John Calvin’s View of God’s Love and the Doctrine of Reprobation – by C. Matthew McMahon


Everyone wants Calvin on “their side” when it comes to theological matters. What did Calvin actually teach concerning God’s love and the reprobation of the wicked? Are these two ideas compatible?


John Calvin’s View of God’s Love and the Doctrine of Reprobation by C. Matthew McMahon

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A central theme of Christian theology is not only the orthodox doctrine of God as Triune, but the manner in which this Triune God works in the hearts of men as Sovereign Ruler and Supreme King. This work deals with understanding the relationship between God’s love and the reprobation of the wicked, aiding the reader to understand more simply the view of the Reformation’s brightest Reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564), within an otherwise daunting topic.

In this analysis of John Calvin’s view of God’s love and the biblical doctrine of reprobation, C. Matthew McMahon (A Puritan’s Mind Founder) explores Calvin’s thoughts concerning reconciling God’s love and the damnation of the reprobate. McMahon explains Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation, centering on understanding the difference between the will of God’s decree and the precepts of God’s word. Also analyzed is Calvin’s view of God’s providence as Supreme Ruler over creation, Calvin’s view of hardening the reprobate’s heart, and his view of the Gospel call when the reprobate are called to repent and believe the Gospel.

Annexed to this analysis is an overview and introduction to Calvin’s treatise on reprobation, initially published in 1558 as, “Concerning the Secret Providence of God,” (contained as an appendix to this work) demonstrating articles that Calvin refuted against Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563) who attempted to revile the Reformer and the biblical position of predestination.

C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D., Th.D., is a Reformed theologian, and pastor of Grace Chapel in Crossville, TN. He is the founder and chairman of A Puritan’s Mind, the largest Reformed website on the internet for students of the Bible concerning Reformed Theology, the Puritans and Covenant Theology. He is the founder of Puritan Publications which publishes rare Reformed and Puritan works from the 17th century, specializing in the Westminster Assembly. He is also a managing partner at, and the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.