent and be saved, but specifically created them to suffer eternal damnation (also known as double predestination). He says concerning this: ““The predestination by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and adjudges others to eternal death, no man who would be thought pious ventures simply to deny . . . By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.21.5)

John Calvin believed it was perfectly acceptable to kill people if he believed that they weren’t holding to Biblical truth. In other words, Calvin was a murderer, claiming it was perfectly fine to slaughter those who disagreed with his personal views. One example of this is the well known trial of Michael Servetus. Michael denied Calvin’s beliefs on infant water baptism and he also denied the Doctrine of the Trinity. Due to Michael Servetus’ beliefs, which conflicted with John Calvin’s, he was put on trial and ultimately murdered for his personal beliefs.

It should be noted that John Calvin himself did not do the killing. In fact, Calvin wanted Michael Servetus to repent of his disagreements with Calvinistic doctrine. Calvin pretty much plead with Michael Servetus not to go to Geneva as he wouldn’t be safe. Calvin said: ““But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety, for if he shall come [to Geneva], I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail.” ( Bonnet and Gilchrist, Letters of John Calvin: Compiled From the Original Manuscripts and Edited With Historical Notes, 2:19)

Calvin states concerning killing people for not believing the doctrines he himself held to: “Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church.” ( Schaff. Quoted in

So we see the mindset of John Calvin; that he believed it to be a “perpetual” rule given by God to murder people for he (John Calvin) considered to be “heresy”.

A man by the name of Jerome Bolsec was thrown in prison for challenging John Calvin to a debate. (Letter to Madame de Cany, 1552) Mr. Bolsec was not in agreement with Calvin’s personal view of predestination and therefore challenged Calvin. He learned quite quickly that questioning John Calvin was a criminal offence!

Pierre Ameaux was found guilty of slandering John Calvin and was ordered to pay a fine. Calvin wasn’t happy about the fine so Mr. Ameaux was thrown in prison for two months, lost his employment and was paraded through town on his knees to confess his slander against Calvin. He also had to pay the trial fees. ( The Constructive Revolutionary by Fred Graham, pp. 162-169; Will Durant, The Reformation, p. 479)

Jacques Gruet was a poet who slandered Calvin; what happened to Gruet? He was executed. (

There are many other things I could write on concerning John Calvin but I think the above will suffice at this time. Clearly, John Calvin was a man who was ruthless in his dealings with others, murdering those who were in disagreement with him. Those who ruled with him were his henchmen – comparable to the mafia. Calvin was not to be messed with…because if you messed with him, you’d be killed.

Is this the testimony of a genuine child of God? I submit that Calvin’s life and ministry testify to the opposite.

Matthew 7:15-23 ”

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”


I sourced my material from Frank Viola at

The information above is from his research (which he references). 

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