Calvinism

All other things! Cat memes are okay, too.
Post Reply
Dionysyus
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 1:22 pm

Calvinism

Post by Dionysyus » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:04 pm

Hi,

Seeing as how we have so many well read Calvinists here, I figured I would ask some questions, since Calvinism is a fascinating topic for me.

I was baptized Anglican, but I have no memory of ever being in an Anglican church. I was raised an aetheist, but somehow still managed to be scared of going to hell when I was young. I’m not sure where that came from but the ideas must have been around me. They used to read the Bible in school a bit, so maybe that was it.

Lately though I have been seeing how important Calvinist thought was to the development of the modern world. My main sources have been these books:

The Thirty Years War by CV Wedgwood:

https://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Years-Rev ... +years+war

The Thirty Years War was fought in Germany from 1618 to 1648 and its generally seen as the end of the Reformation. Calvinism was legalized in the end. She goes into a lot of detail describing Calvinism as it was then, which largely centered on the idea of predetermination and grace. There is no free will. When you are born, you are either graced or not graced, and if you are graced you are going to heaven, if not you are going to hell. She also describes them as very puritan, sort of being to the Protestants as the Jesuits were to the Catholics.

After the 30 year war, Calvinism spread around Europe. In France they were the Huguenots, and they didn’t do well in the face of Catholic pressures in that country. In England they were the Puritans. They weren’t as subjugated there obviously (Cromwell was a Puritan) but they didn’t run the show either. The Calvinist hot spot of Bohemia that started the whole war was forcibly converted to Catholicism. In the Netherland and Scotland, however, Calvinism took over, and those countries invented the modern world, which leads me to the next book:

https://www.amazon.com/How-Scots-Invent ... dern+world

Another thought I’ve had about Calvinism is that it seems to me that Spinoza’s ideas are basically a rip off of Calvinism. Spinoza is often touted as the father of the enlightenment, but his ideas to me seem like Calvinism with the Christian mythology taken out. This makes sense to me too because he was living in the Netherlands just after the 30 Year War, when Calvinism was in it’s hay day.

This is a good video on Spinoza:

https://youtu.be/pVEeXjPiw54

I’ve got Max Webber’s book too and it’s on my short list but there’s so much to do I haven’t gotten to it. I think this video is a decent summary of his thoughts, were he put Calvinism as being essential to capitalism.

https://youtu.be/ICppFQ6Tabw

This is his book: https://www.amazon.com/Protestant-Ethic ... max+webber

The Webber video talks about the Protestant work ethic and finding your calling, and this to me seems a restatement of Plato’s concept of Justice, as described at the end of The Republic, which essentially is having your mind, body, and spirit in balance and applying yourself completely to that task that allows you to contribute to society with greatest effect.

(Here's a great audio version of the Republic: https://youtu.be/CqGsg01ycpk )

The Spinoza video suggests his ideas did not go far because they lacked the ceremony of religion, and perhaps the same can be said for Plato. His ideas did not take hold until they were centralized in religion.

I find it all very interesting, but I’ve never had any practicing Calvinist friends to discuss it with. One of my best friends grew up Presbyterian, so I can discuss things with him a bit, but he left the church a long time ago. He found the doctrines too harsh.

My friend told me that Calvin used to beat his wife and kids, but I have just been researching that I’m not sure I see anything backing that up. He definitely seems to have agreed with the idea that men should be head of household. He gets accused of having written to an abused woman telling her not to leave her husband, even though she is suffering, but on the other hand he also seems to have said that women must serve God first, which I take to imply that it might be right for a woman to leave an ungodly husband.

So, I suppose my main curiosity is, do the Calvinists in this forum believe in predetermination, or free will, or some combination?

It seems to me that Calvinism started off believing full in predetermination, but almost immediately there were reform movements that tried to soften this message. Personally, I like the idea of predetermination, because it jives with my scientific training. The big bang started it all, and because of conservation of energy and momentum, the fate of all mater was sealed at that moment.

And since this is a DD forum, lets get into “why do you think so many Calvinists are into DD?”

Also, if any of you want to comment on any of the books or links I have posted, positive or negative, I’d find it all interesting. I’m curious where Calvinism is now vs where it was at the time of the 30 Year War.

Lavendar
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by Lavendar » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:44 pm

Dionysysus,

When I first saw the thread title, I thought, "Uh-oh, should have just kept my mouth shut on that one!" So I was rather relieved to see the content. Calvinism can be a tricky thing to debate. And don't get me started on the Calvinism vs Arminian discussions! (If there are any Arminians in here, please know I respect your beliefs. My good friend is Arminian and we're always razzing each other.)

I do not have time to do justice to this discussion today, but will devote time to it this week. For now, I have these thoughts:

1. There is definitely some controversy about Calvin himself. And there are certainly issues with current pastors who tend more toward what is called "neo-Calvinism". If you've followed the #churchtoo movement at all, then you may be aware that there are a couple of pastors who have had trouble because they've advised women to stay in abusive relationships.

In my Calvinist church, our pastors have been adamant that the Bible demands wifely submission only when the husband is not putting her into a sinful situation. We submit first to God, second to husband (husband does not serve as intermediary as in certain other faiths). Abuse of any kind is sinful, and the marriage covenant is broken in that situation. Calvin, being human, would have been in error if he had counseled differently. As with any belief system, it is dangerous to treat another human as a god, and I do believe there are many Calvinists who have done that with Calvin.

2. On predestination, which probably confuses more people than anything else -

There is a good deal of Biblical evidence for predetermination / predestination. I do believe in it. Additionally, there is also a good deal of Biblical evidence for free will. My philosophy, and that of my church, is that the two are not mutually exclusive. God gives us the free will to do as we please. He'll let us soar to great heights, crash and burn, or somewhere in between. Whatever we choose, He will use it for His glory.

But an omniscient God knew, before we were born, how we would exercise that free will. He knew whether or not we would ultimately choose to follow Him when He sent us the call. And that is what predestination really is. He knows who are His people and who will become His people.

It's not a lottery. He's not arbitrarily saying, "OK, I choose you so now it doesn't matter how you live your life because you're 'in' regardless. Winner winner!"

It's more like, "Man, you are really making some poor choices here. I'm excited because I know in about 10 years you're going to finally come around, and then you'll be able to fully realize who you really are in My eyes." He wants that for all of us. But He loves us enough to give us the free will to take a pass. And He knows ahead of time who's going to do that.
Lavendar :)

Dionysyus
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 1:22 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by Dionysyus » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:08 am

Thanks for the response Lavender,

I look forward to reading what else you come up with.

I'm a bit busy right now with work but will try to comment on your comments later this week =)

User avatar
Clint
Posts: 231
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Calvinism

Post by Clint » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:17 pm

Dionysyus wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:04 pm
Hi,

Seeing as how we have so many well read Calvinists here, I figured I would ask some questions, since Calvinism is a fascinating topic for me.

[...]
The Thirty Years War by CV Wedgwood:

[...]

I’ve got Max Webber’s book too and it’s on my short list but there’s so much to do I haven’t gotten to it. I think this video is a decent summary of his thoughts, were he put Calvinism as being essential to capitalism.


Wow, you've made buy these books ! I look forward to reading them, especially since I don't know much about the 30 years war. I think these chapters of our history are important to understand who we are and to understand our culture more.
Clint from Domestic-Discipline.net
How do you like the web site ? If you have any ideas or wishes for future posts, don't hold back!

CassLynn
Posts: 879
Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 1:05 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by CassLynn » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:39 pm

It’s fascinating to me that what in your church is called predestination in mine is thought of simply as omniscience and that with God there is no time so He knows what we’re going to do already. All things are present to Him. It seems like it’s the same concept. I really like discussing religion here because it stays so respectful. Christians can be horrible to each other and I think that’s not right. Maybe DD practitioners are better at being faithful while open minded, and know how to speak respectfully.

Lavendar
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by Lavendar » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:21 pm

CassLynn wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:39 pm
It’s fascinating to me that what in your church is called predestination in mine is thought of simply as omniscience and that with God there is no time so He knows what we’re going to do already. All things are present to Him. It seems like it’s the same concept. I really like discussing religion here because it stays so respectful. Christians can be horrible to each other and I think that’s not right. Maybe DD practitioners are better at being faithful while open minded, and know how to speak respectfully.
I think you are right, they sound like the same thing. We also believe that an omniscient God exists outside of time and therefore already knows what's going to happen within time.

It is so true that predestination is misunderstood. I remember reading about it in high school US History and thinking it was the craziest thing I'd heard of. But we weren't being taught what it really is. We were just given the whole "it's a dice shoot at birth" thing. I was a practicing Catholic in those days, and I couldn't wrap my mind around it. There's so much misinformation - but that can be said for a lot of Christian denominations, including Catholicism.

My mother did my family genealogy and found that I have ancestors who were pushed out of their county in the 19th century for being Calvinist. She was all concerned when I told her I was one because of that. But she had zero information on what it is.

Dionysyus made a comment about why we seem to have so many Calvinists on this board. Does it lend itself to DD? And I think the answer is probably yes, although Calvinistic thought doesn't require or even encourage DD. I know of one prominent Calvinist who was removed from his church because of some issues he had - one of the many concerns that was brought against him was that he very clearly spanked his wife within earshot of some dinner guests. He never commented on that, but I suspect they practiced DD.

So it definitely isn't a tenet of Calvinism. But we do believe in complementarian marriage. A complementarian wife is far more likely to ask for or accept DD than an egalitarian.

In my church, wifely submission is treated as a gift, and men are taught that they darn well better be worthy of that gift if the wife chooses to give it. Men are also taught that the leader of the home has the harder job because he must be fair and loving at all times. I've read about those ideals so many times on DD blogs that it's one reason why DD seemed natural to me.
Lavendar :)

CassLynn
Posts: 879
Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 1:05 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by CassLynn » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:32 am

Really good stuff. Thanks.

I’ve always thought it is better to learn about a church from that church instead of from any other source. It just makes sense. Don’t go to the Ford dealership to learn about Chevys, right?

Lavendar
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Re: Calvinism

Post by Lavendar » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:57 am

CassLynn,

With apologies to any Ford owners, I wouldn't go to a Ford dealership in any case, lol. (Good point, though.)
Lavendar :)

Post Reply