John Calvin Didn’t Die for You or Who Do You Identify With?

I’ve been having some trouble lately with the secondary labels we Christians us to identify ourselves becoming the primary thing that defines us. I’m a Baptist or I’m amillennial or I’m reformed.

What I am NOT saying is that I am opposed to categories or labels. I find them helpful as long as terms are defined. What troubles me is that, in my view, a lot of folks are using what should be secondary identifies such as “Calvinist” or “Reformed” as the primary means by which they identify themselves to the Christian community, Where instead in my mind I want to be identified as a “Christian” or insert trendy other way of saying that here (ie Jesus follower, Jesus lover).

I love Jesus and want to identify with him. Why do I love him? Here are some reasons:

He is God.

He made me for him.

He took away my sin.

He reconciled me to God.

He is at this moment advocating for me before God.

He loved me before there was time and then acted in history to demonstrate that love to me.

He won’t leave me or forsake me.

I could keep going,but I think you get the point. Now let me ask you a question; outside of helping us understand this God and His Son better what has Calvin done for you? Did Luther ever hang on a cross for your sins? Did Calvin pray for you on his way to sweat blood over the thought of what your sin has done? Did Edwards plan to send you his redemptive love before time began? I would say not. Let us not elevate these men beyond their humanity.

Do we love the Doctrines of Grace because they are in the bible or for other reasons? I love the doctrines of Grace because they are what the bible teaches. Period. I am thankful that God gave us Calvin. But he was just a man. So were the other reformers. . Sinful men; Calvin paid to off a guy, Luther was an anti-Semite. Bottom line is these men are not our savior and while we can and SHOULD praise God for them and read what they have written to help us understand God, it is an improper elevation of these men when we make our primary means of self identification with their name and not Christ’s.

I would encourage you to read the reformers and other great historical Christian hero’s works and biographies on them…and then thank God that He sent Jesus. These men wouldn’t even be known to you apart form the work of Christ in their life. Learn who they were and that they sinned and thank God that you can identify with the Sinless one.

Note: This post is in no way a commentary on the upcoming Desiring God conferance; I thank God for John piper and the idea to have a conference on Calvin. knowing Piper, he will point to Jesus by looking through Calvin.

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    • Josh G
    • July 7th, 2009

    “Thanks for posting this. I couldn’t agree with you more. All of our labels have a dangerous potential to look like we belong to religious sects, not to the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ”

    • “Doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. Something of ‘the image of Christ’ must be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings.”
      J.C. Ryle

    • zach c
    • July 7th, 2009

    Thanks for pointing us to Christ, Russ. Just can’t be said enough.

    • russellandduenes
    • July 7th, 2009

    Good point, Russ. Makes me think of 1 Cor., 1-3, where Paul says at the end of chapter 3, “Stop boasting in men…You belong to CHRIST, and Christ belongs to God.”

    • that was kinda where this all started. I just get tired of hearing all about reformed this and reformed that and not Jesus.

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