Many outsiders refer to Primitive Baptists as Calvinists. Read on to see just who John Calvin was. First of all, the people of God's church have been called many ugly names over the years. The first ugly word used to describe church members was "Christians" found in Acts 11. The original intent of that name was deragatory, and yet it came to be familiarly associated with followers of Christ. Over the years, from A.D. 100 - 1200, the opponents of God's church referred to them primarily according to the names of various preachers who were dominant at different times, but there were no denomination titles back then as we know it today. Around 1000 A.D., those who continued to adhere to the truths of election (by the Father), redemption (by the Son) and sanctification (by the Spirit) (I Pet.1:2), were called Waldenses, Albigenses - indicative of the dominant family names who preserved and followed the "old paths" of the NT church.
As the Reformation loomed around 1500 A.D., many of the Catholic and Reformed churches referred deragatorily to the mass of non-Catholic and non-Protestant beleivers that existed among the various European countries as "Ana-Baptists", which meant that the hatefully named "Ana-Baptists" would not accept Catholic or Refomed (Protestant) baptism (thus they were ANTI, or AGAINST those Baptisms).
Men like Martin Luther (who PROTESTED the Catholic church, came out and formed the LUTHERAN church) spoke of these mysterious Ana-Baptists who had seemingly existed since the time of Christ and were separate and distinct from a Catholic church background (which was not formed until around 300 A.D.). Another PROTESTER (i.e. - Protestant), was named JOHN CALVIN. He was never a Baptist. He was a Catholic who left the Catholic church and started a new denomination called Presbyterianism (Presbyterians). John Calvin made some good points about what the early NT church taught about ELECTION, PREDESTINATION, REDEMPTION, and other essential parts of the gospel (commonly known as the TULIP doctrines, or 5 POINTS of CALVINISM)
But, as I said, by Calvin's own admission, he was NOT a Baptist, but a PROTESTANT (protester of the Catholic church). Moving into 1600 and 1700 A.D., the "AnaBaptists" began to refer to themselves as "Baptist" and eventually came into America. A split among Baptists occurred in mid-1800s over the man-made establishment of "mission boards" and "sunday schools" and declarations about the gospel being the way to heaven (which was NEVER taught by the early church). The general body of Baptists began to call themselves "Missionary" Baptists, and those who tenaciously clung to the practice and teaching of the church in its original form dubbed themselves "Primitive", "Original" or "Old School" Baptists.
This sounds like a history discussion, and I guess it partly is, but the point I want to make is that even today the church and the truth can be identified by what opponents call it. Many began to refer to Primitive Baptists as "Hardshell" Baptist, partly because they would not budge when it came to teaching anything that was outside the scripture (i.e. like missionaries, sunday schools, auxiliaries, man-made programs, new doctrine, etc.). Once again the church was identified by what outsiders have named her members.
Another name given to PBs is that of "Calvinists". The reason this name is given is because PBs proclaim the doctrines of grace (election, predestination, redemption, etc.), and it sounds somewhat similar to the theology advocated by John Calvin,who was NOT a Baptist, but a Protestant. NO BAPTIST HAS EVER been a part of John Calvin's denomination, but true Baptists, who have maintained these precious truths for 2000 years have an identity that goes back to the days of Christ and the Apostles. John Calvin was a Protestant Reformer who seceded from the Catholic church and started Presbyterianism. Baptists derive their existence from Christ and the Apostles and as such, predate Catholics and have maintained separate existence even through the Dark Ages, hence the name, "Primitive." (Matt. 16:16-18; Eph. 2:20). Finally, I had a guy ask me one time, "Why do you have to have the word BAPTIST on your name?" He spoke deragotorily about the term "Baptist". THis man was greatly more read and educated in the scripture than me, and in my simplicity, I replied, "Well, John was a Baptist, wasn't he?" (i.e. - John the Baptist, the FIRST Baptist). Have you ever seen the papers publish articles about religion and refer to the percentage of the religious world as Catholic and the rest as Protestant. That is a slap in the face to every Baptist, whether Primitive or MIssionary. We never protested and came out of the Catholic church! Our ancestors were put to death for holding to the truths of salvation by grace. If you keep an eye on the scripture and an eye on history, you'll see many things that the religious world of today wants us to forget! Sorry this post is so long, but I hope it is helpful from a historical perspective. Let us not forget our past so we can more clearly see our future!
Continuing in His word,