Never I fan of Calvin, I am reading Stroup’s Calvin (Abingdon Press, Pillars of Theology Series) and noticed a comment referring to the ‘c’hurch of Jesus Christ in Calvin’s writings. For me, I can think of no other name under heaven (for salvation) for in heaven (the royal family) which I rather be under than that of the Lord’s. Further, why not have the Body named after the Head? Or the Espoused carry the name of her Husband? So, it interested me this small reference.
Moving on – as I went to read more of Calvin’s works, I came across this quote, which I thought that I might share:
However, those of whom we are speaking here also fail on their part since they go beyond proper measure. For where our Lord ask that they practice mercy, they leave it behind and give themselves wholly to rigor and strictness. For in believing that there is no church except where they see a perfect purity and holiness of life, under pretext of hating vices they depart from God’s church, thinking they are leaving the company of the wicked. They allege that the church of Jesus Christ is holy. But they must hear what He Himself says about it: that it is a mix of good and bad. For the parable where He compares the church to a net which draws in all kinds of fish, which are not divided until they come to the bank is true. Let them hear what He says about that in another parable: that the church is like a field which, after being sown with good wheat, is also ravaged with weeds which cannot be separated from the good harvest until it is brought to the bard. Because our Lord declares that His church will be subject to the unhappiness until the judgment day, and be always burdened with bad people, it is futile for them to seek a church completely pure and clean.
I am no interpreter of Calvin, but it seems to me that Calvin is fighting against that that desire a perfect church, and finding none, leave, hopping to the next one. Maybe I am reading too much into Calvin’s words, but he seems to be speaking about Tertullian’s absolute rigor and strictness, and very little mercy – although Tertullian would have allowed the tares to remain in the congregation.
While I believe that the Church is pure and holy, the scaffolding is not – and we are that scaffolding.
The above quote was taken from Elsie Ann McKee’s translation of the 1541 French Edition. A sample can be found here.