Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Family fun with John Calvin

I discovered today, whilst reading a very popular book on the atonement (it's on page 170), that James Arminius was in fact the son-in-law of John Calvin.  I also discovered that Theodore Beza was Calvin's son-in-law too.

Just imagine the fun the three of them must have had debating limited atonement.  I bet they teased him a lot, "Go on old boy tell us what you really think, stop messing about with all that ambiguous use of 'the world', and 'all'."  But I am sure that John just chuckled to himself and said "Wouldn't it be funny if several centuries from now people debated what I really thought about the matter."

Taking an anachronistic approach to questions of historical theology really isn't that funny.  But claiming that Arminius and Beza married Calvin's daughters (not that he had any) is frankly absurd.  I don't think that there was much by way of checking sources on those two claims.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Martin! I believe your source is in error. Arminius' wife was the former Lijsbet Reael, the daughter of Laurens Reael, an influential Dutch merchant. IIRC, Beza was wed twice, and neither of his wives was related to Calvin. Of course I may be wrong on either or both accounts.


Anonymous said...

Oops! My bad. I failed to read the last paragraph before commenting. FWIW, crow tastes nothing like chicken.


PJ (not Williams) said...

Name and shame them Martin we need to know who put their name to such silliness.

Martin Downes said...


If you can guess the author and title of the book where Arminius is said to be Calvin's son-in-law I will send you a copy of Calvin's family bible with the names of Arminius and Beza inside it.

étrangère said...

That first para really threw me, before I got to the last. I didn't think Calvin had daughters - I thought he had a son who died in infancy!

Now, Martin... Driscoll, Death by Love. But I won't hold you to your promise to PJ! It seems a popular view.

Martin Downes said...

Well done Rosemary. Top marks.

I will send you a facsimile of Calvin's letter to his daughter where he pleads with her not to marry an Arminian.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
étrangère said...

Brilliant, thanks Martin! Eagerly anticipating it - in modern English, I'm sure.

B. P. Burnett said...

The author got his information that Arminius was Calvin's son-in-law from Mark Driscoll, I believe. This is just false. Arminius was a student UNDER Theodore Beza, the true son-in-law of Calvin. If Arminius, born 1559, was Calvin's son-in-law, well then let's just say that Calvin's daughter would've been quite the cradle-snatcher!

Unknown said...

I also 'discovered' that fact on page 170 of DBL and foolishly didn't fact check before sharing over the last few years with others.
Was just reading TC Hammond "In Understanding be Men" and was caused to question the 'facts' i had previously read. A quick internet research revealed Arminius didn't marry Calvin's daughter, but he studied under Beza (Calvin's son in law). Well i didn't accept that fact quite so quickly this time.
Thanks for your blog.

Why do authors make such silly claims without fact checking? I now need to remember who i have spoken with about it to correct my false statements.