• Moderate Religious Liberty in the Theology of John Calvin

    Author(s):
    John Witte, Jr. (see profile)
    Date:
    1996
    Subject(s):
    Law, Religion, History, Church history, John Calvin, Reformation, Christianity
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Geneva, Religious Liberty, Servetus
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/mq1g-yc73
    Abstract:
    Some scholars portray John Calvin as a champion of religious liberty and human rights. Others view him as a rigid and brutal theocrat. This article shows that neither interpretation does justice to Calvin’s complex and evolving views of spiritual and political liberty. In his early writings, Calvin distinguished sharply between the spiritual and political liberty of individuals, and showed how these two concepts of liberty operated in the heavenly and earthly kingdoms respectively. In his later writings, Calvin worked to harmonize spiritual and temporal life and liberty, and to balance the religious liberty of the individual with the corporate needs of church, state, and society. This resulted in a much more nuanced understanding of liberty and authority, rights and duties, church and state, that Calvin worked out in both theological and jurisprudential terms. Many of his formulations proved axiomatic for the Western tradition, and anticipated understandings of rights and liberties that are still pertinent today.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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