Monday, June 19, 2006

The Church Effeminate: Calvinism and the Church

I have finished reading the book The Church Effeminate (2001), a collection of essays edited by John W. Robbins of the Trinity Foundation, during my recent mission trip to Tokyo, Japan. I would like to post some excellent quotes from the articles in it.

The next excellent article which I would like to share is the article entitled Calvinism and the Church by N.S. McFetridge.

Each of these two systems, Calvinism and Arminianism, has an organic connection and a natural affinity with a distinct form of church government — the Calvinistic with the presbyterial and independent form, and the Arminian with the prelatical or episcopal form. As a matter of fact, this has always been so. (p. 361) ...

The fact, then, is that Arminianism and episcopacy do naturally symphatize and affiliate. There is that in the Arminian doctrines of emotions and works which leads directly to the external forms and ceremonies of prelacy or episcopacy. (p. 362) ...

... Thus, we see how Arminianism, taking to an aristocratic form of church of government, tends towards a monarchy in civil affairs, while Calvinism, taking to a republican form of church government, tends towards a democracy in civil affairs. ...

... Calvinism is a doctrine for the poor and Arminianism for the rich. A creed which insists upon the necessity of faith must be less costly than one which insists upon the necessity of works. In the former case the sinner seeks salvation by the strength of his belief; in the latter one he seeks it by the fullness of his contributions ... (Buckle, History of English Civillization, I, 611)
[Note: Calvinism IS a doctrine for the poor indeed; for those who are poor in spirit, and not those who think themselves like the Pharisee who have sometime to offer God (Lk. 18:10-14). Ultimately, although evangelical Arminians insist otherwise, all synergist soteriological systems make somthing in Man to be the determining factor of a person's salvation. Evangelical Arminians make faith into a mental work of Man, which contribute to the person's salvation, thus although they technically affirm Sola Fide, they in practice deny the essence of it.)

... "The more any society tends to equality, the more likely it is that its theological opinions will be Calvinistic; while the more a soceity tends towards inequality, the greater the probability of those opinions being Arminian (quoted from History of English Civillization, I, 612-613)" (p. 363)

The prelatical or episcopal form of church government, which has always been connected with Arminian doctrine, asserts that all church power is vested in the clergy; while the republical form, which has always accompanied Calvinistic doctrines, asserts that all church power is vested in the church; that is, in the people. This is a radical difference, and "touches the very essence of things" If all the power be in the clergy, then the people are practically bound to passive obedience in all matters of faith and practice. Thus the one system subjects the people to the autocratic orders of a superior, the center principle of monarchy and despotism; while the other system elevates the people to an equality in authority, the center principle of democracy. (p. 364)


the political character of Calvinism, which, with one consent and with instinctive udgment, the monarchs of that day feared as republicanism, is expressed in a single word — predestination. Did a proud aristocracy trace its lineage through generations of a highborn ancestry, the republican Reformers, with a loftier pride, invaded the invisible world, and from the book of life brought down the record if the noblest enfranchisement, decreed from eternity by the Kings of kings ... (Bancroft, History of the United States, II, 461)

This doctrine of predestination inspires a resolute, almost defiant, freedom in those who deem themselves the subjects of God's electing grace; in all things they are more than conquerors through the confidence that nothing shall be able to seperate them from the love of God. No doctrine of the dignity of human nature, ro the rights of man, ot national liberty, or social equality, can create such a resolve for the freedom of the soul as this personal conviction of God's favoring and protecting sovereignty. He who has this faith feels that he is compassed about with everlasting love, girded with everlasting steel; his will is the tempered steel that no fire can melt, no force can break. Such faith is freedom and this spiritual freedom is te source and strength of all other freedom. (Joseph Thompson, D.D., LL.D., The United States as a Nation, 30)

(p. 366-367)


When in the great toil and roar of the conflict the fiery nature of Luther began to chill, ... it was this same uncompromising theology of the Genevan [Calvinist] school which heriocally and triumphantly waged the conflict [the Reformation] to the end. I but repeat the testimony of history, friendly and unfriendly to Calvinism, when I say that had it not for the strong, unflinching, systematic spirit and character of the theology of Calvin, the Reformation would have been lost to the world. ... (p. 367)


The two great springs by which men are moved are sentiment and idea, feeling and conviction; as these control, so the moral character will be shaped. The man of sentiment, of feeling, is the man of instability ...

Now, the appeal to Arminianism [and all synergist systems, I may add] is chiefly to the sentiments. Regarding man as having the absolutely free moral control of himself, and as able at any moment to determine his own eternal state, it naturally applies itself to the arousing if his emotions. ... Hence, the Arminian is, religiously, a man of feeling, of sentiment, and consequently disposed to all those things which interest the eye and please the ear. ... Calvinism, on the other hand, is a system which appeals to idea rather than sentiments, to conscience rather than to emotion. In its view, all things are under a great and perfect system of divine laws, which operate in defiance of feeling, and which must be obeyed at the peril of his soul. (p. 368-369)

Another prominent characteristic of Calvinistic morality is its courageousness. This follows from the former. Conscience and courage do together. Conscience makes "cowards" or heroes "of us all". To change the conscience you must first change the idea. ... conviction holds steadfastly on in the same unwarying way until by some brighter light it discovers its error and turns aside. Hence the men of conscience are, other things being equal, the brave men, the bold men, the courageous men. Calvinism, by appealing to conscience and emphasizing duty, begets a moral heroism which has been the theme of song and praise for three centuries. ... (p. 369)

If we now turn to the fruits of Calvinism in the form of devoted Christians and in the number of churches established, we shall see that it has been the most powerful evangelistic system of religious belief in the world. Consider with what amazing rapidity it spread over Europe, converting thousands upon thousand to a living Christianity. ... And in less than a half a century this so-called harsh system of belief had permeated every part of the land [France during the time of the Reformation], and had gained to its standards almost one-half of the population and almost every great mind in the nation... (p. 369-370)

Many are accustomed to think that revivals belong particularly to the Methodise Church, whereas, in fact, that Church has never yet inaugurated a great national or far-spreading revival. Her revivals are marked with localisml they are connected wth particular churches, and do not make a deep, abiding and general impression on society. The first great Christian revival occurred under the preaching of Peter in Jerusalem, who employed such language in his discourse or discourses as this: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain". That is Calvinism rigid enough. (p. 370)

(Bold added and my comments are in red. Italics original.)

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