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Jean Calvin (1509-1564) The Clerical State. Life Theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation Was raised in a aristocratic milieu 1523: began.

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Presentation on theme: "Jean Calvin (1509-1564) The Clerical State. Life Theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation Was raised in a aristocratic milieu 1523: began."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jean Calvin (1509-1564) The Clerical State

2 Life Theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation Was raised in a aristocratic milieu 1523: began the studies to ecclesiastic career Interrupted (because of his father) studies of theology to learn Law 1532: Humanistic studies, publication of a critical edition with commentary of Seneca’s De clementia

3 Take officially distance from French church. 1534: After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin left France for Basel (Switzerland) 1536: publication of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. The book had great success and impact.

4 Calvin was recruited by William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva. “actus non, agens” 1538: The people of Geneva and the city council refused the Calvin and Farel's ideas, and they were both expelled. He went to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees.

5 1540: Married Idelette de Bure (who died in 1549) Calvin was so caught up in his labors that he did not seem to consider marriage until age 30 or so. He asked friends to help him find a woman who was "chaste, obliging, not fastidious, economical, patient, and careful for (his) health".

6 1540: he was asked to return to Geneva (in chaos – fight among anabaptists, catholics, etc.). 1541: Returned in Geneva. He introduced new forms of church government and liturgy. 1543: Participation trial of Michael Servetus (sentenced to death by burning). Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out.

7 1544-64: Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe.



10 Institutio Christianae Religionis (1536) Book IV, chapter 20: “On civil government”

11 1. There are two governments to which mankind is subject: a) soul or the inner man; b) whose province is the establishment of a merely civil and external justice (47) Madmen and savages bent on overturning this order established by God. And […] flatterers of princes, who vaunt the might of princes […] and do not hesitate to opposite it to the overlordship of God himself (47-8)

12 The spiritual kingdom of Christ and civil government are things far from one another (48)

13 2: this distinction [between the two governments] in any way imply that we are to regard everything related to the polity as something unclean, and as having nothing to do with Christians. Secular and spiritual governments are quite distinct. But they are in no way incompatible with each other (49)

14 Beginnings of the celestial kingdom (49) The end of secular government is to foster and protect the external workship of God, defend pure doctrine and the good condition of the church, accommodate the way we live to human society, mould our conduct to civil justice, reconcile us to another, and uphold and defend the common peace and tranquillity (49)

15 3: to think about abolishing it is a monstrous barbarity. Mankind derives as much benefit from it as it does from bread, water, sun and air. In short, it upholds a public form of religion amongst Christians, and humanity amongst men. Nor ought it to worry anyone that I am now allotting to the human polity that care for the right order of religion (50)

16 Three are the elements/parts of civil government: A. the Magistrate, the defender and guardian of the laws; B. the Laws themselves, in accordance with which the magistrate governs; C. the People, who are governed by the laws, and obey the magistrate (51)

17 1: The Office of the Magistrate 4: Our Lord … all those who hold the office of magistrate are called gods. (51) Paul says that princes are ministers of God to honour those who act rightly and to execute the vengeance of his wrath upon evil-doers (52)

18 5: Paul committed the well being of the Church to them, as its custodians and guardians (53)

19 6: ministers of divine justice. If they remember that they are representatives of God, they will have to apply all their energy, zeal and solicitude to the work of representing before men an image of the providence, protection, goodness, benevolence and justice of God (54) Be careful in what you do, for it is by no means in the name of the mortal men that you execute justice, but in the name of the God, who is beside you when you deliver judgement (54)

20 7: those who condemn this holy ministry… it is not magistrates that such people reject, but rather God himself and his rule. (55)

21 8: utterly pointless for private men to debate what would be the best state of the commonwealth in the place where they live. It would be rash to settle the matter without qualifications, seeing that what is crucial are circumstances. Three forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, democracy (56)

22 The vices or defects of mankind make it safer and more tolerable that several persons should govern (jointly), all of them assisting, instructing and admonishing one another; so that if one of them arrogates more to himself than he is entitled to do, there will be others to act as his censors and masters, to curb his license. (57)

23 9: the duties of magistrates. They have been appointed protectors and vindicators of public innocence, property, decency and tranquillity and that their one endeavour must be to provide for the common peace and well-being (59-60) All commonwealths are kept in being by rewards and punishments (60)

24 10: question if the law of God forbids all Christians to kill How can magistrates be dutiful to God and shed blood at the same time? (60) Afflicting and harming are not the actions of godly men, but to avenge, at God’s command the afflictions of the godly is not ‘afflicting or harming’ (60-61)

25 The wicked roam about massacring and slaughtering …. Makes princes guilty of the greatest possible injustice. It is bad to live under a prince who permits nothing, but much worse to live under one who permits everything. (62)

26 11: War. Wars are legitimate to repress the seditious upheavals fomented by rebellious men, to help those oppressed by violence and to take measures against the wicked (63)

27 12: everything else ought to be tried first before the recourse to arms. In Wars and punishing criminals magistrates must be guided by a concern for the public good alone. On the same right to wage war also hinges the legitimacy of garrisons (64)

28 13: on taxes…

29 2: The Laws 14: laws are the soul without magistracy cannot survive (Plato) (66) Division of the whole Law of God (Moses) into: 1. moral, 2. ceremonial, 3. judicial parts (66)

30 15: Moral law: we are commended to worship God in pure faith and godliness, under the latter to love our fellow man with unfeigned love (67) Cerimonial law: as way of educating (from infancy…) Judicial laws: set down certain rules of justice and equity by which one might live together in innocence and tranquillity (67)

31 16: The Law of God forbids: - theft - bearing false witness - murder - adultery (68)

32 3: The People 17: what benefits accrue to the general association of Christians from laws, courts and magistrates? And also: how far the obedience and submission which private men owe to magistrates extend? (70)

33 18: making use of courts is legitimate if one uses them rightly (70)

34 19: those who condemn all courts and all litigation absolutely and without any distinction, they should realize that they are rejecting a sacred ordinance of God The magistrate’s punishment must be regarded as something inflicted by God, not by men (71)

35 20: Christians must be people born to suffer contumely and injustice, and to be exposed to wickedness, deceit and ridicule from the dregs of mankind. And not only this, but they must bear all such evils patiently, that is, which such composure that when they suffer one affliction, they should prepare themselves for more to come, expecting nothing throughout the whole of their lives except a perpetual carrying of their cross. (72)

36 20: if this how they are disposed, they will not demand an eye for an eye or a tooth for tooth, seeking revenge (72). Equitableness and composure of mind will not inhibit them from making use of the help of magistrates for the preservation of what is theirs (72-3) 21: -

37 22: subjects are to hold themselves in subjection to princes (and other superiors) not only out of fear … but because in obeying their superiors they are obeying God himself, since their power is from God (74)

38 23: subjects should show (princes) obedience and well-disposed minds, whether it be in complying with their laws, paying taxes (74). It is impossible to resist the magistrate without also resisting God (75) [subjects] should do nothing, unless they have a specific right or command to do so. For where a superior lends them his authority, then they too are invested with public authority (75)

39 24: magistrates who live up to the titles given to them are: fathers of their countries, shepherds of the people, guardians of the peace, upholders of justice, defenders of the innocent. (75-76)

40 25: the Word of God [will make us] to be subject not only to the authority of those princes who do their duties toward us as they should, but to all of them, however they came by their office, even if the very last thing they do is to act like [true] princes. (76)

41 Even the worse of them (princes), and those entirely undeserving of any honour, provided they have public authority, are invested with that splendid and sacred authority which God’s Words bestows on the ministers of his justice and judgement. And hence, as fas as public obedience is concerned, they are to be held in the same honour and reverence as would be accorded an excellent king, if they had such a one. (77)

42 26: kings’ licentiousness: it will not be for you to restrain them; all that will remain for you will be to hear what they command, and obey. (78) 27-28: -

43 29: reverence and dutifulness that we all owe to our superiors, whoever they are. We might learn not to consider the person and conducts [of rulers], but be content with the person they represent, but the will of God, and with (whose) inviolable majesty (they have been inscribed and stamped). It is not for us to remedy evils; all that is left to us is to implore the help of the Lord, for the hearts of princes and alterations of kingdoms are in his hands (80)

44 30: - 31: let us take the greatest possible care never to hold in contempt, or trespass upon, that plenitude of authority of magistrates (superiors) whose majesty it is for us to venerate and which God has confirmed by the most weighty pronouncements, even when it is exercised by individuals who are wholly unworthy of it and who do their best to defile it by their wickedness (82)

45 And even if the punishment of unbridled tyranny is the Lord’s vengeance [on tyrants], we are not to imagine that it is we ourselves who have been called upon to inflict it. All that has been assigned to us is to obey and suffer (82).

46 32: But there is always an exception to that obedience which is due to the authority of the superiors. The Lord is the king of kings. When his sacred mouth has spoken, it alone and no one elese is to be heard. If they command anything against [his will], it must be as nothing to us. And in this instance we must ignore all that dignity that magistrates (superiors) possess. (83)

47 Calvin’s Political Thought (Overview) Thanks to his elaboration the ‘experiments’ of that period became an institutional thought. Against secularization and autonomy of Politics (Machiavelli or Humanism of Renaissance). Secular power is nothing without god. Life of Christians is based on obedience to god and to political power existing on earth under his name.

48 Calvinist Church: election of Church pastors might be seen as an element of democracy, but his thought is all based on the theory of the obedience to the authority. Like Luther he believes in the theory of the two governments, but for Calvin the magistrates operate in a Christian State. Geneve as a Theocracy characterized by intolerance and austerity. The duty to obey always – except when the princes go against god’s word (but also in those case: passive disobedience)

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