Monday, March 16, 2009

Things I appreciate about Calvinism

Just to prove from my last post that I am not overtly anti-Calvinist any more than I am anti-anything other than Catholicism, I thought I'd post some things I enjoy about Calvinism.

1. God-Centredness. It tries to begin and end with God which much of decision-theology fails to do. At times when I read a hymn or passage by someone of the Reformed persuasion I conjure in my mind John Calvin standing next to St. Ignatius Loyola in Heaven shouting "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!" and Loyola equally chanting "Soli Deo Gloria!". I am comforted that even though our two factions will most likely fight for the next 500-1000 years, at least we are all fighting in defense of the same God whom we love above all else.

2. Word and Sacrament. Calvinism's ideal is a focus on Word and Sacrament. Standing in St. Giles Cathedral (I hope that's the right name) in Edinburgh, Scotland, I remember taking communion and hearing a beautiful sermon. I think back to myself how such a perfect balance of these two essential of essentials came together in revery. To the shock of many, I am a Catholic who loves the Bible and wishes we could give even more time and study to it, and so I love seeing the passion Reformation Christians have for the inspired written Word of God.

3. Holiness. I still enjoy reading R.C. Sproul, Jonathon Edwards (especially "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" - beautiful sermon), and occasionally listening to Alistair Begg all discuss the Holiness of God, though when they discuss it they do so out of teaching the imputed active obedience and righteousness of Christ, and when I think of it, I imagine purgatory and the perfection of souls into the true and unequivocal holiness of Christ. The Puritans also had a firm grasp on right living and the law of Christ/Sanctification which I greatly admire.

4. Heroes: I will always look up to in some way, Hudson Taylor, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield and others.

5. Intellectualism. Many Protestants follow in Luther's Nominalism and thereby restate his opinion "the theologian must first dispose of Aristotle", however Reformed Theology has a minor tradition of Natural Law and Natural Theology (Common Grace, etc) and many current Reformed Theologians have even ascended to a form of Protestant Thomism, and don't shy away from Philosophy.


  1. Nice to see you giving the Calvinist at least a little credit :). From the other side I was thinking today of some of the things that I appreciate greatly about the Catholic church.

    1) It's consistent defence of life - not just on the abortion issue but life in general from abortion through capital punishment and the care for the poor, oppressed, suffering and sick.

    2) The great work done by the church in areas commonly referred to as social justice. From caring for the poor on streets around the world to calling for the elimination of third world debt.

    3) Tradition - Perhaps unlike most protestants I view the tradition of the Roman Catholic church as in many ways my tradition. It's seems obvious to me that the church did not begin with Luther but with Peter and the Apostles and that Christ has preserved his church throughout the centuries. The Catholic churches history is also my history in some sense. So although I see the tradition of the church in one sense as the churches greatest weakness I also am thankful for what it teaches me about the heritage of my faith.

  2. Thanks Derik. I always tell people who are intellectuals beginning their search in theology that they will end up in one of two camps: The Reformed/Calvinist Tradition or the Roman Catholic Tradition, they both have answers to every question asked of them (not always great ones, but they have answers) and while they disagree on alot, I see them both as motivated out of faithfulness to Christ and his gospel (as each understand them).

  3. Non-intellectuals end up as rapture loving dispensationalists or KJV-only indy-fundy-bible-believing-baptist churches.