Articles

Calvin’s Doctrine of the Church

Calvin 1

The Great Genevan Reformer: John Calvin (1509-1564)

By anyone’s measure John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, especially the mature 1559 edition, is an historically significant Reformed treatise that has greatly shaped the ministerial practice of Protestant churches worldwide. In it Calvin extensively addresses the doctrine of the church (Book 4, Chapters 1-12). This lengthy section within Calvin’s Institutes, entitled “The True Church,” is foundational to virtually every other theological tome written on ecclesiastical concerns over the past four hundred and fifty years. For this reason alone, it is important for modern-day Christians to understand Calvin’s thinking on ecclesiology and how his principles of ministry flow out from the text of the Bible. Rather than inventing new practices and procedures for leading the church, modern-day church leaders would benefit from reading one of the great theologians of the past—and one who was also an indefatigable shepherd to the flock in Geneva, Switzerland.

Its Context: 

The context of Calvin’s ministry is not to be overlooked when evaluating his doctrinal teaching on the church. He lived at a time of tremendous transition when many of the social institutions that had seemed so stable in his childhood—home, church, and nation—were undergoing significant changes. During this time serious efforts at religious reform were taking place in Germany, France, England, Holland, and Switzerland. It is also important to observe that Calvin was preceded by several notable reformers: Martin Luther (1483-1546), Martin Bucer (1491-1551), William Tyndale (1494-1536), and Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples (1455-1536). Each one of these men lived and ministered during the first wave of the Reformation (approx. 1505-1535). John Calvin (1509-1564), however, lived and ministered during the second wave and consequently benefited from the biblical insights and publications of these older more mature men. For example, when Calvin came to Geneva, Switzerland during the summer of 1536 two tenacious reformers, William Farel (1489-1565) and Pierre Viret (1511-1571), were already fully engaged at preaching in this strategic city. Calvin teamed up with them to bring about the reform of the Genevan church and a change in the morals of the people of Geneva. The efforts of Farel, Viret, and Calvin were not always welcomed by the populace. After two years of arduous ministerial labor they were removed from their positions by the Genevan Small Council in 1538 and forced to relocate to other cities.

The beauty of the Swiss Alps is not to be underestimated!

The rugged beauty of the Swiss Alps nearby are not to be underestimated!

10390462_882611338432378_4677957842752252012_n

Geneva is located at the southern end of Lake Leman–it is extraordinarily beautiful!

At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin settled in Strasbourg and became a pastor to a French-speaking congregation of refugees. While there he received many profitable insights from the older and more experienced Martin Bucer on the nature of the church—its head, its worship, its structure, and its pastoral care. He also found a wife, marrying the widow Idellette de Bure in 1540. A year later, in 1541, Calvin was invited back to Geneva and ministered there for the next twenty-three years until his death in 1564. His ministry was filled with endless controversies, difficulties, and trials. Yet, through his steady perseverance, and God’s blessing, Calvin and the other reforming pastors who joined him were able to witness remarkable changes in the morals of the city and a progressive strengthening of the Genevan church. Some of Calvin’s greatest achievements—the adoption of the Genevan Catechism (1545), the establishment of the Genevan Academy (1559), the publication of the Geneva Bible (1560), and the completion of a metrical Psalter (1561)—were significant in advancing his overall goal of reforming the Genevan Church. In addition, these achievements resulted in changing the morals of the people of Geneva, so much so, that John Knox referred to Geneva as “the most perfect school since the Apostles. In other places, I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religion so sincerely reformed, I have not seen in any other place.” (Sefton, John Knox, 22)

Its Elements:

What are some of the key elements for Calvin’s doctrine of the church? First of all, Calvin presupposes that, “We must leave to God alone the knowledge of his church, whose foundation is his secret election” (Institutes 4:1:1). Calvin understood that true believers within the church are members solely by God’s electing grace. The election of believers is unconditional, Calvin would argue, in that the elect do not deserve it by their family background, earn it by their efforts of personal reformation, nor warrant it by their individual decision to follow Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:12-13). God alone, gets the glory in the matter of election. Secondly, those within the church experience a deep sense of community that is missing from other organizations in the world. Calvin goes on to explain,

This clause (the communion of saints), though generally omitted by the ancients, ought not to be overlooked, for it very well expresses what the church is. It is as if one said that the saints are gathered into the society of Christ on the principles that whatever benefits God confers upon them, they would in turn share with one another. This does not, however, rule out a diversity of graces, inasmuch as we know the gifts of the Spirit are variously distributed. Nor is civil order disturbed, which allows each individual to own his private possessions, since it is necessary to keep peace among men that the ownership of property should be distinct and personal among them. But a community is affirmed, such as Luke describes, in which the heart and soul of the multitude of believers are one [Acts 4:32]; and such as Paul has in mind when he urges the Ephesians to be “one body and one Spirit, just as” they “were called in one hope” [Eph. 4:4]. If truly convinced that God is the common Father of all and Christ the common Head, being united in brotherly love, they cannot but share their benefits with one another. (Calvin, Institutes 4:1:3)

In addition, Calvin readily acknowledged that the church is both invisible and visible in its nature. It is invisible in that it is made up only of those who are divinely elected by God. On the other hand, the church is visible in that its activities, its buildings, and its people are evident to themselves and to a watching world. He affirms that not all who are part of the visible church are of the elect—in other words, there are weeds mixed in amongst the wheat. Jesus teaches this basic truth about his church in Matthew 13:24-30, and 36-43. Calvin clearly develops his view from Jesus’ teaching. Calvin also taught that since God is his “father,” then the church of God is surely his “mother.” He persuasively wrote,

Calvin's Church -- St. Pierre in Geneva

Calvin’s Church—St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva

Because it is now our intention to discuss the visible church, let us learn even from the simple title “mother” how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her. For there is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us at her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like the angels [Matt. 22:30]. Our weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives. Furthermore, away from her bosom one cannot hope for any forgiveness of sins or any salvation, as Isaiah [Isa. 37:32] and Joel [Joel 2:32] testify…By these words God’s fatherly favor and the especial witness of spiritual life are limited to his flock, so that it is always disastrous to leave the church. (Institutes 4:1:4)

This understanding of the church, as “mother,” demonstrates the significant role that the church plays in the life of the believer—she gives birth, nourishes, protects, and cares for her children. In essence, Calvin believed that the church should receive the same affection and honor that an earthly mother receives from a grateful son or daughter.

Another prominent element of Calvin’s ecclesiology is the concept of the “marks” of the true church (notae ecclesiae). Calvin identifies the two “marks” that are found in the Bible as follows,

The pure ministry of the Word and pure mode of celebrating the Sacraments are, as we say, sufficient pledge and guarantee that we may safely embrace as church any society in which both of these marks exist. The principle extends to the point that we must not reject it so long as it retains them, even if it otherwise swarms with many faults. (Institutes 4:1:12)

These are the evidences that Christians must look for when evaluating a church. During the Reformation many who came to saving faith found themselves awkwardly connected to churches whose “marks” were questionable. Calvin urged his readers to not be too quick in separating from such churches. He recognized that all churches, to one degree or another, have faults. Some faults may be “doctrinal,” and other faults may be due to “what displeases us.” Hence, special care is necessary when departing from a church so that decency and order are maintained. Calvin contends,

10410800_882156525144526_2389302385826739038_n

Outside St. Pierre—talking with Jesse Winton about Calvin’s doctrine of the church

What is more, some fault may creep into the administration of either doctrine or Sacraments. But this ought not to estrange us from communion with the church…But I say we must not thoughtlessly forsake the church because of any petty dissensions. For in it alone is kept safe and uncorrupted, that doctrine in which piety stands sound and the use of the Sacraments ordained by the Lord is guarded. In the meantime, if we try to correct what displeases us, we do so out of duty. Paul’s statement applies to this: “If a better revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent” [1 Corinthians 14:30]. From this it is clear that every member of the church is charged with the responsibility of public edification according to the measure of his grace, provided he perform it decently and in order. That is, we are neither to renounce the communion of the church nor, remaining in it, to disturb its peace and duly ordered discipline. (Institutes 4:1:12)

In addition, Calvin acknowledges that churches should not be abandoned because of “trivial errors,” but only when those errors harm or destroy the “chief articles of religion.” He explains,

It has already been explained how much we ought to value that ministry of the Word and Sacraments, and how far our reverence for it should go, that it may be to us a perpetual token by which to distinguish the church. That is, wherever the ministry remains whole and uncorrupted, no moral faults or diseases prevent it from bearing the name ‘church’. Secondly, it is not so weakened by trivial errors as not to be esteemed lawful. We have, moreover, shown that the errors which ought to be pardoned are those which do not harm the chief doctrine of religion, which do not destroy the articles of religion on which all believers ought to agree; and with regard to the Sacraments, those which do not abolish or throw down the lawful institution of the Author. (Institutes 4:2:1)

Thus, Calvin places a high value on the church of Jesus Christ. Although it may have many faults, it ought not to be abandoned for insignificant reasons; but instead serious efforts of reformation should be made so that it might bring glory to God once again.

Its Organization:

Calvin understood that the ministry of church leaders is one of the ordinary means for accomplishing spiritual growth in the members of the church (cf. Acts 20:17-34; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). In other words, the officers of the church—pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons—are used by God to advance the spiritual maturity of every member. Calvin declared,

Paul writes that Christ, “that he might fill all things,” appointed some to be “apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the measure of the fully mature age of Christ” [Eph. 4:10-13, Comm., but cf. also Vg.]. We see how God, who could in a moment perfect his own, nevertheless desires them to grow up into manhood solely under the education of the church. We see the way set for it: the preaching of the heavenly doctrine has been enjoined upon the pastors. We see that all are brought under the same regulation, that with a gentle and teachable spirit they may allow themselves to be governed by teachers appointed to this function. (Institutes 4:1:5)

Calvin teaches that there are four offices in the true church—pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons. He reasons that the Lord could have supernaturally transformed men and women by means of his Spirit, but instead God has chosen to use the means of a “ministry of men to declare openly his will to us.” This ministerial authority and power is delegated by the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, when pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons carry out their ministries, they do so under the watchful eye of the head of the church. They are required to give an account of their ministerial labors to the heavenly Master—have they fed the sheep, rescued those who have strayed, and protected the sheep from wild predators who would do them harm? In as much as the officers of the church conduct themselves in an honorable fashion then they are blessed by God for their efforts. Calvin further notes,

Now we must speak of the order by which the Lord willed his church to be governed. He alone should rule and reign in the church as well as have authority or pre-eminence in it, and this authority should be exercised and administered by his Word alone. Nevertheless, because he does not dwell among us in visible presence [Matt. 26:11], we have said that he uses the ministry of men to declare openly his will to us by mouth, as a sort of delegated work, not by transferring to them his right and honor, but only that through their mouths he may do his own work—just as a workman uses a tool to do his work. (Institutes 4:3:3)

Calvin thoughtfully describes the particular duties of pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons to great degree in the Institutes. Here are his observations regarding the responsibilities of pastors. He writes,

Inside St. Pierre—Randy Winton and I are discussing Calvin’s method of preaching while standing next to his elevated pulpit.

Here, then, is the sovereign power with which the pastors of the church, by whatever name they be called, ought to be endowed. That is that they may dare boldly to do all things by God’s Word; may compel all worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey his majesty; supported by his power, may command all from the highest even to the last; may build up Christ’s household and cast down Satan’s; may feed the sheep and drive away the wolves; may instruct and exhort the teachable; may accuse, rebuke, and subdue the rebellious and stubborn; may bind and loose; finally, if need be, may launch thunderbolts and lightnings; but do all things in God’s Word. (Institutes 4:8:9)

In addition, Calvin wrote that a pastor should avoid thinking that the only duty he has to fulfill is to preach from the pulpit; he is also to exercise the care of a shepherd for his flock. He powerfully remarks,

Christ did not ordain pastors on the principle that they only teach the Church in a general way on the public platform, but that they care for the individual sheep, bring back the wandering and scattered to the fold, bind up the broken and crippled, heal the sick, support the frail and weak. (Commentary on Acts 20:20)

Moreover, pastoral ministry is not to be seen as an itinerant office that travels from place to place, but it is one which cares for a specific flock of believers in a fixed location. Calvin argues that pastors can “aid other churches” as occasion dictates, but that primarily a pastor focuses his energy upon his own flock.

Although we assign to each pastor his church, at the same time we do not deny that a pastor bound to one church can aid other churches—either if any disturbances occur which require his presence, or if advice be sought from him concerning some obscure matter…Consequently, this arrangement ought to be observed as generally as possible: that each person, content with his own limits, should not break over into another man’s province. (Institutes 4:3:7)

In regards to the deacon Calvin gives the following description of his responsibilities,

The care of the poor was entrusted to the deacons. However two kinds are mentioned in the letter to the Romans: “He that gives, let him do it with simplicity;…he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness” [Rom. 12:8]. Since it is certain that Paul is speaking of the public office of the church, there must have been two distinct grades. Unless my judgment deceive me, in the first clause he designates the deacons who distribute the alms. But the second refers to those who had devoted themselves to the care of the poor and the sick…If we accept this (as it must be accepted), there will be two kinds of deacons: one to serve the church in administering the affairs of the poor; the other, in caring for the poor themselves. But even though the term diakonia itself has a wider application, Scripture specifically designates as deacons those whom the church has appointed to distribute alms and take care of the poor. (Institutes 4:3:9)

The offices of the true church should not be taken upon oneself without the endorsement of a church. These offices necessarily involve receiving an outward call, or public invitation, to minister in a local church by its own members. In addition, ordination signifies that a man is set aside for sacred service within Christ’s church. In these following quotations Calvin explains ministerial calling and ordination.

Therefore, in order that noisy and troublesome men should not rashly take upon themselves to teach or to rule (which might otherwise happen), especial care was taken that no one should assume public office in the church without being called. (Institutes 4:3:10)

I am speaking of the outward and solemn call which has to do with the public order of the church. I pass over that secret call, of which each minister is conscious before God, and which does not have the church as witness. (Institutes 4:3:11)

There remains the rite of ordination, to which we have given the last place in the call. It is clear that when the apostles admitted any man to the ministry, they used no other ceremony than the laying on of hands. (Institutes 4:3:16)

Although there exists no set precept for the laying on of hands, because we see it in continual use with the apostles, their very careful observance ought to serve in lieu of a precept. And surely it is useful for the dignity of the ministry to be commended to the people by this sort of sign, as also to warn the one ordained that he is no longer a law unto himself, but bound in servitude to God and the church. (Institutes 4:3:16)

These statements by Calvin demonstrate the way in which he elevates the outward call to ministry. It is a serious matter for a man to be called to serve Christ’s church, and his calling must be outwardly confirmed by the local church. It should never solely be a matter of an inner call, or “secret call,” which is only between that man and God. Church officers should be confirmed by a public calling.

Its Worship:

The true church also has the responsibility to regulate its worship by the Word of God. This does not mean, Calvin argues, that specific forms of worship are to be needlessly perpetuated “for all ages,” but that changes in the forms of worship can be carefully “accommodated to the customs of each nation and age.” His method for making changes to the order of worship is, first and foremost, to measure all such changes by the Holy Scriptures. Secondly, that those who are responsible for making changes to the order of worship genuinely love God so that the Lord is supremely glorified by this change. Thirdly, to love the people so that any changes in the worship service do not “hurt” them, but rather “edify” them. Calvin explains this method in the following manner,

1014360_881360081890837_5797654210367807333_n

Filming at the “Monument to the Reformation” in Geneva, Switzerland

[the Master] did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies to prescribe in detail what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages), here we must take refuge in those general rules which he has given, that whatever the necessity of the church will require for order and decorum should be tested against these. Lastly, because he has taught nothing specifically, and because these things are not necessary to salvation, and for the upbuilding of the church ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age, it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones. Indeed, I admit that we ought not to charge into innovation rashly, suddenly, for insufficient cause. But love will best judge what may hurt or edify; and if we let love be our guide, all will be safe. (Institutes 4:10:30)

In this way, the worship of God remains pure, but it is also sensitive to the culture of the people. Calvin writes in other books and tracts more specific principles and policies regarding the worship of God. In particular, his short treatise, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, makes a strong appeal to regulate worship “only to his voice” (i.e. the Holy Scriptures). Calvin forcefully argues,

Moreover, the rule which distinguishes between pure and vitiated worship is of universal application, in order that we do not adopt any device which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of him who alone is entitled to prescribe. Therefore, if we would have him to approve our worship, this rule, which he everywhere enforces with the utmost strictness, must be carefully observed. For there is a twofold reason why the Lord, in condemning and prohibiting fictitious worship, requires us to give obedience only to his voice. First, it tends greatly to establish his authority that we do not follow our own pleasure, but depend entirely on his sovereignty; and secondly, such is our folly, that when we are left at liberty, all we are able to do is to go astray. And they when once we have turned aside from the right path, there is not end to our wanderings, until we get buried under a multitude of superstitions. (The Necessity of Reforming the Church, 17)

Hence, churches within the Calvinistic tradition have sought to regulate their worship services according to the Scriptural elements, the acceptable forms, and the individual church circumstances which may require minor variations in liturgy, place, and time.

Its Discipline:

How does the church maintain purity in the lives of its members? Our Lord established a government for his church—specifically he set in place a means of discipline. The officers of the church have received “the keys” of the kingdom and are required by the Lord to “keep watch over the souls” of  their congregants (Matt. 16:19-20, 18:15-20; Heb. 13:17). With this thought in mind, Calvin soberly notes,

For this purpose courts of judgment were established in the church from the beginning to deal with the censure of morals, to investigate vices, and to be charged with the exercise of the office of the keys…Now these admonitions and corrections cannot be made without investigation of the cause; accordingly, some court of judgment and order of procedure are needed. Therefore, if we do not wish to make void the promise of the keys and banish excommunication, solemn warnings, and such things, we must give the church some jurisdiction. (Institutes 4:11:1)

Hence, the officers of the church must approach the exercise of church discipline with much care and thoughtfulness. Offenses must be investigated, and disciplinary actions must fit the sin. It would be easy for church offers to become arbitrary and heavy-handed in their disciplinary actions. Thus, it is essential for church officers to recall that they are acting in the name of Jesus Christ, the head of the church.

Discipline depends for the most part upon the power of the keys and upon spiritual jurisdiction…But because some persons, in their hatred of discipline, recoil from its very name, let them understand this: if no society, indeed, no house which has even a small family, can be kept in proper condition without discipline, it is much more necessary in the church, whose condition should be as ordered as possible. Accordingly, as the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so does discipline serve as its sinews, through which the members of the body hold together, each in its own place. Therefore, all who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration—whether they do this deliberately or out of ignorance—are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church….Therefore, discipline is like a bridle to restrain and tame those who rage against the doctrine of Christ; or like a spur to arouse those of little inclination; and also sometimes like a father’s rod to chastise mildly and with the gentleness of Christ’s spirit those who have more seriously lapsed. (Institutes 4:12:1)

Calvin reminds all church officers that the purpose of disciplinary action is threefold—to expose sin, to protect the innocent, and to bring about repentance. He states,

In such corrections and excommunication, the church has three ends in view. The first is that they who lead a filthy and infamous life may not be called Christians, to the dishonor of God, as if his holy church [cf. Eph. 5:25-26] were a conspiracy of wicked and abandoned men…The second purpose is that the good be not corrupted by the constant company of the wicked, as so often happens…The third purpose is that those overcome by shame for their baseness begin to repent. (Institutes 4:12:5)

Calvin differentiates between excommunicating a sinner and pronouncing an anathema upon a wicked and unrepentant person. Excommunication, he argues, holds the hope of repentance and restoration. Whereas, pronouncing an anathema upon a person suggests that there is no possible restoration. In this way, Calvin shows the different approach to church discipline between Protestants (who excommunicate) and Roman Catholics (who pronounce an anathema). Calvin explains,

For when Christ promises that what his people ‘bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ [Matt. 18:18], he limits the force of binding to ecclesiastical censure. By this those who are excommunicated are not cast into everlasting ruin and damnation, but in hearing that their life and morals are condemned, they are assured of the everlasting condemnation unless they repent. Excommunication differs from anathema in that the latter, taking away all pardon, condemns and consigns a man to eternal destruction; the former, rather, avenges and chastens his moral conduct. And although excommunication also punishes the man, it does so in such a way that, by forewarning him of his future condemnation, it may call him back to salvation. (Institutes 4:12:10)

Calvin’s clear preference is that excommunication offers the safest way to properly order the church when it comes to dealing with sin and sinners. Eternal judgment is left to God alone. As his agents, church officers exercise discipline with much soberness and care, always prayerfully hoping for the repentance and restoration of the sinner. The gospel of forgiveness is preeminent in Calvin’s ecclesiology.

In Conclusion:

10306393_881360325224146_8529954682218510935_n

Talking with Jesse Winton about Calvin’s teaching on the biblical role of the magistrate and the proper way to respond to evil tyrants.

Much more is said about the doctrine of the church in Calvin’s masterful Institutes of the Christian Religion. For example, Calvin gives a detailed explanation of the ancient church—its people, its practices, and its patterns (Institutes 4:5-7). He also records the key developments in the Roman Catholic Church that have led to serious departures from orthodoxy and abuses in orthopraxy (Institutes 4:8-10). The church councils of the Middle Ages receive a careful evaluation under Calvin’s critical eye, and he finds a lot of trickery, deception, and abuse in the decisions of those councils (Institutes 4:9). Finally, Calvin explains the practice of fasting, and the Christian liberty of marriage for the clergy  (Institutes 4:12:15-28). Church leaders who have served congregations within the Calvinistic tradition have adopted a saying that summarizes Calvin’s attitude toward the true church; it is, “The church reformed and always being reformed” (Latin: ecclesia reformata semper reformanda). The true church always measures itself by the eternal Word of God, and thus, it constantly reforms itself as circumstances occur in the expansion of Christ’s kingdom here on earth.

Calvin’s doctrine of the church in his Institutes of the Christian Religion is historical and comprehensive (Book 4, Chapters 1-12). Some critics might contend that his treatment of the doctrine of the church is woefully out of touch with modern-day issues and concerns. I believe, however, that all of the basic principles for properly ordering Christ’s church can be found within its many pages and chapters. I highly recommend it to others, and highly regard it for my own study and reflection on how the church should be advanced, led, and organized. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless his church.

Select Bibliography:

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries. 46 vols. Various translators. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1847-55; reprint edit. in 22 vols., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998. See: Vol. XIX, Commentary on Acts 20:20.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. John T. McNeil, ed. Ford Lewis Battles, trans. 2 vol. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1960. See: Book 4, Chapters 1-12.

Calvin, John. The Necessity of Reforming the Church. Dallas, TX: Protestant Heritage Press, reprint, 1995.

George, Timothy, ed. John Calvin & the Church: A Prism of Reform. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990. See the following chapters:

  • “The Church as the Elect in the Theology of Calvin” by David N. Wiley
  • “The Place of the Academy in Calvin’s Polity” by Charles E. Raynal III
  • “Calvin’s Teaching on the Elder Illuminated by Exegetical History” by Elsie Anne McKee
  • “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Proclamation of the Word and Its Significance Today” by John H. Leith
  • “John Calvin and the Prophetic Criticism of Worship” by Hughes Oliphant Old

McKim, Donald, ed. Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992. See the following informative articles:

  • “Calvin, John” by Hughes Oliphant Old
  • “Calvinism” by W. Stanford Reid
  • “Church” by Jack L. Stotts
  • “Deacons” by Elsie Anne McKee
  • “Discipline, Church” by J. Wayne Baker
  • “Ecclesiastical Ordinances” by Robert D. Linder
  • “Elders” by Elsie Anne McKee
  • “Geneva Academy” by Robert M. Kingdon
  • “Geneva Bible” by Dan G. Danner
  • “Geneva Catechism” by Charles Partee
  • “Geneva Company of Pastors” by Robert M. Kingdon
  • “Genevan Consistory” by Robert M. Kingdon
  • “Genevan Reformation” by Robert M. Kingdon
  • “Pastoral Theology” by Andrew Purves
  • “Psalmody” by LindaJo McKim
  • “Theology, Reformed” by John H. Leith
  • “Worship” by Hughes Oliphant Old

McNeil, John T. The History and Character of Calvinism. London: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Sefton, Henry R. John Knox: An Account of the Development of His Spirituality. Edinburgh, Scotland: Saint Andrew Press, 1993.

Wallace, Ronald S. Calvin, Geneva, and the Reformation: “A Study of Calvin as Social Worker, Churchman, Pastor and Theologian. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Zachman, Randall C. John Calvin as Teacher, Pastor, and Theologian. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Copyright November, 2015   Dr. Marcus Serven, ThM, DMin
Used by Permission.  All Rights Reserved.