By William R. Stevenson
The Reformation philosopher John Calvin had major and weird issues to assert approximately existence in public stumble upon, issues which either expect glossy pondering and, says William Stevenson, can function very important antidotes to a couple of recent thinking's broader pretensions. This examine makes an attempt to offer a coherent photograph of Calvin's political thought by means of following the flow that flows from his interesting brief essay, "On Christian Freedom," one bankruptcy within the magisterial Institutes of the Christian faith. Stevenson argues complete exam of this essay yields not just a extra thorough explication--and old placement--of Calvin's political principles right but additionally a extra entire and coherent photo in their theological underpinnings.
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Extra resources for Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought
34 Finally, shortly after Calvin returned to Geneva in September 1541, he wrote to Farel, his former fellow pastor in Geneva, as follows: "Immediately after I had offered my services to the Senate, I declared that a church could not be held together unless a settled government should be agreed on, such as is prescribed to us in the word of God, and such as was in use in the ancient church" (Letter LXXVI [4:284]). Yet whereas Troeltsch and Doumergue, among others, see Calvin's apparent contractarian notions as implying the later Protestant covenants and ultimately the modern state contracts, this conclusion seems rather far-fetched (Troeltsch, Protestantism, 114-15; Doumergue, Jean Calvin, V:6u).
For him, Calvin "was opposed to monarchy because the rule of one is closely associated with the hierarchic idea: the idea that human affairs can be ruled according to a single, comprehensive idea of what is good for man" (Foundations, 69). 55 And he does seem a promoter of ordinary political freedom for subjects under government, which McNeill shows in some detail, pointing in particular to Calvin's sermon on Deuteronomy 17:14—18. "It is much more endurable to have rulers who are chosen and elected .
Rather, such distinctions make up "a provisory arrangement," one that has "fundamentally been set aside by the new human community re-established by Jesus Christ" (58-59). What Sheldon Wolin (191) calls the "equalizing conception" in Genevan practice, then, arose quite naturally from Calvin's foundational ideas. Although Wolin's description of the "short step from Geneva to the English levellers at Putney" may be exaggerated, it is true that Calvin's view of humankind had to feed the egalitarian impulse.
Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought by William R. Stevenson