18.  John Calvin and
the Reformed Tradition:  I

Who was John Calvin?

How was it that Calvin came to making Geneva, Switzerland, the center of the Reformed Movement? How was Calvin's Reformed Movement closely related to the mindset of the newly emerging European "middle class" of  townsmen? How did this cause a new "democratic" spirit to grow up as part of Calvin's Reformed Movement?
  • Calvin gave a theological excuse to the well educated, well-read urban middle class for their independent-mindedness.  Unlike Luther, Calvin pushed to its fullest extent the protestant idea of respecting authority (including even political or governmental authority) only when it could show Scriptural justification (sola scriptura) for itself.
  • In fact Calvin encouraged Christians to build new governments and societies as a way of cleansing Christianity of its corruption--and of bringing glory to God in Jesus Christ.
  • Furthermore Calvin insisted that Christians not only had the right to have God alone as ruler over them--they had the Christian duty to see that this was the case.  Calvin warned that any earthly lord or king who placed himself between them and God above was going to be a real evil in their new relationship with God--and in their "covenantal" life with each other as the new Christian church and society--or "commonwealth"  To be true to God, they had to get rid of such evil.
  • This is something that Luther had resisted strongly--as he demonstrated in his violent opposition to the peasant revolt in Germany.  Thus it was that the citizens of the new cities looked to Calvin's rather than Luther's version of the protestant or reformed movement as they began to remake their world.
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    Miles H. Hodges - 2002