The fundamental of Calvin’s teachings lies in the emphasis on the literal reading of the Christian scriptures. He was persistent in his approach when he insisted on reading everything literally. Anything which was not overtly mentioned or not according to the exact words of the scriptures was not taken and was discarded, on the other hand, if something was mentioned explicitly it had to be followed exactly taking and interpreting the literal meaning only. He went beyond his mentor Zwingli’s model when Calvin asserted that not only should all the faith be based on the literal reading of Scriptures, but other things like church organization, political organization, and the social structure should conform to the literal details of the scriptures. (Hooker)
Calvin was the first one to separate the church and the government as two separate entities although ruled by the scriptures. He argued for two types of government in a compendium of theology, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion.”
- One government regulates the religious or inward feature of humanity, that is, spiritual government, and
- One government rules the outer part of human life, that is, secular government.
Calvin attempted to produce a Christian nation where the church and state continued separated but linked. Civil government should use its lawful duty in upholding order and establishing a responsible society. However, Calvin drew clear lines between that which was heavenly and that which is worldly. The Church and State, though split entities, were part of the same idea as a Christian commonwealth. Here everyone had a fitting place, including the poor. All people in this society would find a place and position and be accepted by others no matter their class. Their relationship with Christ, then, in a spiritual sense, removed all boundaries, where on earth, such boundaries should be valued, and each individual should fulfill their role as God had so designed.
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