John Calvin (considered by many to be a “theologian par excellence”) puts forth a very peculiar view of “preservation.” By Calvin’s blinkered lights there are vestiges of the true church under the rubble of the Roman Catholic Whore.
“Still, as in ancient times, there remained among the Jews certain special privileges of a Church, so in the present day we deny not to the Papists those vestiges of a Church which the Lord has allowed to remain among them amid the dissipation. When the Lord had once made his covenant with the Jews, it was preserved not so much by them as by its own strength, supported by which it withstood their impiety. Such, then, is the certainty and constancy of the divine goodness, that the covenant of the Lord continued there, and his faith could not be obliterated by their perfidy; nor could circumcision be so profaned by their impure hands as not still to be a true sign and sacrament of his covenant. Hence the children who were born to them the Lord called his own, (Ezek. 16: 20,) though, unless by special blessing, they in no respect belonged to him. So having deposited his covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain, and England, when these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of Antichrist, He, in order that his covenant might remain inviolable, first preserved baptism there as an evidence of the covenant; – baptism, which, consecrated by his lips, retains its power in spite of human depravity; secondly, He provided by his providence that there should be other remains also to prevent the Church from utterly perishing. But as in pulling down buildings the foundations and ruins are often permitted to remain, so he did not suffer Antichrist either to subvert his Church from its foundation, or to level it with the ground, (though, to punish the ingratitude of men who had despised his word, he allowed a fearful shaking and dismembering to take place,) but was pleased that amid the devastation the edifice should remain, though half in ruins” (Institutes, 4.2.11).
So God has preserved his church within Rome, even under the tyranny of the Antichrist? That’s Calvin’s idea of preservation? For Calvin baptism is the foundation and edifice that remains in the Romish church “though half in ruins.” Calvin’s metaphor vividly describes the “shaking and dismembering” of the Romish Whore. Now where did all the pieces go? They ran off to form smaller Synagogues. The Romish church is the Mother of harlots and her schismatic daughters have run away. Also, I was thinking of the strong language that Calvin uses to describe the Mass:
“Their principal bond of communion is undoubtedly in the Mass, which we abominate as the greatest sacrilege” (Institutes, 4.2.9.).
Calvin (who believed that the precious, propitiatory blood of Christ was shed for those in hell) has the hypocritical audacity to call the Roman Catholic Mass the “greatest sacrilege”? Calvin did not believe that his damnable view of the atonement should be abominated as the greatest sacrilege. The Romish Mass and John Calvin’s version of universal atonement were both a Christ-dishonoring, propitiatory blood-despising sacrilege. More from Calvin:
12. The sound elements do not make the corrupted church a true church. Therefore while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists we do not deny that there are churches among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in doctrine. Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God, (Dan. 9: 27; 2 Thess. 2: 4;) we regard the Roman Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. By placing his seat in the temple of God, it is intimated that his kingdom would not be such as to destroy the name either of Christ or of his Church. Hence, then, it is obvious, that we do not at all deny that churches remain under his tyranny; churches, however, which by sacrilegious impiety he has profaned, by cruel domination has oppressed, by evil and deadly doctrines like poisoned potions has corrupted and almost slain; churches where Christ lies half-buried, the gospel is suppressed, piety is put to flight, and the worship of God almost abolished; [note the word “almost.”–CD] where, in short, all things are in such disorder as to present the appearance of Babylon rather than the holy city of God. In one word, I call them churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and inasmuch as some symbols [namely baptism–CD] of the Church still remain – symbols especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human depravity can destroy. But as, on the other hand, those marks to which we ought especially to have respect in this discussion are effaced, I say that the whole body, as well as every single assembly, want the form of a legitimate Church (Institutes, 4.2.12).
Here we see that Calvin was confusing the Great Whore with the Virgin Bride of Christ, the Synagogues of Satan with the True Church. The god of this age has blinded Calvin’s mind so that the brightness of the gospel of the glory of Christ should not dawn on him (2 Corinthians 4:4). It was due to this blindness that he was not able to discern the Virgin Spouse of Jesus Christ from the Mother of Confusion. This is why he imprudently embraced the harlot instead of the chaste spouse. Put another way, he was embracing the children of Satan as his spiritual brethren instead of the children of God. John Calvin was indeed a Reformer. The Whore was to be REFORMED. Calvin tried to reform her rather than to come out of her (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:1-5).