Saturday, January 5, 2013

Calvin on Islam

The greatest of all Protestant Reformers, was Rev. Prof. Dr. John Calvin (1509-64). He lived and testified and died -- during the time of Islam’s greatest expansion into Eastern Europe. Islam was formulated by Mohammed and his successors from the seventh century onward. It is a fusion of: portions of the Old Testament; fragments from the Apocrypha; scraps from the New Testament; parts of Post-Christian pseudepigraphical books generally authored by later sectarians; Arabic culture; the personal utterances of Mohammed as inscripturated especially by his favourite wife Khadiya; and traditions later attributed to him and to his close successors.

With Mohammed, Islam had -- apparently from nowhere -- suddenly swept out of Arabia in A.D. 622. Soon it gained dominion all the way from Kazakstan in the East and across North Africa into Spain and France in the West -- during the subsequent century. Then, from A.D. 755 to 1000 -- it spread all the way from Central Asia right across into Western China.

After the Turks in their homeland Turkmenistan became Moslems -- most of them later left and exported Islam into Southern Russia and the Ukraine. Other Moslems later spread Islam right throughout the whole of Northern India, Malaysia, the Western Philippines, and Indonesia. Yet others spread it from North Africa across the Sahara into West Africa, East Africa, and thereafter into Southern Africa.

Its advance into Europe was stopped -- temporarily -- only in 1683 right outside the Walls of Vienna in Austria. Since the Second World War, Islam has gained millions of new followers all the way from Australia to Ireland. Many of them are apostates from Christianity -- in Germany; France; Britain; and (also among Black Moslems) in the U.S.A. In all those countries -- Islam is now reputed to be the fastest growing religion in today’s World.

* * * * * * *

The Christian Crusades, from 1091 to 1291, had failed to check the westward movement of the Turks from Turkmenistan into Palestine on their way toward Turkey. By 1453, they had captured Constantinople. Then they started overrunning Southeastern Europe also during the lifetimes of the two great Protestant Reformers -- Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564).

Now it should not be thought that Calvin was blind to the few commendable features of Islam.

Thus, in his Sermons on Deuteronomy (4:8), he frankly enjoined his Christian addressees: “Look upon the Turks [alias the Moslems]! They have some reverence to their religion.... So have the Papists also.... Still, both of them are cut off from the Church of God -- through their own fault.”1

Yet Dr. John Calvin nevertheless did not hesitate to brand Mohammad -- as a false-prophet. For in Deuteronomy 13:1-8, God warned His People: “If there arise among you a ‘prophet’ or a ‘dreamer of dreams’..., you shall not hearken to the words of that ‘prophet’ or that ‘dreamer of dreams’.... And that ‘prophet’ or that ‘dreamer of dreams’ shall be put to death.” This, Calvin applies among others also to the founder of Islam (whom he regarded as a false-prophet).

Explains Calvin in his Sermons on Deuteronomy (13:1f): “The Christian Faith be impugned by the wicked ,which pretend not [or who do not claim] to come unto [the Triune] God -- as by the Turks [alias the Moslems]; Paynims [alias the Pagans]; and Jews [alias the Judaists].... They blaspheme with open mouth.... They be utterly cut off from the Church -- like rotten members. Their resisting of the Gospel -- and their striving to abolish the Christians’ Religion -- is no great wonder to us....

“When we see the troubles that are nowadays in the World – let us not be overcome by them! Neither let our Faith be defaced! But the more the devil labours and enforces himself to undo it -- the more let it advance itself and get the upper hand of such assaults!

“And when we see ‘false-prophets’ step up..., let us not cease to yield this honour still to God -- that we hold ourselves to His Word and start[le] not from it by any means! ... In these days...we see that such as call themselves ‘Christians’ and take that title most upon them -- are the worst enemies of God that a man can find. For the [confessedly unitarian] Turks [or Moslems] and Jews [or Judaists] are not more fiery and venomous at this day against God -- to deface the whole doctrine of salvation -- than are the [allegingly trinitarian] Papists.... “When we see ‘false-prophets’ step up...we must not fail...nor make a stumbling-block of it to step aside or start[le] away – but overgo [or overcome] it, through the power of faith.... They could find it in their hearts to mingle Mahomet’s Alcoran and all the dotages of the Heathen and all the superstitions of the Papists, with the pureness of the Gospel -- and to make a medley of them.... That was the ‘Gospel’ of Mahomet – to turn all things upside down, and to bring all things to confusion....

“Although the Heathen keep still their dotages; although the Jews [alias the Judaists] be wilfil in maintaining these false expositions of the law; although the Turks hold still their Mahomet’s Al-Coran; although the Papists be still entangled in their superstitions – all is one! For they [all of them maintain or] hold fast this principle, that there is a God.... Meantime, they...worship a puppet, and...have transformed the Majesty of God [viz. the one and only true Triune God] -- though their intent was to worship the living God.... The Papists do, who protest that they worship God the Maker of heaven and earth. And likewise the Turks, who say the same thing. And so also do the Jews [alias the Judaists] -- notwithstanding that they abhor Jesus Christ....

“When the Turks set their Mahomet in the place of God’s Son -- knowing not that God has manifested Himself in the flesh (which is one of the chief articles of our Faith) – what a dealing is it? ... How many things soever men term by the Name of ‘God’ -- they be but devils of their own devising and setting up, if they keep not themselves fast enclosed within the bounds of the Holy Scripture!

“And therefore let us mark well, that we must hold us to the Pure Religion.... An hypocrite that would devise a new religion, as it were to set up a [Romish] Popedom...or to bring in the Al- Coran of Mahomet -- such a one ought now to be put to death, without forbearing. For so has God ordained!”2

* * * * * * *

In Deuteronomy18:15f’s statement to the Israelites, around B.C. 1400, Moses had told them: “The Lord your God will raise up to you a Prophet from your midst, from your brethren like me. To Him you must hearken!” The New Testament clearly indicates that this Prophet is Jesus (Acts 3:22-26 & 7:37-59f). Yet Islam claims Deuteronomy18:15f predicts the A.D. 600f coming of its own alleged prophet, Mohammed.

The well-known Moslem Scholar Sayed Rashid Ahmed wrote in his Mohammad in the Quran: "That Prophet was, of course, the Prophet foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; 33:2). It is clear that neither Jesus nor John the Baptist was meant by ‘that Prophet.’ Whoever that be, they were not [John1:19-25]. That personality was yet to appear, and at last ‘it shineth forth from Mt. Paran’ nearly six hundred years after this episode.... Muhammad is born, Hallelujah!”3

Calvin, however, in his 1556-57 Sermons on Deuteronomy (18:15 & 33:2), explains: “As Mahomet says that his Al-Coran is the sovereign wisdom, so says the Pope of his own decrees. For they be the two horns of Antichrist.... Moses spoke not in his own person -- but by the authority of God. He adds: ‘God came from Sinai; His coming forth was from Seir; He showed Himself upon Mount Paran.’ Here Moses sets God’s presence before the eyes of the People, after the same manner that it had been known upon Mount Sinai at the time of the publishing of the Law.... For Mount Paran and Mount Seir were near to Mount Sinai.”4

Also in his Harmony of the Pentateuch, Dr. John Calvin comments at Deuteronomy 33:2 that the reference there is not to a then-future event. Thus it cannot refer to any possible going forth of Islam’s alleged prophet Mohammed from Mt. Paran. Instead, it is a reference to the thenpast event of the Lord God Himself having gone forth from Mount Sinai with His Law -- to Moses and the Israelities.

Explains Calvin: “‘The Lord came from Sinai.’ In these words, He reminds them that He is setting before them a confirmation of the covenant which God had made with them in His Law. Some, as I conceive, improperly translate it ‘God comes to Sinai.’ Whereas Moses rather means that He came from thence. By way of ornament, the same thing is repeated with respect to Seir and Paran.”5

It is clear from John 1:19-25 and 6:14 that not Mohammed but Jesus Christ is the promised Prophet like Moses Whose coming was predicted at Deuteronomy 18:15f . Too, it is clear from John 14:16 & 14:26 and 15:26 and 16:7-15 -- that it is not Mohammad but the Holy Spirit Whom Christ would then soon send, as the promised Comforter, to and also for His People. Islam’s claims here, are false!

As Calvin comments: “The word ‘Comforter’ (Paracletus) is here applied to both Christ and the Spirit.... Mohammed and the Pope have this religious principle in common -- that Scripture does not contain the perfection of doctrine, but that something higher has been revealed....

Continues Calvin: “Peter applies to the person of Christ, what Moses spoke generally of the prophets.... The Prophet to Whom Moses like a herald bears witness -- shall far excel him (Deuteronomy 18:15)!”

The same is true at Acts 7:37. For there, also “Stephen included Moses’ testimony.”6 That is the testimony: “This is that Moses who said unto the children of Israel, ‘A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you -- of your brethren -- like unto me. You must hear Him!’”

* * * * * * *

In his Sermons on Deuteronomy (29:25), Calvin plainly implies that just like the modern Juda-ists also the unitarian Moslems have turned away from the Triune God also of the Older Tes-tament. Explained Calvin: “Moses does here expressly accuse the [unitarianized] Jews, to the intent to take away from them all starting-holes [or hiding-places]. He says, ‘They forget the [Triune] God of their [fore-]fathers -- Him Who had delivered them out of the land of Egypt and set them free from hard bondage’....

Turks have that [same] defence, common amongst them[selves] – that it is now a long while since they have behaved themselves after that manner. The Turks say: ‘What? It is eight hundred years ago since that Mahomet brought us to his law -- and it has been kept ever since! Our [later] fathers have delivered it to us from hand to hand’....

“But (as I have already touched),” responds Calvin, “ it is not enough for us that our fathers have delivered us such a religion as they thought good.” For we need to test the religion of our fathers against the previous religion which their earlier ancestors received in purity from the hand of the Triune God Himself (cf. Gen. 1:1-3 & 1:26 etc.).7

* * * * * * *

Perhaps almost at the same time Moses was giving his prophecies -- an important declaration was made also by Job (4:13f). Said that prophet: “In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men -- fear and trembling came upon me.... Then a spirit passed before my face...and I heard a voice saying: ‘Shall mortal man be more just than God?’”

That was indeed a revelation from the Triune God to Job – before the inscripturation of the now-completed Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, after that latter event – there would be no such further revelations either in visions during the day or in dreams during the night.

Explains Dr. John Calvin8 in his Sermons on Job (4:15f): “Devilish curiosity be not contented to be taught simply by the Holy Scripture! Behold also -- whereupon the religion of the Turks is founded!

Mahomet has reported himself to be the party that should bring the full revelation -- over and besides the Gospel. And by means thereof, they [the Islamic Turks] have utterly become brute beasts.... At this day, we see that those poor beasts busy their heads about as doltish and unsens-ible things as any can be. But it is the just vengeance of God, Who has given them over to a wil-ful stubborn mind!”

Also the equally-unitarian Anabaptist Servetus “said that the Holy Ghost had not reigned as yet – but that He was to come.... He would have made himself a Mahomet, to have the Holy Ghost at his command.... But let us content us with the Holy Scripture – seeing that God has enclosed us within the bounds thereof!” John 14:16 & 14:26 and 15:26 and 16:7-15.

* * * * * * *

In Daniel 2:34f & 2:44, that Prophet predicted that the Messiah would come and smash the Fourth World Empire. Said Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in respect of the image of a Ruler he had dreamed about: “Keep on looking, till a Stone gets cut out, without hands – [a Stone] Which smites the image upon its feet that are of iron and clay!” Pre-incarnational Israelites (before the birth of Jesus) regarded that fourth or iron-and-clay kingdom as the Pagan Roman Empire -- which later divided into two, the Eastern and the Western, like the hard yet brittle legs of the image of the ruler in the above prediction. Though after the later Judaists rejected Jesus as the Messianic Stone -- they more and more began to argue that the iron Empire was Islam. They then did this -- so as to be able to try and justify their view that the Messianic Stone would come forth from Judaism, during the time of the hegemony of Islam.

It does seem that the fourth iron kingdom was in fact both the pre-Papal and the pre-Islamic undivided Pagan Roman Empire, as well as the later Western-Roman Papal and the contempor-aneous Eastern-Roman Islamic Empire into which it then subdivided. Indeed, both “Mahomet” and “the Pope” -- as we have already seeni -- Dr. Calvin called “the two horns of Antichrist.” Thus they correspond to the two legs of the later Roman Empire Islam and the Papacy.

As Rev. Dr. Calvin comments9 in his 1561 Commentaries on Daniel (at 2:35 and 2:44) -- that Prophet “speak of the Roman Empire as iron.... Daniel says the image perished when the Roman Empire was broken up.... The dream was presented to King Nebuchadnezzar -- so that he might understand all future events till the renovation of the World.....

“There is no doubt, then, that Daniel intended the Romans by the Fourth Empire.... The Jews [or Post-Christian Judaists] agree with us [Christians] -- in thinking this passage cannot be otherwise understood, than of the perpetual reign of the Messiah.... For Daniel here openly affirms that Messiah’s Kingdom -- should arrive at the close of the Fourth Monarchy! “Hence they [the modern Anti-Christian Judaists after the First Advent of Jesus, now] fly to the miserable refuge that by the Fourth Monarchy should be understood the Turkish Empire -- which they call that of the Ishmaelites.... The Turks, a long time afterwards -- namely 600 years -- suddenly burst forth like a deluge....

“Rabbi Barbinel [Avrabanel (1437-1508)]...seems to excel others in acuteness.... The Turks, says he, occupy a large portion of the World -- and religion among Christians, is divided.... The Turks have spread far and wide, and the World is filled with impious despisers of God.”

* * * * * * *

Now in Daniel 7:7f & 7:20, that Prophet predicted the rise of a ‘little horn’ within the Roman Empire. Though first but ‘little’ -- that horn would later become very ‘stout’ and arrogant. In his Commentaries on Daniel (7:7-18), Calvin explains10 that “in this Fourth Monarchy those who are endued with moderate judgment confess this vision to be fulfilled in the Roman Empire.... What is here said of the Fourth Beast -- many transfer to the Pope, when it is added that a ‘Little Horn’ sprang up. But others think the Turkish kingdom is comprehended under the Roman. The Jews, for the most part, incline this way....

“Christ’s Kingdom was erected by the overthrow of the Roman dominion. The Jews...join the Turkish monarchy with the Roman.... There are some of our [Christian] writers who think this image ought not to be restricted to the Roman Empire, but ought to include the Turkish.... “I have no doubt that in this vision, the Prophet was shown the figure of the Roman Empire.... The Prophet simply means that the Roman Empire was complex.... Some twist this to mean the Pope, and others the Turk.... I have no doubt that ‘the little horn’ relates to Julius Caesar and the other Caesars who succeeded him.... Some take this prophecy to relate to the kingdom of Turkey; others to the tyranny of the Pope of Rome.”

Indeed, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Dr. Calvin himself applies Daniel 7:25 to the A.D. 600f Papacy (which arose contemporaneously with Islam). For there he remarks:11 “We call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist.... Paul says that Antichrist would sit in the Temple of God (Second Thessalonians 2:4). In another passage -- the Spirit...says his reign would be with great swelling words of vanity (Daniel 7:25)....

“All the heresies and schisms which have existed from the beginning, belong to the kingdom of Antichrist. Yet -- when Paul foretells that defection will come -- he by this description intimates that that seat of abomination will be erected when a kind of universal defection comes upon the Church.... This calamity was neither to be introduced by one man, nor to terminate in one man.... Second Thessalonians 2:3; Daniel 7:9....

“The mark by which he [Paul] distinguishes Antichrist -- is that he would rob God of His honour and take it to himself.... It is certain that the Roman Pontiff has impudently transferred to himself the most peculiar properties of God and Christ. There cannot be a doubt that he is the Leader and Standard-bearer of that impious and abominable kingdom!”

* * * * * * *

Yet Calvin was not at all discouraged when he perceived that Daniel predicted the later rise and development of the Roman Pontiff as the “Leader and Standard-bearer” of the Kingdom of Anti-christ. Nor was Calvin discouraged to see Islam more and more challenging the claims of Christ, and ultimately drawing closer to the Standard-bearer of Antichrist’s abominable kingdom. For Calvin knew, also from the Book of Daniel, that Christ’s Kingdom would nonetheless increase and ultimately triumph over Islam as well as over the Papacy.

Thus in his 1561 Commentaries on Daniel (at 11:34), Dr. Calvin uttered a passionate prayer. He petitioned: “Grant, Almighty God, as at this day Thou dost try the faith of Thy People by many tests, that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of Thy Holy Spirit! “May we constantly march under Thy standard, even to the end; and never succumb to any temptation!” Instead, Calvin urged the Lord: “Add numbers to the cause! And should the number of those who are professed Members of Thy Church diminish -- yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it; and such fruitfulness arise, as shall cause Thy Name to be glorified throughout the whole World, in Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Yet, in Daniel 11:37, that Prophet predicted the coming of a terrible tyrant. This is how he described that tyrant: “Neither shall he pay regard to the God of his fathers, nor to the desire of women.”

Applied to the Unitarian Moslems, this might well mean that they would ignore the Trinitarian God of their forefathers -- and with their licentiousness and polygamy also disregard the desire of women to conclude monogamous unions. Applied to the Papal Clergy, it could mean they would depart from their Culdee Proto-Protestant forefathers -- and also lapse either into meretriciousness or alternatively into celibacy (or both). Comments Dr. Calvin:12 “Some refer this prophecy to the Pope and to Mahomet -- and the phrase ‘the love of women’ seems to give probability to this view. For Mahomet allowed to men the brutal liberty of chastising their wives, and thus he corrupted that conjugal love and fidelity which binds the husband to the wife....

Mahomet allowed full scope to various lusts -- by permitting a man to have a number of wives. This seems like an explanation -- of his being inattentive to the love of women. “Those who think the Pope to be intended here -- remind us of their enforcing celibacy, by means of which the honour of marriage is trodden underfoot. We know with what foulness the Roman Pontiffs bark -- when marriage is hinted to them.... We observe, then, some slight correspondence -- but the remaining points will not suit this idea. “As Mahomet invented a new form of religion, so did the Pope. True indeed! But neither of them are intended here.” At least, not centrally so. Yet nevertheless also certainly so -- by way of further application.

* * * * * * *

“We must now come,” concludes Calvin, “to the [Ancient] Romans -- of whom we began to explain the passage.” They were the forerunners of the christianized Roman Empire that was later taken over by the Pope in the West and by Islam in the East. That was seen to the case - - by both Luther and Calvin.

For Luther, Daniel twelve predicts the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. It would last for many years between the First and the Second Coming of Christ. So too concluded Calvin. Commenting on Daniel 12:1 (in A.D. 1561), Calvin here saw how “Daniel therefore represent-ed Michael as the guardian of the Church.... I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the Person of Christ.... He is called the ‘Mighty Prince’.... It was in no degree superfluous for the Angel to predict such great calamities as impending over the Church.... In the present day, the same expressions are most useful to us.”13

On Daniel 12:4's reference to the time of the end, Calvin comments that “at the present time, in the Papacy and throughout the World, impiety prevails.... There is scarcely a single corner -- in which the majority agree in true obedience to God.”14

On Daniel 12:7, he adds: “How sad is the dispersion of the Church -- in these days! ... God indeed defends it by His power -- but this is beyond human expectation.... But yet the end shall be prosperous!”15

On Daniel 12:11f'’s words ‘from that period there shall be 1290 days’ -- Calvin comments that "the Angel then purposely puts days for years -- implying, although that time may seem immeas-urably prolonged and may frighten us by its duration and completely prostrate the spirits of the pious, yet it must be endured.... Some think the days should be understood as years.... The faith-ful ought constantly to persist in the hope of deliverance.”16

Next to be noted, are Daniel 12:13's two phrases ‘till the end be’ and ‘at the end of the days.’ Here, Dr. John Calvin comments that “after God has sufficiently tested the patience of His People and...has humbled His Church and purged it -- the end shall arrive.”

Before then, however, God would expand and strengthen Christians -- by chastening them. Beyond doubt, God has now been purging His Church for almost 1500 years through Islam and the Papacy. But after the present purge and the resulting blessing, the end shall be prosperous!

* * * * * * *

In the meantime, however, Trinitarian Christianity will be sorely tested and chastised -- and finally challengingly rejuvenated. One of His agents in doing this, is Unitarian Islam. Regarding the latter, Calvin explained in the 1536f edition of his Institutes :"The Turks in the present day...proclaim...with full throat that the Creator of Heaven and Earth is their God. Yet they -- by their rejection [of the Godhead and Saviourhood] of Christ -- substitute an idol in His place."17 That is to say, Allah is an idol substituted by Mohammed and his Moslems -- instead of the one and only true and Triune God.

In 1539, Calvin wrote to his friend Farel that “the more prudent...foresee that the Turk will not remain quiet if he sees Germany engaged in civil war. Already he has possession of Upper and Lower Wallachia [in Romania]; and has declared war upon the King of Poland unless he [the latter] allows him free passage through his territories.”18

In 1541, Calvin again wrote to Farel19 that the German Emperor (of the so-called ‘Holy Roman Empire’) then feared “an attack on the side of Turkey.... Regarding the Turks, various rumours are spread about.”

George Martinuzzi, the tutor of the young King of Hungary after the decease of his father King John, had taken upon himself the guardianship of young King Sigismund. Explained Calvin: “The Turk had sent...troops...who...laid siege to Pesth [Budapest].... Accounts relate that the Turk himself was on his way with a great army and camp equipage.”

Indeed, those in “Wallachia [within Romania had]...delivered themselves subjection to his authority.” However, patriots in their midst then “chose a new leader...whom they bound by oath to promise eternal enmity against Turkey.

“They have also taken possession,” continued Dr. Calvin, “of a very strong fortress which the Turks had built with wonderful despatch upon the Polish frontier. If he does not punish this affront, we shall then know that he is otherwise engaged.... Would that it may turn out to be so that, while he is healing his own wounds, we may have some time allowed us for taking measures to oppose him, and for collecting our resources! The King of Poland could render very effectual assistance to his Wallachian neighbours -- if the Tartars were not so troublesome to his kingdom. During the past winter, they carried off great booty.”

* * * * * * *

Soliman, the Leader of the Moslem Turks, then invaded Hungary with a huge army. He took possession of almost the whole country. Indeed, his fleet besieged even Nice in France!20

Very concerned, Calvin in Switzerland then wrote to Philip Melanchthon in Germany in 1543: “It is not without the bitterest grief that I hear of the sad condition of your Germany! Nor are the evils which I dread, of a less serious kind than those which I bewail....

The Turk again prepares to wage war with a larger force. Who will stand up to oppose his marching throughout the length and breadth of the land, at his mere will and pleasure?”21 Calvin’s 1544 tract The Necessity of Reforming the Church, was then presented “to the Most Invincible Emperor Charles V and the Most Illustrious Princes and other Orders now holding a Diet [or Council] of the Empire at Spires.”22 There, the Swiss Reformer wrote: “God raised up Luther and others, who held forth a torch to light us into the way of salvation.... The Turkish War now occupies the minds of all, and fills them with alarm. It well may!

“Consultations are done.... The fuel of the Turkish War is within, shut up in our bowels, and must first be removed -- if we would successfully drive back the War itself. In future, therefore, as often as you shall hear the croaking note [of the Romanists] – ‘The business of reforming the Church must be delayed for the present; there will be time enough to accomplish it after other matters are transacted’ – remember, Most Invincible Emperor and Most Illustrious Princes, that the matter on which you are to deliberate is whether you are to leave to your posterity some empire, or none!

“Yet why do I speak of posterity? Even now, while your own eyes behold – it is half bent, and totters to its final ruin!” For the German ‘Holy Roman Empire’ was fast disintegrating. Yet we Protestants, added Calvin, “feel assured that the work of the Lord. We are also confident that He will by no means be wanting either to Himself or to it. But be the issue what it may – we will never repent of having begun and of having proceeded thus far.... “We are indeed desirous, as we ought to be, that our ministry may prove salutory to the World.... We will die; but even in death, be conquerors.... We know that our blood will be as seed to propagate the divine truth!”23

* * * * * * *

To Calvin, then, there could be no doubt at all as to the final outcome of those Turkish Wars. Ultimately, they would result -- in the final victory of Christendom over Islam. Similarly, the Church’s parallel efforts to rid itself from the blight of Papal Romanism -- would in turn result also in the final victory of Protestant Christianity.

Thus, in his 1550 Commentary on Second Thessalonians (2:3), Dr. Calvin identifies the first century A.D. Paul’s ‘man of sin.’ There, the Reformer insists that “the interpretation which some have given -- that this passage refers to the end of the [Ancient] Roman Empire -- is too stupid to need lengthy refutation.” Preterists, note well!

“When the word ‘apostasy’ is used -- without any addition -- it cannot be confined to a few individuals. Now the word ‘apostates’ -- can be understood only of those who have previously enlisted in the service of Christ and His Gospel.

“Paul, then, is predicting a general defection on the part of the Visible Church. As if he were saying, ‘The Church must be reduced to a ghastly and horrifying state of ruin, before its full restoration is achieved’....

“From this, we may at once conclude how useful this prediction of Paul’s is. For it might have seemed that a building which...lay for so long in ruins, could not have been the work of God -- had Paul not warned them long before that this would take place.

“ In our own day, indeed [1550], very many people begin to waver -- when they consider the long continued dispersion of the Church. As if this had not been regulated by the purpose of God!... The pretext of the [preteristic] Romanists which they make in extenuation of the tyranny of their idol [the Papacy] -- is that it was not possible for Christ to forsake His bride. But here, the weak have an assurance on which to rest -- when they learn that the disfigurement which they see in the Church, has long since been foretold.

“The impudence of the Romanists, on the other hand, is clearly exposed. Because Paul declares that when the World has been brought under the rule of Christ -- a defection will take place....

“The minds of [Romanizing] ancients were so bewitched -- that they believed [preteristically] that Nero would be Antichrist! However, Paul is not speaking of one individual -- but of a kingdom that was to be seized by Satan, for the purpose of setting up a seat of abomination in the midst of God‘s Temple. This we see accomplished in Popery. “The defection has indeed spread more widely! For, since Mohammed was an apostate, he turned his followers, the Turks, from Christ.... The sect of Mohammed was like a raging overflow, which in its violence tore away about half of the Church. It remained for [the Papal] Antichrist to infect with his poison the part which was left.”24 

* * * * * * *

Yet, in the words ‘the Lord Jesus shall slay’ in Second Thessalonians 2:8 -- Calvin insists Paul “predicted the destruction of the reign of Antichrist.... He will be annihilated by the Word of the Lord....

“Paul does not think that Christ will accomplish this in a single moment.... Christ will scatter the darkness in which Antichrist will reign, by the rays which He will emit before His coming -- just as the sun, before becoming visible to us, chases away the darkness of the night with its bright light.

This victory of the Word will therefore be seen in the World. For ‘the Breath [or Spirit] of His Mouth’ means simply His Word -- as in Isaiah 11:4, the passage to which Paul appears to be alluding.... It is a notable commendation of true and sound doctrine that it is represented as being sufficient to put an end to all ungodliness, and as destined at all times to be victorious over all devices of Satan. It is also a commendation when -- a little further on -- the preaching of this doctrine, is referred to as Christ’s ‘coming’ to us!”25 In Second Thessalonians 2:13-16 Paul “makes a clearer division between the [Christians among the] Thessalonians, and the wicked [there] -- so that their faith [namely that of the Thessalonian Christians] should not waver through fear of the [then] coming apostasy. At the same time, however, his purpose was to consider the interests not simply of these [folk], but also of future generations [plural!].

“He not only establishes them so that they may not experience the same downward plunge as the World, but uses this comparison to commend further the grace of God towards them.... The statement which he afterwards adds, ‘[the Father] Who loved us and gave us comfort,’ refers to the confidence which we have in getting what we ask for.... The term ‘hope’ also refers to the same thing.

“They are to have a sure expectation that their gifts will continue without interruption.... He is asking that God may lift up their hearts -- by His comfort!”26

‘Finally brethren,’ concludes St. Paul, ‘pray for us so that the Word of the Lord may run!’ Thus Second Thessalonians 3:1. Here Calvin comments27 of Paul: “When he adds ‘that the Word of the Lord may run’ -- he shows he is concerned not so much for his own personal advantage or interest, as for the entire Church. Why does he want to be commended -- to the prayers of the Thessalonians? So that the doctrine of the Gospel may run its course.... “The ‘course’ to which he refers, means dissemination.... ‘Glory’ means...that his preaching may have power and efficacy to refashion men in the image of God.... It should be an incentive to the godly to see that all others are like them! Hence, those who have already entered into the Kingdom of God -- are bidden to pray daily that it may come” or keep on coming.

‘Thy Kingdom come!’ Matthew 6:10. Thus, the kingdom of Islam needs to be won for the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ. Revelation 11:15. For, as the Calvin-istic Westminster Larger Catechism explains:28 “In the second petition (which is ‘Thy Kingdom come!’)...we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed; the Gospel propagated throughout the World; the Jews called; the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the Church...purged from corruption...and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sinsetc. Also in the Calvin-istic Public Prayer Before the Sermon in the 1645 Westminster Assembly’s Directory for the Publick Worship of God, “the Minister who is to preach is to endeavour to get his own and his hearers’ hearts rightly to be pray for the propagation of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ to all nations; for the conversion of the Jews; the fulness of the Gentiles; the fall of Antichrist; and...for the deliverance of the distressed churches abroad from the tyranny of the antichristian faction, and from the cruel oppressions and blasphemies of the Turketc.29

* * * * * * *

Yes, Islam is indeed blasphemous. But the Moslems and Romanists are to be converted from Islam and from Romanism -- back to True Proto-Protestantism alias Biblical Christianity (of which both Islam and Romanism are early-mediaeval perversions)! It is very significant that Moslems claim Mohammed is a descendant of Abraham via Ishmael.

Yet the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 4:22-31 that “Abraham had two sons -- the one [Ishmael] by a slave; the other [Isaac] by a freewoman.... He who was of the slave, was born according to the flesh; but he [who was born] of the freewoman, was [born] according to the promise.

“These things are an allegory. For these are the two covenants -- the one from the Mount Sinai.... For this Hagar [the mother of Ishmael] is Mount Sinai in Arabia.... We [Christians], brethren, like Isaac, are the children of the promise. But as he who was born according to the flesh then, persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit – even so it is now!” From 1557 onward, Calvin preached his Sermons on Galatians. There he explains: “When the Papists say that they be the representing Church, they say trul! .... Let us mark what is told us here, by Saint Paul.... It was not once only that there was an persecute Isaac.... The children of God shall be borne down and trampled under foot by such as have no more but the bare title of Eldership....

“But however the World go -- let us prepare ourselves to battle (says Saint Paul)! And let not our faith quail at the sight of the pride of the enemies of God’s truth -- yes, even of the household enemies of it, which are not as Turks and Heathen men, but keep a garrison in the Church and yet will needs be Prelates.... Isaac was persecuted by his brother Ishmael.... Ishmael laughed him to scorn.”30 And also in Calvin’s day, both the Moslems and the Papists did the same to the True Protestant Church. Indeed, they still do -- also today.

In a sermon on Second Timothy 1:3, Calvin explained:31 "The Turks at this day, can allege and say for themselves: 'We serve God from our ancestors!' ... It is a good while ago since Mahomet gave them the cup of his devilish dreams to drink, and they got drunk with them. It is about a thousand years since those cursed hellhounds were made drunk with their follies.... Let us be wise and discreet!.... For otherwise, we shall be like the Turks and Heathen!"

* * * * * * *

In Calvin’s 1551 Commentary on the First Epistle of John (2:18-23) -- on the first century A.D.’s Apostle John’s words ‘even now many antichrists have arisen’ -- Calvin comments32 that “here, all the marks by which the Spirit of God has pointed out Antichrist -- appear clearly in the Pope.... Those who think that he would be just one man, are dreaming!

“For Paul, referring to a future falling away, plainly shows that it would be a body or a king-dom (Second Thessalonians 2:3). He first foretells a falling away that would spread throughout the whole Church.... He makes the head of this apostasy the adversary of Christ, who would sit in God’s Temple and claim...divine honours.

“Unless we deliberately want to err, let us learn to know Antichrist from Paul’s description! ... But how does that passage agree with John’s words, when he says that there were already many antichrists? I reply that John only meant that certain sects had already arisen, which were fore-runners of a [then-]future scattering. For Cerinthus, Basilides, Marcion, Valentinus, Ebion[ites], Arius and the rest -- were members of that kingdom which the devil afterwards raised up against Christ.... It follows that Turks [or Moslems], Jews [alias Judaists], and such like -- have a mere idol in place of God” -- a unitarian idol in place of the Triune God ’Elohiym of both the Older and the Newer Testament of the infallible Word of the Father- Son-Spirit!

In First John 4:3-6, that Apostle warns Christians against “the spirit of the antichrist.... We know the spirit of truth -- and the spirit of error!”

There, Calvin comments:33 “Today, Papists boast with professorial superciliousness that all their inventions are the oracles of the Spirit. Mohammed too asserts that he has drawn his dreams only from Heaven [cf. Deuteronomy 13:15 &18:10-22].... Hence, when false spirits claim the Name of God – we must enquire from the Scriptures whether it is as they say. So long as we use godly care, with humility and modesty, the Spirit of discernment will be with us.... As a faithful Interpreter, He will expound what He Himself speaks in Scripture!”

* * * * * * *

Because Calvin believed the Moslems who follow Mohammed were in the grip of false spirits -- he also believed that both the Moslems and the false spirits that misled them, are lost. Yet it is important to realize that Calvin also believed that Moslems can repent and thus be saved. Indeed, he not only insisted that Moslems could and should be evangelized by Christians. He also believed that God had also predestined many Moslems precisely in that way to come (back) to the True Triune God of the Holy Scriptures of the Older Testament and of the Newer Testament!

Moslems, then, could and should be evangelized by God’s People. Calvin deduces this from Deuteronomy 23:7. There, God commands: “You shall not abhor an Edomite, because he is your brother! You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land!” The ‘general equity’ of this, argues Calvin, is that today the baptized Romanist is our brother -- just as the uncircumcised Edomite was the brother of the Israelite. Romans 4:11-13 cf. Colossians 2:11-13. He argues further, that although the unbaptized Moslem is not (yet) our brother -- just as the uncircumcised Egyptian was back then not (yet) the brother of the Israelite - - we may never-theless not abhor the Moslem.

The Israelites were not to abhor the Egyptians. One such reason, specifically mentioned by God through Moses, was because the latter had been hospitable to them. In return, God’s People were thereafter to reciprocate that hospitality -- and, indeed, even to show them precisely spiritual hospitality. That, then, is how Christians should treat Moslems -- also today.

Indeed, some of the Egyptians even joined the Israelites and trekked with them toward Canaan (Ex. 12:33-51 cf. Leviticus 24:10f). So too will receptive Moslems yet link up with godly Calvin-ists; receive baptism; and join the Church as fellow Christians and as fellow Protestants.

* * * * * * *

In his Sermons on Deuteronomy [23:7], Calvin argues34 that baptized Protestants are now far closer to baptized Romanists than either of them are to unbaptized Moslems. In comparing circum-cised Edomites to baptized Romanists and uncircumcised Egyptians to unbaptized Moslems, Calvin insists: “Moses says that if the Edomites would yield themselves into the [True Christian alias the godly Protestant] Church of God -- they might be received...and be incorporated thereinto altogether. For he who offered himself to be circumcised, was always received....

“Let us therefore diligently note here of the children of [the circumcised] Esau...that if any of them would renounce his own kindred -- as converted Papists should their kindred Romanists

- he would be accounted in the number of this blessed flock” of God’s True People. Today, True Pro-testants are God’s True People. Such, says Calvin, “God had shouled out to serve Him” or dug out of the soil to do the will of God. Among such, also baptized Romanists (after being protestantized) are to “be received in among them....

“It was not for nought that God commanded that Ishmael should be circumcised. We know what circumcision imports. It is a sign of the favour of God.... It was given unto Ishmael. It is great reason that he should approach more near to God than the Paynims [alias the Heathen] who were altogether defiled and who did not have the sign that God loved them....

“But here [with Ishmael and Esau] -- the case is of having some warrant of adoption. Now Ishmael had it. But in the end, it is said that he shall not be the inheritor of the House. Behold, he is cut off. And St. Paul also alleged the same similitude [in Romans 9:6f], to show that there are many which are called in the Church of God -- which in the end are driven out again and banished as not worthy to enjoy so great a benefit. And so was it with Esau.... He was the son of Isaac. Yes, he and his brother Jacob were twins....

Likewise at this day” -- Dr. Calvin explained in 1556f -- “we are far nearer neighbours to the Papists than to the Turks or other Paynims [or Heathens]. And the reason is, because albeit they [Papists] are estranged from the grace of God and have corrupted all religion and are so entangled in their abuses and corruptions as it is horrible to behold -- yet, nothwithstanding, there remains among them some footsteps of the calling of God.

“For they have Baptism, which is a visible sign whereby we see that God held those of His House and of His Fold. You see then, how the Papists are as it were the Edomites” -- who had received circumcision, which Baptism has now replaced (cf. Colossians 2:11-13). The Papists were and are not at all like the Moslems. Yet the convert-tible and baptiz-able Moslems were, and are, more like the circumcisable and convertible Egyptians!

Calvin adds: “As touching the Egyptians [cf. the Moslems], it is said that they also shall be received into the Church. And why? ‘For you were a stranger (says he) in the land of Egypt.’ “Now indeed,” explains Calvin, “it is true that the children of Israel were oppressed with cruel bondage by reason of the cruel tyranny which the Egyptians exercised over them” -- just as today, Christians in Islamic lands have often been oppressed by the cruelty of some of the Moslems.

“But yet, Gods wills that their benefits should be acknowledged” -- the benefits of the Ancient Egyptians toward the Ancient Israelites; and the mediaeval benefits of the Moslems toward the Christians.

Regarding the Egyptians, continues Calvin, “the children of God had their refuge thither in the time of famine, and were there relieved [Genesis 41:1 to Exodus 1:7]. God will not have that bene-fit forgotten!”

In Exodus 23:7f, explains Calvin, “when God gave an entrance unto the Egyptians to be received into the Congregation in the third generation -- it was not to the intent that the People of Israel should defile themselves with the abominations of Egypt, or meddle any whit at all with them. But rather that the Egyptians should not remain in so desperate a case as they were in – but [rather that they] be brought to worship the living God, and to dedicate themselves wholly unto Him....

If the Egyptians would forsake all their own corruptions, they might be grafted as an imp [or slip] into the Church of God. And we see how in the forty-fifth Psalm -- mention is made of the [foreign] wife of Solomon...[to] ‘forget your father’s house and all your people.’” So, then, the very same applies to the unbaptized Moslems -- as then applied to those uncircumcised Egyptians.

Concludes Dr. Calvin: “Let us therefore note that God’s opening of the gate into His Church both to the Edomites and the Egyptians, was not to have them bring in their infections to pervert His service or to make any medley -- but rather that the Edomites and Egyptians should come and agree in all points unto His Law, and yield their consent unto the pureness of doctrine which is therein contained....

“Therefore nowadays, seeing that God has showed Himself so gracious unto us, as to make us His Church -- let us be ready to receive them which will be reclaimed thereunto! Yes, let us have our arms stretched out not only to them which are the children of God -- but also to such as are our kinsfolk afar off, endeavouring for all that to win and to gain them! “Howbeit, always with this condition -- that they remove us not us from God. But that they rather be knit again unto Him -- with us”

* * * * * * *

For God has predestined many Moslems to come back to the True Triune God of the Holy Scriptures! That Calvin believed this, is seen even in his view of Isaiah 19:21-25. It is seen also from his views of the Great Commission -- and of the preaching of the Gospel to Moslems, and the baptizing of all of them who convert to Christ (as required thereby). In Isaiah 19:21-25, God predicts: “The Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day.... The Lord shall smite Egypt and heal it; and they shall return to the Lord....

“In that day, there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria.... The Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. “ In that day, Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria -- even a blessing in the midst of the land.... The Lord of hosts shall bless, saying: ‘Blessed be Egypt, My People; and Assyria, the work of My hands; and Israel, My inheritance!’”

Here, Rev. Dr. John Calvin comments:35 “The Prophet says that the Lord will be gracious and reconciled to the Egyptians. He at the same time shows that as soon as they have been converted, they will obtain forgiveness....

“It will therefore be a true conversion – when it is followed by a calling upon God.... There is no man who ought not to acknowledge in himself what Isaiah here declares concerning the Egypti-ans, in whom the Lord holds out an example to the whole World.

“The Prophet [Isaiah] now foretells that the Lord will diffuse His goodness throughout the whole World! As if he had said: ‘It will not be shut up in a corner or be known exclusively, as it formerly was, by [but] a single nation.’

“Here, he speaks of two nations [Assyria and Egypt] that were the most inveterate enemies of the Church.... And if the Lord is so gracious to the deadly enemies of the Church -- that He pardons and adopts them to be[come] His children! – what shall be the case with other nations? This prophecy thus includes the calling of all nations” – hence of even diehard Islamic nations, like Iran and Saudi-Arabia!

“Through the undeserved goodness of God,” explains Calvin, “the Assyrians and Egyptians shall be admitted to fellowship with the chosen People of God.... There is a mutual relation between God and His People, so that they who are called by His mouth ‘a Holy People’ (Exodus 19:6) -- may justly in return call Him their God. Yet this designation is bestowed indiscriminately on Egyptians and Assyrians....

“By calling the Egyptians the People of God -- He means that they will share in the honour which God designed to bestow in a peculiar manner on the Jews [meaning the Older Testament’s Israelites] alone. When He calls Assyrians the work of His hands’ – He distinguishes them by the title peculiar to His Church.”

What a glorious day is coming! For the Moslems of Egypt and the Judaists of Israel and the Islamic nations of the Neo-Assyrian Iraq and Iran, will yet come to Christ and join His Church!

* * * * * * *

Dr. John Calvin clearly saw at least some of the fulfilments of those predictions, even in the few intricklings of converts from Islam to Christianity during his own day. Thus, in the year 1547, he described36 how an anonymous censor asked him “whether Baptism is to be denied to a Jew or a Turk -- if they request it.”

Calvin’s response was to demonstrate that such Ex-Jews and Ex-Turks (or rather Ex-Judaists and Ex-Moslems) had in their heart already become Christians prior to their requesting Baptism. Indeed, they were now so requesting Baptism both for themselves and for their children -- precisely because they had already trusted in Jesus Christ, and thus become Christians.

Explains Dr. Calvin: “Here everybody sees under what gross hallucination he [the anonymous censor] labours, in assuming that those are aliens to whom [even] he assigns faith.... It is absurd to use this argument against me, who uniformly teach that by faith [in Jesus Christ] all who were most alien – have been united into the family and body of Christ.... This is no reason why they should not also be united to the Church by a formal rite [of Baptism] -- as a more complete rati-fication of their ingrafting....

“All the censor says here, has its source in ignorance – from his not understanding that those who were unclean by nature [alias by birth], are [now made] holy by virtue of the covenant. Those who were exiled from the Kingdom of God because of sin, are made nigh by the right of adoption. Those who were liable to eternal death..., obtain blessing...; so that they are [because by faith in Jesus they have become] -- the heirs of heavenly life. In short, he never considers what distinction there is between the children of Christians and Turks” -- prior to the conversion of those Turks to Christ.

“He also betrays gross ignorance of the nature and efficacy of Baptism. Had it ever occurred to him that Baptism is an appendage of the Word,” observes Calvin, “he would have seen the consequence that none are fit for the sign save those who have been sanctified by the Word!” It is perhaps also significant that the Arabs claim to be physical descendants of Ishmael -- and that also all Moslems everywhere claim to be his spiritual descendants. Consequently just as even Ishmael was circumcised, also the Moslems (who claim kinship with him) should be baptized.

For baptism has now replaced circumcision. Colossians 2:11-13 cf. Matthew 28:19.

* * * * * * *

Calvin died when but fifty-five, in 1564. He did not live long enough to write a commentary on the last book of the Bible. Yet his historicalistic view of predictive prophecy – very clearly documented in his commentaries on Daniel and First Thessalonians and First John -- would surely have been reflected in his understanding also of the last twenty-two chapters of Holy Scripture.

For his colleagues John Knox and William Whittingham (Mrs. John Calvin’s brother-in-law), clearly reflect that view in their translation of the Book of Revelation -- in the 1560 Geneva Bible.

So too do Dr. Francis Junius’s marginal notes, in the 1599 edition. Likewise the 1614f Thomas Brightman; and equally so do the footnotes in the 1637 Staten-Vertaling of the Dutch Bible -- as commissioned by the 1618f international Calvinistic Council of Dordt (the ‘T-U-L-I-P’ Synod). So too do the 1639f works of the famous British Westminster Assembly Theologian Rev. Prof. Dr. Thomas Goodwin. So also do the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism, and the Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God. And so too do a long line of Calvinists thereafter -- such as the 1657 James Durham; the 1669 Increase Mather; the 1705 Campegius Vitringa; the 1710 Sir Isaac Newton; the 1714 Matthew Henry; the 1739 Rev. Prof. Dr. Jonathan Edwards (first President of Princeton University) -- and many others (such as Bishop Newton, John Gill, George Stanley Faber, Thomas Scott, Alexander Keith. Edward Bickersteth, Louis Gaussen, Bishop Elliott, Albert Barnes, and Philip Mauro, etc.).

Texts in the Book of Revelation considered by the above Calvinists to be of significance in the rise and fall of Islam and the conversion to Christ of many Moslems, are: 9:1-21; 16:10f; & 19:20. Such Calvinists see Revelation 9 as describing the rise of Mohammed and his Saracens, and later of the Turks and their Musselmans.

They see Revelation 16 as describing the followers of the ‘False-Prophet’ as finally becoming allied even with Romanism and also with Spiritism against the True Church. And they further see Revelation 19 as suggesting the conversion of many of the former followers of the ‘False- Prophet’ -- after he himself gets cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, right before the Millennium.

* * * * * * *

For “the kingdoms of this World are to become that of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall keep on reigning for ever and ever!” Revelation 11:15. “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your Name? For You only are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You!” Revelation 15:4.

“And the nations shall walk in the light” of the City of God alias the Christian Church. “And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it” Revelation 21:24-26. As Dr. Calvin himself observes:37 "They must be purified, before they can be admitted into the Kingdom of God -- into which shall not enter anything that defileth (Revelation 21:27)."

Yes, even the now-Islamic nations of Indonesia and Pakistan and the Sudan shall yet come to Jesus and thus get purified! Those nations shall yet get baptized -- and then serve Him in inter-national harmony, also within the Kingdom of the Triune God! Matthew 28:19. So, then. Whether Protestant, Romanist, or Moslem -- unless a man be born again, he cannot even see, and still less enter into, the Kingdom of the Triune God! John 3:3-5. Yet God Triune so loved the World, that He gave His only begotten Son -- so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. He who trusts in the Son, has everlasting life.

He who does not trust in the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of the Triune God abides upon him. John 3:36.

Dear reader! How do things stand with your soul? Do you put all your trust -- solely in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only begotten Son of God Triune? If not yet the case – do so now!

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