Quiz: John Calvin Quote or Metal Lyrics?

By Jack Holloway

The time of the Reformation was revolutionary in many ways. One of those ways was in rhetoric and writing style. Martin Luther mostly wrote pamphlets intended for mass production, so that anyone could pick them up and become a theologian. His writing style was not like that of many scholastic theologians. Luther knew how to keep it real. He was compelling because he was down-to-earth, personal, and passionate.

And, indeed, when you read Luther, all of that comes through. It makes him a very accessible read. However, Luther is not exactly known for beautiful prose. He was definitely better at composing an insult than poetry.

John Calvin, on the other hand, wrote beautifully. His writings are filled with powerful imagery, and arresting language. When Luther picked up a dark or negative subject, he certainly wrote with passion and zeal, but when Calvin picked up a dark or negative subject, he wrote in a style that can appropriately be deemed hardcore.

So, when I threw a 500th anniversary reformation party last week, I put together a little game that highlighted this aspect of Calvin’s work. I collected a handful of quotes from Calvin’s Institutes, and then a handful of Metal lyrics, and created this quiz. Read each quote and guess whether it is a Calvin quote, or Metal lyrics.

Feel free to comment with your favorite hardcore Calvin quotes, or your favorite Calvin-esque Metal lyrics!

(1) “Those men who wish to exalt themselves as gods will beg for a taste of mercy; Our ears will fall deaf to their cries.”

(2) “A knowledge that is so certain it has been locked away, here it dwells, draped in the void, the very flesh of darkness, where the unholiest caress their nightmare.”

(3) “Our shameful nakedness exposes a teeming ward of infamies.”

(4) “The human mind is a sink and lurking place for every sort of filth.”

(5) “The sickness is sweet, a momentary lapse of instant relief. The hand of death is well fed, by the willing and faithful.”

(6) “Where every sinner will meet his fate, the place is cursed by the hands of doom.”

(7) “Lay your torches on every museum, filled with dead monstrosities, the superstitious veneration.”

(8) “Our nature is not only destitute and empty of good, but so fertile and fruitful of every evil that it cannot be idle.”

(9) “We are unruly beasts driven by desire. And we delight in our filth.”

(10) “Only damnable things come forth from man’s corrupt nature.”

(11) “Unhappy consciences find no rest from being troubled and tossed by a terrible whirlwind, torn asunder by a hostile Deity, pierced and lanced by deadly darts, quaking at God’s lightning bolt. It would be more bearable to go down into any bottomless depths and chasms than to stand for a moment in these terrors.”

(12) “As a culture, we tread crooked in the brume of unrest. As a culture, we careen down a narrow path, overgrown with blight. As a culture, we trample over the disharmony of nature’s decline. As a culture, we are rank with the miasma of oppression.”

(13) “Surely, just as waters boil up from a vast, full spring, so does an immense crowd of gods flow forth from the human mind.”

(14) “Man is an heir of wrath, subject to the curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, beyond every blessing, the slave of Satan, captive under sin, destined for destruction.”

(15) “Watch the world fall to its knees, full of sins as they beg for peace.”



(1) Metal (Inter Arma)

(2) Metal [sunnO)))]

(3) Calvin

(4) Calvin

(5) Metal (Graves at Sea)

(6) Metal (Candlemass)

(7) Metal (Thou)

(8) Calvin

(9) Metal (Thou)

(10) Calvin

(11) Calvin

(12) Metal (Inter Arma)

(13) Calvin

(14) Calvin

(15) Metal (Pentagram)


Jack Holloway studies Karl Barth and protestant theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Swimmy says:

    I only missed 2.

    But, Luther was an amazing hymnwriter. Give him a little bit of credit!

    Liked by 1 person

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