The OPC is the Church John Calvin Founded

That assertion would prompt guffaws throughout the Presbyterian and Reformed world and yet Roman Catholic apologists continue to make such a claim with even higher stakes: “the Roman Catholic Church is the church Jesus founded.”

Who actually looks at history this way? To think that the OPC was a gleam in the eye of John Calvin is risible if only because Orthodox Presbyterianism comes so much later and after so many different historical developments than the Reformed churches of Geneva. Someone could spot similarities in worship, polity, and theology between Geneva and the OPC. But the OPC is only a development from something that started in 1522 in Zurich even before Calvin was a Protestant convert.

It’s like saying the United States of President Obama is the nation that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams founded. Neither the Left nor the Right in the United States thinks that way. As if a nation that now extends across the entire continent, has a population 100 times greater than 1789, and possesses the largest economy and military in the world is the United States Jefferson and Adams founded.

So how close does Roman Catholicism come to Jesus? For starters, Jesus never made it to Europe. The churches with which Jesus had the greatest familiarity and presence were those of Jerusalem. Which is why Tertullian did not ask, “what hath Rome to do with Athens” (and a good thing he didn’t since Thomists may have followed Aristotle more than Peter and Paul).

If the writings of the apostles are any indication, you know the ones we typically call “the word of God,” the early church had no episcopacy. The first body to make authoritative rulings for believers was the Council of — wait for it — Jerusalem and that body showed no deference to the pastors of Rome. The theology of Paul, a big block of NT teaching, went out of its way to stress faith over observance of the law, a major point that split western Christianity and isolated Rome from the apostles according to those most zealous to protect apostolic teaching (as opposed to papal prerogative). Meanwhile, the worship of the early church was simple and according to Paul the Lord’s Supper was a not a sacrifice but a fellowship meal (just like the Passover). And worship was not in Latin, a point sure to upset the Latin-Rite proponents.

So the early records of Christianity lean much more in the direction of the Eastern churches being the original Christians. In fact, were it not for the Eastern Church and their first Christian emperor, western Christians would not have Trinitarian orthodoxy.

It may be high time to remember that Boston Americans, not the New York Yankees, won the first World Series.


26 thoughts on “The OPC is the Church John Calvin Founded

  1. The Spurs are the basketball team god has founded. We have Pope Pop. We have a canonized saint, David Robinson. We play the right way, all ways, every time. We’re multicultural. We have two contemplatives, Duncan and Leonard. We have females in the magisterium, Hammond. We’re always black and white, no Vat II muddying. We take Serbians, so, the not so noble. We’re predominantly African American, so, not like the PCA. We’re in the city, for the city and of the city, so, better than Keller. We rock.


  2. Says DGH:

    The first body to make authoritative rulings for believers was the Council of — wait for it — Jerusalem and that body showed no deference to the pastors of Rome.

    And not only that, but the Nicaean Creed was ratified by almost 318 pastors. Guess how many represented the church in Rome.

    Then take a stab at how many pastors from Rome helped ratify the Nicaean-Constantinople creed of 381?

    Zip. Rome who?

    Roman bishops are ridiculed for accepting the lapsed back in, a sloppy handling of authority on behalf of a holy God. Try to find even one presbyter among the church in Rome aside from “antipope” Hippolytus, who anyone in any Christian communion regards as a theologian of any consequence prior to Leo I.

    It’s not all bad. The Christians and leaders in the church of Rome prior to 300 were exceedingly generous and merciful to Christians everywhere, sending moneys to care for the suffering.

    But theological leadership? Uh uh. That’s, as their devotees say, a later development.


  3. Sean, you win the worn-smooth rubber outdoor basketball signed by a former game show champ for that effort.


  4. Woof. god has developed a bench. Tuned in for a professional basketball game and a rugby scrum broke out. But even ‘no pickle juice jus’ gear and, yes, that’s my actual hair line ‘bron’ couldn’t overcome the twelve disciples.


  5. Though I like the jab at the yankees, when we consider all that is part of Calvin’s legacy, are we bragging or complaining that the OPC is the church Calvin founded. Of course, that only addresses the title of the article here, not its contents. But what I am trying to point to are the problems that come with closely associating our church, its confessional standards and doctrine, its polity, and/or its worship with a theological “giant” from the past. We may not call the OPC the church that Calvin founded, but we certainly embrace way too many connections with him.


  6. “are we bragging or complaining that the OPC is the church Calvin founded.”

    I take a wild guess and say we are eliciting guffaws. But the I read more than the title. Maybe that is cheating?

    I am not OPC, so perhaps you can clarify what these unhepful excess connections to Calvin are?


  7. Curt, it was a joke. Anyone who thinks a direct connection exists between today and the distant past doesn’t know how to think historically. That’s especially a problem for those whose apologetic relies on appeals to history.


  8. The whole “The [Roman] Catholic Church is the church Jesus personally founded” schtick of CTC has always been problematic. Is this an argument that the official Magisterium puts forth? Yeah, they talk about Jesus founding the church, but so do Protestant confessions.

    If you actually look at history, the case for Jesus “personally founding” the OPC and the RCC are equally credible. In fact, the OPC one is slightly better because it has a better claim to the Apostolic deposit of faith. Can anybody seriously argue that Jesus had in mind indulgences, the treasury of merit, Marian worship, and so on when He got things started?

    And Rome likes old, but we’re actually older. The church was actually personally founded in the garden of Eden.


  9. But Robert, they have fancier costumes and better real estate. If your faith doesn’t cooperate with that , well…


  10. Robert, Jesus definitely had in mind the worship of Mary cause remember that time Jesus was in a crowded house preaching and his mother and brothers couldn’t get in and he told everybody to make way for her and lay down their cloaks for her to walk on cause she was the Mediatrix to Him, the Mediator.


  11. Walton – Right, or the time He told Peter to move to Rome and establish a massive bureaucracy that could add to and take away from Scripture, er, I mean interpret Scripture. But don’t do it for a few hundred years just so everyone can feel the mystery.


  12. And of course Mary is the mother of the church because of John 19:26. Yet Tim Staples charges Prots with making dogmas out of one verse. The irony is putrid.


  13. D.G.,
    I undertood the difference between the title and the content of the article. But I think you need to be more precise when referring to the direct connections from the past. For it isn’t the directness of the connections as much as it is using an authoritarian approach to history to market one’s sacred cows.


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