Calvin said: Genesis means what it says

by Jonathan Sarfati

Article from:
Creation
22(4):44-45
September 2000
Image Wikipedia.org Calvin
John Calvin

Some professing evangelical Christians accuse creationists of taking a naïve literalistic view of Genesis, and claim that creationism is a 20th century aberration. Nothing could be further from the truth. A straightforward view of Genesis was the view of Moses (Exodus 20:8–11), the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22,45; 1 Tim. 2:13–14) and the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:3–7), and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 19:3–6; Mark 10:6–9; Luke 17:26–27).

It was also the view of the vast majority of the Church Fathers, including the faithful defender of the Trinity, Basil the Great. See Genesis means what it says: Basil (AD 329–379).1

And the great leaders of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation, in returning to biblical authority, also accepted a straightforward view of Genesis. This includes the Father of the Reformation, Martin Luther — see What was Martin Luther’s stand on Creation/Evolution?2

One of the most influential of the Reformers was the French lawyer and theologian John Calvin (1509–1564). He became leader of Geneva (Switzerland), which became a refuge for 6,000 Protestants. Calvin founded the University of Geneva in 1559, which attracted many foreign scholars, and still does today. His monumental Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) proclaimed the grace of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. He was also a skilled commentator on books of the Bible, including Genesis. His teachings influenced many confessions, catechisms, preachers, leaders of modern Christian revivals, and were brought to America by the Pilgrim Fathers.3

It’s very interesting that on every point on which CMI disagrees with much of modern Christendom, Calvin took our side. For example, Calvin believed that:

It is thus clear that if we accept the authority of Scripture alone, we must believe that Genesis should be taken at its plain meaning. Christians who deny this are imposing outside ideas onto Scripture. This is shown by the frank admission by the ‘progressive creationist’ Pattle Pun:

‘It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils [sic — creationists would say ‘most’] were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith.’13

Sadly, one hotbed of anti-creationist, theistic evolutionary/long age ideas even includes a college named after Calvin — Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michican, USA. Some of their staff have even invoked Calvin in support, although, as we have seen, Calvin opposed all such compromises.

Today the church needs a new Reformation to return to the authority of the Bible, the written Word of God, rather than trusting the fallible conjectures of unbelieving scientists.

References

  1. Batten, D., Genesis means what it says: Basil (AD 329–379), Creation 16(4):23, 1994. Return to text.
  2. Citing Martin Luther, in Jaroslav Pelikan, editor, ‘Luther’s Works,’ Lectures on Genesis Chapters 1–5, 1:3,6, Concordia, St. Louis, MO, USA, 1958. Return to text.
  3. Packer, J.I., John Calvin and Reformed Europe; in: Great Leaders of the Christian Church, Ed. Woodbridge, J.D., Moody Press, Chicago, IL, USA, pp. 206–215, 1988. Return to text.
  4. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 2:925, ed. John T. McNeill, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 1960. Return to text.
  5. Calvin, J., Genesis, 1554; Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, UK, 1984, p. 78. Return to text.
  6. Calvin, Genesis, p. 105. Return to text.
  7. Ref. 5, pp. 76–77. Return to text.
  8. Calvin, Genesis, p. 83. Return to text.
  9. Calvin, Genesis, p. 100. Return to text.
  10. Calvin, Genesis, p. 180. Return to text.
  11. Calvin, Genesis, p. 227. Return to text.
  12. Calvin, Genesis, p. 272. Return to text.
  13. Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987; emphasis added. Return to text.
Citing Martin Luther, in Jaroslav Pelikan, editor, ‘Luther’s Works,’ Lectures on Genesis Chapters 1–5, 1:3,6, Concordia, St. Louis, MO, USA, 1958.
Packer, J.I., John Calvin and Reformed Europe; in: Great Leaders of the Christian Church, Ed. Woodbridge, J.D., Moody Press, Chicago, IL, USA, pp. 206–215, 1988.
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 2:925, ed. John T. McNeill, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 1960.
Calvin, J., Genesis, 1554; Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, UK, 1984, p. 78.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 105.
Ref. 5, pp. 76–77.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 83.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 100.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 180.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 227.
Calvin, Genesis, p. 272.
Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987; emphasis added.

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