In Geneva, Calvin encountered bitter and prolonged opposition to his work.  But it would be wrong to write about his career there predominantly with reference to his opposition.  From that, it is but a step to presenting him as one of that most unhappy and unpleasant breed, the cantankerous minister who has got across his people or, no less repulsive, as the tyrant of Geneva.  Moreover, the opposition’s struggle against Calvin was, by no means, the most important part of his life.  It is of more significance, historically and theologically, that he wrote his books and preached his sermons than that he had to listen to an uncontrollable woman screaming abuse at him because she could not get her own way.  The interest, for us, in the opposition lies precisely in the fact that it was opposition, that it demonstrates the reaction provoked by his church polity.  It is in this way, as we seek to understand Calvin’s theology and practical church work, that we are brought to consider the activities of the opposition.

The troubles were caused by two factors.  [One was] the undisciplined wilfulness and fear of a strong section of the community.  The other [was] that blend of determination, excitability, and intelligence that constituted Calvin’s character. . .

From: John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975), p. 124.


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