With “catholicity” resurgent among Reformed Christians, John Calvin’s ecumenism demands a closer examination.
At a basic level, good liturgy is an insurance policy against bad preaching.
Aristotle described politics as involving art or craft (techne). It, too, required skill. It, too, could produce excellent, even wondrous edifices: regimes. Once upon a time, the Reformed tradition saw politics in the same manner. Althusius, for example, spoke of “the art of governing.” Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Divine, described rulers as engaging in an “art” or a “craft.” These thinkers, moreover, developed this artistry, doing so consciously within a Reformed framework.
Not many passages in the New Testament speak directly to political order. The first part of the thirteenth chapter of Romans is perhaps the most famous. I would like to focus in this essay on vv. 3-4, which may appear prima facie to be something of an interpretive crux. Are these verses descriptive or prescriptive? That is, are they simply declarative, or are they imperatival, telling us what magistrates ought to do?
In the third book of his Institutes, John Calvin argues that the church’s worship should begin with a corporate prayer of confession:
“Besides the fact that ordinary confession has been commended by the Lord’s mouth, no one of sound mind, who weighs its usefulness, can dare disapprove it….
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] John Calvin: More Lutheran or Zwinglian? Everybody knows that Calvin was closer to Zurich than to Wittenberg. What this essay presupposes is: Maybe he wasn't? In fact, Calvin was neither Zwinglian nor Lutheran in the...