Sunday, July 12, 2009

John Calvin, 500th birthday + Calvinism and evangelist James Brainerd Taylor + thanks to John Reisinger and Dan Green

July 10, 2009, was the 500th anniversary of the birth of the influential French theologian and pastor, John Calvin. Conferences throughout the world are being held this year in honor of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Protestant reformer. Included among the conferences was a major, multi-day one at Geneva's St. Pierre Cathedral ("Calvin 500: A Quincentenary"). If I was not in Israel this year, I would have attended this July conference.

Also, many newspaper, magazine and journal articles and blog posts about Calvin and the resurgent Calvinistic theology in the U.S., Canada and abroad are being published and posted in 2009, including "Calvin's theology still shapes churches" (Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., July 10, 2009).

In Time magazine's "What's Next 2009: 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now," "The New Calvinism" ranked third. A good resource regarding "The New Calvinism" is Colin Hansen's Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists (Crossway, 2008).

Though there is no evidence that James Brainerd Taylor read Calvin's popular Institutes of the Christian Religion or his other works, the American evangelist Taylor (1801-1829) was a Calvinist of the Jonathan Edwards variety. I argue this in chapter two my first book An Uncommon Christian: James Brainerd Taylor, Forgotten Evangelist in America's Second Great Awakening (University Press of America, Jan. 2008). Comments such as this reveal Taylor's Calvinistic theology:

Surely I am a miracle of grace--a sinner saved by grace, free grace, sovereign grace, almighty grace.

Regarding Calvin's impact upon my own life and theology, I thank the Reformed Baptist theologian-pastor-evangelist John G. Reisinger (Sound of Grace ministries) for introducing me to Calvinism's TULIP theology soon after my conversion to Christ in October 1992. It was in the Port Angeles, Washington home of my late friend and mentor Daniel "Danny" R. Green (1947-2006) that I viewed Reisinger's excellent and instructive videos on TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, Perseverance of the Saints).

Other key theologians, pastors and authors--both dead and alive--whom the Lord has used to instruct me in the doctrinal truths of Calvinism/Sovereign Grace/The Doctrines of Grace have been the 16th and 17th-century Puritans, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), George Whitefield (1714-1770), Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), A. W. Pink (1886-1952), James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000), Elder D. J. Ward (died 2008, obituary), Richard Belcher, J. I. Packer, John Piper, R. C. Sproul and Mark Webb.

The Calvinism-based Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) have been especially instructive in teaching me that the "only true God" of the Bible (John 17:3) is a sovereign God who extends His free grace to undeserving sinners.