Saturday, 6 June 2009

Was Calvin more Catholic than Luther?

That was the somewhat provocative question at the end of the second of two lectures- "Calvin et sa vision de l'Eglise" - by Pastor Alain Amoux to launch a Calvin exhibition at the Reformed church in Ferney-Voltaire (writes Dr B while Pastor Jane was in Rome meeting the UK ambassador to the Vatican). Alain Amoux pointed out that while for Luther the structure of the church was largely a matter of indifference, Calvin developed a highly structured theology of the church. (Ironically in the 19th century the position got reversed with Lutheran theologians more and more insisting on a high theology of the church and Reformed becoming more and more diverse, or as Amoux put it, "happy anarchists" as far as the church is concerned.) In part, suggested Amoux, Calvin took the church more seriously than Luther because Luther died before the start of the Council of Trent, while Calvin was active in Geneva while the council was taking place - he was therefore consciously or otherwise developing an alternative to the ecclesiology being developed in Rome to reconquor a Protestantised Europe. In the first lecture - "Calvin humaniste" - Amoux traced the contribution of Calvin to, among other things, the French language, ironically largely overlooked today in the "catho-laique" France. Calvin started off in a brilliant career as a writer and administrator and became a theologian of the church largely by accident, through the force of events.

1 Comment:

Jane said...

Thanks for this - sounds really interesting. Arnoux is a great speaker and a very good historian and preacher too - he has a retirement home in the Chambon sur Lignon and is a specialist of the history of that area. He has orally at least given a very salutory alternative the adulation of Trocmé in the area.