Past Theological Publications
Below are past articles or
contributions made in previous commemorations of John Calvin.
· In 1735, for the 200th anniversary
of the Reformation @ Geneva, see:
Click here for the link
BICENTENARY OF THE REFORMATION
CELEBRATED AT GENEVA
DASSIER, Jean: Swiss, 1735, Bronze, 55 mm
Obv: Geneva wearing a crown, is discarding a yoke and shackles and a
shield bearing the arms of Geneva. Her arms are outstretched in
adoration of Religion who is sitting on a cloud reading the
Bible VERITAS LIBERAVIT VOS (The Truth Freed You)
Exergue: IUBILEMUS DOMINO (Let Us Rejoice in the Lord)
Rev: Aerial view of Geneva and harbor, city and hills in the
background and barges on the lake. The sun bearing IHS with
rays and clouds above POST TENEBRAS LUX
Darkness, the Light)
Exergue: CELEBRATA ANNO GENEVAE REFORMATAE CENTESIMO M.DCC.XXXV (Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Reformation in Geneva
Signed: J. DASSIER
Edge: THEOPHILE COUTEAU (in script)
From Jean Dassier's Geneva Series
Ref: Forrer I, p. 515 (illustrated); Thompson 46/02; Haller II,
1912; Wunderly 3103; Whiting Collection 63/477; Europese
Penningen # 1855
The Reformation was a movement to reform the
Roman Catholic church. It was prompted by discontent with the
church, its clergy, doctrine and practices. The reformation was a
revolt not only against the doctrinal authority of the church, it
was also a protest against the interference of the church in secular
matters and the questionable activities of the clergy, notably the
sale of indulgences and holy relics. The start of the Reformation is
traditionally dated from 1517, when Martin Luther published his
Ninety-five Theses. Other powerful reformers appeared in
Switzerland, including Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich and, later, the more
radical Frenchman John Calvin in Geneva. This medal commemorates the
200th anniversary of the Reformation in Geneva. (From Encyl. World
· 1759 (250th of JC’s birth)
· 1764 (200th of JC’s death)
· 1809 (300th of JC’s birth)
· 1859 (350th of JC’s birth)
Note: no publishings in the Southern
Presbyterian Review (major southern organ) between 1858-1866; of
course, many of those years were preoccupied with war.
Correspondingly, no northern Presbyterian observance in the same
period. Between 1845-1887, a few articles were devoted to Calvin (Adger
No articles in BRPR in 1859
· In 1864, (300th of JC’s death) Charles H.
months of June and July, 1860 were given to a Continental tour; Mr.
Spurgeon's first holiday in seven years. Belgium, the minor German
states, and Switzerland were visited. The chief interest lies in his
visit to Geneva, where he preached twice in Calvin's pulpit. "The
first time I saw the medal of John Calvin, I kissed it," he says. "I
preached in the Cathedral of St. Peter. I did not feel very
comfortable when I came out in full canonicals, but the request was
put to me in such a beautiful way that I could have worn the Pope's
tiara if they had asked me. They said, 'Our dear brother comes to us
from another country. Now when an ambassador comes from another
country, he has a right to wear his own costume at court, but as a
mark of a very great esteem, he sometimes condescends to the
weakness of the country which he visits, and will wear court dress!'
'Well,' I said, 'yes, that I will, certainly; but I shall feel like
running in a sack.' It was John Calvin's cloak, and that reconciled
me to it very much."
the books he most valued were Calvin's works; in the first volume of
Calvin's commentaries in his library is written, "The volumes making
up a complete set of Calvin were a gift to me from my own most dear
and tender wife."
may be said of Spurgeon, as of Calvin, that "nowhere does the whole
personality stand out in such clear relief as in his sermons." The
style of preaching was also very similar. The following estimate of
Calvin with slight changes might have been written of Spurgeon:
He was a born
preacher. For years the spacious church of St. Pierre in Geneva was
thronged, not once or twice, but several times a week to hear him.
He was the star of the Genevan pulpit, but his words carried far
beyond the city in which they were spoken. Seldom has any man
addressed a wider audience or received a more grateful response. His
sermons became models and standards for hundreds of pastors who were
confined to such help as their publication supplied.
Coligny, warrior, diplomatist, and saint, was not the only one who
made them his daily provender. It was on John Calvin's sermons on
Ephesians that John Knox stayed his soul as he lay on his deathbed.
is something of a perennially modern note in Calvin's preaching. He
was not afraid to risk the charge of vulgarizing his theme by the
use of the picturesque language of colloquial social intercourse.
Whatever enabled him to grip the people's attention and penetrate to
their consciences and hearts was legitimate. Much of his preaching
was familiar talk poured forth by a man whose humanism could accord
with a love for popular speech. If vernacular and classical
alternatives presented themselves, the vernacular commonly received
tripped from his tongue as though coined on the spot for the
occasion, and gave agreeable piquancy to his words. Illustrations
and metaphors he drew from all sources, sometimes surprising by
their unexpectedness, coming from the lips of such a man. An early
translation, reproducing the flavor of the original, represents him
as saying, "We would fain live in pleasure that God should dandle us
like little cockneys." Often he indulges in quite dramatic passages,
making the characters with whom he is dealing express themselves in
racy soliloquy or dialogue. Instead of making Moses, on receiving
the order to ascend the mountain, point out how fatiguing and
dangerous that would be for one of his years, Calvin pictures him as
exclaiming, "That's all very fine! And I'm to go and break my legs
climbing up there, am I? Of all things in the world! That's a fine
tells us that he despised ostentatious, pretentious eloquence. He
held it wrong to seek to give brilliance and charm to God's Word by
embellishment of language and subtleties of exposition. In his case
the man was the style, and the man shaped the style. All was
nervous, spirited, earnest, eager, mostly level to the intelligence
of the humblest man who came to hear him, with that throb of
suppressed passion often beating through it which touches the
fringes of one's consciousness as the sound of a distant . . . drum.
paragraphs, as we have said, might almost have been written of
Spurgeon. And not only did he resemble the great Reformer in style,
and in the number of sermons he preached—Calvin is supposed to have
preached between three and four thousand—his heart was established
in the same faith in God's sovereignty. "I can recall the day when I
first received those truths into my soul," he says, and from his
diary we know that day was April 7, 1850, "when they were, as john
Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron; and I can
recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a
man, that I had found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God.
One week-night, when I was sitting in the House of God—I was not
thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe
it—the thought struck me, 'How did you come to be a Christian?' I sought the Lord. 'But how did you come to seek the Lord?' The truth flashed across my mind in a moment. I should not have
sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind
to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I; but then I asked myself, 'How came I to pray?' I was induced to pray by reading the
Scriptures. 'How came I to read the Scriptures?' Then in a
moment I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was
the Author of my faith; and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up
to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed." "And his
Calvinism was no nineteenth-century Laodicean compound."
may take a step from Paul to Augustine," Spurgeon once said to his
students, "then from Augustine to Calvin, and then—well, you may
keep your foot up a good while before you find such another." In
another student talk he said that John Newton put Calvinism in his
sermons as he put sugar into his tea, his whole ministry was
flavoured with it; then he added, "Don't be afraid of putting in an
extra lump now and then."
Spurgeon was among the most eager celebrants of the tercentenary of
Calvin's death on May 27, 1864. He agreed with John Knox, who said
that in Geneva, in Calvin's day, was "the most perfect school of
Christ that ever was on the earth since the days of the apostles."
in Leeds for the Baptist Union in a Methodist Chapel on a memorable
occasion, he read the tenth chapter of Romans. Pausing at the
thirteenth verse, he remarked, "Dear me! How wonderfully like John
Wesley the apostle talked! 'Whosoever shall call.' Whosoever. Why, that is a Methodist word, is it not?"
Glory! Hallelujah!" came the responses.
dear brothers," the preacher added, "but read the ninth chapter of
the epistle, and see how wonderfully like John Calvin he
talked—"That the purpose of God according to election might stand.'"
Smiles on the faces of those that had before been silent were the
only response to this utterance. "The fact is," continued the
preacher, "that the whole of truth is neither here nor there,
neither in this system nor in that, neither with this man nor that.
Be it ours to know what is scriptural in all systems and to receive
1909 400th Anniversary
Mur des Reformateurs (Reformation Wall) it is located inside the
Park des Bastions. It was began in 1,909 and finished in 1,917.This
massive and impressive sculpture is 5 metre tall and 100 metres
wide.It was began on the 400th anniversary of Calvin's birth. This
wall is dedicated to the whole Reformation Movement and its four
main figures: Jean Calvin,Théodore de Béze,John Knox,and Guillaume
Farel, these nice and huge sculptures realate 150 years of the
history of Protestanism in Switzerland,specially on Geneva area.
Numerous articles (several by B. B. Warfield) were published in
(1909-1910) The Princeton Theological Review Vol. 7 (09) and Vol. 8
(1910) and Vol. 12
Available from http://www.solid-ground-books.com/books_WarfieldTitles.asp
CALVIN MEMORIAL ADDRESSES
Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Calvin's Birth
Warfield, Thomas Cary Johnson, James Orr, R.A. Webb and others
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States gathered in
Savannah, GA in May 1909 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the
birth of John Calvin. After an Introduction by Charles S. Wood, the
following addresses were given and printed:
Chapter One: Calvin's Contribution to the Reformation by Rev.
Richard C. Reed (Columbia Seminary)
Chapter Two: Calvin the Theologian by Rev. Henry C. Minton (Trenton,
Chapter Three: Calvin's Contribution to Church Polity by Rev. Thomas
Cary Johnson (Richmond, VA)
Chapter Four: Calvin's Attitude Towards and Exegesis of the
Scriptures by Dr. James Orr (Glasgow, Scotland)
Chapter Five: Calvin's Doctrine of Infant Salvation by Rev. R.A.
Webb (Kentucky Theological Seminary)
Chapter Six: The Relation of Calvin and Calvinism to Missions by
Rev. S.L. Morris (Sect. of the Home Missions of Presbyterian Church
Chapter Seven: Calvin's Influence on Educational Progress by
President George H. Denny (Washington and Lee University, Lexington,
Chapter Eight: Calvin's Influence Upon the Political Development of
the World by Frank T. Glasgow (Lexington, VA)
Chapter Nine: How Far Has Original Calvinism Been Modified By Time?
by Rev. Samuel A. King (Austin Theological Seminary)
Chapter Ten: Present Day Attitude to Calvinism by Rev. Benjamin B.
Warfield (Princeton Theological Seminary)
Chapter Eleven: How May the Principles of Calvinism be Rendered Most
Effective Under Modern Conditions? by Rev. A.M. Fraser (Staunton,
Chapter Twelve: John Calvin - The Man and His Times by Dr. Charles
Merle D'Aubigne (Paris, France)
· 450th anniversary (1959)
Theology Today, vol 16, no 3 (1959), see:
If John Calvin could see the stir he is causing
among his spiritual descendants, he might be a little disturbed.
When the great man died, his body was wrapped in a simple white
sheet and placed in a modest cedarwood coffin. There were no
speeches at his grave, and there was no monument to mark its
location. Not long after, people did not know where his body was
buried. The glory of God was his consuming passion, and even an
instrument that bad served him so dutifully, manifoldly and
influentially must not rob him of his sovereign grandeur.
And yet, in spite of Calvin's humility, and in
face of the danger of substituting the celebration of our fathers'
faith for a living faith our own, it is right that the sons and
daughters of Calvin should recall his life and work, understand his
thought and ministry, repent his mistakes and failures, recognize
his influence and power, and lend his person and integrity.
So 1959 has been designated as the 450th
anniversary of Calvin's birth, the 400th anniversary of the
definitive edition of his Institutes the Christian Religion,
the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Academy of Geneva, the
400th anniversary of the first Synod of Reformed Church of France,
and the 100th anniversary of Presbyterianism in Brazil. Suitable
celebrations have been held in various places, the most significant
of which were in France, Geneva, Brazil. And it has been a most
suitable time to dedicate the freshly restored Calvin Auditoire in Geneva, which is associated with teaching and preaching ministry
of Calvin and with the European refugees who made Calvinism an
Geneva, where Calvin lived and worked for
twenty-five years, aged in a three-day celebration marked by
procession, reception, worship, convocation, " spectacle," and the
first showing of the movie Soli Deo Gloria. Thus was Jean
Cauvin, the son of an ecclesiastical lawyer, the converted
classicist, the brilliant student, who was challenged by the fiery
Farel to choose the life of public leadership rather than the
peaceful life of the scholar, honored in this Calvin year. John
Calvin was a man of many gifts and of historical significance. He
was educator, theologian, correspondent, reformer, author,
expositor, preacher, administrator, counselor, friend. Contrary to
population, his letters indicate he was a man of friendly
compassion. The flaming heart on the extended hand of God on
portrays the core of the Gospel by which he
lived. And his doctrine of predestination insists that no Church or
man or state can control the free grace of God who elects in mercy.
And in consenting to the burning of Servetus, he was a child of his
time, giving a reluctant permission to an execution -which might
have been carried out by Roman Catholic authorities had not Geneva
acted. A monument was later erected by the citizens of Geneva to
acknowledge the mistake that was made.
On the occasion of this notable anniversary, an Address has been delivered to Christians everywhere,
rededicating the sons of Calvin and their Churches to simple service
to a common Lord and reaffirming their readiness to follow the
Spirit into new and active forms of life, order, and witness. They
greet all Christians and call them to a recollection, a repentance,
and a reaffirmation which God may use in the renewal of the Church.
The Address expresses gratitude to the
Reformers for proclaiming Christ alone as Saviour and Lord; for
uncovering the Gospel of the unmerited love of God; for establishing
the authority of Scriptures for purging the Church that it may find
new ways to claim the world for its true Lord; for teaching that God
is free to effect man's salvation as he wills and use the Church
without being in bondage to it; for teaching that men may address
God directly, search the Scriptures, and be God's priests in all the
parishes of the common life.
The Address also recognizes and regrets
the failures of our fathers and of ourselves: words that obscured
the Word; tardy and timid testimony; license substituted for
Christian freedom; shrinking from the pain of applying the mind of
Christ to all the vexing issues of public life; reflecting the
world's hatreds that lead to war.
It closes with an eloquent plea for an
ecumenical encounter in ,which the Presbyterian order, Calvinistic
tradition, and Reformed faith are laid upon the altar and offered to
fellow Christians for what ever use they may be to the whole Church.
"With the whole Church we hold ourselves alert for the surprises
with which the Lord of history can alter the tempo of our renewal,
and for the new forms with which an eternally recreating God can
startle us while he secures hi Church. And we strain ahead toward
the great day when the right ness of our joined memories will be a
small sign of the strength of our conjoined forces, and when each
Church's anniversaries will be eve: Church's celebrations."
Query: Did OPC, RPCES, or BP celebrate a 450Th in 1959?
Calvin and Economic Justice
by the World
Alliance of Reformed Churches
consultation on “The Impact of Calvin’s Economic and Social Thought
on Reformed Witness” was held in Geneva in November 2004. Thirty
scholars, pastors, and laypersons attended. The event was conceived
in response to the 24th General Council of the World Alliance of
Reformed Churches (WARC), held in Accra, Ghana three months earlier.
of the consultation issued a statement, parts of which follow:
“We believe that
rediscovering Calvin can help members of the World Alliance of
Reformed Churches to take up the challenge of the 2004 General
Council which, in the face of the financial and economic powers,
called churches to covenant on matters of economic injustice and
environmental destruction,” the consultation statement said. “In
Accra, in addition to confessing the guilt of those of us who
benefit from complicity in these systems of destruction, we affirmed
‘that God is a God of justice…and in a special way the God of the
destitute, the poor, the exploited, the wronged and the abused.’”
consultation, sponsored by WARC, the John Knox International
Reformed Centre, and the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Geneva, said Calvin was convinced that the “earth is the Lord’s” and
that its wonders are entrusted to humanity as a shared resource.
are not personal possessions but means to serve the common good;
individual talents of mind or physical skill or artistic creation
find their right purpose in mutual support within the whole society.
intended every human being to know that because she or he is a
member of the global human family by birth, each one must recognize
every other person as his or her ‘own flesh and bone.’”
stated that Calvin, who has been called the father of capitalism,
has often been misrepresented and may in fact be better
characterized as an inspiration for Reformed churches’ efforts
around liberation, justice and the common good. “We believe that the
rediscovery of Calvin has something relevant to contribute to the
witness of Reformed people and churches today with regard to social
and economic issues,” the consultation says in its statement.
500th anniversary celebrations of Calvin’s birth in 2009, the
consultation issued a challenge to all Christians to reconsider
whether Calvin might offer some insights into new or better ways to
approach social and economic issues. “Calvin was certainly no
stranger to challenges in these aspects of life but he met them with
a biblical vision of the spiritual and practical coherence of God’s
world. Calvin did not compartmentalize any dimension of human life
or separate it from all the others.
pastors and lay people said that Calvin has been at times
represented selectively, misrepresented and sometimes deliberately
distorted. The consultation argues, for example, that there has been
“deliberate or at least practical denial of Calvin’s inconvenient
insistence that Christians must do for their neighbours what they
would have their neighbours do for them, even to the point of
expending their lives, honour and possessions.” It adds, “No doubt
Calvin, like the originator of any historical movement, would be
utterly amazed at many things ascribed to him today.”
Today when the
global market holds a hegemonic control over people that reminds
many of political empires, daily working toward the renewal of all
life remains the calling of all Christians, the statement continues.
“However, for Calvin, working together to renew the social and
economic world is also the responsibility of the church as church,
both in local situations and international contexts, acting both
with those of the same confession and with all followers of the
gospel - the ecumenical church.
rediscovered Calvin is a person working with church and other civil
leaders. Eminently practical, Calvin knew that ‘what is everyone’s
job is no one’s job,’ which is one compelling reason to have
specific offices leading the church or community to be actively
teaching reminds Christians of their responsibility to learn God’s
will and teach it to fellow Christians, that they ought to seek and
offer reproof, forgiveness and reconciliation. In addition, “All
Christians are obligated to serve the poor, needy and afflicted -
recognizing that these brothers and sisters are their equals in
God’s sight, they embody Christ.”
are also part of the larger church and the church as church is
called to fulfill these ministries and so it establishes structures
of leadership to enable corporate witness,” the consultation stated.
concludes that Calvin reconsidered offers nourishment - in the form
of vision and resources - for such a justice journey. “Calvin was
deeply and personally convinced that stewardship of all earthly
gifts for the common good and justice and love in all human
relationships, are not optional for any human being.”
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