What do Calvin & Darwin have in common?
This is their year of birth. It is the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. It is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. And it is also the 400th anniversary of the death of Jacob Arminius.
One of these was the great-grandfather of America. Another her arch-nemesis—not Darwin, but Arminius.
How this is so and how these men represent two antithetical worldviews will be explored in this series of papers. Theologically, culturally, scientifically and politically these men and their respective principles of life are worlds apart. And when these antithetical principles met in America, it was a cosmic clash of worldviews, reverberating down to the present day.
As one modern secular source acknowledged:
“In general it may be claimed for Calvinism that its influence has been an elevating and invigorating one. Abasing man before God, but exalting him again in the consciousness of a newborn liberty in Christ, teaching him his slavery through sin, yet restoring his freedom to him through grace, and leading him to regard all things in the light of eternity, it contributed to form a grave but very noble and elevated type of character, and reared a race not afraid to lift up the head before kings.” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 2003).
Calvinism is more than a name derived from a brilliant and godly teacher. It is a world and life view that stands upon the Bible alone, demanding all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Standing firm in the predestinating power of God Almighty, it has torn nations asunder and created a nation whole-cloth. The Calvinists were the impetus for modern science. They pioneered religious freedom. And they grounded resistance to tyrants into the mindset of Western Civilization.
No Calvinism, no America.
Unitarian historian George Bancroft, founder of the US Naval Academy, summed it up well:
“He that will not honor the memory, and respect the influence of Calvin, knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”
This year, in the spirit of the Fifth Commandment, thousands worldwide will celebrate the birth of this man. A man raised, formed and empowered by God’s Spirit to have a lasting impact upon our civilization. But there is more to this celebration than a man.
It is an opportunity to present anew the demands of the Law and its satisfaction by the Gospel.
My prayer is that 2009 will be a year in which thousands of historically blinded eyes—Christian and non-Christian alike—will be opened by God’s grace to the power and majesty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches man is less than dust before the exalted and infinite holiness of our Creator & Judge. Morally, he is dead in trespasses and sins, willing only evil continually. His only hope is the mercy and lovingkindness of God our Savior, Christ our Righteousness. Every political, social and economical tyranny in the world is at root spiritual tyranny. Men and women are seeking their own righteousness, their own obedience to the Law. And once this spiritual tyranny is cast down by a vigorous presentation of the impotence and depravity of man to save himself—even to will his own salvation—then the beauty of Christ and His redemption can be fully appreciated—political, social and economic tyranny will begin to unravel.
The question of the hour is, “When these worlds collide and the dust settles, where will you be?”
Where will the nations and the churches stand? Will they stand firmly upon the freedom of Omnipotent Grace or meekly nestled in the chains of self-salvation?