…. and a convert to the Catholic Church. And, according to this article – it was his study of Calvin which lead him to the catholic church…. Dr David Anders. I find this fascinating…
When I finished seminary, I moved on to Ph.D. studies in Reformation history. My focus was on John Calvin (1509-1564), the French Reformer who made Geneva, Switzerland into a model Protestant city. I chose Calvin not just because of my Presbyterian background, but because most American Protestants have some relationship to him. The English Puritans, the Pilgrim Fathers, Jonathan Edwards and the “Great Awakening” – all drew on Calvin and then strongly influenced American religion. My college and seminary professors portrayed Calvin as a master theologian, our theologian. I thought that if I could master Calvin, I would really know the faith.
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.
These discoveries faced me with important questions. Why should Calvin treat these “Catholic things” with such seriousness? Was he right in thinking them so important? And if so, was he justified in leaving the Catholic Church? What did these discoveries teach me about Protestantism? How could my Church claim Calvin as a founder, and yet stray so far from his views? Was the whole Protestant way of doing theology doomed to confusion and inconsistency?
Try and sensibly engage with the WHOLE article by reading it HERE. Unless you have a Ph.D in Reformation History dismissing him as simply wrong is not an option. He raises some good points. His article is challenging and worth wrestling with as a calvinistic protestant!