While expressing great admiration for John Calvin as a careful exegete and systematic theologian in an article for Christianity Today, professor Ben Witherington III says that he “became a more convinced Arminian as a result of reading Calvin.” Interesting.
Futhermore, Prof. Witherington says that he discovered along the way that Calvinism is Augustinianism in new garb with “some new wrinkles”:
I also discovered that Calvinism is actually in the main a redoing of Augustine’s theology. Calvin’s is not at all a distinctively Protestant form of theologizing. But he deserves full marks for working out the logical implications of Augustinianism to the nth degree, as well as for adding some new wrinkles. (emphasis mine)
At any rate, the Asbury prof. credits John Calvin with impacting his own career as a biblical exegete:
Above all for me, he is to be respected for understanding that biblical theology can only be done on the basis of a detailed and comprehensive exegesis of all the relevant material. This is precisely what I have tried to do in my career. I needed to follow Calvin’s lead and begin by researching and writing commentaries on the entire New Testament corpus. Exegesis is the basis for all good biblical theology, and the latter should not be attempted without first doing the former. (emphasis mine)
Then the professor tells of how surprised and taken with Calvin’s theology of the Holy Spirit as dispensed in the Institutes.
Prof. Witherington went on:
I remember reading in Gordon-Conwell’s newspaper a rather interesting historical curio from a letter of Calvin about how one morning he woke up and found himself speaking in lingua barbaria. The article went on to speculate that Calvin may have spoken in tongues! (emphasis mine, read full article… )
I highly recommend the reading of this article even though it’s from the pen of a convinced Arminian. The article. however, is quite friendly and insightful.
Ben Witherington is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Asbury, Kentucky.