How John Calvin made me a Catholic…

Interesting article. Take a look

Strangely, mastering Calvin didn’t lead me anywhere I expected. To begin with, I decided that I really didn’t like Calvin. I found him proud, judgmental and unyielding. But more importantly, I discovered that Calvin upset my Evangelical view of history. I had always assumed a perfect continuity between the Early Church, the Reformation and my Church. The more I studied Calvin, however, the more foreign he seemed, the less like Protestants today. This, in turn, caused me to question the whole Evangelical storyline: Early Church – Reformation – Evangelical Christianity, with one seamless thread running straight from one to the other. But what if Evangelicals really weren’t faithful to Calvin and the Reformation? The seamless thread breaks. And if it could break once, between the Reformation and today, why not sooner, between the Early Church and the Reformation? Was I really sure the thread had held even that far?

Calvin shocked me by rejecting key elements of my Evangelical tradition. Born-again spirituality, private interpretation of Scripture, a broad-minded approach to denominations – Calvin opposed them all. I discovered that his concerns were vastly different, more institutional, even more Catholic. Although he rejected the authority of Rome, there were things about the Catholic faith he never thought about leaving. He took for granted that the Church should have an interpretive authority, a sacramental liturgy and a single, unified faith.



2 thoughts on “How John Calvin made me a Catholic…

  1. Scott Walker says:

    Overall the article (in full) is a bit fast and loose with history. I find that many Roman Catholics look back to a romanticized, “golden age” when the Church was perfect. Protestants often tend imply the church was apostate until the 16th century.

    In any case, there was a reason Calvin Qtd. Augustine, the Patristics and the Scriptures in their original languages like crazy. Ad fontes. Calvin, no doubt, wanted a reformed catholicism. He would be horrified at North American denominationalism.

    • T. Justin Read-Smith says:

      I agree with what you’ve said. Nonetheless, the fact that the author has the background it does makes the article intriguing.

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