Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your letter.
I have been a Christian for 35 years and involved in Evangelism and Missions since the day I was converted.
John Calvin declared: "No greater injury can be inflicted upon man than to ruin their reputation." Historians have noted that "no good man ever had a worse press; no Christian Theologian is so often scorned, so regularly attacked," as John Calvin
There are a large amount of people who maintain that John Calvin was a vicious tyrant who oppressed people under an unbearable dictatorship. And that he had people executed for disagreeing with him! The fact is that the great French Reformer, John Calvin transformed Geneva through his preaching, teaching, writings and Academy.
Under John Calvin’s ministry, Geneva became the intellectual centre and hub of the Reformation, a place of religious freedom and a refuge for Protestants fleeing persecution.
Geneva also became a sending base for Evangelists, pastors and missionaries, who literally established thousands of Reformed Churches throughout Europe and further afield.
History records that refugees from all over Europe flooded to Geneva to find the freedom there that they were not able to enjoy in their home countries, including England. Many refugees fleeing the persecution of Bloody Mary in England found sanctuary in Calvin’s Geneva.
Under John Calvin, Geneva developed into Europe’s greatest concentration of printers and publishing firms. It became the epicentre for the movement for Freedom worldwide. Calvin never ruled Geneva. The city was not a totalitarian society, but a Republic with elections and dissent. Calvin held no civil office, he could neither arrest, nor punish, any citizen, nor could he appoint, or dismiss any official. To argue that his eloquence and logic constituted tyranny, is to invent a new standard.
As for the assertion that John Calvin denied the Great Commission, the facts prove otherwise. John Calvin was Evangelical and Evangelistic. He was a tireless soul-winner and his missionary zeal is attested to by the fact that within 25 years, from the time he began his ministry in Geneva, there were over 2,000 Reformed Churches and about half a million Calvinists in France alone!
John Calvin trained and sent out over 2,500 missionaries and church planters throughout Europe and even as far afield as Brazil.
The 16th century was primarily a battle for survival for the Protestants. They were fighting for their lives against Catholic repression, invasions and intrigues. Indeed, the entire Mission team which Calvin sent to Brazil were betrayed and murdered by the Jesuits’.
However, the Evangelists, church planters and missionaries trained by Calvin in the Academy in Geneva, and sent out worldwide, planted literally thousands of congregations and won hundreds-of-thousands of people to Christ in his own lifetime.
It is a fallacy and a slander that Calvinists are not Evangelistic. The greatest era of Missionary advance was the 19th century. All the pioneer missionaries who launched the Greatest Century of Missions, were Calvinist. From William Carey, a Reformed Baptist, who launched the Particular (Calvinist) Missionary Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Heathens, to the London Missionary Society, David Livingstone and Mary Slessor, they were thoroughly Calvinist.
Some of the greatest Evangelists, such as George Whitefield were Calvinists. The man most closely associated with the Great Awakening in America: Jonathan Edwards, was a Calvinist.
The Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are both parallel doctrines taught in Scripture. Both are true. God is sovereign and man is responsible for his own actions.
Please see Biblical Foundations of Calvinism; A World to Win and A Heart Aflame and a Mind Renewed.
May the Lord abundantly bless, guide and strengthen you.
Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission
Dr. Peter Hammond