Soli Deo Gloria: For the glory of God alone Calvinism is back!
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2009 3:17 pm
The Messenger, August 13, 2009
By ARTHUR HUNT
Special to The Messenger
“Calvinism is back,” reported TIME magazine in a recent issue on what 10 ideas are changing the world right now. Not only is the belief “God is sovereign and man is not” gaining renewed interest, but the editors at TIME saw fit to place the new Calvinism third on their list.
The new Calvinism is really the old Calvinism, as articulated by the pastor of Geneva, Switzerland, who sported a pointy beard and wore a funny little hat. In honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (1509-1564), this column will highlight in coming weeks the Reformer’s legacy as it played itself out in Europe and spread to the American shores.
Many Protestants know little about their own history, where they came from or what issues were being debated when the Reformation occurred. The Protestant Reformation rallied around five “solas,” which included sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola grati (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone) and soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone).
Martin Luther and John Calvin were twin pillars of the Reformation, the first leading a crusade in Germany under the banner, “The just shall live by faith,” and the second asserting, “We worship a sovereign God.”
Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses against indulgences on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. When his theses found their way into the printing presses, Europe was set on fire.
“Luther had invited a public disputation and nobody came to dispute,” says historian Elizabeth Eisenstein. “Then by a stroke of magic he found himself addressing the world.”
Some people associate Calvin with the famous TULIP acrostic: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints. In truth, Calvin never expressed his views of Scripture using these terms. The “five points” were developed after Calvin’s death by European Reformers defending his writings.
Nevertheless, Calvin was an ardent believer in the sovereignty of the Creator and man’s inability to save himself without intervening grace. He also believed that worship should be God-centered and not man-centered. Such doctrine flies in the face of modern evangelicalism which of late has taken a market-driven approach and user-friendly style.
Who were some of the significant people in history to be impacted by the ideas of the Reformation, and how did these ideas reach across an ocean to influence our own American history? Upcoming articles will feature individuals like John Knox, William Bradford, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and Francis Schaeffer.
Coming next – John Calvin: His life and influence
Editor’s note: Arthur Hunt is a UTM communications professor and a member of Grace Community Church in Union City.
Soli Deo Gloria: For the glory of God alone