Church history is fascinating. Have you ever wondered how it happened...how the church formed...what events took place between Christ’s ministry, the church the apostles started to today’s “emerging church”? Well a lot happened (this week we studied it in class) and I encourage you to seek out the major events, but I want to share with you about a man who had a big impact in the history of the church, John Calvin. Before I get started sharing my thoughts, I want you to know I have not studied John Calvin and the subject of election/predestination in depth. I find it interesting and want to search it out more. With that said, I do think Mr. Calvin was very wise and incredibly knowledge of the Scriptures; he wrote 65 commentaries (1 for each book of the Bible, minus Revelation). He was a respected teacher and theologian of the Word. His teachings influenced many denominations and people groups all over (France, Netherlands, Scotland, England) during his time and many churches and denominations today.
Throughout junior and senior high I attended a church that the name Calvin, the term “Calvinism” or “Calvinistic”, and the acronym “TULIP” were brought up...not too often, but enough where during class this week when his name came up, I thought, “Oh, I know this guy and what he’s all about” but I really didn’t know much. I had no idea what “TULIP” stood for, although I knew it had something to do with the sovereignty of God. The acronym TULIP stands for Total depravity (man has no goodness in himself...God must woo him); Unconditional election; Limited atonement (Christ died only for certain people); Irresistible grace (when God calls, you can not reject); Perseverance of the saints. I fully grasp and agree that man is totally dependent on God’s goodness, not our own. God chooses us and woos us to Himself. It is not out of ourselves that we are saved, but only by God’s moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives to convict us of sin and bring us to repentance. But with some of those claims, I can’t help but think of the infamous verse of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” and 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. And then I read Ephsians 1:4-5, “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him In love, He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Does this mean God wishes none would perish...because He wants a relationship with man that He made in His own image, but He knew many would reject His message? That is where I have come to today. I have only begun in studying this subject and at this point I guess I would call myself “half Calvinist.” In the mean time, while I wrestle with this, I am EXTREMELY grateful and humbled that God would woo me to Himself, that He would call me Daughter. Oh how I don’t deserve his grace, love, and forgiveness, but He has given it to me freely and I accept the gift.
*Information from Chad Hampsch lecture/ powerpoint of Church History