The Calvinist’s Basis of Authority

Today, I discovered an article that was written ostensibly to provide non-Calvinists instruction for effectively confronting those who believe in God’s effectual grace. The author who is the comical side-kick of a disgruntled former member of a church named Clear Creek Chapel in Ohio, USA, seemed completely confident that he could tie Calvinists in knots by merely asking if they agreed with everything Calvin wrote [Who agrees with everything any other mere human being writing apart from divine inspiration has written?]. I could not suppress the overwhelming conviction that this man is simply profoundly ignorant. No informed person is going to suggest that a Calvinist is a person who is a follower of John Calvin or a person who agrees with all that Calvin wrote or said. Additionally, a Calvinist is not a person who necessarily agrees with everything written in the Canons of Dort or the Westminster, London Baptist, Philadelphia Confessions. The term “Calvinist” is merely short-hand for a person who believes in soteriological monergism. It describes one who believes as A. M. Toplady wrote, “Thou must save and Thou alone.”

According to this man, you must simply ask a Calvinist if everything Calvin wrote was inerrant. If he wrote anything that cannot be substantiated by a clear reading of the Scriptures, then Calvin must have been a heretic. In other words, either everything Calvin wrote was without error, or nothing he wrote can be trusted and he was a heretic. That would tend to render everyone who has ever written or spoken anything a heretic.

I want to suggest a couple of ideas for you to consider. First, as indicated above, we are not followers of John Calvin. We do not agree with everything Calvin did or everything he taught. If we cannot find a basis for his doctrine or his practice in the Scriptures, we simply reject it.

Secondly, being wrong about a particular aspect of biblical doctrine does not make one a heretic. No one claims inerrancy for Calvin’s writings and a handful of errors in his voluminous writings does not make him a heretic.

Finally, when we quote from Calvin, the Canons of Dort, or from one of the Confessions mentioned above, we do not do so as an authoritative basis for our beliefs. We do not regard any of these as our authority. We simply quote them to give definition to our doctrines. If you wish to know what we believe, don’t consult books written by soteriological synergists like Dave Hunt . Go to our Confessions or Canons. Interact the doctrines that are articulated in them. That should at least give us a solid basis for meaningful discussion.

1 Response to “The Calvinist’s Basis of Authority”

  1. January 16, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    Years ago I hated John Calvin! Actually, i knew very little about him. I had surmised that God, in His sovereignty, had given us the ability to in effect ‘save ourselves’ putting us in charge of our salvation with our ‘free will’ decisions. Years later, and after a lot of Bible study, I had to conclude that God was sovereign, not me. After this prodigal surrendered his will to God’s I still thought that it was my ‘decision’ that ruled the day. About three months later, The Holy Spirit slapped me upside my thick cranium and set me straight, using John 6:44. I have a good friend at work who told me that although the Bible seems to come down on; the side of Calvinism, he is still an Arminian. He can’t let go of “free will”, which is a hard assumption for so many these days.

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