Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26- Calvin on World Vision

God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. (I Timothy 2:4,5)

Calvin: "there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception. [those people insult God] "who, by their opinion, shut out any person from the hope of salvation.(Commentary on I Timothy 2:4,5)

One of our church members said that he was playing golf with a Baptist minister, who asked him if “he was a Calvinist.” Then he said that Calvin’s idea of predestination made Calvin not believe in missions. This is a common belief, not because of anything Calvin taught, but because people don’t think that anyone who spoke of predestination- which is God’s choosing us before we were born- could possibly be concerned with presenting the gospel so people could respond. There is an interesting article on this by Ray VanNeste at
A. M. Hunter, in his book on Calvin's teaching, said, "Certainly he [Calvin] displayed no trace of missionary enthusiasm." Some have even said that Calvin's teaching on predestination necessarily destroyed evangelistic fervor; "we are all familiar with the scornful rationalization that facilely asserts that his horrible doctrine of divine election makes nonsense of all missionary and evangelistic activity." Others, however, have said: "One of the natural results of Calvin's perspective of predestination was an intensified zeal for evangelism."
Calvin believed that God does predestine people, but he uses our words to do it. Contrary to many, Calvin never saw predestination as an excuse for inaction. It was through our telling others of the good news of Christ that the elect responded to Christ and the non-elect do not.
In his commentary on I Timothy 2:4,5 Calvin was saying that everyone should hear the gospel- no matter how rich, how poor, whether they are close are far away. We should never pick and choose who should hear the good news of Christ. Only God elects, our job is to proclaim to all people. Later, as we shall see, Calvin sent out 88 missionaries to France alone. He wrote tons of letters to people in other countries to spread the good news. He sent two ministers from Geneva to Brazil to begin to spread the good news there among Huguenot colonists and the natives.
Frankly, we are too quick to say only certain kind of people should be invited to church by us, or invited to hear the good news of Christ. When I lived on the coast of South Carolina, twice a year there were huge motor bike rallies. Some ministers from our area were complaining about these people because they were noisy, some said some tough words to the natives, and drinking and drug abuse went up during that week. But there were a couple of ministers who spoke about their efforts of trying to reach these migrating groups. Some churches set up lemonade stands, and passed out tracts. One church hired their own evangelist to do work among them. Everyone who breathes needs Jesus. Whatever benefit I have received from Christ is that much more reason to tell another about him. John Calvin, I believe, would agree.

Prayer- Lord help us to see others as you see them. Help us to be concerned with other people, and to grow in love of neighbor as well as those far off or different from us. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you about Calvin. I feel that we're still supposed to continue on our own Christian journey even though our paths are predestined.

    Arguing against spreading the gospel because of predestination is like saying we should all jump off a bridge today since our death is predestined?

    Life is to be lived and faith is to be shared, in my opinion.