PDF ISBN: Mobipocket ISBN: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Piper, John, –. John Calvin. by. John Calvin. Page 2. About The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Title. Author: John Calvin. Release Date: February 24, [Ebook ]. Language : English. ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK. INSTITUTES OF.

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Generic. Bible, commentary, history and more are linked to this page. The Theology of John Calvin. Part One: The Christian's. Conflict with the World. Churchman /2 Adrian Hallett. 1. The Origins, Order and Purpose of the . jOHN CALVIN. CHAPTER I. The Unfolding of the Purpose. WHEN God has a great work to accom- plish by human instrumentality, He pre- pares the stage and .

His mother, who died early, was a truly humble woman about whom little is known other than her zeal for pilgrimages. Calvin had four brothers and two sisters, most of whom are later found in the reform camp. Calvin admired his somewhat authoritarian father and profited from this aspiring man who tried to raise himself from a humble background to moving in educated circles, even that of the elegant family of de Hangest-Genlis. His studies were financed by generous ecclesiastical benefices that soon made it possible for him to enjoy instruction in famous Parisian schools.

The spiritual atmosphere of the capital city was largely determined by the wavering political course of the king, Francis I. In , Francis had attained from Pope Leo X the right of nominating all bishops.

That brought, at least in principle, a close interaction between the ruler and the Catholic Church. Despite the subsequent condemnation in by the Faculty of Theology or more precisely the Sorbonne of Lutheran teachings, the Catholic reform party for years did not retract in any way its sympathy for the German reformer.

Cordier conveyed to Calvin a piety centered on the person of Christ in the spirit of the devotio moderna and on the foundation of a contemporary teaching method. In Calvin dedicated a biblical commentary to Cordier and in obtained a position at the Genevan Latin School for him.

In even the Scottish philosopher and theologian John Major, who was formerly conciliatory about criticizing the pope, emerged as an opponent of Luther. Under these circumstances, Calvin studied the liberal arts but probably not scholastic theology behind the protective walls of Montaigu. No document allows the historian to conjecture about any reactions from the fourteen- to eighteen-year-old to these events.

He moved at the behest of his father who, after a falling out with the cathedral chapter of Noyon, decided John would pursue the career of a lawyer instead of a cleric. The son obeyed. Most likely he responded with great discernment. Olivetan pursued his biblical studies, we assume, even more intensely than his legal subjects with the result that he was able to produce his own independent translation of the Bible into French in Calvin wrote two forewords to this translation in which explicit anti-Roman emphases are readily found.

But in , matters had not yet gone that far. Calvin was still searching and struggling to reconcile humanist reform with loyalty to his teachers who were very faithful to the church.

In this writing of Calvin, one searches in vain for any polemical utterances against the Roman Church. Calvin exchanged ideas with him and enjoyed listening to him. It is not until his writings of that there is clear evidence of a turning-point. But a welcome counter-balance for the accused was the equally influential sister of the king, Marguerite of Navarre.

But Calvin did not remain in Bourges for long. There he learned that his father was seriously ill. The family was forced to carry out humiliating negotiations with the cathedral officials to make a church burial for the deceased possible. Once more Calvin experienced the inflexible conduct of clergy who were scarcely able to differentiate between worldly and spiritual power.

At that time Calvin himself defended the notions of freedom of conscience for the Christian and of tolerance as a special virtue of rulers. Inner freedom and joy are mentioned here, not a fundamental rejection of vows or life in a cloister. In the Seneca commentary, which Calvin dedicated to Claude de Hangest, abbot of St-Eloi in Noyon, the young jurist unfolded a theory of moderation and tolerance that every ruler — the Stoic as well as the Christian — should exercise in fulfilling his office.

He is indeed the servant of the merciful God to assure order and general welfare in society. Calvin offers not only extensive knowledge of the Old and New Testaments quotes in a booklet of only fifty-one pages! The learned jurist shows himself to be a confident theologian and controversialist, which he had become not by attending schools of higher learning, but by private study and reading the sources.

The reform party had seemed to gain the upper hand in A significant incident occurred after the events following a speech the rector, Cop, made on the Feast of All Saints in at the opening of the academic year. Cop was a physician; however, his speech had a spiritual and theological character. Who was behind this speech? Scholarly opinions differ. Some attribute to Calvin merely an advisory role; others think that Calvin wrote the speech himself; and others attribute to Cop, the Erasmian physician, a time of private study and a competence in theology similar to the young jurist.

One thing is certain: Calvin felt solidarity with Cop and was able to affirm his statements. At any rate, the reaction of the opposition affected Calvin exactly as it did the university rector: both found themselves in that constantly shifting middle ground of loyalty to the church and a desire for reform. In the eyes of the Sorbonne occupying middle ground still meant schism and heresy.

by Jeff D. Warrick (April 2009)

He read the church fathers along with the Bible. He gladly accepted material help from a churchman like du Tillet, while denouncing the income he had drawn since childhood for a completely fictitious Noyon pastorate. This letter testifies not only that our self-taught theologian already considered himself capable of passing judgment on matters of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, but also that he harbored no sense of inferiority towards such a famous man as the reformer of Strasbourg.

In October, , a crisis affecting church and state erupted. Thus there came a new wave of persecution, with imprisonments and executions. Calvin found himself forced to leave France. In January, , he met with du Tillet and Cop in evangelical Basle. There existed in Basle at that time a healthy pluralism in matters of faith regarding reform.

Erasmus lived there in seclusion. Oswald Myconius, a former colleague of Zwingli, led the community that between and received a well-structured and balanced reform of its church order under the direction of the monk Johannes Oeclampadius, who had become a Lutheran. Myconius wrote a corresponding profession of faith in , but sought to gain its acceptance in an ecumenical spirit. He intended to mediate between the positions of Lutherans and Zwinglians — and Erasmians, too.

Calvin preferred the theology of Luther during his stay in Basle. One can only marvel at how quickly this theological compendium — a kind of expanded catechism for educated adults — was written. Even more admirable is the biblical, patristic, and reformed theological documentation, as well as the treatment of sources chosen according to a specific viewpoint. The Institutes was immediately a bestseller.

It went through numerous, expanded editions in Latin , , , , and French , , , The final Latin edition was five times larger than the first. Thus the entire work had a clearly anti-Roman emphasis and contained pronouncements critical of the papacy. In reality, a comparable turn for Calvin took place gradually over several years. The successful formulation of reform theology soon led to a corresponding praxis.

Guillaume Farel, who had led the reform in Geneva with the help of the city council and in part through the use of force as well, felt overwhelmed by the emerging chaos. He pleaded with the now famous Calvin to stand at his side in the difficult work of leading the community.

Calvin began his activity with lectures on the letters of Paul. He also participated in the Lausanne Disputation in October, , between reform theologians and those faithful to Rome.

The reputation of the young man from Noyon, whose theological and legal knowledge — as well as his gift for controversy — had proven highly useful to the reform camp, continued to grow.

The Institutes - John Calvin.pdf

Bucer wrote in a friendly way that he wanted to meet him and would leave it to him to choose the proper place. Calvin himself never wanted to be an ordained pastor, even though he knew he was called to the pastoral office through the Word and sacrament as the content of his reform activities. This resistance prepared the way for the crisis in Geneva in that would lead to an open break between the council and Calvin.

Caroli had become a pastor in Lausanne without agreeing with his reform colleagues on all questions of religious faith and practice. Caroli allowed prayer for the deceased and criticized the doctrine of the Trinity advocated by Viret, the reformer of Lausanne, as well as by Farel and Calvin. Caroli considered their doctrine of the Trinity to be inconsistent with the Athanasian Creed the Quicumque Symbol , and in reality to be Arian. Calvin suggested a synod be called, a response that fit the tenet he advocated his entire life that dogmatic disputes be decided by gatherings of pastors.

Other events caused Calvin pain. His good friend and patron, Louis du Tillet, left him because it was impossible for him to approve the manner in which Calvin took on priestly and even episcopal duties.

Calvin, however, saw the reason for the separation, which was very painful for him, to be due more to his being outspoken and impolite to du Tillet. The correspondence in this matter shows how capable Calvin was of self-criticism.

Calvin also displayed inflexibility toward the Genevan council when it meddled in church affairs and wanted to give preference to the ritual for church services imported from Berne rather than that prepared by the Genvan pastors. Since Calvin and Farel did not give in, a public conflict resulted and both church leaders were expelled from the city. They left for Basle in the spring of On the one hand he definitely recognized deficiencies in his ability to communicate; on the other hand, he identified his own views with the cause of God.

But this does not at all preclude their subjective behavior being burdened by grave errors. Calvin was so aware of such errors after his expulsion from Geneva that he even doubted the genuineness of his calling to pastoral ministry.

Of course, he did not allow this doubt to be expressed by anyone else, such as du Tillet. Once again, help came from Strasbourg. His calling was undeniably real, as well as the extraordinary talent that accompanied it. This calling must be followed, but not necessarily in Geneva; it could also be in Strasbourg. Calvin agreed and accepted the charge of the French-speaking pastorate in the Alsatian capital city. This allowed Calvin to practice in a small way what had been unsuccessful for him in Geneva.

Moreover, he had sufficient time to steep himself in his private theological studies. From this followed, of course, as in Basle, the unusually fast transition from reading to writing, from learning to teaching. An eloquent example of this is the writing of a second, expanded edition of the Institutes in Latin. Many in Geneva had lost the certainty they needed to carry out the reform.

Would it not have been better and more beneficial for the saving of souls to maintain unity with the pope and the bishops?

The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin

Did not heretics and schismatics also oppose the church in Rome? Thus these pastors were mangling the body and bride of Christ. Calvin did so quickly and with theological mastery.

As a result it is the Romans who are the schismatics. Calvin prefers to see the group faithful to Rome as a corrupting and corrupted faction among other parts of the church.

The dispute about ecclesiastical authenticity and falsehood is occurring within an indivisible community. Even under the papacy the church possesses baptism, the Word of the gospel, the texts of Scripture, and the offices.

John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait

The notion of a consensus holding sway everywhere and forever, as adopted by Sadolet, is inadequate. Do the evangelicals spread new teachings?

The pope should not be allowed to boast of the heathen title pontifex, introduced much later; rather, he must confess and teach an unadorned faith in Christ as Peter did. If the pope were to do that, the evangelicals would not refuse to offer obedience. Later, one also finds similar considerations in the Institutes. Unfortunately, nothing of the kind can be found at present; the pontifex maximus exercises a tyrannical rule and further distorts the true identity of the church.

Therein lies the schism that can only be regretted by all true Christians. What Calvin and Luther before him demands is a return to church unity based on the truth. Calvin saw his calling willed by God as much as that of Luther or Bucer who, unlike Calvin, were ordained priests. This thought calls to mind the fundamental experience of the Old Testament prophets and their extraordinary commission for the renewal of the people according to the word and will of Yahweh.

In his letter Calvin actually proposes a comparison between his own destiny and that of the prophets who often had to accuse the priests and then were persecuted by them as a result. The prophets were indeed the reformers of the church before Christ. The bishop of Carpentras had to admit defeat. Calvin was recalled by the Genevans. Before he returned, however, two important events occurred: Calvin married and made a closer acquaintance with the German reformers through several colloquies.

As far as the thirty-year-old Calvin was concerned, he would — according to his own admission — rather have remained unmarried.

But Bucer insisted on marriage. The marriage was blessed by Guillaume Farel. Idelette brought with her two children from her first marriage. The family had very limited living space at their disposal, since Calvin had arranged student living quarters in his Strasbourg house to increase somewhat his meager income.

The marriage was to last nine years. However, the child died while still an infant. The reformer, who had grown fond of his wife and welcomed the birth of his child with great joy, felt despondent. If anything serious had happened to me, she would not only have been ready to accompany me into exile and poverty, but even death.

As long as she lived, she was a true helper in my office. The primary participants on the Roman side were the papal nuncio and theologians like Eck and Gropper. On the evangelical side, Melanchthon and Bucer played a considerable role. The colloquies took place in Frankfurt in , in Hagenau in , and in Worms and Regensburg in In Regensburg the theologians succeeded in achieving accord on the themes of original sin, freedom of the will, and justification.

A great ecumenical opportunity was missed. From the very beginning Calvin was skeptical about these attempts and considered the proposed formulas of compromise to be questionable.

According to Calvin, they represented a misleading and fictitious consensus.

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Therefore, Calvin left the Regensburg colloquy early. It appears the real benefit of these colloquies for Calvin was that he became better acquainted with Melanchthon. Both theologians remained bound to each other in mutual esteem for years. Without reservation Calvin approved of the Augsburg Confession Confessio augustana variata which originated from the pen of his German colleague. Calvin might also have been able to meet Luther, but he did not participate in the doctrinal discussions mentioned above.

Calvin understood no German and Luther no French, so correspondence between them was possible only in Latin. Indeed, the only letter the Frenchman, younger by twenty-six years, wrote to the German never arrived. Melanchthon refrained from delivering it since, in part, he feared a negative reaction from the recipient because of its theologically controversial content. That was unfortunate. Accordingly they showed themselves to be generous.

He made it clear to the council that he wanted only to serve the common good, but to do that it was necessary to achieve unity about a clearly formulated church order. His quickly written Ecclesiastical Ordinances exhibits a successful synthesis of the positions of the first Genevan church order and elements of the Strasbourg and Basle patterns, especially in the structure of the four offices: pastor, teacher, elder, and deacon.

Pastors are appointed for the ministry of preaching the Word of God and administering the sacraments. They exercise their responsibility for teaching and discipline in a collegial manner, in the form of the Company of Pastors Compagnie des pasteurs. Along with the Bible study, there is also consultation over matters of pastoral care as well as a brotherly examination every three months, i.

The Company chose its new members from those who were nominated by the city council and recommended by agreement of the entire community. Certainly that cannot be called a democratic procedure of voting in the modern sense of the term. Instead, pastors took an oath before the council. Academic instruction and theological training of future pastors is the task of teachers.


Holders of this office also require nomination by the council. Later, Calvin expanded the educational program by establishing an academy, entrusted to the teachers, which was structured like a university in which theology no longer stood alone. The supervision of the moral life of community members was entrusted to the elders or presbyters. They were twelve in number and were chosen from the members of the various civil councils and then elected by them. Along with the pastors they formed the Consistory, to which both the secular and ecclesiastical leadership of the city-state were obligated.

At the beginning the Consistory recognized no clear separation between the two areas of control. Only from on was Calvin successful in opening the group of elders to people other than members of the councils. However, the chairmanship of the Consistory fell to one of the syndics.

The Consistory met every Thursday to examine moral misconduct and to impose penalties. The fourth office was that of deacon. Their duty was to administer community resources on the one hand, and to care for the sick, the poor, and the elderly on the other.

Thus Calvin built on the ministry of charity of the ancient church and reformed an office that had shrunk to a mere liturgical function in the Roman community. Therefore, this text is certainly not valid in a social context in which worldly power lies in Christian hands. Thus, in extreme cases, every death penalty can be theologically justified. This of course corresponded to the penal authority of Emperor Charles V, which was carried out even more radically in areas faithful to Rome.

Servetus in particular is the focus of events that weigh heavily on the reputation of the Genevan reformer even in the eyes of Reformed people today. In his treatise, Whether Heretics Should Be Persecuted De haereticis, an sint persequendi , published in , one year after Servetus was burned at the stake, Castellio proved even at that time that a theory of toleration could be developed on the foundation of the Christian gospel.

It is pointless here to go into the chain of events that led to this. All the biographies of the reformer report it in detail. Only a few facts need to be considered. The dispute was initiated by the teaching of Servetus on the Trinity. Calvin saw in this opinion a deadly threat to faith in Christ. Since this was also the position of the Inquisition based in Lyon, still faithful to Rome, the result was cooperation between the Inquisition and the Genevan church leadership.

The reformer did not want to bear alone the responsibility for this act. He requested verdicts from the sister communities of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Schaffhausen: all supported the sentence.

Bullinger and Haller emphatically sanctioned the death penalty. Melanchthon subsequently agreed as well. For all these great leaders of the reform camp there existed no freedom of conscience to affirm a doctrine that deviated from theirs.

The question of freedom was raised in Geneva at this time in a more collective way. It concerned the right of the ecclesiastical structure, narrowly defined, i. Thus Calvin never tired of demanding a specifically ecclesiastical moral discipline — especially of excommunication, i.

Moreover, Calvin was concerned about the self-determination of the Genevan community in relation to the more powerful Bernese which tried again and again to force its own laws onto other sister communities, including the regulation of the order of church services. Not many Genevans supported these endeavors. The city guards had to intervene.

Bloodshed was avoided; but after a short trial, four of the instigators had to pay for the deed with their lives.

Perrin and his friends fled. For example, every luxury in goods and clothing had to be repressed and public theaters closed their doors. On the other hand, there was a successful advance in social conditions and the economy. Practical results occurred from the combination of three values characteristic of the reformer: vocation as a divine calling, work, and welfare.

In addition, Calvin allowed the charging of interest in moderation in order to form capital. The textile industry was promoted and many unemployed found work. He did not make a distinction between a concern about a dignified standard of living and its promotion through planned financial commerce. The Genevan council was grateful to the reformer: in , it finally offered him citizenship.

In the field of education, Calvin achieved just as much success. Calvin held that miracles were divinely ordained "seals" of the gospel and "true" doctrine JCR, "Prefatory Letter," sec. In this role, they facilitated the knowledge of God by the testifying of those who mediated the Word of God.

In the ministry of Moses, suggested Calvin, God used miracles to commend his servant as an "undoubted prophet" through whom he established the divine law ICR 1. To this degree, the miraculous activity of the apostles was a "temporal gift," which conirmed their role in establishing the church and airmed the teachings of Christ ICR 4. Calvin believed that the miraculous still occuled in his day but not in the same form as found with the apostles. Present in Calvin's definition is the early Protestant tendency to orient the works of God in the revelation of the Son.

The French Reformer's critique that his Catholic counterparts "corrupted the works of God, by separating his word from miracles," should e understood in light of this [Hm. Nevertheless, Calvin's insistence on what he called the "eicacy of [Christ's word" in the miraculous led him to emphasize the spiritual implications of Jesus's [Comm. In this, the French Reformer relected the common tendency of 55 1 of 2 Jun Ordering the spiritual before the corporeal in his interpretation, Calvin allowed for [Comm.

Calvin did not neglect the historical, physical implications of miracles. They served as earthly testimonies to the person of Christ. His miraculous works had the effect of forcing unbelieving Jewish leaders to declare cleansed those whom Christ healed and therefore to indirectly witness to his lordship ICR 3.

He dismissed such a belief as a "delusion Commemary on the Gospel according to John. Translated by William Pringle. Grand Rapids, ll: Baker, Calvin, John. Commentary on the Harmony of the Evangelists. Grand Rapids, Ml:Among her books is Seminary or University? Faith rests on knowledge, knowledge not only of God, but also of his divine will.

We look only to the Lords blessings for prosperity. These regulations vested the administration of the church in four groups of officers: pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons, generally specifying the duties of each, and establishing a "consistory," made up of the pastors and elders, to bring every aspect of Genevan life under God's law. But this does not at all preclude their subjective behavior being burdened by grave errors.

As we turn away from him we turn away from our own salvation. When we see humans apart from God seemingly do good things, we ought to attribute that to Gods reigning in of their base desires like a bridle.