Friday, March 16, 2012

Calvin's Influence on the Modern World: Part I

David W. Hall lists ten areas the modern world is different because of John Calvin. Here are the first five. 

  1. Education: Calvin broke with medieval educational practices by creating the Academy, a school where education was not restricted to the aristocratic elite. 
2.   Care for the Poor: Calvin elevated the office deacon to such a point that he felt that the deacons care for the poor was one of the essential signs that a reformation was taking place in the midst of the people. 
3.   Ethics and Interpretation of the Moral Law: “Calvin’s interpretation of the Ten Commandments as ethical pillars was widely influential for generations of character development…The law, then was as gracious as it was necessary. Such a fundamentally positive view of God’s law would become a distinctive ethical contribution of Calvinism.”
4.   Freedom of the Church: “A church free from external, hierarchical, or civil control was a radical and lasting contribution that Calvin made to the modern world.”
5.   Collegial Governing: “His 1561 exposition [of I Samuel 8] discusses the dangers of monarchy, the need for proper limitation of government, and the place of divine sovereignty over human governments…The character of Calvinism is exhibited in this (and other) sermons that advocated limited government.”

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8