Calvinism: A Comprehensive Worldview

Calvinism, from its earliest days, has expressed a comprehensive worldview. This does not mean that Calvinism has developed a distinctly Christian identity in every area; neither does it mean that the area Calvinism claims has been fully faithful to Biblical revelation. auge-kleiner.jpgThere has certainly been much abuse by those implementing Calvinism into certain areas of culture. Nevertheless, this does not change the thesis that an exhaustive worldview in a Calvinistic framework requires absolute Lordship in every area, though not every area is covered with absolute Lordship in a praxis (practical) sort of way. Finally, it is the proposition that only Calvinism offers a Biblical approach to the world, though its outworking may not always be as pristine as one may imagine.

Other systems of thought do not wish to make their worldviews comprehensive. Rather, they are satisfied with limiting their worldview to a particular manifestation of the kingdom, such as the church, or even worst, they equate the church with the kingdom. By doing so, they argue that only the church and its peculiar theology is to be transformed. This is the reason you will find many in this tradition seeking to diminish the influence of other churches in the world or they will condemn certain ecclesiastical practices.[1] They do this, not out of envy (though this may play a part in any tradition), but out of concern for purity. Denominations that adopt such attitude are generally small in membership. Some in fact, even pride in their size, because “smallness” equals “purer.”[2]

But what is the cause of this way of thinking?

Any student of the Reformation history will conclude that Lutheranism has been highly influential in developing this thinking, even outside its own tradition. Lutheranism tends to be highly critical of a worldview thinking that goes beyond ecclesiology. It is not the influence and greatness of Luther that is in question, but rather his particular theology that excluded cultural engagement as a means of redeeming society. As Abraham Kuyper summarized:

Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life. Hence Lutheranism is nowhere spoken of as the creator of a peculiar life-form; even the name of “Lutheranism” is hardly ever mentioned; while students of history with increasing unanimity recognize Calvinism as the creator of a world of human life entirely its own.[3]

It is an explicit Calvinism that gives impetus to societal transformation, for catholicity, and for ecclesiastical purity. The church is only pure when it is not abandoning its covenantal responsibilities (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 5:14-16).

[1] Those who embrace a robust Calvinism will also condemn dangerous and compromising practices in various Christian churches, though the difference is, they will not make it their primary goal.

[2] This is not always the case, but case after case proves this rule. This is not to say that all small denominations hold to this position, but it is to say that small denominations who have been around for over 30-100 years share in an implicit anti-Calvinism in their worldview.

[3] Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1931. pg. 23.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
This entry was posted in Calvin/Calvinism, Culture, Luther/Lutheranism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Calvinism: A Comprehensive Worldview

  1. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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