“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Monday, April 4, 2011

John Calvin's Letter to Rob Bell

John Calvin 1509-1564
John Calvin wrote many letters throughout his life, many of which were long exhortations. Oftentimes, he would write to correct someone who was in error. The following letter was written to Laelius Socinus, a man who had once embraced the Reformation principles, but had begun to fall away. He is the founder of Socinianism, a heresy that blended skepticism and humanism. Socinus acted like a Christian, but basically denied everything that Christianity stands for. Had the "Emergent Church" existed in his time, Socinus would have definitively been sympathetic toward their cause, since he questioned everything about the faith, instead of asserting anything. For this reason, I have entitled this entry, "John Calvin's Letter to Rob Bell", because Rob Bell seems to question, not just the culture, institution, and traditions of Christianity, but he seems to also question the very foundation of our faith: the Word of God. In his latest book, Love wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell asserts that all will go to Heaven. He asks the same old worn-out question of why a loving God would send someone to hell. I have inserted Rob Bell's name for Socinus.

Calvin's letter is as follows:
"Certainly no one can be more averse to paradox than I am, and in subleties I find no delight at all. Yet nothing shall ever hinder me from opnely avowing what I have learned form the Word of God; for nothing but what is useful is taught in the school of this master. It is my only guide, and to acquiesce in its plain doctrines shall be my constant rule of wisdom. [I wish] that you also...Pastor Bell would learn to regulate your powers with the same moderation! You have no reason tro expect a reply from me so long as you bring forward those monstrous questions. If you are gratified by floating among those airy speculations, pertmit me, I beseech you, an humble disciple of Christ, to meditate on those things which tend towards the buidng up of my faith. And indeed I shall hereafter follow out my wishes in silence, that you may not be troubled by me. And in truth I am very grieved that the fine talents with which God has endowed you, should be occupied not only with what is vain and fruitless, but that they should also be injured by pernicious figments...Unless you correct in time this itching after investingation, it is to be feared you will bring upon yourself severe suffering. I should be cruel towards you did I treat with a show of indulgence what I believe to be a very dangerous error. I should prefer, accordingly, offending you a little at present by my severity, rather than allow you to indulge unchecked in the fascinating allurements of curiosity. The time will come, I hope, when you will rejoice in having been so violently admonished."

Calvin's letter from: Parsons, Burk. John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust, 2008. Print. pgs. 206-07

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