Church Fathers – Calvin

Calvin Confirms There Were Many Open Theists in His Time

On the Providence of God, in so far as conducive to the solid instruction and consolation of believers, (for, as to satisfying the curiosity of foolish men, it is a thing which cannot be done, and ought not to be attempted,) enough would have been said, did not a few passages remain which seem to insinuate, contrary to the view which we have expounded, that the counsel of God is not firm and stable, but varies with the changes of sublunary affairs. First, in reference to the Providence of God, it is said that he repented of having made man, (Gen. 6:6,) and of having raised Saul to the kingdom, (1 Sam. 15:11,) and that he will repent of the evil which he had resolved to inflict on his people as soon as he shall have perceived some amendment in them, (Jer. 18:8.) Secondly, his decrees are sometimes said to be annulled. He had by Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” but, immediately on their repentance, he inclined to a more merciful sentence, (Jonah 3:4-10.) After he had, by the mouth of Isaiah, given Hezekiah intimation of his death, he was moved by his tears and prayers to defer it, (Is. 38:1,5; 2 Kings 20: 1,5 cf. II Chron. 32:34.) Hence many argue that God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual, and as he deems right and just, disposes of each single year, and day, and hour.

Institutes 1.17.12
Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Calvin on God’s Purpose for Evil

Moreover, we must add, that although the paternal favour and beneficence, as well as the judicial severity of God, is often conspicuous in the whole course of his Providence, yet occasionally as the causes of events are concealed, the thought is apt to rise, that human affairs are whirled about by the blind impulse of Fortune, or our carnal nature inclines us to speak as if God were amusing himself by tossing men up and down like balls. It is true, indeed, that if with sedate and quiet minds we were disposed to learn, the issue would at length make it manifest, that the counsel of God was in accordance with the highest reason, that his purpose was either to train his people to patience, correct their depraved affections, tame their wantonness, inure them to self-denial, and arouse them from torpor; or, on the other hand, to cast down the proud, defeat the craftiness of the ungodly, and frustrate all their schemes.
Institutes 1.17.1

Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Calvin on No Mere Permission

1. No mere “permission”! From other passages, in which God is said to draw or bend Satan himself, and all the reprobate, to his will, a more difficult question arises. For the carnal mind can scarcely comprehend how, when acting by their means, he contracts no taint from their impurity, nay, how, in a common operation, he is exempt from all guilt, and can justly condemn his own ministers. Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and employs their iniquities to execute his judgements. The modesty of those who are thus alarmed at the appearance of absurdity might perhaps be excused, did they not endeavour to vindicate the justice of God from every semblance of stigma by defending an untruth. It seems absurd that man should be blinded by the will and command of God, and yet be forthwith punished for his blindness. Hence, recourse is had to the evasion that this is done only by the permission, and not also by the will of God. He himself, however, openly declaring that he does this, repudiates the evasion. That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture.

The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments.

Institutes. Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works (Kindle Locations 3529-3537). . Kindle Edition.

A Petition Written by Michael Servetus in Prison

Translated by Joy Kleinstuber
For full text (gated): link

Honoured Sirs
I am being held prisoner on the instigation of Jean Calvin, who has charged me unjustly, saying that I had written,

1. That souls were mortal. And also
2. That Jesus Christ only got a quarter of his body from the Virgin Mary.

These are horrible and detestable things. Of all heresies and of all crimes, there is none so heinous as making the soul mortal. Because with all the others there is hope of salvation, but none at all with this one. Whoever says this does not believe that there is a God, or justice, or resurrection, or Jesus Christ, or Holy Scripture, or anything {at all}; only that everything is dead, and man and beast are one and the same thing. If I had said that—{and} not only said it, but written it for all to see, to defile the world—I would sentence myself to death. For which reason messeigneurs I request that my bogus prosecutor be punished according to the lex talionis, and that he be held prisoner, like me, until such time as the case is decided by {a ruling for} either his death or mine, or some other sentence. And to this end {I hereby bring a charge against him according to the aforementioned lex talionis}. And I am willing to die if he is not proven guilty, as much for this, as for other things, which I will describe later. I ask you for justice, my lords: justice, justice, justice. Written in this prison of Geneva, on 22 September 1553.

Michael Servetus
{pleading} his own case.

Calvin Describing Calvinist Gnostic Enlightening

From Calvin’s commentary on 1 Cor 2:14-16:

14. But the animal man. By the animal man he does not mean (as is   commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they   say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing   more than the faculties of nature. This appears from the  corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man   and the spiritual As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is   regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no   doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural   condition, as they speak. For the soul belongs to nature, but the   Spirit is of supernatural communication.   

He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to   remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak —   that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we   ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds   from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in   the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we   choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it is   not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in   any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject   it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the   contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value.

For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The   doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid in the view of all   that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is   from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from   the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate   the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which   it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling   more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is   contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown   is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the   understanding of man. What a superior wisdom this is, which so   far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as   a taste of it! While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to   the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what   they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the   weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he   declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches,   that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to   the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to   the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be   wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they   are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but   is divinely conferred.

Because they are spiritually discerned That is, the Spirit of God, from   whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to   open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity   be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.  Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of   God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the   Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason   which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special   discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone.   Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the   gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all   indiscriminately are free to embrace salvation by faith.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 446320-446324). . Kindle Edition.

Calvin on God Predestining Evil for Good

From the City of God:

It is with reference to the nature, then, and not to the wickedness of the devil, that we are to understand these words, This is the beginning of God’s handiwork; for, without doubt, wickedness can be a flaw or vice only where the nature previously was not vitiated… And because God, when He created him, was certainly not ignorant of his future malignity, and foresaw the good which He Himself would bring out of his evil, therefore says the psalm, This leviathan whom You have made to be a sport therein, that we may see that, even while God in His goodness created him good, He yet had already foreseen and arranged how He would make use of him when he became wicked.

For God would never have created any, I do not say angel, but even man, whose future wickedness He foreknew, unless He had equally known to what uses in behalf of the good He could turn him, thus embellishing, the course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses. For what are called antitheses are among the most elegant of the ornaments of speech. They might be called in Latin oppositions, or, to speak more accurately, contrapositions; but this word is not in common use among us, though the Latin, and indeed the languages of all nations, avail themselves of the same ornaments of style… As, then, these oppositions of contraries lend beauty to the language, so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged, as it were, by an eloquence not of words, but of things…