A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Calvin

Sovereign and holy God, who didst bring John Calvin from a study of legal systems to understand the godliness of thy divine laws as revealed in Scripture: Fill us with a like zeal to teach and preach thy Word, that the whole world may come to know thy Son Jesus Christ, the true Word and Wisdom; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

14 comments on “A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Calvin

  1. Hakkatan says:

    It is interesting that both Calvin and Luther were students of the law in their younger days. That helped them to understand the situation of a sinful humanity before a holy God in a very deep way, and pointed to grace alone through the sacrifice of Christ as the only way to reconciliation.

  2. Ad Orientem says:

    Somehow I doubt Calvin would appreciate being honored with a feast day. Beyond which I find it odd that TEO would make a quasi-saint out of a man who was the antithesis of the Unitarianism and broad-church theology which is now embraced more or less as dogma.

  3. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I, likewise, find it amusing that we choose to put Calvin on a calendar of saints. He’s no doubt turning over in his grave.

  4. Ad Orientem says:

    I have no doubt he is turning over somewhere. Charity prevents me from stating my suspicions as to exactly where.

  5. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I was generous and said, “in his grave.” I’ll leave it at that. 😉

  6. Sarah says:

    How wonderful that one of the architects and thinkers of the Reformation will be so honored. Of course, many of the saints we honor would not wish to be given feast days. But it is not for them that we do such things anyway.

    But for stalwarts like Calvin and Luther and Cranmer we would all be miserable in the two other options that split off from one another earlier.

    God is good!

  7. J. Champlin says:

    Calvin was as much a principled civic and political leader as he was a theologian. That is, he was a lawyer and a humanist first; he became a great theologian. His statements on Christian freedom and civic government are among the founding charters for a democratic society. He possessed a profound, corporate understanding of the church and approached the sacraments with reverence and awe. There was a waiting list to get into Geneva in the sixteenth century, and, by the generation after Calvin, they had pioneered universal public education. Did you want him as your best friend? Probably not. Was he overbearing, dogmatic, and intolerant? Probably — although I believe the intolerance is exaggerated, given the harsh politics of the time. As much as Hooker could criticize and even satirize Calvin, he also shows great respect for him. If we’re going to commemorate Luther, a far more flawed and erratic figure, then we should make room for Calvin as well.

  8. Caedmon says:

    Somewhat reluctantly, I am going to have to agree with Sarah (6.) and J. Champlin (7.) Good thing is, the Puritans didn’t win the day.

  9. Matt Kennedy says:

    Thanks be to God for John Calvin!

  10. MichaelA says:

    Sarah at #6,

    Rapier wit, very well said, on every point!

  11. MichaelA says:

    Ad Oientem also makes a good point:
    [blockquote] “Beyond which I find it odd that TEO would make a quasi-saint out of a man who was the antithesis of the Unitarianism and broad-church theology which is now embraced more or less as dogma.” [/blockquote]
    The modern liberal church would get no comfort from most 16th century divines.

  12. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #11
    I have no doubt that most modern TEO types would find themselves the guests of honor at an old fashioned stake and bake were they to wander into Calvin’s Geneva. Calvin may not have cared for Roman Catholics but he had no reluctance with borrowing their methods for enforcing doctrinal purity.

  13. MichaelA says:

    That’s true Ad Orientem – but I suppose they could have found a place further east?

  14. J. Champlin says:

    #12 – As an undergraduate I read the Institutes straight through; in seminary I read a fair amount about Calvin. While the Puritan platform was Calvinist, Calvin was not a Puritan, certainly not of the Westminster variety. Calvin was not in the front ranks of the persecutors of his day. Servetus was a mixture of Spong and Dawkins, with all their combined charm. It more or less fell to Calvin to do the job, but, as I understand it, there was an, ahem, “ecumenical consensus” as to what should be done. Geneva was tightly controlled. However, it was not a theocracy — there was the rule of law and something very close to representative government. Also, it’s very existence was constantly under threat.
    Having said all that, the standard issue Episcopal cleric preaching “Jesus not Paul” and regarding the “Hebrew Scriptures” with pretty much undisguised contempt wouldn’t have done well in Geneva. But their fate probably would have been exile. Isn’t that nice?