Calvin's Institutes Chapter 16 (775-784)

August 4, 2020

This was a fascinating chapter that got me thinking deeper than I had been about civil government. I again want to study the Anabaptists more after the footnote (footnote 2) at the opening of the chapter (755). And, I especially appreciate Calvin's point about "spiritual freedom and civil bondage" coexisting (756). He uses his normal name calling as he mentions the need to have civil government on page 757; however, in this case I found it helpful. He said, "It is a cruel barbarity to want to reject [government]." It is helpful to consider what those who reject the role of government would achieve (in a bad way) if they were able to have their way with the lack of government. As Calvin goes on in the same paragraph, I, however, feel like be begins to overstate what the law is to achieve when he says that it is to prevent idolatry and blasphemy against God (757). This leads me to my next major thought.

A Distinction Between Old Testament Israel and Other Governments

I wonder if some roll their eyes as soon as I bring this up. But alas, it is still important in my thinking, and I believe it is of large importance as we interpret the Scriptures. Calvin seems to, without explanation, use examples from Old Testament Israel and their government as binding to how we should look at all government. I am especially thinking of page 758, but there are other places as well. I invite a discussion here.

Three Types of Civil Government

Calvin says there are three types of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy (761). That was interesting to think through. Anybody have comments?

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