Thursday, January 26

Luther and Calvin on Islam

John Calvin in a sermon on Deuteronomy 18:15 maintained that Muhammad was one of “the two horns of antichrist.” In his commentaries on Daniel (7: 7-18), Calvin put forward the theory that the Muslim Turks were the little horn that sprang up from the beast. As the Turks had conquered much of the old Roman Empire, much of the prophecies concerning Rome could apply to the Muslim world. He believed that Islam was one of the two legs of the later Roman Empire described in Daniel 2.

In expounding Daniel 9, Martin Luther noted that among others, the prophet Daniel was talking about the Muslim Turks, who at the time were invading Europe, “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation... He will cause deceit to prosper and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” Of Daniel 9: 23-25, Luther wrote that the “two regimes, that of the Pope and that of the Turk, are... antichrist.”

Commenting on Daniel 11:37, Calvin wrote that Muhammad “allowed to men the brutal liberty of chastising their wives and thus he corrupted that conjugal love and fidelity which binds the husband to the wife... Mohammad allowed full scope to various lusts--by permitting a man to have a number of wives... Mohammad invented a new form of false religion.”

Luther noted that Christ warned about false prophets coming from the desert (Matthew 24: 24-26) and this certainly included Muhammad. Commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-12, Calvin wrote, “the sect of Mohammad was like a raging overflow, which in its violence tore away about half of the church.” In his commentary on 1 John 2: 18-23, Calvin states that the Turks “have a mere idol in place of God.”

In a sermon on 2 Timothy 1:3, Calvin explained, ”The Turks at this day, can allege and say for themselves: ‘We serve God from our ancestors!’ ... It is a good while ago since Mahomet gave them the cup of his devilish dreams to drink, and they got drunk with them. It is about a thousand years since those cursed hellhounds were made drunk with their follies... Let us be wise and discreet! For otherwise, we shall be like the Turks and Heathen!”

Luther observed from 1 John 2: 18-22 and 4: 1-3, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.” Of 1 John 2: 22 he wrote that Muslims “deny both the Fatherhood of God and the Deity of Christ--hence they are liars. They testify against the truth of God’s Word.” On 1 John 4: 3-6, he wrote “but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus, is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist... this is how we recognize the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” He observed that the Muslims ultimately want “to eradicate the Christians.”

Not much ambivalence there--not that Luther or Calvin were ever really ambivalent about anything!


covenantpromise said...

Dr. Grant,

The two pillars of the reformation have spoken. There comments were made 500 years ago. Maybe my perspective on history is nearsighted, but it seems like things have gotten worse with regard to the Muslim impact on the world rather than better since the time of the reformation. I know we have been called to advance the kingdom of God bearing the keys of the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel rather than through the edge of the sword. What kind of vision should the church have to refute and vanquish Islam? I long for the day when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Jason Parolini

Stephen said...

Dr. Grant said "Of Daniel 9:23-25, Luther wrote that the “two regimes, that of the Pope and that of the Turk, are... antichrist.”"

So is your next post going to be on the subject of the evils of the Pope, since Luther said he is the antichrist? Or am I misunderstanding Luther's comment?

(I'm sorry if this sounds rude, that is not my intent.)

gileskirk said...

Stephen: My point in this post was quite obviously to show that the perspective of many Christian apologists today regarding the inherent danger of Islam is a very historic perspective and not one trumped up in the heat of a nationalistic fever following 9/11. That's all.

gileskirk said...

Jason: Well, you're precisely right, it is necessary for believers to begin to understand the power of the Gospel to not only change individual lives and families, but also whole communities, nations, and epochs. In addition, it is necessary that we recognize where the real impediments to peace actually are in the world and focus our gracious and merciful outreaches there. In short, we are to "run toward the roar" rather than away from it.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Would it be possible for me to quote your post in its entirity on my blog?


Lawrence Underwood said...

Please pardon my spelling. I was a bit tired when I wrote.

gileskirk said...

Lawrence: Yes, by all means. Reproduce away!

Parkwood House Group said...

Try again. My Turkish lessons are coming along nicely. After nearly 18 months of meeting 3-4 times a month with a charming young couple here on a student visa, my "skills" are rudimentary, but my good-faith efforts have won friends.

Seriously, folks, very few foreign students get invited into an American home during their time studying here. Turks are friendly people, who could often use a little help with their English.

Your opportunity awaits! (BTW -- Turkish is a quirky, but interesting language. "You people can sure pack a lot into one little verb," I commented the other day!)

I'd appreciate your prayers, folks, for my two friends, that they may encounter the Jesus of the Bible.

Unknown said...

Dr. Maarten Luther and John. Calvin were send by God to make us wise in the Holy Scripts Jeremiah 3:15.