Calvin

This week’s Church Times asks: “Was Calvin a monster?” It is 500 years since the birth of John Calvin. As a reformed cleric I find the two big obstacles to admiring Calvin are his chill authoritarianism and his repulsive doctrine of double predestination. In 1551 Calvin was confronted by a reformer called Jérôme-Hermès Bolsec, who accused him of making God out to be the author of evil in deciding the fate of the damned before their creation. Bolsec was imprisoned by the magistrates and lucky to be banished from the city. I also find his arrogance detestable. In a letter to Cranmer in 1552, Calvin rebuked the Archbishop for mishandling the reformation, saying: “How very remiss you have been in many matters.” The kindest thing that can be said of the Reformer is that he became increasingly deranged. In later years he clearly identified with St Paul so closely that he began to see himself as a second Apostle chosen by God to remake his Church.

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