God loves everybody - John Calvin

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
16. For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God

John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries Jn 3:16. Bold-face is my addition




And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

- John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries Jn 3:16.


If Calvin is said to invite all men without exception, does he also love all men without exception?

Anything else from Calvin on this topic?

Would Calvin agree with my paraphrase of something I found in Augustine (wish i could find it): "God loves all man with some love, but loves some men with all love."
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Isn't this indicative of the external vs internal callings? The external call is an invite for all mankind everywhere to receive the gospel, repent, and be saved. Obviously not all men heed this call, but those that do, only do so because of God's internal, or effectual, call to His elect.

WCF Ch 10
1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

4. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And, to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

As for the question, "If Calvin is said to invite all men without exception, does he also love all men without exception?" I would answer, no, God does not love all men without exception. I do believe God shows grace to all men, and some might argue that this grace is a form of love, but Romans 2:3-5 says, "Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed." Even though God may be gracious to the reprobate for a time, His wrath is simply being stored up for them and will be poured out in full on judgment day.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Spurgeon in his "Commenting and Commentaries" said that Calvin wasn't as Calvinistic as some made him out to be.

Pergy
If Calvin is said to invite all men without exception, does he also love all men without exception?
Calvin isn't divine, thankfully.

Andres
I do believe God shows grace to all men, and some might argue that this grace is a form of love,

Does this grace include non-salvific operations of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the unregenerate, and if so, what is the nature of these operations?
 

Ivan

Pastor
So we like Calvin as long as he is Calvinistic and when he isn't, he's wrong and we discount him?
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
An author needs to be evaluated in terms of his whole corpus. He who said the statement in the opening post also said this within his comments on the same verse:
Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.

Perg - as a missionary, would you hesitate to say that you love the people of the nation you serve? I would imagine you would do so cheerfully and without hesitation, though I doubt anyone would interpret you to mean you love each particular person individually and without exception after the same manner. In his comments on this passage, we find Calvin simply echoing the language of the scripture itself upon which he makes his comments, and we should not assume his words need to be treated more exactly than we would treat the words of the verse itself. Especially so in this context, where Calvin interprets the "lifting up of Christ as the serpent was lifted" not with respect to the cross, but with respect to the proclaiming of the gospel before all men: in the preaching of the gospel to all, the love of God is set before all men, or all the human race indiscriminately.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I think too many people read Calvin as if a) he is the primary expositor of reformed theology (he isn't: he wouldn't say so, and neither would his contemporaries) b) as if predestination were his signature doctrine, which it simply isn't. Predestination is certainly something that Calvin teaches, but his great focus, even in that teaching, is on Divine Grace to sinners. The great thing about Calvin, the thing that sets him apart, is that he is not attempting to create a system of theology, he is trying to describe the theology of the scriptures in a systematic fashion.

Now does God love everyone? Of course, Scripture says so. However, that doesn't mean that His loving some over others, or His loving some in a different way than others is unjust or unfair---it's only a rationalistic/post-enlightenment framework that insists that fairness/justice entails treating everyone the same, and that God's love must meet this standard. Does God invite everyone without exception? Absolutely---but those and only those whom He regenerates do come.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The greatest of all theologians wrote many, many things over the course of his lifetime.

As a general proposition, his early editions of The Institutes did not focus much on what we now call the "five points [of Calvinism]." As there began to be challenge in his day, he responded more explicitly in later editions as he developed a biblical, systematic theology.

No doubt, he changed his mind on some things, explained some things differently as time went on- would not the same be true of any of us, who have written far, far less?

Without knowing the context of this passage, I would suspect Mr. Calvin is saying, in the sense of the context of the biblical passage:

1) "love" in the dispositive sense (that is, God loved the human race enough that He intervened to save some)
2) "all men," "world" in the sense of Gentile world, beyond even Israel such that He is extending his love, his call to people from every tribe, nation, kindred and tongue.

John chapter 3, all in context, is one of the strongest proof text sections of all of Scripture in demonstrating the doctrine of election.

Before 3:16, Jesus explains to Nicodemus that salvation, like being "born again" is impossible with men, and only possible with God, and that it cannot be controlled by men (like the wind cannot be controlled).

"The world" has the connotation of the [Gentile] world, beyond Israel, and God saving all sorts of people in the world (Jew and Gentile), which was a change from earlier focus on Israel- yet within God's plan from the very beginning.

It pleased God to save (some of) the human race from the consequence of their sin, which would include (all sorts) of people in the world, as He would (dispositive sense) have all of his creatures obey Him and follow Him.

Reading Mr. Calvin's works, taken as a whole, and in context, one certainly gets the impression he understood all this, and understood it well. To the point of being willing to contend for it to his own peril.

---------- Post added at 05:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:00 PM ----------

So we like Calvin as long as he is Calvinistic and when he isn't, he's wrong and we discount him?

Many of us respect the Theologian of the Holy Spirit because he was the greatest theologian (breadth and depth) in systematizing the whole of Scripture. In that regard, he is without equal to this day.

Not because he was infallible (though very often right, and incredible time testing has born that out), or that we would agree every single thing he wrote at every single time in his life. For example, I don't think he quite got the sabbath right- though he came to a "practical application" of it that is substantially right, and his theology was used to later bridge the inconsistencies by the Puritans and others.

But there is substantial evidence to suggest, the implications of Mr. Calvin's theological systematic development led inevitably to total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

They are not called the "five points of Calvinism" for no reason!
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The greatest of all theologians

That would be Paul, not Calvin. Besides, reformed theology did not start with Calvin, nor is it simply what Calvin taught. I'm frankly a bit skeptical of the whole "St. John of Geneva" mentality that seems to pervade much of reformed theology (and I'm not sure he'd have had much use for it).

Remember that "Calvinism" is a perjorative term, where "reformed" is the more accurate. Calvin is part of a larger tradition and therefore if you think he's wrong, just say so and stop trying to justify him.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Remember that "Calvinism" is a perjorative term, where "reformed" is the more accurate. Calvin is part of a larger tradition and therefore if you think he's wrong, just say so and stop trying to justify him.

This is really a topic for a different thread, but I would like to make some comments here for those reading this thread already. If the matter is to be discussed further, a new thread will be needed.

I think this is a most improper mentality. Yes, we can sit here all day and talk about the "equal" importance of Calvin's parallels Bullinger, Musculus and Vermigli; in many areas, each of these had more direct, historical influence on the development of the Reformed tradition than Calvin. But at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that by 50 years after his death, *our own* theologians were using the terms Calvinist or Calvinian to refer to our branch of the Reformation as opposed to the Lutherans. It is simply not the case that it's a pejorative term. Now, what relevance does this have? It goes to show that, even if there are not theological implications to saying Calvin was wrong about something, there are most certainly vast ecclesiastic ramifications. If the framers of our confessions identified themselves positively as Calvinists, and if we say "Calvin taught a form of hypothetic universalism in which the death of Christ has its foundation in a love of God to all mankind," then this gives deep weight to the notion that the confessions of our churches should be read in a light which allows such interpretations. We should not be so quick to give up the fight over what Calvin actually taught, nor can we let our desire to be enlightened historians cause us to become both inaccurate historians and negligent theologians (we need to remember that the theological issue is not whether there is a love of God for the whole world, but whether this love is connected to the sending of his Son).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that by 50 years after his death, *our own* theologians were using the terms Calvinist or Calvinian to refer to our branch of the Reformation as opposed to the Lutherans. It is simply not the case that it's a pejorative term.

Thankyou, Paul, for your pointed and informed analysis.

One does well not to kick the head of the man on whose shoulders one is standing.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
One does well not to kick the head of the man on whose shoulders one is standing.

By no means kick his head, but Calvin ain't the be-all end-all of our tradition, and there's quite a bit of development between him and the confessions as people worked out reformed theology according to their contexts. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in calling "Calvinism" a perjorative (though I still like "reformed" better), but he needs to be held to scripture as much as anyone. Because in the end, it's not about Calvin, it's about Christ, and Calvin would agree with me here.

Now, as for the quote in the beginning, looking over it again, I should note that Calvin (particularly in the bolded portions) is simply using the phraseology of Scripture.
 

seajayrice

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think too many people read Calvin as if a) he is the primary expositor of reformed theology (he isn't: he wouldn't say so, and neither would his contemporaries) b) as if predestination were his signature doctrine, which it simply isn't. Predestination is certainly something that Calvin teaches, but his great focus, even in that teaching, is on Divine Grace to sinners. The great thing about Calvin, the thing that sets him apart, is that he is not attempting to create a system of theology, he is trying to describe the theology of the scriptures in a systematic fashion.

Now does God love everyone? Of course, Scripture says so. However, that doesn't mean that His loving some over others, or His loving some in a different way than others is unjust or unfair---it's only a rationalistic/post-enlightenment framework that insists that fairness/justice entails treating everyone the same, and that God's love must meet this standard. Does God invite everyone without exception? Absolutely---but those and only those whom He regenerates do come.

What is the doctrine or the scripture that establishes that God loves everybody?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
The greatest of all theologians


P. F. Pugh said.
That would be Paul, not Calvin.

Not sure you are using the term "theologian" in the same sense. Paul wrote under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit as an apostle, with that apostolic authority to establish the foundation of our faith in Scripture.

Mr. Calvin did not, nor did he represent himself in any sense equal with the apostles writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

---------- Post added at 08:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:08 PM ----------

It seems you miss the sense of "greatest of all theologians," as used in the post here.

because he was the greatest theologian (breadth and depth) in systematizing the whole of Scripture. In that regard, he is without equal to this day.


---------- Post added at 08:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:11 PM ----------

Remember that "Calvinism" is a perjorative term, where "reformed" is the more accurate.

Not sure where you are getting that former notion from- it is a good, descriptive term, generally synonymous with the "five points."

"Reformed" would seem to include the doctrines of grace (Calvinism) + covenant theology + a binding systematic doctrine (confession), at minimum.
 
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Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
By no means kick his head, but Calvin ain't the be-all end-all of our tradition, and there's quite a bit of development between him and the confessions as people worked out reformed theology according to their contexts. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in calling "Calvinism" a perjorative (though I still like "reformed" better), but he needs to be held to scripture as much as anyone. Because in the end, it's not about Calvin, it's about Christ, and Calvin would agree with me here.

Now, as for the quote in the beginning, looking over it again, I should note that Calvin (particularly in the bolded portions) is simply using the phraseology of Scripture.

Phillip, I want to reply to these statements, but this thread is an inappropriate place to do so; accordingly, I have done so in this thread: Calvin and the Reformed Tradition.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Calvin is part of a larger tradition and therefore if you think he's wrong, just say so and stop trying to justify him.

The greatest theologian, the Theologian of the Holy Spirit does not need anyone to justify him.

The witness of church history has done that, and we thank God for what He did through him, and owe Mr. Calvin a great debt of gratitude.:)
 

Ivan

Pastor
I prefer Calvin to any of his successors. I don't consider myself a Calvinist and I suppose Calvin isn't either.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Would Calvin agree with my paraphrase of something I found in Augustine (wish i could find it): "God loves all man with some love, but loves some men with all love."

Yes and no. There is a sermon on Deuteronomy which spells out the theological contours of Calvin's thought on this. He says (Sermons on Deuteronomy, 1189),

"God then doth love all people. Yea, but not in comparison of his Church. And why? For all the children of Adam are enemies unto God by reason of the corruption that is in them. True it is that God loveth them as his creatures: but yet he must needes hate them, because they be perverted and given to all evill. And that is the cause why the Scripture telleth us that God repented him that he ever made man, considering that he is so marred.

So for Calvin, man stands in one relation to God as creature and another relation as sinner. One must be careful to distinguish the sense in which God bears a love to all men. It must be restricted to their creatureliness and to what might be called the original pattern of creation. Superimposed upon that is another layer relative to the fall. And superimposed upon that is yet another layer with respect to redemption.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Would Calvin agree with my paraphrase of something I found in Augustine (wish i could find it): "God loves all man with some love, but loves some men with all love."

Yes and no. There is a sermon on Deuteronomy which spells out the theological contours of Calvin's thought on this. He says (Sermons on Deuteronomy, 1189),

"God then doth love all people. Yea, but not in comparison of his Church. And why? For all the children of Adam are enemies unto God by reason of the corruption that is in them. True it is that God loveth them as his creatures: but yet he must needes hate them, because they be perverted and given to all evill. And that is the cause why the Scripture telleth us that God repented him that he ever made man, considering that he is so marred.

So for Calvin, man stands in one relation to God as creature and another relation as sinner. One must be careful to distinguish the sense in which God bears a love to all men. It must be restricted to their creatureliness and to what might be called the original pattern of creation. Superimposed upon that is another layer relative to the fall. And superimposed upon that is yet another layer with respect to redemption.

Thank you, I'm looking up that Deut. sermon now.
 

seajayrice

Puritan Board Sophomore
Would Calvin agree with my paraphrase of something I found in Augustine (wish i could find it): "God loves all man with some love, but loves some men with all love."

Yes and no. There is a sermon on Deuteronomy which spells out the theological contours of Calvin's thought on this. He says (Sermons on Deuteronomy, 1189),

"God then doth love all people. Yea, but not in comparison of his Church. And why? For all the children of Adam are enemies unto God by reason of the corruption that is in them. True it is that God loveth them as his creatures: but yet he must needes hate them, because they be perverted and given to all evill. And that is the cause why the Scripture telleth us that God repented him that he ever made man, considering that he is so marred.

So for Calvin, man stands in one relation to God as creature and another relation as sinner. One must be careful to distinguish the sense in which God bears a love to all men. It must be restricted to their creatureliness and to what might be called the original pattern of creation. Superimposed upon that is another layer relative to the fall. And superimposed upon that is yet another layer with respect to redemption.

Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

God bears a love to all men? Eternal damnation hardly equates with love.

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
 
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