In Death By Love Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears write:
James Arminius was John Calvin’s son-in-law and greatly appreciated Calvin. He said that, after the Scriptures, he believed Calvin’s writings to be the most profitable study for God’s people. Therefore, the acrimony that sometimes flares up between Calvinists and Arminians need not be so if the examples of Calvin and Arminius are followed by their followers (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008; p. 170).
This is historical nonsense. Calvin married the widow Idellete de Bure in 1540. She brought to the marriage two children, a son and a daughter.1 Jean and Idellette were married for nine years. In that time she bore him a son, Jacques, who, in 1542, died in infancy.2 Idellete herself died in 1549 leaving Calvin a widower. Even if he had a surviving daughter, she would have been born in the early 1540s. Arminius was born in 1560. Calvin’s hypothetical (biological) daughter would have been about 47 when Arminius married. That’s unlikely and, as it happened, contrary to fact. Arminius married the daughter of a prominent merchant in 1590.
There are solid biographies of both Calvin and Arminius, so there’s no reason for such sloppiness.2 I’ve been waiting for someone else to say something about this blunder since it was first brought to my attention in 2011. So far as I know, only two other people have said anything about it. Why so? Perhaps it’s the case that the people who would know that Arminius didn’t marry Calvin’s daughter don’t read such books? 3
1. T. H. L. Parker, John Calvin: A Biography (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), 72.
2. Ibid, 101–02.
3. Ironically, an Arminian critic of Driscoll, who also notes the improbability of the claimed marriage, repeats the claim that Theodore Beza (1519–1605) married Calvin’s daughter. This is also incorrect. Calvin had no surviving biological children. Beza married twice, once in 1548 and again, in 1600 but in neither instance did he marry anyone related to Calvin. This claim, apparently repeated in Arminian circles, that Beza married Calvin’s daughter seems to be the most likely source of the mistake by Driscoll and Breshears. They substituted Arminius for Beza and piled error on top of error.
Extracted and revised from this earlier HB post.
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