Calvin vs. Pascal: Were The Jansenists just Nicodemites?

This post was originally a paper I wrote for Dr. Scott Manetsch’s church history class on Calvin at TEDS. Hope you enjoy!

B.B. Warfield famously proclaimed that Augustine gave us the Reformation, “…the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church.”[1] It was this quote that drove me to consider the Jansenists. If Augustine’s doctrine of grace gave birth to the Reformers and the Protestant Reformation, then why did the Jansenists, who were staunchly Augustinian, remain in the Roman Catholic Church? Were the Jansenists, including their most famous follower, Blaise Pascal, merely what John Calvin called “Nicodemites”? Were they secret “crypto-Calvinists” that refused to openly acknowledge their inward Protestant faith? Should Calvin’s numerous charges against the Nicodemites in the mid 16th century have been equally leveled against Pascal and the Jansenist movement a hundred years later?

In order to answer this question, we will first need to know what a “Nicodemite” is. After we have a clear conception of a Nicodemite, we’ll then need to know what Pascal and the Jansenists believed. Finally, with those two definitions in place, we can see if the Nicodemite shoe fits on the Jansenist foot. Ultimately, I argue that Pascal, along with any Jansenists who believed as he did, were not Nicodemites- though they should have been.

Who Cares? 

Before beginning our historical inquiry, we should ask a crucial question: who cares? Why should we care what a bunch of dead French guys believed four hundred some odd years ago? Well, Calvin and Pascal are two of the most prominent figures in both the emergence and the shaping of the Western world; their disagreement over the teachings of Augustine, arguably the second most prominent figure in Western history[2], is a big deal! But beyond the historical significance of reflecting on Calvinist and Jansenist theology, there’s are immediate personal and moral significances for us today. In observing the debate- and noting the ferocity of the interlocutors- we should ask ourselves questions like: does our theology actually matter? Do we know what we believe and why we believe it? Do we really believe what we say we believe? And do we represent our opponents fairly and accurately? We can also ask ourselves deeper theological questions like: should our soteriology dictate our ecclesiology? If so, to what extent? What do we believe about free will? Are we determinists, compatibilists, libertarians, or something else? Do we even have a choice? These are just some of the important personal/moral questions to be pondering as we progress through our exploration towards the final goal: answering whether or not the Jansenists in general, and Pascal in particular were just Nicodemites. With this in mind, we can begin looking at Calvin and Nicodemism.

Calvin and the Nicodemites 

John Calvin[3], born in Picardy, northern France, in 1509, is recognized alongside Martin Luther as the “premier theologian of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.”[4] According to Calvin scholar Alexandre Ganoczy, Calvin’s character was thoroughly “Picardian” in that he was “intelligent, logical, sensibly diligent, morally serious, and devoted to freedom and order – as well as overly sensitive, self-confident, and irritable.”[5] In like manner, Calvin biographer, Bruce Gordon, explains that,

What made Calvin Calvin, and not another sixteenth-century writer, was his brilliance as a thinker and writer, and, above all his ability to interpret the Bible. His coherent, penetrating and lucid vision of God’s abiding love for humanity, expressed in some of the most exquisite prose of his age, has continued down the centuries to instruct and to inspire. Like all great writers he transcends his time.[6]

While Calvin was all of those things, Gordon informs us that he “was also ruthless, and an outstanding hater. Among those things he hated were the Roman church, Anabaptists and those people who, he believed, only faint-heartedly embraced the Gospel and tainted themselves with idolatry.”[7] Calvin’s hatred for the Roman church and its idolatry, coupled with his Picardian spirit, led to his prolonged assault against Nicodemism in all its forms- a war that would last throughout his entire public ministry until his death in 1564.

The term “Nicodemite” wasn’t new with Calvin. In fact, many of the magisterial  reformers wrote against the Nicodemites, including Zwingli, Bullinger, Bucer[8], Oecolampadius, and Farel[9]. A Nicodemite, in the 16th century, was a pejorative name for someone who believed in Protestant theology but for various reasons- usually fear of persecution- refused to leave Roman Catholicism.[10]  Carlos Eire notes that the term only became a pejorative after being appropriated by the dissemblers themselves: “According to Calvin, the Nicodemites took their name from Nicodemus, one of the leading Pharisees of Jerusalem, who, afraid of being seen with Jesus, visited him secretly at night. Apparently, some of the dissemblers adopted the name as an honorable defense.”[11] So what began as a justification for their unwillingness to leave Rome, quickly became an insult as the Reformers began to criticize Nicodemism.

While Calvin used the pejorative often, he didn’t relish its use due to its negative reflection on Nicodemus. Wulfert De Greef notes that “With respect to Nicodemus, Calvin observes that initially, when Nicodemus was still in ignorance, he went to Jesus by night, but later he openly displayed his faith as a disciple at Jesus’ burial. As a Christian, Nicodemus did not fear persecution.”[12] Out of respect for Nicodemus, and to further undercut the cause of the Nicodemites, Calvin often opted to called them “pseudo-Nicodemites”[13] or “faux Nicodemites”[14]. Eire notes that by 1562 Calvin had all but given up on the name and simply called them “religious dissemblers”.[15] But since he used it so often prior to his change of heart, and because as Eire says, it “became widely accepted as a proper epithet for dissemblers and was adopted by historians to describe the phenomenon of religious simulation in the sixteenth century”,[16] we’ll continue to use it throughout our exploration.

Eire, contra Carlo Ginzberg, makes a good case that Nicodemism wasn’t a unified philosophy or movement, but rather a post hoc justification for the actions of the fearful, who were led more by self-preservation than by any consistent doctrine.[17] But while it may not have been a codified belief system, the pragmatic behavior of the Nicodemites was popular enough for Calvin to attack it in a unified fashion. Calvin’s goal in writing against Nicodemism was not personal attacks against its thought leaders, but rather, viewing himself as taking up the prophetic mantle of Ezekiel,[18] he set out to exhort evangelicals[19] to flee from Baal (The Roman Church) and return to the true worship of God.[20] This is evidenced by the fact that under normal circumstances Calvin had no qualms about naming individuals he was attacking, and yet when it came to the anti-Nicodemite writings, he mentions no specific names, nor does he quote from any Nicodemite authors.[21]

Although they couldn’t be rebuked line by line in any systematic fashion (again, since they had no unified credo), Calvin, In his treatise Excuse a Messieurs Les Nicodemites (1544) was still able to distinguish between four types of Nicodemites: those who used the faith to gain powerful church positions and wealth; those who were interested in converting noble ladies but didn’t care for the true gospel; those who tried to boil down Christianity to a philosophical system “awash in Neoplatonism”;[22] and those who were afraid of persecution and danger.[23] It was on behalf of this fourth group of Nicodemites that Calvin’s detractors leveled charges against him. Charges like “Calvin would not consider anyone a Christian or admit him into heaven unless he first pass through Geneva and had his ears blasted with sermons.”[24] And others who claimed that Calvin “chased people to the stake for unimportant matters.”[25] But to Calvin, nothing could be more important than fighting against idolatry!

Acknowledging the severity of his warnings against the Nicodemites, Calvin said:

I am aware that there are certain middle men to whom we seem too harsh, in attacking what they would have to be thought light trifles of no moment! But what do they allege in opposition to our excessive severity; for so they are pleased to call it? Certainly they will not venture to deny that wherever Images are set up in Temples to be worshipped the great body, or rather the whole multitude, pay them Divine honours; and by so doing break the Second Commandment, which forbids the Worship of Idols.[26]

And again, in a short “Overlooked Text of 1541” on Nicodemism, Calvin argues that:

What God has commanded in his word should be strictly observed: the godly should not flirt with evil, otherwise they may end up succumbing to it without a moment’s thought. Of course my opponents’ motives are entirely admirable; that I do not deny, any more than they deny the force of my objections. But, while they diligently ponder and refine their arguments, these seem to me to turn essentially on considerations of mercy. In their eyes, I appear too harsh and unbending. Rest assured that the last thing I want is to quarrel in any way with such men, whom the whole church honors and whom I myself greatly respect. In all fairness, however, I should not be forced to accept something that my conscience tells me is unacceptable.[27]

So, while Calvin recognized the criticism of his opponents, he also realized that the severity of his own criticism needed to match the severity of the situation. Calvin was so convinced by the urgency necessitated by the phenomenon of Nicodemism that he wrote his first and only letter to Luther asking for support in condemning the practice (though Melanchthon felt it best not to pass the letter along to Luther).[28]

In Calvin’s view, men and women were willfully participating in idolatry in order to save their own skin. In feigning false worship, evangelicals were polluting themselves with the taint of real idolatry in the Roman Catholic mass, and for Calvin this was completely unacceptable. Rather than polluting oneself and dishonoring God by bending the knee to Baal, the faithful ought to flee or put their hope in God by trusting Him to deliver them just as he did for Daniel and Daniel’s three friends when faced with similar trials. Whatever the case, whatever the persecution facing the faithful, Nicodemism was never an appropriate response for Calvin.

Pascal and the Jansenists 

Now, with that horse thoroughly beaten, we can begin our inquiry of the Jansenists[29]. Why is it tempting to think of Jansenists as Nicodemites? Well, the Jansenists were Augustinian Roman Catholics who emerged after the Council of Trent (1545-63) and the Synod of Dort (1618-19)! I’m tempted to leave it there, but that sentence needs some fleshing out. Though Trent sought to quash Augustine’s doctrine of grace, as it had been associated with Calvinism,[30] historians Woodbridge and James claim that “…the specter of Calvinism emerged within the bosom of Rome itself”[31] through the theology of Cornelius Jansen and Jean Du Vergier. Though Jansen died in 1638, the movement, “Jansenism”, bore his name as progenitor largely due to the impact of his magnum opus, Augustinius, published posthumously in 1640. In this work “Jansen took a strict Augustinian stance on such doctrines as original sin, human depravity, and the necessity of divine grace. Fully embracing Augustine’s strict notion of predestination, he argued that God predestined only a certain portion of humanity for salvation, leaving the rest to their just desserts.”[32] If that sounds like Calvinism to you, then you’re not alone. The Jesuits also read the theology of Calvin in Jansen’s Augustinius, labeling him a “clandestine Calvinist”.[33]

After Jansen’s sudden death in 1638, the mantle passed to Jean Du Vergier, but his tenure as leader was short lived as he was arrested that very same year for his role in the movement. He was imprisoned for four years and then died in 1643, a year after his release. The mantle then passed on to Antoine Arnauld, a student of Du Vergier in Port Royal, which then became the main hub for Jansenism.[34] But just as the mantle of Jansenist leadership passed on to Arnauld, so the controversy passed with it. As Henry Bettenson notes, the Jesuits “extracted five propositions from the writings of Arnauld and secured their condemnation by Innocent X”. [35] The five propositions “extracted” from Arnauld and his master, Jansen, were condemned by the Sorbonne and Pope Innocent X through the Papal Bull, Cum Occasione, in 1653. The propositions were meant to demonstrate that Arnauld, Jansen, and the whole movement were Calvinists and thus heretics.[36]

Just as Arnauld took up his pen in defense of Jansen, so Blaise Pascal took up his pen in defense of Arnauld- and the mantle passed yet again. Pascal (1623-1662) came to the defense of the Jansenist movement through his Lettres Provinciales, in which he ridiculed the Jesuit prosecutors and argued for the orthodoxy of Arnauld and Jansen’s theology. The Provincial Letters are nineteen pseudonymous letters in which Pascal, “Adopting the persona of a concerned but bemused outsider, [set] out to explain to a friend in the provinces (hence the ‘Provincial Letters’) what [was] really going on in the Sorbonne”[37]. In responding to the letters, the Jesuits claimed that Pascal (though unbeknownst to them at the time) was “The Calvinists’ disciple”, and their response read: “not daring to attack the Church openly, like your Calvinist brothers do, you take it out on the Jesuits, whom you have made your mind up to persecute with all your energies.”[38] At this point we can begin to see why it’s tempting to label Pascal and the Jansenists as Nicodemites: the Jesuits certainly did.

But Pascal dismissed the charge of crypto-Calvinism on behalf of the Jansenists by claiming that the five “heretical” propositions allegedly found in Jansen’s Augustinius weren’t there and thus couldn’t actually be extracted from it. However, while the propositions in question probably weren’t in Jansen’s work, historian, Dale Van Kley, says that the Jansenists agreed with four out of the five points of Calvinism, as set forth by the Synod of Dordrecht. The contentious point for the Jansenists, surprisingly, was the fifth: Perseverance of the Saints.[39] And although Pascal set out to distance Jansenist theology from that of Calvin, he ended up strengthening the case against himself as he basically expounded on the five points in his own words. Now Calvinism certainly involves more than just the five points, but as Calvinist theologian Michael Horton reminds us, “If Calvinism is more than ‘five points,’ it is surely not less…”[40] So, it would be significant to find the five points of Calvinism in the works of Blaise Pascal.

In cataloging the theology of Pascal, the famous acronym “TULIP” will help us keep track of his five points.

Total Depravity: “Free will has remained susceptible to both good and evil; but with this difference that, whereas with Adam there was no predilection towards evil, and he only had to know what was good to be able to follow it, now he shows complaisance and such a strong delectation in evil through concupiscence that he infallibly inclines towards it as if to his own good, and he voluntarily, and quite freely and joyfully, choses it as the object in which he experiences his beatitude.”[41]

Unconditional Election: “As all human beings in this corrupt mass are equally worthy of eternal death and of God’s anger, God could justly abandon them without mercy to damnation. However, it pleased God to choose, elect, and distinguish from within this equally corrupt mass, in which he saw only wickedness, a number of people of all sexes, ages, contradictions, disproportions, and from all countries, periods, and in short, of every kind. That God distinguished his elect from the others for reasons unknown to men and angels through pure mercifulness and without any merit.”[42]

Limited Atonement: “That to achieve this he sent Jesus Christ for the salvation of those only whom he chose and predestined amongst that body. That it was only for their salvation that Jesus Christ died, and the others, for whose salvation he did not die, have not been spared universal and just damnation.”[43]

Irresistible Grace: “To save his elect, God sent Jesus Christ to carry out his justice and to merit with his mercy the grace of Redemption, medicinal grace, the grace of Jesus Christ which is nothing other than complaisance and delectation in God’s law diffused into the heart by the Holy Ghost, which, not only equaling but even surpassing the concupiscence of the flesh, fills the will with a greater delight in good than concupiscence offers in evil; and so free will, entranced by the sweetness and pleasures which the Holy Ghost inspires in it, more than the attractions of sin, infallibly chooses God’s law for the simple reason that if finds greater satisfaction there, and feels his beatitude and happiness.”[44]

Do not be astonished to see simple people believing without argument. God makes them love him and hate themselves. He inclines their hearts to believe. We shall never believe, with an effective belief and faith, unless God inclines our hearts, and we shall believe as soon as he does so.”[45]

Perseverance of The Saints: “…those to whom it pleases God to give this grace are brought themselves through their free will infallibly to prefer God to created things…And to those to whom God pleases to give it infallibly preserve in this preference to the end, and so choosing unto death by their own will to fulfill the law rather than violate it, because they feel more satisfaction, they merit glory, both through the aid of this grace which has overcome their concupiscence, and through their own choice and the bidding of their free will, which voluntarily and freely moved in that direction.”[46]  

Pascal sums up his soteriology as such: “… men are saved or damned according to whether it pleased God to choose them to be given this grace amongst the corrupt mass of men in which he could justly abandon them all.”[47]

Calvinism and Jansenism 

At this point, it would be easy to remind the reader that Pascal and the Jansenists were down stream of a failed French Reformation that culminated in the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre[48]. Or that they lived in a time when Jesuit counter-reformers controlled the positions of power, including the Sorbonne, and while the Parlemente of Paris was on the lookout for Nicodemites and covert Calvinists while they pressed the monarch to punish heresy.[49] It would then be easy to cast these as obvious motives for Pascal and the Jansenists to hide the fact that they truly were self-conscious crypto-Calvinists, and thus Nicodemites. Though that would be expedient, it wouldn’t be true. The Jansenists took every opportunity to distance themselves from Calvin, not because of a secret affinity with him, but because they despised him and what they took for his theology.

The Jansenists hated “schism” in the Church, and who caused more division and schismatic infighting than the contentious figure of John Calvin? Van Kley notes that “…unlike the equally French Calvinists, Jansenists never separated from the Catholic Church; no sin would be more heinous in their eyes than that of schism.”[50] As we saw in the first third of this paper, Calvin exhausted much of his time in causing schism in the Roman Catholic Church through his anti-Nicodemite doctrines and writings. Indeed, Pascal even prefers the Molinists (Jesuits), who were actively persecuting the Jansenists, over the schismatic Calvinists:

“The Church is acutely distressed to see itself riven by contradictory errors which wage war against its holiest truths; but although it is right to complain about you, Molinist, and you, Calvinist, nevertheless it realizes that it receives fewer wrongs from those who, astray through their errors, remain within its bosom than from those who have left to erect altar after altar… Molinist, if your error pains [the Roman Catholic Church], your submission consoles it; but, Calvinist, your error combined with your rebellion makes it cry out to God: I fed the children and they have scorned me. It knows, Molinist, that for you it is enough for it to speak through the mouths of its Popes and its councils, that you hold the Church’s tradition in veneration, that you do not undertake to give special interpretations to sacred texts, and that you follow those which have been determined by the crowd and by the Church’s successive holy Doctors, Popes, and Councils. But as for you, Calvinist, your rebellion leaves it inconsolable.[51]

But schism or “protest” wasn’t the only contentious scandal that came between the Jansenists and the Calvinists. As we can see from the quote above, the Jansenist authority structure was still very Papist; Calvin’s most certainly was not! Also, whereas Jansenists believed in the Mass, Calvin thought it was a wicked abomination that “both utterly abolishes the cross of Christ, and overturns his sacred Supper which he consecrated as a memorial of his death.”[52] Likewise, they also differed on iconoclasm. Whereas Calvin spent much of his energies smashing idols through his preaching and writing ministry (to which many of his Huguenot sympathizers followed suit- quite literally), “a full-fledged Jansenist iconoclasm is hard to imagine.”[53]

Another area of difference is that Calvinists followed Calvin in affirming a secular vocation and calling, but the Jansenists tended to pull back from their vocations after their conversions in order to focus on the things of God.[54] And as noted earlier, the Jansenists took exception to the Calvinist doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. In Pascal’s quote above he sounds very much in line with the Calvinists, however, he makes a slight variation, “That nevertheless some of those who are not predestined are none the less called to the good of the elect, but that they do not persevere.”[55] So it seems that Pascal makes room for some of the elect to not persevere to the end, though his reason for them not persevering is that God has not given them the grace to continue. Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole, on the other hand, go far beyond Pascal- to the point of possibly blaspheming the Holy Spirit- in their renunciation of perseverance. Van Kley notes, “The clinching argument of Arnauld’s nine hundred-page polemic against the decisions of Dordrecht was that the Calvinist doctrine of the perseverance of the saints undermined fear and gave rise to a ‘false assurance’ of salvation, proving that the ‘supposed Reformation of the Calvinists, far from being a work of the Holy Spirit, can only be regarded as the work of the demon.’”[56]

Pascal vs. Calvin  

Based on these points of disagreement, it would not be fair to call Pascal and the Jansenists Nicodemites. They weren’t Protestants at heart who were hiding within Roman cathedrals due to fear of persecution: they were Catholics through and through, and they weren’t afraid of showing their colors in debate. For them, Augustine’s soteriology never conquered his ecclesiology, though perhaps it should have.

It’s clear from Pascal’s interpretation, that though there were important differences between him and Calvin, he didn’t understand Calvin quite as well as he thought. With a more charitable reading, Pascal should have found himself more in line with Calvinist theology. For instance, Pascal claimed that “Calvin has no conformity with St Augustine and differs from him in every way from start to finish.”[57] Though opening to any page in the Institutes will reveal what Calvin scholar, Paul Helm, notes:

“When it comes to the central areas of concern- grace, the bondage of the will, predestination- then Calvin invariably defers to Augustine… Calvin wished not only to root his convictions in Scripture, but also to emphasize that his views were not novelties in the thought of the one acknowledged on all sides to be the great Doctor of the Church, the bishop of Hippo.[58]

Pascal also makes Calvin out to be a hard determinist concerning free will, who allows for no nuance between primary and secondary causes or means/ends ordination,

The opinion of Calvinists is: That God, in creating men, created some to damn them and others to save them, through an absolute will and without any foreseen merit. That, in order to execute this absolute will, God made Adam sin, and not only allowed, but caused, his fall. That in God there is no difference at all between doing and allowing.[59]

But Calvin as a compatibilist[60], just like Pascal[61], certainly allows for Adam’s free choice in sinning rather than blaming God:

Therefore Adam could have stood if he wished, seeing that he fell solely by his own will. But it was because his will was capable of being bent to one side or the other, and was not given the constancy to persevere, that he fell so easily. Yet his choice of good and evil was free, and not that alone but the highest rectitude was in his mind and will, and all the organic parts were rightly composed to obedience, until in destroying himself he corrupted his own blessings.[62]

So, as we just read, Calvin wasn’t the strong determinist that Pascal made him out to be. When it comes to their theory of free will, both men seem to be right in line with the later Augustine.


At the end of the day, Calvin and Pascal were very close both in the theology and personalities. As evidenced in the quotes above, both men were sharp tongued, French masters of prose. They were both geniuses, Augustinian zealots, first class theologians, important movement leaders, and godly Christians consumed with God’s glory. Ironically, it was Pascal’s Picardian/Calvinian-esque temperament that blinded him to the manifold similarities between him and Calvin. But alas, it was that same blindness that kept him, both outwardly and inwardly, from identifying as Calvinist. Thus, because he didn’t know that he ought to have been a Calvinist, due largely to his misunderstanding of Calvin, he can’t be properly labeled a Nicodemite in any of Calvin’s four senses. Insofar as the Jansenists followed Pascal’s teachings and his train of thought, they also could not be charged with Nicodemism. It’s a shame that the Jansenists didn’t join the Reformation, but it’s all part of God’s sovereignly predestined plan.




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In John Calvin Tracts and Letters, Vol. 3, edited and translated by Henry Beveridge, 359-411. East Peoria: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, edited by John T. McNeill. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960.

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Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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Helm, Paul. Calvin at the Centre. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Horton, Michael. For Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

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Thought. Grand Rapids: Barker Academic, 2017.

Pascal, Blaise. Pensees and Other Writings: A New Translation by Honor Levi. New York: Oxford University Press,

Pensees. England: Penguin Group, 1995.

Provincial Letters in Pascal. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1952.

Van Kley, Dale K. The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: From Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560-1791.

New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996.

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by Herman J. Selderhuis, 156-58. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

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1500-1620. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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[1] “The Problem which Augustine bequeathed to the Church for solution, the Church required a thousand years to solve. But even so, it is Augustine who gave us the Reformation. For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church.” B.B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield IV Studies in Tertullian and Augustine (Baker,1991) 130.

[2] The first being Jesus Christ.

[3] “John Calvin” is actually an English transliteration of Calvin’s Latin name, “Jean Calvin”, which is a Latinized gloss on his French given name, “Jean Cauvin”. See Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale University Press, 2011) 4.

[4] Donald K. McKim, The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004) xii.

[5] Alexandre Ganocy translated by Foxgrover and Schmitt, “Calvin’s Life” in The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004) 3.

[6] Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale University Press, 2011) viii.

[7] Ibid., vii

[8] Though Calvin takes issue with Bucer’s soft treatment with the Nicodemites, c.f. Wulfert DeGreef, The Writings of John Calvin: Expanded Edition (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008) 122 and Gordon, Calvin, 190

[9] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 236-37

[10] Mirjam G.K. Van Veen, Translated by Sheeres, “Calvin and His Opponents” in The Calvin Handbook, ed. Herman J. Selderhuis, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2009) 156

[11] Ibid., 242

[12] Wulfert DeGreef, The Writings of John Calvin: Expanded Edition (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008) 123

[13] Ibid., 118

[14] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 243

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 244

[17] Ibid., 239

[18] or Elijah, cf. The Calvin Handbook, ed. Herman J. Selderhuis, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2009) 157

[19] The word “Evangelical” was actually used in France to describe protestants prior to the use of “Protestant”. cf. Gordon, Calvin, 11-17

[20] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 241, Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale University Press, 2011) 190

[21] Ibid.

[22] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 245

[23] Ibid., 244-45, and Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale University Press, 2011) 192

[24] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 263

[25] Dirk Volckertsz Coornhert believed that a believers internal thought life and spiritual life was really the most important thing, thus it wasn’t worth risking one’s life to declare your protestant faith. Cf. Mirjam G.K. Van Veen, Translated by Sheeres, “Calvin and His Opponents” in The Calvin Handbook, ed. Herman J. Selderhuis, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2009) 158

[26] John Calvin, “On the True Method of Reforming the Church” in John Calvin Tracts and Letters Volume 3 (Carlisle, Banner of Truth, 2009) 379.

[27]  John Calvin, “Calvin and the Nicodemite Controversy”, Translated by Robert White in Calvin Theological Journal Nov. 2000, Vol. 32, No. 2.

[28] Carlos Eire, War Against The Idols (NY, Cambridge University Press, 1986) 241, Bruce Gordon, Calvin (Yale University Press, 2011) 237.

[29] Van Kley notes that “The pejorative term Jansenism– which Jansenists themselves never acknowledged- took its name from the seventeenth-century Flemish theologian Cornelius Jansen, or Jansenius” Religious Origins, 1996, 58-59. And Pascal refers to Jansenists as “Followers of St. Augustine” which is the name they would have called themselves. Cf. Pensées and other Writings, 1995, 217. However, we will use the name Jansenist for the same reasons listed for the continued use of Nicodemite listed above.

[30] And Lutheranism, as the Lutherans would argue.

[31] John Woodbridge and Frank A. James III, Church History Volume Two (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2013) 259.

[32] Ibid.

[33] ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Henry Bettenson & Chris Maunder, Documents of the Christian Church Fourth Ed. (New York, Oxford University Press, 2011) 273.

[36] they loosely corresponded to what has become known as “the Five Points of Calvinism”. Cf. Bettenson, Documents 273 & Woodbridge, Church History vol. 2, 259-60.

[37] Ben Rogers, “Pascal’s Life and Times” in The Cambridge Companion to Pascal ed. Nicholas Hammond (UK, Cambridge University Press, 2003) 15.

[38] Cited by Richard Parish in “Pascal’s Lettres provincials”, ibid., 193.

[39] Dale K. Van Kley, The Religious Origins of the French Revolution (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996) 66.

[40] Michael Horton, For Calvinism, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2011) 23.

[41] Blaise Pascal, “Writings on Grace” in Pensées and other Writings (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995) 222.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid., 218.

[44] Ibid., 223.

[45] Blaise Pascal, Pensées (England, Penguin Group, 1995) 110.

[46] Blaise Pascal, “Writings on Grace” in Pensées and other Writings (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995) 223.

[47] Ibid.

[48] cf. Dale K. Van Kley, The Religious Origins of the French Revolution (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996) 15.

[49] Ibid., 44.

[50] Ibid., 58.

[51] Blaise Pascal, “Writings on Grace” in Pensées and other Writings (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995) 219.

[52] John Calvin, “On the True Method of Reforming the Church” in John Calvin Tracts and Letters Volume 3 (Carlisle, Banner of Truth, 2009) 383.

[53] Dale K. Van Kley, The Religious Origins of the French Revolution (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996) 63.

[54] cf. ibid., 61.

[55] “And consequently there are three sorts of people: those who never approach faith; others who approach it but, not persevering, die in mortal sin; and finally those who approach faith and persevere in charity until death.” Blaise Pascal, “Writings on Grace” in Pensées and other Writings (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995) 218.

[56] Dale K. Van Kley, The Religious Origins of the French Revolution (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996) 102.

[57] Blaise Pascal, “Writings on Grace” in Pensées and other Writings (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995) 225.

[58] Paul Helm, Calvin at the Centre (New York, Oxford University Press, 2010) 151.


[59] Ibid., 215-16.

[60] Cf. Richard A. Muller, Divine Will and Human Choice (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2017) 187, and Paul Helm, “Calvin the Compatibilist” in Calvin at the Centre (New York, Oxford University Press, 2010) 227-272.

[61] Cf. Michael Moriarty, “Grace and religious belief in Pascal” in The Cambridge Companion to Pascal ed. Nicolas Hammond (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003) 144-161.

[62] Calvin, Institutes I.xv.8.


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