I thought that I had officially developed a new word “closeted.” However, because of curiosity, I went to Wikapedia41ib+K5fd6L__SS500_ only to have my hopes crushed, seeing the word had already been coined! The actual meaning of closeted in the more general sense is “any behavior that is potentially embarrassing or controversial, and thus kept hidden.”

Now, what in the name of all that is good does this have to do with this post? Well, I have been on this journey of discovery over the past 9 years of learning about the doctrines of a man called John Calvin. I did not begin this journey at college or seminary, but a few months after Jesus saved me, a friend who discipledme, introduced me to the “dreadful” Calvinism. He was pro Calvinism, that is he agreed with this teaching. However, I did not know what to make of it and set out on a journey to see what the Bible said concerning TULIP and what other people had to say about it.  

My conclusion after 9 years is that Calvin has been so controversial, because of his teaching on salvation that few souls have known his life and what the man actually did. Knowing his life, makes him more than an ivory tower theologian! He was a Christian, a Husband, a Pastor, a Church-Planter, a Missionary-Advocate, a Teacher, ect.      

My point is not to convince you of Calvinism, but to show you that Calvin has been “closeted.” His teaching on salvation, which is usually singled out from all his other doctrine, as if he invented this idea (Augustine), has created so much debate that his life has been “closeted.”  Calvin’s life has been “kept hidden” to many people.

 Before graduating, a professor at seminary told our class, “One year at a major meeting (ETS) of evangelical pastors and theologians, there was a survey given, which asked, ‘what author and book have most influenced you?’ The overwhelming majority said, ‘Calvin and Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion.” With this encouragement and the fact that 2009 marks the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, I have made it a goal to read about his life and to read The Institutes of Christian Religion.

I have recently read John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology (This book is a great read and was written by many fine pastors and scholars), which has shown me even more clearly that Calvin’s life has been kept hidden. I have talked with Christians from all kinds of different backgrounds and denominations about this topic and have heard some say pretty outrageous things about Calvin and Calvinism. I have heard them call him a heretic, which means he was worthy to be damned to hell for not preaching the gospel! I have heard people say that calvinists don’t and can’t share the gospel.

Well, if this helps to “uncloset” (A new word?) some calvinist and Calvin himself here goes. I want to mention a chapter in John Calvin (book above),  called “The Churchman of the Reformation.” In this chapter, the author Harry L. Reeder provides some great insights into Calvin’s life as a Teacer and Writer, but I want to focus on his section on Calvin as Pastor/Evangelist/Missionary. For instance, Reeder says, “The blessing of God upon the missionary endevours of Calvin and the Geneva churches from 1555 to 1562 was extraordinary-more than one hundred underground churches were planted in France by 1560.” This fact alone is stagerring! 5 years=100 churches! However, Reeder goes to unload even more numbers, saying, “By 1562, the number had increased to 2,150, producing more than three million members. Some of these churches had congregations numbering in the thousands.” Reeder quotes several pastors at these churches whose membership was 5 t0 6 thousand and 8 to 9 thousand. These numbers are humbling! They show us the depth of his labor to see that the gospel would advance and that people would be rescued from Satan and sin through Jesus Christ. Reeder doesn’t stop here. He writes about Calvin’s missionary work beyond the borders of France. Reeder says, “Geneva trained missionaries planted churches in Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Germany, England, Scotland, and the independent states of Rhineland. Even more astonishing was an initiative that sent missionaries to Brazil.”

I hope by writing this I have helped some of you see that Calvin wasn’t concerned about damning people with his pen in his ivory tower, but about the salvation of souls. This was his concern with his pastor training, writing, and missionary work. If you also get a chance, read Calvin, don’t just assume you know about him. I mean its his 500th birthday and all!

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