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5. The Exegetical Background of Calvin’s View of the Government

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Chapter Summary

The chapter talks about the Calvin's Institutio which was first intended as a catechetical work. The first edition of the Institutes discusses the reciprocal callings of magistrates and their subjects. It is the duty of the government to represent God and the duty of the subjects to accept, respect, and obey their authority, even if the government is ungodly and oppressive. Calvin's opponents are the Anabaptists, who accept the government as an ordinance of God, but deny that Christians should be involved in it. He acknowledges that the civil government does have a task in religious affairs. He distinguishes three advantages of a well ordered government. The first is a quiet life; rulers bear the sword to keep the peace. The second is the preservation of godliness. Finally, it is the care for public decency; the government should prevent the people from filthiness and promote moderation.

Keywords:Anabaptists; Calvin; civil government; God; Institutes



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