Which Statement Best Defines the Teachings of John Calvin? | Exploring the Teachings of John Calvin

John Calvin, a prominent figure of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, left an indelible mark on Christian theology. His teachings, known as Calvinism, have shaped the understanding of countless believers throughout history. Central to Calvin’s theology are concepts like predestination, human depravity, and the authority of Scripture.

Which Statement Best Defines the Teachings of John Calvin? JohnCalvin.com
John Calvin, seen here is featured on Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland

In this article, we will explore the question, “Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin?” as we explore the core principles that defined his theological framework.

Overview of John Calvin’s Teachings

Before we examine the defining statements of John Calvin’s teachings, it is vital to grasp the significance of his theology. These elements will ultimately inform our answer to the question, “Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin?” Calvin’s influence was far-reaching, with Calvinism becoming a distinct theological tradition of Protestant doctrine. His writings, particularly “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” served as a comprehensive guide to his teachings.

Let us now explore the three statements that many feel represent the essence of Calvin’s theological insights.

Statement 1: Predestination as the Ultimate Expression of God’s Sovereignty

This statement serves as a defining pillar supporting the framework of Calvin’s beliefs. In a nutshell, Calvin proclaimed that predestination or unconditional election is the ultimate expression of God’s sovereignty.

Calvin firmly believed in the absolute sovereignty of God. Further, he emphasized that God exercises complete control over every facet of human existence, including the crucial matter of salvation. According to Calvin’s teachings, even before the foundation of the world, God made deliberate choices. He elected specific individuals for eternal life while justly leaving others to their eternal damnation. Moreover, this doctrine of predestination powerfully underscores Calvin’s unwavering emphasis on God’s supremacy and omnipotence.

The foundation of Calvin’s understanding of predestination lies firmly in Scripture. It draws heavily from passages like Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:3-6.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Rom 8:29

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – Eph 1:3-6

These biblical verses provide the framework for Calvin’s theological convictions. For Calvin, predestination is a profound testimony to God’s immeasurable grace and sovereignty. It highlights that our salvation is not a result of our own efforts (works) or merits but is solely a product of God’s unfathomable mercy and sovereign will.

We are entirely reliant on God’s mercy for salvation

Furthermore, Calvin’s predestination teachings shed light on humanity’s inherent helplessness and sinfulness. They emphasize that we rely entirely on God’s mercy for salvation, devoid of any ability to earn or attain it by ourselves. Thus, predestination serves as a humbling reminder of our complete dependence on God and our desperate need for His redemptive intervention.

While the concept of predestination may give rise to questions, it undeniably holds a crucial place in Calvin’s theological framework. It epitomizes his unwavering commitment to the belief in God’s absolute sovereignty. Calvin’s teachings on predestination affirm that God’s choices and actions are beyond our comprehension. Thus, it serves as a powerful testament to His immeasurable grace and unparalleled authority.

Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin in this context? “Predestination as the Ultimate Expression of God’s Sovereignty” encapsulates the essence of Calvin’s belief system. Likewise, his teachings are rooted in Scripture (sola scriptura), and highlight God’s supreme control, the profoundness of His grace, and our complete reliance on His mercy for salvation.

Statement 2: Human Depravity and the Necessity of God’s Grace

Calvin’s teachings emphasize the inherent depravity of humanity and the indispensable role of God’s grace in the process of salvation.

According to Calvin, as a consequence of the Fall, all human beings are born in a state of total depravity. This means that we are fundamentally corrupted and incapable of achieving righteousness by our own efforts. Further, Calvin rejects the notion that humans possess any inherent goodness or ability to merit salvation through good works. In his view, our fallen human nature renders us utterly reliant on God’s grace for redemption.

In Calvin’s theology, the necessity of God’s grace becomes paramount. Hence, He stresses that divine grace is entirely unmerited and freely bestowed upon those whom God has chosen. This emphasis serves as a powerful reminder of humanity’s desperate need for God’s intervention. Calvin sought to underscore the radical nature of God’s redemptive work. Moreover, he highlights the absolute dependence of human beings on His grace for salvation.

The transformative power of God’s redemptive plan

By emphasizing the total depravity of humanity and the indispensability of God’s grace, Calvin intended to magnify the glory and grandeur of God’s redemptive plan. Thus, in recognizing the depths of our fallenness, we can better appreciate the sheer magnitude of God’s mercy and grace. Furthermore, through the lens of human depravity, his teaching highlights the transformative power of God’s redemptive work. He elevates the significance of God’s irresistible grace and underscores the central role it plays in the salvation of believers.

Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin in this context? “Human Depravity and the Necessity of God’s Grace.” emphasizes the inherent depravity of humanity and our inability to achieve righteousness on our own. Instead, he emphasizes the absolute necessity of God’s unmerited grace for salvation. By recognizing our fallen state and our dependence on God’s grace, we can therefore grasp the profoundness of His redemptive work and magnify the glory of His grace.

Statement 3: The Authority of Scripture and Doctrinal Clarity

Calvin’s unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture and his pursuit of doctrinal clarity stand as defining aspects of his teachings. He rejected the idea that the authority of the Catholic Church (or any person or religious institution) was higher than the authority of the Bible. God’s truth is supreme. We all must bow before its teachings because one day we will give an account of our lives and be judged by it.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God2 may be complete, equipped for every good work. – II Timothy 3:16

For Calvin, the Bible was not just a religious text, but the infallible Word of God. He firmly believed that it held ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. As such, he placed great importance on the diligent study of Scripture, urging believers to comprehensively explore its teachings. Indeed, a deep understanding of the Bible was crucial for developing a solid foundation of faith and discerning God’s will.

In his monumental work, “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” Calvin taught a systematic theology to bring clarity and coherence to Christian doctrine. He meticulously articulated critical theological concepts and provided detailed explanations of various aspects of the Christian faith. Calvin intended to guide believers in their pursuit of theological knowledge and to facilitate a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

Understanding the authority of God’s Word

By emphasizing the authority of Scripture and pursuing doctrinal clarity, Calvin sought to establish a solid theological framework for believers. His teachings were grounded in the belief that a thorough understanding of God’s Word would enable Christians to navigate the complexities of faith with clarity and confidence. Calvin’s commitment to scriptural authority and his efforts to provide doctrinal clarity contributed significantly to developing and disseminating Reformed Churches’ theology.

Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin in this context? Calvin’s unwavering commitment to the authority of the Bible as the infallible Word of God and his pursuit of doctrinal clarity through systematic theology were pivotal aspects of his teachings. By emphasizing the study of Scripture and providing a comprehensive framework of Christian doctrine, Calvin aimed to equip believers with the necessary knowledge and understanding to live out their confession of faith in accordance with God’s Word.


Which statement best defines the teachings of John Calvin, then? Summarizing such a complex and nuanced theology in a single statement is not easy. In exploring the teachings of John Calvin, we encounter profound theological insights. Through the defining statements of predestination, human depravity, and the authority of Scripture, Calvin emphasized God’s sovereignty, the necessity of divine grace, and the pursuit of doctrinal clarity.

These teachings challenge us to contemplate the mysterious intersection of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, the depths of our fallen nature, and the importance of anchoring our Christian faith in the authority of Scripture. They invite us to wrestle with profound questions about divine nature, justification by faith, free will, and the complexities of our relationship with God.

Key Takeaways

As we reflect on Calvin’s teachings, we are reminded that theology is not merely an intellectual exercise but a means to deepen our understanding of God through the absolute, inerrant truth of the Bible. It encourages us to seek Jesus and see him revealed through the Old and New Testaments.

In the words of John Calvin himself, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This encapsulates the essence of Calvin’s teachings and serves as a reminder of the transformative power we experience through the repentance of our sins and faith in Christ alone.

So, let us continue to engage with the word of God, not only to gain intellectual knowledge but to allow them to shape our hearts, challenge our assumptions, and deepen our relationship with God. By grace through faith in Jesus, we are saved. It is nothing we can earn, but it is the gift of God.

Take the time to explore the theological teachings of John Calvin and the truth of the Bible on which it stands. Engage in thoughtful discussions. Seek to understand the Scriptures, ask questions like “Who is Jesus to me? Is he my Savior? What if I met God face to face right now, would I be ready?” Consider the implications of these teachings in your own life and faith journey. Let his legacy inspire you to dig deeper, broaden your theological horizons, and grow in your faith in Jesus Christ.