John Calvin – Conviction of Scripture’s Superiority

The Old Guys

1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
Unless this certainty, higher and stronger than any human judgment, be present, it will be vain to fortify the authority of Scripture by arguments, to establish it by common agreement of the church, or to confirm it with other helps. For unless this foundation is laid, its authority will always remain in doubt. Conversely, once we have embraced it devoutly as its dignity deserves, and have recognized it to be above the common sort of things, those arguments—not strong enough before to engraft and fix the certainty of Scripture in our minds—become very useful aids. What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities…

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3 Assumptions of Systematic Theology

Systematic theology is based on certain assumptions.

The first assumption is that God has revealed Himself not only in nature but also through the writings of the prophets and the Apostles, and that the Bible is the Word of God. It is theology par excellence. It is the full logos of the theos.

The second assumption is that when God reveals Himself, He does so according to His own character and nature. Scripture tells us that God created an orderly cosmos. He is not the author of confusion because He is never confused. He thinks clearly and speaks in an intelligible way that is meant to be understood.

A third assumption is that God’s revelation in Scripture manifests those qualities. There is a unity to the Word of God despite the diversity of its authors. The Word of God was written over many centuries by many authors, and it covers a variety of topics, but within that diversity is unity. All the information found in Scripture—future things, the atonement, the incarnation, the judgment of God, the mercy of God, the wrath of God—have their unity in God Himself, so that when God speaks and reveals Himself, there is a unity in that content, a coherence.

God’s revelation is also consistent. It has been said that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but if that were true, we would have to say that God has a small mind, because in His being and character, He is utterly consistent. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).

These assumptions guide the systematic theologian as he goes about his task of considering the whole scope of Scripture and inquiring how it all fits together. At many seminaries, the systematic theology department is separate from the New Testament department and the Old Testament department. This is because the systematic theologian has a different focus than the Old Testament professor and the New Testament professor. Biblical scholars focus on how God has revealed Himself at various points over time, while the systematician takes that information, puts it all together, and shows how it fits into a meaningful whole. This is a daunting task, to be sure, and I am convinced that no one has ever done it perfectly.

As I engage in systematic theology, I never cease to be amazed by the specific, intricate coherence of the scope of divine revelation. Systematic theologians understand that each point in theology addresses every other point. When God speaks, every detail He utters has an impact on every other detail. That is why our ongoing task is to see how all the pieces fit together into an organic, meaningful, and consistent whole. That is what we will be doing in Everyone’s a Theologian.

This excerpt is adapted from R.C. Sproul’s newest book, Everyone’s a Theologian.

Why I Am Convinced the So-Called Five Points of Calvinism are True (Part 4)


Evangelism and Prayer . Paul strongly speaks of unconditional election in Rom. 9, and this raises the question of how the elect are saved. He answers that in the very next chapter, Rom. 10. His answer is that God brings his elect into the fold by opening their hearts in response to the preached word of God.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has…

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Why I Am Convinced the So-Called Five Points of Calvinism are True (Part 3)


For the purpose of His great name and the exaltation of Jesus Christ, the Lord has eternally set his love upon a hell-deserving sinner like me. One thing that so drew me to this understanding of grace is that it’s thoroughly God-centered. J. I. Packer has said that Reformed Theology essentially teaches one point: God saves sinners .

God. The truine, infinitely holy, righteous, just, and beautiful Creator has swooped up and saved me from His justly deserved wrath. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together, not just for my election in eternity past, but for my trust in Jesus Christ, and for my continued trust and obedience during my lifetime. In perfect divine consistency the Son lays down his life for those whom His Father has given him. The Father sets his love upon a fallen people, marks them out to receive his amazing grace, his Son…

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Why I Am Convinced the So-Called Five Points of Calvinism are True (Part 2)


The Doctrines of Grace. Here I will very quickly lay out the so-called five points. I won’t have time to address every Scripture passage (after all, this is an email, not a book), but I hope to sketch out what Calvinists believe and why. I should say here that many of the questions and concerns are warranted, and if I didn’t think Reformed theology’s understanding of Scripture could handle them, I’d abandon it. As you’re probably already familiar with, the doctrines of grace are summarized in what’s called the 5 points of Calvinism. Again, these points are:

T- Total Depravity

U- Unconditional Election

L- Limited Atonement

I- Irresistible Grace

P- Perseverance of the Saints

This summary is both good and bad. It’s good because it’s helpful for people to remember and is kind of logically ordered. It can be bad as well because in the attempt of the English translators of…

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Why I Am Convinced the So-Called Five Points of Calvinism are True (Part 1)


Several weeks ago, I posted an entry on What is Reformed Theology? There I answer this way: Reformed theology is a sweeping understanding of all of life under the sovereign authority of the covenant God of Israel revealed in Jesus Christ.

Here I’d like to fill out a little more of what makes up Reformed Theology, the 5 point of Calvinism. Over the course of the last decade I’ve talked to friends and students about this issue, and I’ve come to a conclusion. I’m thoroughly convinced that roughly 80-90% of what people believe about Calvinism is mistaken and/or confused. Here are the so-called 5 points of Calvinism:

T- Total Depravity

U- Unconditional Election

L- Limited Atonement

I- Irresistble Grace

P- Perserverence of the Saints

Now, I’ll share my thoughts as bullet points.

Opening clarifications.

1. I don’t believe in Calvinism because of the authority of John Calvin. In fact I…

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