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Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Bondage and Liberation of the Will

From time to time I run across those in the Blog-World that have a very negative opinion of John Calvin… (Ok, I really run into them all the time). With such a diverse group of believers as found in the Blog-World that is to be expected I guess.

But what is so very discouraging to me is that many of these man and women appear to be devoted Christians who sincerely take issue with what they have been led to believe about John Calvin, and more specifically the theology that has come to bear his name – Calvinism. What is so discouraging is the fact that in today’s “information age” what they believe about Calvin and Calvinism is so distorted and twisted from the truth that it is just frustrating to deal with.

Calvin’s works have been in print now for almost 500 years. If you do not want to pay the $50 to buy your own set of Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion” you can read them for free
online. So there is really no excuse for anyone believing such trash about Calvin or Calvinism except their own laziness or intentional malice.

Because it’s the 500th anniversary year of Calvin’s birthday many people, including myself, are reading the Institutes through this year, however I know this may be a little much for many readers to tackle, so I would highly encourage you to get a copy of “The Bondage and Liberation of the Will” by Calvin and read it before you jump into the deep waters of Calvin’s Institutes.

Below is a comment I made on another Blog last night encouraging this person (Curious / Anon) who has a very negative opinion of Calvin to read some of Calvin’s writings for him/her-self. I am including it in this post simply because I believe it to be a good example of what I am talking about.

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Curious / Anon, or (whoever I am having this conversation with)

I am not sure who your sources are for your information on what Calvin believed, but from what I can read in your comments, whoever your sources are they appear to have influenced your opinion of Calvin quite negatively. If your sources for what Calvin believed are books written “against” Calvinism, like those by Dave Hunt, or Wiley Richards then I can understand your bias.

I would encourage you to let Calvin take the stand to defend himself by reading some of his works… I would not ask you to read Calvin’s Institutes (at least not to begin with), but I would ask you to read
The Bondage and Liberation of the Will by Calvin. You can get a copy from Monergismbooks.com for $24.99. It is only 303 pages long and it will open your eyes to what Calvin really believed.

In it you will find that Calvin did not deny the “free” choice of man in choosing God at all. Actually the sub-title of the book is “A Defense of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius”

Here is a little bit of the book description:


The Bondage and Liberation of the Will is undoubtedly the most significant of Calvin's works hitherto not translated in English. This is in striking contrast to Luther's study on the same topic, which is one of his best-known publications." This is Calvin's "fullest treatment of the relation between grace and free will, and contains important material not found elsewhere in his writings. It also contains far more discussion of the early church fathers than does any other of Calvin's works, apart from the Institutes. It is high time that this major work is made available to those whose knowledge of Calvin is confined to English translations" .


Grace Always,

8 comments:

David McCrory said...

We are certainly indebted to the great contributions Calvin brought to the Faith. I think we could take your statement here...

"So there is really no excuse for anyone believing such trash about (_____________) except their own laziness or intentional malice."

...fill in the blank and get close to the truth on just about any matter. Thank you for sharing this.

In Him,

Batchaps said...

Thanks for the resource; however, there is ignorance and there is invincible ignorance. Unless this offering was printed in USA Today many "Protestants" would never consider its value in regards to theological truth.

Russ+

Greg Alford said...

David,

Yes, the truth is out there…

Grace Always,

Greg Alford said...

Russ,

“invincible ignorance” Now that is a phrase I shall remember.

A certain passage of scripture comes to my mind concerning “invincible ignorance”:

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matt.13:15-16)

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...

Calvin said, "We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or death."

FOREORDAINED ?

sounds like 'lack of choice' doesn't it?

Greg Alford said...

Anon,

Yes… now read the book. :-)

Grace Always,

Anonymous said...

Man''s will is enslaved to his old nature, that rebels against Good.

''Ye will not come to me.'' [John 5;40].

I keep to the Bible and it only, so no one can say I'm following a man.

Paul Foltz

Alan Paul said...

Greg-

Just saw your response on Wade's blog to my response to his posting on Driscoll. Sorry - I hadn't had a chance to check back since I had posted. THe crux of my comment is that I have observed Pastors (and for that matter, leaders in Christian non-profit organizations - but primarily in churches) SEEMINGLY choose the principles of leadership above all else in order to grow their church. This was and continues to be disturbing. Don't get me wrong, I am all for implementing principles of leadership in any venue (most of us who care about our families do it all the time as we make decisions regarding resources and time, etc.) - but not to the point where those principles, which have been proven to work time and time again, become the sole vehicle to grow the church, while effectively leaving God out of the picture.