Calvin’s Advice For Church Reform

“Wherefore, it would be much better that these things should be pruned away, so that you might have nothing which is not conformed to the Word of God, and serviceable for the edification of the Church. It is quite true we ought to bear with the weak; but in order to strengthen them, and to lead them to greater perfection. That does not mean, however, that we are to humour blockheads who wish for this or that, without knowing why. I know the consideration which keeps back many is, that they are afraid too great a change could not be carried through. It is admitted, that when we have to do with neighbours with whom we desire to cherish friendly feeling, one is disposed to gratify them by giving way in many things. In worldly matters, that may be quite bearable, wherein it is allowable to yield one to another, and to forego one’s right for the sake of peace; but it is not altogether the same thing in regard to the spiritual governance of the Church, which ought to be according to the ordinance of the Word of God. Herein, we are not at liberty to yield up anything to men, nor to turn aside on either hand in their favour. Indeed there is nought that is more displeasing to God, than when we would, in accordance with our own human wisdom, modify or curtail, advance or retreat, otherwise than He would have us. Wherefore, if we do not wish to displease Him, we must shut our eyes to the opinion of men. As for the dangers which may arise, we ought to avoid them so far as we can, but never by going aside from the straight road. While we walk uprightly, we have His promise that He will help us. Therefore, what remains for us is to do our duty, humbly committing the event unto Himself. And here we may perceive wherefore the wise men of this world are ofttimes disappointed in their expectation, because God is not with them, when, in distrust of Him and His aid, they seek out crooked paths and such as He condemns. Do we then wish to feel that we have the power of God upon our side? Let us simply follow what he tells us. Above all, we must cling to this maxim, that the reformation of His Church is the work of His hand.”*

*Bonnet, J. (2009). Vol. 2: Letters of John Calvin, Vol. I-IV (180–181). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.


About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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