09-17-17, 12:56 PM
I want to preface this by saying that I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian since I don't follow the teachings of humans, I follow the bible alone. I want to demonstrate what happens when people follow a human and use his name to talk about what God says. John Calvin believed in infant baptism which contradicts election.
For Calvin, infant baptism was a far older tradition than the Catholic Church, but in fact had divine origins. Furthermore, he states that:
"Scripture shows, first, that it points to that cleansing from sin which we obtain by the blood of Christ; and, secondly, to the mortification of the flesh, which consists in participation in his death, by which believers are regenerated to newness of life, and thereby to the fellowship of Christ…it is also a symbol to testify our religion to men."
This is only a sample of what was posted. The original can be found here. This person went on to state, "Calvin said that he was converted between 1532-1533. Converted from what? Being regenerated when he was baptized as an infant?" and also, "So the only reason to listen to this fruitcake was because he was a college graduate. Well college graduates rule the world and we know where the world is headed! This again confirms that college degrees do not make people "Men of God". The Holy Spirit does..." And as a final example:
This is elementary for anyone who has actually read about Calvin. It is a fact that infant baptism contradicts election along with the fact that even atheists, the Mafia and the Nazis were baptized as infants. So continuing to support Calvin is continuing to OPPOSE FACTS and DENY TRUTH.
An ironic aspect of this person's Calvin diatribe is that for something entitled, "Calvin's Beliefs," only one actual quote from John Calvin was provided (cited above). Let's take a look at the sole shred of proof offered and see if Calvin's view of infant baptism contradicted his view of election and if he really was a "fruitcake."
Initially, the thing that jumped out at me was not what Calvin said, but rather, "." What in the world is that number doing in the sentence? Is it some sort special number related to "divine origins"? No. While no documentation was provided, this post originally ended with a cryptic link to thoughtsofalivingchristian (later edited out by a forum moderator). This "" is a footnote from this link. Now I'm not sure if the CARM participant is the author of this blog article. It appears this blog article may have been written by someone named Aaron Chidgzey. If the CARM participant is this same person, then he simply cited himself. If not, it looks like there's some Internet wild west stuff going on (aka, intellectual theft). I suspect the later. Here's what the blog article states (I placed the plagiarized words in bold text):
Calvin, despite having little first-hand contact with Anabaptists, labeled the Anabaptists as ignorant, stating that “these vermin differ from all other heretical sects in that they not only err in certain points, but they give rise to a whole sea of insane views”. He was astounded by the varying nature of the different Anabaptist groups, who had “so many absurd views that it is a marvel how creatures who bear the human figure can be so void of sense and reason as to be so duped and fall victim to such brutish fantasies”. For Calvin, infant baptism was a far older tradition than the Catholic Church, but in fact had divine origins. Furthermore, he states that:
Scripture shows, first, that it points to that cleansing from sin which we obtain by the blood of Christ; and, secondly, to the mortification of the flesh, which consists in participation in his death, by which believers are regenerated to newness of life, and thereby to the fellowship of Christ…it is also a symbol to testify our religion to men.
 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989). 529.
 Ibid. 530.The version of The Institutes being cited is a one-volume edition published in 1989 of Henry Beveridge's translation of the 1537 Institutes. Beveridge's translation was originally released in 1846. what's being cited is Book IV, 16, 2.
2. In the first place, then, [infant baptism] is a well-known doctrine, and one as to which all the pious are agreed,—that the right consideration of signs does not lie merely in the outward ceremonies, but depends chiefly on the promise and the spiritual mysteries, to typify which the ceremonies themselves are appointed. He, therefore, who would thoroughly understand the effect of baptism—its object and true character—must not stop short at the element and corporeal object. but look forward to the divine promises which are therein offered to us, and rise to the internal secrets which are therein represented. He who understands these has reached the solid truth, and, so to speak, the whole substance of baptism, and will thence perceive the nature and use of outward sprinkling. On the other hand, he who passes them by in contempt, and keeps his thoughts entirely fixed on the visible ceremony, will neither understand the force, nor the proper nature of baptism, nor comprehend what is meant, or what end is gained by the use of water. This is confirmed by passages of Scripture too numerous and too clear to make it necessary here to discuss them more at length. It remains, therefore, to inquire into the nature and efficacy of baptism, as evinced by the promises therein given. Scripture shows, first, that it points to that cleansing from sin which we obtain by the blood of Christ; and, secondly, to the mortification of the flesh which consists in participation in his death, by which believers are regenerated to newness of life, and thereby to the fellowship of Christ. To these general heads may be referred all that the Scriptures teach concerning baptism, with this addition, that it is also a symbol to testify our religion to men.Conclusion
Earlier in chapter 15, Calvin states:
Now, it is clear how false is the teaching, long propagated by some and still persisted in by others, that through baptism we are released and made exempt from original sin, and from the corruption that descended from Adam into all his posterity; and are restored into that same righteousness and purity of nature which Adam would have obtained if he had remained upright as he was first created. For teachers of this type never understood what original sin, what original righteousness, or what the grace of baptism was (Institutes IV: 15:10).
While this quote certainly seems clear, the quote in regard to infant baptism does not. I freely admit that working through the entirety of Calvin's statements in IV,16 on infant baptism can certainly appear as if he's advocating the baptismal regeneration of all infants. Calvin at one point does say that an infant can be regenerated (IV, 16, 17-18), as was the case with John the Baptist. Notice though what he goes to say about baptized infants:
For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature—a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the tact, that children are baptised for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. [IV, 16, 20].The question in understanding Calvin then becomes, does "the secret operation of the Spirit" form the seed of faith in all baptized infants? No. In III, 21, 6, within the covenant community, certain individuals were eternally elected unto salvation while others were not. Here is a helpful clarifying excerpt from John Riggs, Baptism in the Reformed Tradition: A Historical and Practical Theology:
Riggs goes on to examine the "seed" issue noting some of the logical problems produced by Calvin's use of the term, It: "implies a nonpersonal divine activity that guarantees a result, such as planting a seed in the earth. When the gardener plants, the ground cannot refuse." Analogies fall apart when pressed too far. Which is the correct way to understand the analogy: a divine seed must harvest, or a divine seed only sprouts when watered by the irresistible grace of the Holy Spirit? Riggs holds the former. Calvin appears to hold the later.
Some years back I was given the honor of contributing entries to James White's Alpha and Omega Ministries web site. Here's an entry I put together in regard to Calvin and baptismal regeneration: Calvin Said What?