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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is Calvinism one step away from Atheism?

It is my view that Calvinism is semi-Atheistic. Especially those Calvinists that are "cessationists" I point the finger at the Zwingli/Calvin Compromise. This compromise was one of the reasons why the Reformed churches couldn't unite with the Lutherian churches.

But I would like to quote a few things by Alister Mcgrath to show that I wasn't wrong for speculating this.

He says on page 146 of his book "Christianity's Dangerous idea: The protestant revolution-a history from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first":

"The appeal of the Enlightenment proved greatest within Reformed circles. For
reasons that remain unclear, rationalism gained acceptance in many former
Calvinist strongholds. Geneva and Edinburgh, both international centers of
Calvinism in the late sixteenth century, were noted as epicenters of European
rationalism in the late eighteenth century. John Calvin and John Knox gave way
to the very different worldviews of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume. In
marked contrast, the Enlightenment had relatively little impact on Catholicism
during the eighteenth century-unless, of course, the French Revolution (1789) is
seen as a political extension of the ideas of the Enlightenment."[1]

He mentions this again in passing on page 264 while talking about the stripping away of the "sacred/supernatural" and the rise of the Atheistic worldview.

"While most Elizabethan Protestants were happy to follow continental ideas,
especially those of Calvin, their Jacobean and Stuart successors were
increasingly aware of the need to symbolize the interaction and interpenetration
of the sacred and secular. The poetry of George Herbert can be seen as an
attempt to retain an essentially Calvinist theology of the Sacraments, while
developing its capacity to promote the Church's social and confessional
This decoupling of the sacred from the quotidian, characteristic
of certain types of Protestantism, accelerated the rise of a functionally
atheist worldview in which God was not regarded as an active participant in the
worldview. It is no accident that two sixteenth-century European centers of
Calvinism-Geneva and Edinburgh-had became centers of rationalism two centuries
We shall have more to say about this development later. Yet it is
important to appreciate here that one of the most fundamental characteristics of
Pentecostalism is its insistence that the divine may be encountered in the
secular realm. Its astonishing success points to the reversal of this trend and
the emergence of a new form of Protestantism characterized by its expectation of
the direct experience of the spiritual within the mundane."[2]

I am not the onlyone who sees a connection between Calvinistic theology with the rise of Atheism. I'm not gonna say all, but alot of Calvinists tend to disregard any idea of "mystery" for the sake of "rationalism".

[1], and [2] by Dr. Alister Mcgrath, from the book Christianity's Dangerous idea: The Protestant Revolution-A history from the sixteenth Century to the twenty-First. Published by HarperOne. Copyright 2007



Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Well, Calvinists are the people who deal with religion as if it is actually true. They have alot less double think. Unfortunately God comes out looking like an evil bastard (predestination), but hey, that is logic for you. And God can't be illogical. If he could than he could also exist and not exist- a position that is impossible.

So, Calvanisms emphasis on logic might lead to atheism... the same way modern empathisis on morality does the same thing when people read the old testament.

Jnorm said...

Yes, I think their emphasis on logic makes them do lip service to the idea of "Mystery" if not reject it all together.


Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Religion rejects mystery- everything is part of God's plan. It has awe instead (you are confusing the two- easy mistake, they give the same feeling).

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