Table Charismata Matters

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John Calvin Apparently Received a Word of Knowledge from God

An excerpt from Thomas Boys' book "The Suppressed Evidence" pages 125-128.

The full Title of the book is, "The Suppressed Evidence: Or, Proofs of the Miraculous Faith and Experience of the Church of Christ In All Ages, From Authentic Records of the Fathers, Waldenses, Hussites, Reformers, United Brethren, &c."

But one of the most remarkable circumstances of a supernatural kind, recorded in the life of this Reformer [i.e. John Calvin], is the manner in which he was miraculously made acquainted, at Geneva, with a battle that was being fought near Paris. That is, he was miraculously made acquainted with it at the time of its occurrence, and many days before the arrival of the intelligence.
"One thing must not be omitted, that on the nineteenth of December" (1562), "Calvin lying in bed sick of the gout, it being the Sabbath-day, and the north wind having blown two days strongly, he said to many who were present, 'Truly I know not what is the matter, but I thought this night I heard warlike drums beating very loud, and I could not persuade myself but it was so. Let us therefore go to prayers, for surely some great business is in hand.' And this day there was a great battle fought between the Guisians and the Protestants not far from Paris, news whereof came to Geneva within a few days after."

On this narrative it seems necessary to make a few observations.

1. Though I have taken it from an English work, it will be found, with no material variations, in Calvin's Life by Beza. Beza himself, also, evidently records the occurrence as believing it, and as recognizing its supernatural character. Here, then, we see the belief of two, among the most eminent Reformers, in such miraculous occurrences.

2. The circumstance of the wind's blowing violently from the north, seems to be mentioned for the purpose of more strongly marking, what indeed is of itself sufficiently evident, that the sounds could by no possibility have reached Geneva in a natural way. The mention of the fact also proves to us, that the extraordinary occurrence must have attracted notice at the time, while it admitted of examination, and while it was possible to ascertain how the wind was on the day specified.

3. Calvin related what he had experienced in the hearing of many individuals.

4. The sound which he heard was not faint or doubtful, but as loud as possible.

5. He seems to have been fully conscious of the possibility of self-deception; nay, to have been disposed to think himself under a a delusion; but could not bring himself to that persuasion.

6. The deliberate conclusion, to which he had come when he addressed his friends, was, that some great business was certainly in hand.

7. On this conclusion he solemnly acted, proposing prayer.

8. The news of the battle, which had actually been fought at the time, coming to Geneva some days after, must have made a solemn impression on all those who had heard, or had been informed of, Calvin's words.

In short, Calvin, and the other Reformers, seem to have been often dealt with, in respect to their views upon supernatural and miraculous occurrences, too much according to the feelings and preferences of those who have professed to give a representation of them. Such persons are themselves hostile to all belief in occurrences of the kind referred to: and consequently, under the influence of this feeling of dislike, and acting from it, they lay hold on a few of the strongest expressions on one side of the question, I mean, on their own; present us with these as affording a fair representation of the writer's general sentiments; overlook (for I really do not think they would in every case wilfully secrete and keep back), overlook, through strong prejudice, preference, and antipathy, all that makes against them; and thus totally mislead those who trust to them for information, deceive the church, and leave it in error. Who, that reads the above account, will pretend to tell us, or even to prove to us by any expressions which can be produced, that either Calvin or Beza had no belief in supernatural and miraculous occurrences? If I am asked, how, after all, it comes to happen that such expressions can be found in their writings; expressions confessedly, if viewed alone, unfavourable to the doctrine of miracles; my reply is, that I really do not feel myself called upon to solve the difficulty. Perhaps the case is, that the experience of the Reformers in this matter lay above some of their technical statements. This, we shall find great reason to think, was the case especially with Luther. It is the case, indeed, with many Christians. Their religious system, and their religious experience, are often quite different things. The one they have from man, or hold by the sufferance of man; the other they have from God.

At one of his websites Matt Slick  gives three examples of Reformed ministers who seemed to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Here are the links:

John Knox 1514-1572
Robert Fleming 1630 -1694
George Wishart 1513-1546

The three links quote from John Howie's book:

The Scots Worthies by John Howie

At the links HERE or HERE are excerpts from appendix 7 of Wayne Grudem's The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Revised Edition) where Grudem survey's the historical evidence for the apparent operation of some Reformed or Reformational ministers in the gift of the Spirit.

At one point Grudem writes:

...I may add a personal note at this point: When I first found this material in Baxter, I photocopied these two pages and sent them to J. I. Packer, whose doctoral dissertation at Oxford was on Baxter's work. Packer sent back the following note:

By the way, some weeks ago you faxed me an extract from Baxter about God making personal informative revelations. This was the standard Puritan view, as I have observed it—they weren't cessationists in the Richard Gaffin sense.

[bold added by me]

That's coming from J.I. Packer who is well known for being well versed in the writings of the Puritans.

See also MY BLOG that links to and gives excerpts of the document:
A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture

Also highly recommended:    The charismatic covenanters by Steve Hays

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