A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni
Dear John 3

Dear John 3

The following letter is the first installment in what will be a series of letters to John
Calvin. These “Dear John letters” are meant to speak for those who are wrestling with
whether to stay in the Christian Reformed church or divorce the church that they’ve
loved. Rather than trying to solve theological mysteries, these letters are intended to be
a place to live into the questions themselves and wrestle with the joys and challenges
(and let’s just say it: trauma) that can come from being part of a reformed church body
I will sign the letters under the pseudonym “Jane Calvin”, not as a way to hide my
identity, but as a symbol of a new voice in reformed theology – one whose purpose is to
speak for those who feel their voices have been left out in reformed circles since the
Reformation. It’s also intended to unearth the softer side of John and Calvinism.
Maybe together we can discover that although he had a lot to say, John Calvin left some
room for mystery too. Dare I say he would be considered a Christian Reformed Mystic?
By “mystic” I mean someone who had powerful personal encounters with the Holy Spirit
even while wrestling himself with his faith? Let’s find out.

Lisa A. DeYoung, DMin student
a.k.a Jane Calvin

Dear John,

I’ve been reading more lately about your life and history.  We have a professor here at Calvin Seminary that has made your history more accessible in a short volume called, An Explorer’s Guide to John Calvin.  I find it fascinating to read about how the Protestant Reformation unfolded and evolved.  I discovered that you used a pseudonym for your own writing, “Charles d’Espeville”, when you felt you were in danger for your Protestant views and fled to the South of France.  And of course we know that this was just the beginning of your troubles.  

Honestly, this makes me feel a bit foolish, as I’m using a pseudonym just for fun and have never actually felt that my life was in danger for my religious views.  I feel grateful for the freedom to write and to ask questions, yet I too know the fear in my gut that comes when I feel I’ve said something that others will find offensive or written a question that might lead some to cry, “heretic!”  

I’ve often wondered what would happen in our modern-day church community if we found ourselves under actual persecution – the kind where our lives were at stake.  Most of us can’t even imagine this, let alone imagine what we would do in the situation.  I’ve often used the analogy that if we all-of-a-sudden found ourselves together in a burning building or in an earthquake (you name the crisis situation…) or face to face with guns pointed at our heads, we probably wouldn’t consider the arguments we are currently wasting time on, but we’d help each other to safety.  For the purpose of example, let’s just say that during Synod, 2023, an active shooter entered Calvin’s Fine Arts Center (heaven forbid) and threatened to unleash his or her fury on us for creating such a division in the church.  Would our first thoughts be, “But I’m really not sure the Bible says…” or “Wait just a minute, we have to figure this thing out…”?

I hope this sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me.  I hope that our first thought would be, “Lord, save us!” and then almost as quickly, “How can I help everyone to be safe?!”  AND YET, back in your day, a man named Michael Servetus held so strongly to his beliefs about the Trinity that he was willing to die and be burned at the stake over his disagreement with you!  

So, maybe my analogy isn’t all that helpful after all.  But maybe it can help to focus how strongly we would cling to our arguments.  Would we be willing to sacrifice our lives or the lives of others in order to be right about who we believe God to be?  History tells us we wouldn’t be the first to do so, and in fact, it seems that people were often respected for being martyred over things like this and frankly revered for putting others to death.  I can hear the echos of Paul stoning Stephen over what he thought was Biblical and right.  I hear the Jews chanting, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!” certain that what they were doing was appropriate in the situation with Jesus.  

John, I wonder, after all this time if you’d look back and say it was all worth it.  Would you regret anything at all?  Does the death of Michael Servetus still bother you?  Afterall, the tables could have been reversed and it could have been your head on the chopping block in Paris when your views seemed too radical for the Roman Catholic environment you were in.  Would the arguments be worth it?  Or would you say now that you wished you could have all drank from the Spiritual well and found peace and joy in community with one another?  

I’d like to think that the reflection of God’s grace on this earth is still found in the fruits of the Spirit.  Where we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is where we find God.  I realize this is easier said than done, but in my naivete I’d still like to think that this is the place where we would find one another if we committed to drinking from the same Spiritual well.  , 

Honestly John, I’d rather not see history repeat itself.  I’m praying for a better way.

Your sister in Christ,



  1. Have you ever considered publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  2. Thanks so much for giving everyone an extremely marvellous possiblity to read from this blog. It can be very nice and stuffed with a great time for me personally and my office fellow workers to search your web site nearly thrice per week to find out the newest guides you will have. Not to mention, I am just always satisfied concerning the exceptional tactics you serve. Selected 3 ideas on this page are certainly the most effective we have all ever had.

  3. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  4. I am no longer certain the place you’re getting your information, however good topic. I must spend a while finding out more or figuring out more. Thanks for magnificent information I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  5. I have recently started a blog, the information you offer on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. “Her grandmother, as she gets older, is not fading but rather becoming more concentrated.” by Paulette Bates Alden.

  6. Hiya! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My site covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  7. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  8. obviously like your website however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to tell the reality however I?¦ll certainly come back again.

  9. I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  10. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely fantastic. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a terrific website.

  11. Just desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  12. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back sometime soon. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

  13. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

  14. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more on this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next! Many thanks!

  15. jk

    One other important issue is that if you are a senior citizen, travel insurance for pensioners is something you must really take into consideration. The more aged you are, the more at risk you’re for getting something poor happen to you while in another country. If you are not covered by a few comprehensive insurance policy, you could have some serious issues. Thanks for giving your hints on this web site.

  16. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *