John Calvin And The Calvinist Theology

1099 words - 4 pages

It can easily be said that John Calvin (1509-1564), was one of the most influential men of that century. The reason being was for his strict Calvinist theology. Calvin believed that people should live lives that were pleasing to God. However, he also saw that humanity was utterly sinful, and that every person's "afterlife" was predestined by the all-knowing God. Therefore, through intense research, he was able to come up with several life principles. These principles have since been organized into the five key points: Total Depravity of Man, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. (John Calvin) Thus, it was these five points that most people of that time period grew accustomed to.
The first point, Total Depravity of Man, tells us that humanity is almost entirely evil. It is simply not in our nature to do any kind of goodness. Therefore, since we know that God is all about goodness, there seems to be no way we can connect with him. This tells us, that we will also have no desire to follow after goodness (God), unless we can somehow see something in it for ourselves (Grace). This leads us into the second point, Unconditional Election. If we have no intentions of going after the goodness of God, the only chance we have at being saved from the depths of Hell, is for God to grant us that right. This is exactly what God does. According to Calvinism, before any person is born, God has already decided whether or not He wants to grant us salvation. He called these His "elect" or "chosen ones". Now, although this seems to be saying that "free will" does not exist in Calvinism, this is not quite clear to the author. One thing that can be certain, however, is that these early American's most certainly were aware of a Higher Power. True Calvinists were devout to their Lord and they wished to praise His name every day. Proof of this can be found in writings such as Anne Bradstreet's poem "Contemplations". She is in awe as she declares her appreciation for her Creator. "I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I, If so much excellence abide below, How excellent is He that swells on high, Whose power and beauty by His works we know? Sure He is goodness, wisdom, glory, light, That hath this under world so richly dight; More heaven than earth was here, no winter and no night." (Bradstreet)
The third point, Limited Atonement, is what Jesus Christ gave to us when he was crucified on the cross and resurrected again on the third day. Calvinism just states that this is a "substitutionary payment for the sins of only those who are God's elect children" (John Calvin). In sum, this is saying that Jesus died and paid the price of sin for only those who have been picked to go to heaven. Therefore, there is a distinct line being drawn here that does not include all of humanity. Of course, when Jesus gave His life up for the payment of sin, you can certainly say that He was giving the greatest gift ever given. Now,...

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