A Germ of Piety

“And as soon as we had heard [these things,] our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, He [is] God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11; underlining mine).

“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31).

“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?” (James 2:25)

Note that these two New Testament passages clearly affirm that Rahab was a true believer. Here is the universal atonement heretic John Calvin on portions of the second chapter of Joshua:

“it is probable that they [“Jericho”–CD] were deceived by some vain imagination that the God of Israel had proved superior in the contest to the gods of Egypt; just as the poets feign that every god has taken some nation or other under his protection, and wars with others, and that thus conflicts take place among the gods themselves while they are protecting their favorites. But the faith of Rahab takes a higher flight, while to the God of Israel alone she ascribes supreme power and eternity. These are the true attributes of Jehovah. She does not dream, according to the vulgar notion, that some one, out of a crowd of deities, is giving his assistance to the Israelites, but she acknowledges that He whose favor they were known to possess is the true and only God. We see, then, how in a case where all received the same intelligence, she, in the application of it, went far beyond her countrymen” (John Calvin; underlining mine).

Calvin says that Rahab’s faith “takes a higher flight” and in this faith “went far beyond her countrymen.” Calvin on Joshua 2:11 (quoted at the top of this blog post):

Here the image of Rahab’s faith appears, as if reflected in a mirror, when casting down all idols she ascribes the government of heaven and earth to the God of Israel alone. For it is perfectly clear that when heaven and earth are declared subject to the God of Israel, there is a repudiation of all the pagan fictions by which the majesty, and power, and glory of God are portioned out among different deities; and hence we see that it is not without cause that two Apostles have honored Rahab’s conduct with the title of faith. This is sneered at by some proud and disdainful men, but I wish they would consider what it is to distinguish the one true God from all fictitious deities, and at the same time so to extol His power as to declare that the whole world is governed at His pleasure. Rahab does not speak hesitatingly, but declares, in absolute terms, that whatever power exists resides in the God of Israel alone, that He commands all the elements, that He orders all things above and below, and determines human affairs” (John Calvin; underlining mine).

Calvin said “the image of Rahab’s faith appears” and that “it is not without cause that two Apostles have honored Rahab’s conduct with the title of faith.” What Calvin gives with one hand, he then here takes away with the other:

Still I deny not that her faith was not fully developed, nay, I readily admit, that it was only a germ of piety which, as yet, would have been insufficient for her eternal salvation. We must hold, nevertheless, that however feeble and slender the knowledge of God which the woman possessed may have been, still in surrendering herself to His power, she gives a proof of her election, and that from that seed a faith was germinating which afterwards attained its full growth” (John Calvin; underlining mine).

By Scripture’s light Calvin is saying that despite the crystal-clarity of Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25, Rahab was unsaved (e.g., “insufficient for her eternal salvation”). To Calvin this “insufficient faith” is nonetheless a seed or “germ of piety” in which faith was germinating, which would eventually attain “its full growth.”

In Calvin’s blinded estimate this “insufficient-for-eternal-salvation-germ-of-piety” is a proof of election. Did Calvin believe that without faith it is impossible to please God? Did Calvin believe that an insufficient “germ of piety” was pleasing or displeasing to God (cf. Hebrews 11:6)? If pleasing, then why “insufficient”? If not pleasing, then why (or how) is insufficient “germinal piety” a “proof of election”? 

Assuming that Calvin affirmed belief in the truth of 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (and other related passages), he would have to force insufficient germs of piety as ALSO being proofs of election.

“knowing, brothers, having been loved, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in [the] Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, even as you know what kind we were among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

Calvin did not interpret Scripture with Scripture. Calvin did not adequately consider the harmony of Joshua 2:11, James 2:25, and Hebrews 11:31. Calvin cavalierly pitted Joshua 2:11 against Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 by assuming that Joshua 2:11 was necessarily an exhaustive description of everything that Rahab knew and believed.