What You Can Learn from the Severity of John Calvin

Perhaps no man was more devoted to the truth he believed in than John Calvin.

Perhaps no man has shown more fearless courage in running every risk–in making every sacrifice–in order to serve the cause which he gave his faith.

And his life.

No doubt, this is John Calvin’s noblest and most beautiful characteristic. One that was demonstrated at every step of his life.

But what made John Calvin so noble, made him so severe.

The Dark Side of Calvin’s Convictions

Calvin wasn’t simply a theologian. Or moralist. He didn’t just write books. He also governed human affairs. Attended theological conferences. Political meetings. Rubbed shoulders with princes, politicians and city patriarchs.

He fought social demolition and steered the soul of Geneva based on his opinions…opinions molded by divine authority and law.

Nothing was more important to Calvin than to secure the triumph and influence of the doctrines and disciplines found in the Bible over every man’s life–whether public or private.

Thus, he was not only critical and rigorous of his own life, but critical and rigorous of others also.

Affectionate and faithful to friends, Calvin often lacked sympathy for mankind in general. And justice to his enemies.

He believed and asserted that he had more right over men’s opinions and actions. Neither did he sufficiently respect their rights.

The convictions John Calvin held so firmly and systematized so carefully had a greater share in the severity and injustice of his conduct toward others.

One could say he was blind to these faults. And deaf to the criticisms of friends and enemies alike. Let’s not be like that. Let’s not walk away from this post without learning from Calvin’s mistakes.

Your Turn: Questions You Must Ask Yourself

So, stop what you’re doing right now, read the following questions and reflect on–whether in the comments, on your blog or in your head–your answers.

Where am I being critical and rigorous on myself and others…and is it necessary?

Whom am I being unmerciful to?

What people–whether an individual or group–am I snubbing?

Is there anyone–including myself–who I’m withholding grace from?

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