A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm a "sort of" Calvinist

This is to say that there are themes in the writings of John Calvin, a French Reformation leader, that I take as my own while leaving other parts behind. I thought I'd highlight what some of the themes I've taken.

1. The natural world tells us all of God that we are in a position to know. That's a robust natural theology! Special revelation is not new information beyond our world. It illuminates something already at play in our world.

2. Theology starts with anthropology. To know something of God is to know something about ourselves and our relationships to each other and our wider world.

3. Sin, pride, impiety is an over (or under) estimation of ourselves in relation to one other and our world. Any number of cruelties (to use Niebuhr for a moment) against each other and nature occur when we ignore those relations.

4. Sin and grace are bigger than individuals. They both indicate significant features of a world that draw us either to inordinate self regard or other regard. The ambiguity is living in a fallen world that yet gives signs of God's redemptive purposes.

4. Calvin was just as able to draw from Seneca as Scripture. As a French Humanist he saw the Christian tradition as a wisdom tradition, a philosophy almost that could draw from the best, including non Christian resources.

5. Like Augustine, Calvin also believed that all knowledge was from God. Science, literature, philosophy, any field and discipline was a gift not something to be wary of or at war with. In fact it can set us on a path to discern our proper place in our world and relations.

6. God's redemptive work is for the whole of creation. So there is no way to cut off some part of the world, the secular, or some area of life as not religiously significant.


At 6:09 PM , Blogger Pseudonym said...

It's SOP these days to judge historical figures by the standards of today. I personally don't buy this. I think it's much more fair to judge people by the best wisdom of their day. By that criterion, Calvin was a great man.

I seem him as trying to understand what Christianity really was, when divorced from the tangled mess of corruption and intrigue and that was the Medieval-era Roman Catholic Church. This was new territory, so he did a pretty good job considering.

Pioneers always get stuff wrong. That's the nature of progress: If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't learn anything. But even for Calvinists, theology didn't stop with Calvin.

At 8:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 6:09 PM , Anonymous Debra said...

Loved number 6.. great stuff!!

At 1:49 PM , Blogger Robert said...


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At 1:23 PM , Anonymous Jean Chauvin said...


The problem with this irrational liberal, is his method of argument.

When we start within our argument, we never ever start with man. Anthropology is absolutely never a logical place to start. Calvin knew this.

This was the problem with the Renaissance. da Vinci tried to start with the particulars to find a universal meaning via humanistic mathematics. He failed. He then tried to do this within art via the soul. Not a Biblical soul but rather a soul of absolutes connected to universals, this he also failed.

Finite + anything is always a bunch of particulars. Thus giving no meaning to man or anything else.

For us to have absolutes and meaning via universals, we must always start with God, thus give meaning to our world and our humanity.


Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

At 1:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don’t feed the Sharks

Republican’s and Teabaggers and the Christian "Right",
seeks who they may devour.
They roam to and fro,
like a shark in the darkest hour.

Especially after our blood,
like our Daughter or Son.
They care less for our tears,
or faith with life we run.

They circle our schools these sharks,
and seek for kids away from home.
They gnash teeth and growl with hunger,
that prayers are silenced from their roam.

Death to America’s Justice system,
Death to the liberty we all share.
Death to freedom of speech,
Me, myself and I is the sharks adorn.

Kids are such a sweet treat,
and such an easy prey,
Protection needs to stop,
to devour without delay.

I was twelve left in schools zone,
where a Christian teacher attacked.
I reached out for teachers help,
that lead to harder paddle whacks.

Remembering this day,
when my years were few.
I have now grown old with scars,
that warns what sharks will do.

Jimmie Robinson

At 7:25 AM , Blogger Jeselle Arce said...

Hi, very great post. Overwhelming message to read. Religion is a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.


At 8:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i realy like it better then all the other pg there so mean and nasty and show hatered to america jews and christens but your it nice i love it

At 3:08 PM , Anonymous Gay Spirituality said...

Thank you for making these points. You shed light on Calvinism that was helpful to me.

At 3:09 PM , Anonymous Gay Spirituality said...

Thank you for making these points. You shed light on Calvinism that was helpful to me.

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