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Calvin’s Legacy: Dour Autocrat or Democracy’s Hero?


Calvin500 – Summary

This week in Geneva there have been:

  1. 15 evening sermons
  2. 16 academic papers
  3. 4 academic Keynote addresses
  4. 6 Young Calvin Scholar Papers
  5. One Geneva Lake Boat Cruise
  6. One Calvin-Walking Tour
  7. One Banquet
  8. Little sleep
  9. Good food
  10. Great coffee
  11. Wonderful fellowship
  12. Encouraging time in the Word
  13. Challenging time for the mind and heart
  14. Wonderful times via Skype with Mandy and the kids
  15. Little sleep

Tomorrow at 6am I will board a train for Zurich to begin my long trip home:

  1. 3 hour train from Geneva to Zurich
  2. 13 hour plane from Zurich to Singapore
  3. 15 hours in Singapore visiting with a friend of ours
  4. 8 hour plane to Brisbane
  5. 4 hour plane to Auckland
  6. 1 hour plane to Napier

Approx. total travel time: 44 hours!

I am so looking forward to being home!




Calvin500 – Day #5 – Final Day

Today started in a slow crawl. Wow am I exhausted.

After my normal breakfast and walk to The Cathedral, it was time for four more papers and a Keynote address…

Paper #1 was from Dr. Andrew McGowan: “John Calvin’s Doctrine of Scripture.”


Unless we understand Calvin’s doctrine of Scripture we will have a hard time understanding his theology in other areas.

Calvin had a high view of Scripture and did not believe there were errors in Scripture. However, it would be anachronistic to call him an inerrantist.

Unlike the American use of the term inerrancy, Calvin was at the head of 500 years of the European tradition of infalliblity. “The Scriptures are without error and they cannot fail to fill God’s desired purpose.”

This is a very controversial topic and one that is hotly debated between the US and the rest of the world. I am not saying I agree or disagree with McGowan at this point, just summarizing his statements.

Paper #2 was from Dr. Michael Horton: “Union and Communion: Rediscovering Calvin’s Eucharistic Theology.”

Dr. Horton serves as the editor of Modern Reformation which I subscribe to and look forward to getting each issue! Although, like I told him, but the time I get my copy in New Zealand the rest of the Internet has already been blogging about it for weeks! I sat with Dr. Horton at the banquet in the afternoon as well. It was great to get to know him a bit personally and chat a bit about theology. When I asked him if he had children he answered, “Yes, four, one 9 year old and three 6 year old!” Yes, that’s right triplets. He said this is the longest he has been away from his family since they were born. He confirmed the blessing adding to your quiver in multiples, and at the same time the tremendous challenge as well!


Ok, to be honest, at this point I was standing most of the time to just not fall asleep. It had nothing to do with Dr. Horton, but everything to do with exhaustion, so my notes are a bit scarce.

Essentially, Calvin’s ecclesiology grows out of his Eucharistic theology.

He also presented an interesting question which needs some thought on my part, “Is the church instrumental in the ongoing redemption of the world or the ambassadors proclaiming the redemption?”

Paper #3 was from Dr. Henri Blocher: “Calvin and Divine Election”


Today was the day for more controversial papers!

Calvin was not the first or only Reformer to hold to the doctrine of divine election.

St. Augustine was the first of the church fathers to articulate this doctrine.

Thomas Aquinas started as semi-pelagian but changed his view to agree with Augustine’s.

Divine election should not be one’s central doctrine, but should flow from one’s doctrine of Divine Majesty (Holiness of God/Glory of God) and Human Depravity.

He then gave three area of controversy:

1. The relationship between election & justice

There is no arbitrariness to God’s choosing. His choice is always consistent with His justice.

Calvin does not attempt to answer all apparent contradictions, i.e. how can God be good, loving, righteous and yet condemn people to hell? We must stop where revelation stops and bow down to divine majesty.

2. The Lapsarian Controversy.

This is very technical so whoever reads this, if you don’t get concerned, just skip over it or ask me about it later…

The question is what is the place of God’s electing in His plan/council in relation to the Fall?

Supra-lapsarian => God chose to elect before He decreed/ordained the Fall

Infra-lapsarian => God ordained/decreed the Fall and then chose to elect some who fell.

Majority of Calvinists were Infra and have read Calvin as such.

Dr. Blocher was arguing for Calvin as Supra…

3. Double Predestination

The idea that God, in the same way, predestines some to be saved and others to be damned.

Dr. Blocher was very direct with this…

”In using predestination in the same sense for both the saved and the reprobate, Calvin went beyond Scripture. This was unusual for Calvin, but it is clear you do not find the use of this term, this way in Scripture. So being a true Calvinist I am differing with Calvin in favour with Scripture!”

Paper #4 was from Dr. Jae Sung Kim: “Calvinism in Asia”

Dr, Kim lives in Korea where he teaches systematic theology.


He delivered a fascinating and encouraging paper on the history and missionary expansion throughout Asia.

As he pointed out most of the early missionaries to Asia (and most of the world for that matter) were committed Calvinists. There committed to God’s sovereignty spurred them on to go into all the world and proclaim Christ.

He gave an overview of India/China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

This was an important presentation, in my option, as Calvinism is often seen as a Western idea. (There are not more Calvinistic Evangelicals in Korea that anywhere else in the world!) In addition it, once again, refuted the claim that Calvinism and mission is incompatible – it is, in fact just the opposite!

Today’s Keynote address was from Dr. Bruce McCormack: “Union with Christ in Calvin’s Theology: Grounds for a Divinization Theory?”

Dr. McCormack teaches at Princeton Seminary and is an expert on Karl Barth.

Ok, I was unable to take notes and listen to this one. I will have to wait for the book!

After the final paper we went to the closing Banquet.



At the banquet, Geoff Thomas gave some closing remarks on “What I have learned from John Calvin & Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones.” Pastor Thomas was then given a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for faithful pastor ministry.

The food was fantastic! The restaurant was packed. There were a lot of announcements and other things for those who were on the tour and were departing tomorrow, but all in all it was a good time.

Tonight at The Cathedral there were three more sermons delivered:

Rev. Ted Donnelly: “More Than Conquerors” – Rom. 8:37

Dr. Hywel Jones: “One of a Thousand” – Job 36:1-4

Dr. Derek Thomas: “Adoring the Majesty of God” Rom 11:33-35

I did not attend any of this final sessions.

I came back to the hostel in the afternoon to wash clothes and pack and it has taken me all day to get my clothes washed and dried. I now need to pack and I have to be on a train for Zurich by 6am in the morning.

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Posted by on 09/07/2009 in Calvin, Calvin500, Conferences


Calvin500 – Day #4

Today started out with what has become my usual two cups of coffee at the cafe at the corner before walking to The Cathedral. The guy in the cafe knows my order when I walk in the door now!

(It was pointed out to us that technically we should not be calling The Cathedral a cathedral. It was, of course, a Roman Catholic Cathedral before 1536 when the Roman Catholics were kicked out of Geneva and Farel officially began with the work of The Reformation, only two months later to persuade a visiting John Calvin to stay on to be the pastor. In our protestant tradition this is no longer a Cathedral, it is a church! This distinction is very obvious immediately as you walk through the doors. If you look back at the photos in an earlier post of the interior you will notice how plain and even, dark and gray it is. This is deliberate. All of the relics & icons from the Roman church were removed and rather than having the attention of the people centred on the alter, the pulpit was placed in the middle to show the intentional centrality of the Word (the preached Word) of God.)

We started today as all days with four papers and a keynote address.

Paper #1 was from Dr. George Knight: “Calvin as New Testament Exegete.”


This paper was very facinatinig. Calvin was an exegete par excellence. Probably without parallel in the history of the church.

Calvin claimed his commentaries were written with “Lucid Brevity.”

His stated desire was to unfold the intended meaning of the original author and not to lead the reader astray.

He was 30 years old when he published his first commentary – Romans. All the New Testament was finished by 1555 and published by 1556 – from 15501555 he had written a commentary on the entire NT except 2/3 John & Revelation!

He began Isaiah at this time as well. After Romans he was given secretaries to help with the task.

Why did Calvin start with Romans and John’s Gospel?

Calvin stated that when one gets an understanding of Romans a door is opened to all the rest of Scripture.

John dwells more largely on the doctrine of the offices of Christ, John is the key to understanding the other Gospels.

They were first translated into English in 1840-50.

Some weak points of Calvin’s commentaries:

1. Little technical introduction
2. Little technical detail
3. Little interaction with other commentaries.

However, his were written by a preacher for preachers and were faithful to the text.

Paper #2 was from R. Scott Clark (Clark blogs here): “Calvin’s Principle of Worship”


Calvin was very concerned with the reformation of public worship.
Principles of Calvin’s Worship Reform

1. Public Worship & Piety

Out piety and Christian growth is directly connected to our attendance and participation in public worship.

Because man is depraved and the heart of man is a factory of idols men must submit himself to the divine mandate for public worship.

2. His pastoral use of public worship

For Calvin this was not a matter of just minor differences of opinion on secondary issues.

For Calvin it came down to one’s understanding of Scripture and the glory of God.

The ministers and elders were responsible for administering a form of worship honouring to God and consistent with Scrpture. This was not a democratic process.

Paper #3 was written by Dr. Hughes Old and read by Dr. Terry Johnson: “Calvin’s Worship Reforms.” (Dr. Old was ill and unable to attend the conference. Dr. Old has written a monumental 6 volume series titled, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures. A set I would love to have and read!)

Dr. Terry Johnson has written a number of books, but two of the most helpful books I have read in the past 18 months were written by him – When Grace Comes Home & The Family Worship Book. When Grace Comes Home helped me more than any other book last year to think through the practical, daily implications of God’s sovereignty and goodness. I have been using this, this year as a starting point for our teaching time in our Fellowship Group at church.)


Preaching as a strong doxological purpose. It is worship just as much as prayer and the sacraments.

How is reading and preaching the word worship?

1. Worship is calling out to God in time of need.

We must preach for repentance

2. Worship is delight in holy wisdom

When God’s word is heard He is glorified.

Preaching displays the beauty of divine wisdom

If Truth is essential for genuine worship, then preaching and teaching of Scripture will be central to all we do in worship.

The study of God’s word is the way we show our love for God.

3. Worship is participation in the covenant community.

Through preaching we are taught the terms of the covenant, the requirements of the covenant, and are reminded of the promises of the covenant.

God is never glorified quite as thoroughly as when His word is preached and His people are saved and sanctified.

4. Worship is remembrance

Preaching recounts God’s work for our remembrance

5. Worship is Proclamation

Jesus set the example by going about preaching the Kingdom of God

It opens the Gospel to the Gentiles/unbelievers

Evangelism/Evangelistic preaching is essential to worship

Paper #4 was by Dr. Henri Blocher: “Calvin, the Frenchman.”


Calvin was a Frenchman, although he lived in Geneva for most of his life.

He only received citizenship in Geneva five years before his death.

He was French both by birth and education.

Early on the French churches tended toward congregationalism. It was Calvin who wrote to them and persuaded them to a Presbyterian form of church government.

Calvin’s clarity and lucid logic as a writer may be attributed to him being French.

Dr. Blocher’s paper was looking into Calvin’s French heritage and asking whether we can draw any connections between his being French and his writings, teaching, etc.

Today’s Keynote Address was from Dr. William McComish: “Calvin’s Children”

Near the end of Calvin’s life a Catholic bishop greatly upset Calvin by writing in a letter that Calvin was experiencing God’s judgment because he had no children and therefore was leaving no heir (his only son had died in infancy). Initially, Calvin was deeply grieved by this insult. However, after further thought he came to realize that God had given him thousands of children!

In fact we are all here today as Calvin’s children.

Dr. McComish gave a very interesting historical overview of the context of Calvin’s life and the setting in which Calvinism grew. Then proceeded to give some brief biographical sketches of different men and women of the Calvinist traditions who significantly influenced the world.

Immediately following the Keynote address we had an impromptu guided tour of several keys sites in the life of Calvin. The tour was guided by John Glass. I have met John a couple of times in the past at Shepherd’s Conferences. John grew up in Geneva and is now living there (has been for 13 years) with his family pastoring a church. He did an awesome job – only wish we had more time!

Here are some photos from the tour:

Inside the academy where we have been enjoying the academic portion of the conference.

100_0652 100_0651

A plaque inside The Cathedral placed there in 1536 commemorating when the Roman Catholics were kicked out of Geneva and the city officially adopted the principles of The Reformation.


The fountain just at the end of the road where Calvin lived. Calvin would have passed by this every day as he went to the church and academy. This is where they would have retrieved their water for their home.


A plaque on the wall outside the modern building where Calvin’s house once stood.


In a museum (only on this tour did I learn that all museums in Geneva are free!). These are two disciplinary hats from Calvin’s time. A person under discipline for sexual sin had to wear this hat, were marched around the city and then banned from the city for life. This was a civil punishment not church discipline.








The mayor’s office today, but in the time of Calvin would have been the square where the Huguenots from France would have gathered as they arrived in mass from France. The staircase is very unique in that it is tall enough for a man to ride up it while sitting on a horse!


The original academy which Calvin built! Still standing! It is currently being restored, so we could not get too close.



After the tour there was about 15 minutes before the beginning of “Young Calvin Scholar’s Symposium” – see the previous post for more on this. Here are a couple of photos of me delivering my paper.




Immediately after the symposium was complete I went to find food as it was 5pm and I had not had anything since breakfast! Had a good lunch and then went for a walk, window shopping! There are so many amazing stores full of crazy expensive stuff. It would be such fun to be here with Mandy some day!

The first sermon this evening was from Rev. Geoff Thomas, Sr. Pastor, Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, Wales – “Election” Eph. 1:3-14.

As I mentioned before Geoff Thomas is one of my pastoral heroes. This was my first time to ever hear him preach!


He defies outlining.

However, his sermon was the most clear sermon on election I have ever heard.

More than that it was beautiful. That might sound strange when speaking of a sermon (even more strange when speaking of a sermon on election), but I cannot think of a better word. The way he spoke was so beautiful, it was as though he was, at times, just talking to an individual in his lounge, and at other times just communing with God. He preached so that all of the attention was on God and Christ and in such a way that they both were made to look beautiful in the eyes of the believer!

I could listen to him preach all day!

The second sermon this evening was from Dr. Joel Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. – Cherishing the Church.”


This was my fist time hearing Dr. Beeke preach as well. It was a wonderfully powerful message. I have some notes, but I am getting too tired to type them at the moment, so they will have to wait.

I will admit I did not stay for the final sermon, but came back to my room a litte earlier tonight (although I am still not getting to bed any earlier!). It was from Dr. Martin Holt, Pastor Emmanuel Baptist Church, Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Posted by on 08/07/2009 in Calvin, Calvin500, Conferences


Calvin500 Recognizes Young Scholars in Geneva

This was posted today over at the Calvin500 Blog.

(Geneva, Switzerland) – July 8, 2009 – Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), recognized several promising prize-winning Young Scholars as part of its commemoration of John Calvin.

As its own symposium within the Quincentenary of John Calvin’s birth, Calvin500 is pleased to announce that the following will be recognized at the Young Calvin Scholars Symposium at the Auditoire in Geneva on July8 at 15h 00. The public is cordially invited to hear synopses of these award-winning papers below.

The Calvin Prize will be awarded to Michael Habets of New Zealand for his essay, “Calvin’s Reformed Doctrine of Theosis,” at 15h10.

The Beza Prize will be awarded to Sebastian Heck of Heidelberg, Germany for his essay, “Elements of Innatism in the Thought of John Calvin,” at15h 30

The Viret Prize will be awarded to Matthew Burton of Atlanta, Georgia for his essay, “The Spirit of Calvinism in Business,” at 15h50.

The Zwingli Prize will be awarded to Michael Dewalt & Maarten Kuivenhoven of Grand Rapids, Michigan for his essay, “Calvin’s Practical View of Adoption,” at16h 10.

The Bucer Prize will be awarded to Timothy Gwin of Atlanta, Georgia for his essay, “Piety in Calvin and Erasmus, at 16h30.

The Farel Prize will be awarded to Joseph Fleener of New Zealand for his essay, “Exploring, with John Calvin, Our Adoption as Sons,” at16h 50.

Moderators for the Symposium will be Drs. David Hall, Darryl Hart, and Jon Payne.

Throughout the week, scholars and ministers are presenting lectures and sermons in these historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan reformer.


Calvin500 – Day #3

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Posted by on 07/07/2009 in Calvin, Calvin500, Conferences


Calvin500 – Day #2

This morning started out in a sprint. It was an early start, breakfast, two cups of coffee and off to L’ Auditoire (The Academy) for the first round of academic papers.


The first paper was from Dr. Douglas Kelly, “The Catholicity of the Theology of John Calvin”


Calvin was primarily a Biblical theologian who was simply attempting to expound the Scriptures to reform the church & society – therefore catholic in the best sense of the word. (The qualitative sense – according to the whole of revealed truth.) He was not a philosopher who was deliberately forming a system of theology around predestination.

Paper two was from Dr. Richard Gamble, “Recent Research in Calvin Studies.”


This paper was a summary and overview of Calvin’s life and ministry while survey most major books published in each area on Calvin since 2000. There was way too much data to retrain, but it was well presented. I found this paper very interesting. It is almost incomprehensible how many books have been published in the last nine years along on Calvin – certainly more than 40 were mentioned only 10 of which I recognized and 4 I have read!

Paper three was from Dr. Darryl Hart, “Calvin Among Nineteenth-Century Reformed Protestants in the United States.”


This was an excellent paper overview the movements within “Calvinism” during the 19th century. Again too much to summarize here, but he made two observations I would love to look into more:

1. There was a decline in Calvinism in the US after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

2. You will not find a homogeneous Calvinism in 19th US. It was a diverse movement taking on various forms. This, of course, has implication to today, when some are claiming you cannot describe yourself as “Reformed” or “Calvinistic” unless you adopt the entire Presbyterian system.

Paper four was written by Dr. Robert Kingdon but read by Dr. William McCormish as Dr. Kingdon is quite ill. Dr. Kingdon was also given a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” The title of the paper was, “Calvin and Ecclesiastical Discipline.”


Of all the Reformers, Calvin insisted on the practice of Church Discipline. Only the Anabaptists practiced it more. Calvin insisted that the church leaders have the authority of Church Discipline not Civil Authorities.

Today’s Keynote Address was given by Dr John Witte, “Reading Calvin as a Lawyer.” Dr. Witte is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Ethics Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. Dr. Witte has written a number of fantastic books on Christianity and Law.

Dr. Witte will be in New Zealand in 2011 giving a series of talks in Wellington and elsewhere. This is fantastic news!


His address was fantastic! Delivered well with clarity and depth. Essential listening for every thinking Christian.

1. Calvin’s training as a lawyer significantly affected his writing and teaching – form and structure.

2. Calvin saw that theology must affect law and civil government.

This is an overly simplistic summary and would probably even be insulting to Dr. Witte. I do hope they are going to make recordings available!

After the Keynote address we rushed off for lunch and then the pier for the Lake Geneva Boat Tour. (I was given a free admittance for the Lake Boat Cruise as part of the award for my paper which was submitted for the conference.)

Here are some photos of the lake:

(Additional info: When I boarded the boat I looked around for somewhere to sit and initially found a spot outside on the deck. Remember, I don’t know anyone, so I sat down by myself across from some other folks. Now one thing I have noticed so far is that those folks from America, in general, do not go out of their way to introduce themselves. They seem to be quite friendly to those they know, but very few have just walked up and said “Hello!” On the other hand people from New Zealand, Australia, Korea, Wales, and Scotland all have! So anyway, I sat down and immediately a man sitting across from me said hello and asked my name. He was very polite and had an accent I did not immediately recognize. He really seemed interested in me. I then began asking him about himself, what he did, etc. At one point he said something and a light went on in my head. I immediately said, “Hmmm. I think I know who I am talking to… Are you Geoff Thomas?” He very humbly said, “yes.” Now this is one of my pastoral heroes. He has been faithfully pastoring Alfred Place Baptist Church for 40 years! Very cool.)

















Myself & Myk Hebets from Carey Baptist in Auckland


I am off again for the evening sessions at The Cathedral!

Just returned from the evening services. (Yes, services, even one of the speakers – Dr. Peter Lillback commented that he had never heard three sermons in one Monday night before!)

The first message was from Dr. Philip Ryken (Sr. Pastor, Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia): “A Wide Door for Spreading the Gospel,” 1 Cor. 16:5-11.


He began by quoting a prayer Calvin often prayed at the end of the worship service for the missionary expanse of the Gospel.

Three main points:

1. There is the constraint of the call.
2. There is an wide open door.
3. There is strong opposition.

I really appreciated the structure of Dr. Ryken’s sermon. He clearly exegeted the text, explain what it meant to the original author/audience, gave specific examples from the life of Calvin in how he taught and modeled these things and then directly challenged us from the text. He then concluded by drawing a direct connection to the mission, and accomplished work of Christ on our behalf.

The second sermon was by Dr. Peter Lillback (President, Westminster Theological Semniary, Philadelphia, PA): “All the Glorious Offices of Christ” – 1 Cor. 1:29-31.


As our Redeemer Christ fulfilled and filled three offices.

1. Prophet – Wisdom
2. Priest – Holiness & Righteousness
3. King – No one can boast before Him

The third and final sermon for the evening was from Dr. Robert Godfrey (President, Westminster Seminary California): “Calvin’s Cherished Text” – John 17:1-5.

(I was really tired and almost didn’t stay for this – I am so glad I did.)


That they might know You & Jesus Christ Whom You have sent!

1. Do you know the life that is eternal?
2. Do you know they God who is Truth?
3. Do you know Christ without Whom you can know nothing else?

Only in Christ can we see God as our Father.


During the service I was sitting just behind Sinclair Ferguson, so after the service, I said hello and how much I have benefited spiritually from his books. He asked a good bit about me, where I was from, family, etc. Then asked about some of my interests in study and quickly gave some helpful recommendations.

On my walk back to the hostel I walked most of the way with Dr. Ryken and another guy (forget his name). It was good to chat with them a bit as well.


Calvin500 – Day #1


Pre-Calvin500 – “Calvin Geneve En Flammes”

I have returned from watching Calvin Geneve En Flammes.

This was an outdoor dramatic re-enactment of the life of John Calvin and his impact on the city of Geneva.

The acting was well done with excellent stage, lights, sound etc. In many ways (other than the modern lights, sound, etc.) it seemed like it would have been back in the 16th century when you would have watched plays or gone to listen to debates, orators, etc. in an outdoor location such as this.

As for the content of the play itself – it left me quite shocked. This certainly proved to be an excellent baptism into the modern day, Geneva-interpretation of Calvin.

In general they did a pretty good job of portraying the loving and devoted marriage Calvin had with his wife.

Otherwise, Calvin was portrayed as an “Evil Tyrant,” “The Dictator of Geneva,” and the cause for the “slow development of Geneva compared to the rest of Europe” as related to social norms – like woman voting, etc.

The entire play was in French and although they did have a screen providing English subtitles, the screen actually provided subtitles for less that 60% of the content. So I am basing my evaluation on 1) the content which was translated, 2) my understanding of the French from context and some guesswork, and 3) a post-play discussion with three ladies who were sitting next to me.

The three ladies loved the play.

Pretty much for the entire play, Calvin was portrayed as a man who hated music, dancing, and anything that could be considered fun – except for wine and even that only in moderation.

Occasionally there was a glimpse into something “fun” like when a dispute arose whether the “Song of Songs” should be included in a new Bible translation – for which Calvin and his wife fully agreed it ought!

However, most of the content on Calvin’s early years in Geneva (the play really started from when Calvin had returned from Strasbourg), showed him to be a Tyrant (their word).

There were a number of rather blatant historical inaccuracies as well. One of the main ones which stood out to me since I have only recently read Calvin’s letters is the retelling of the death of Calvin’s wife. The play portrayed Calvin as an angry man, angry with God and questioning Him! This is rather shocking since Calvin’s own testimony regarding her death is only mentioned in two letters and in neither is there any hint of anger – only submission to his Loving Heavenly Father along with deep sorrow for the loss of his wife – whom he loved deeply.

As the play went on to Calvin’s later years it began to show where he and the city council had some major disagreements – showing the city council to be tyrants too at times. However, even here it was interpreted as though the council was just acting in accordance to what Calvin had taught them over all his years.

They referred to Calvin as a new Pope and the pastors of Geneva as a new priesthood!

During the last five minutes of the play the actor who played Calvin began a monologue – kind of an interpretation of Calvin for the 21st century.

The stage for the performance was built directly in front of the Statues of the Reformers and for the entire play they were covered. However, during this part they were revealed and the actor directed his monologue to Calvin’s statue – even stating one of the goals was to see the statue (image) of Calvin crumble a bit.

It was during this portion where Calvin was called a Tyrant, and The Dictator of Geneva.

However, the play ended with the actor turning toward the crowed and saying, “We still have the same questions today that he was trying to answer. Are ethics real and do we need them?” (Again that was an English subtitle translation, but as I understood it from the context it seemed as though the actor was saying we still have the same problems and questions of ethics, but we have no answers – and we just demonstrated that we don’t like the answers Calvin offered!)

So when the lights came on I asked the ladies sitting next to me what they thought. Two were probably in their 50’s, one in her mid-20’s I would guess.

The loved it. The younger lady confirmed that is how Calvin is portrayed to them in school – “he was a bad man!” Although she acknowledged they are not taught a lot about him and most people will have forgotten what they were taught by the time they get out of school.

The older two ladies agreed that it was because of Calvin that Geneva was so behind – i.e. it wasn’t until the 70’s when women were finally able to vote (her example). She drew a direct comparison between Geneva under Calvin and The Taliban.

They agreed with the man’s closing statements/questions, “we have the same questions today and there is a need for ethics.” However, when I asked them where they would get their answers and the standard for ethics they had no answer. When I tried to explain that the play did not accurately represent Calvin or more importantly God and HIs Word, they found that difficult to imagine – for them it wasn’t a play it was all they have ever been taught!

I then invited them to come to the service tomorrow at 11:30am at St. Pierre Cathedral. One seem slightly interested. I pray God will open their hearts to hear His Word and receive the Gospel!


Pre-Calvin500 – Geneva

Well, I have been roaming around town for the last four hours. (I was here in Geneva very briefly 13 years ago when I had a 10 hour layover in Zurich on my way to South Africa. I took a train from Zurich to Geneva just to see the statues of the Reformers and then took a train right back! I thought that was going to be my “once in a life time.”)

Here is a bit of Lake Geneva as I walked from the Hostel to St. Pierre Cathedral. (About a 25 minute walk.)




Here are some outside shots of St. Pierre Cathedral








I arrived just in time to see a bride a groom come out of the church from their wedding! (How cool! I am suggesting right now, my lovely wife – in 15 1/2 years we come and renew our vows right here!)




The exterior of The Academy



The interior of St. Pierre Cathedral










(Oh to be able to hear what those walls have heard! I’ll have to admit it was quite amazing walking into this place. I can’t wait until tomorrow when once again the room will echo with the voices of praise unto the Lord and the Gospel being clearly proclaimed!)

Up to the tower! (150 steps and it felt like more!)










I then made my way to Parc des Bastions to see the Mur des Reformateurs. (The Statues of the Reformers)

Well, I forgot they have a big production setup in the part for a night performance of a play on the life of Calvin along with a re-enacted Huguenot Village. At first I didn’t think I was going to be able to see the statues – but I got a security guard to let me in!









I will be going back in a couple of hours to watch Calvin Geneve En Flammes. (I can’t take the camera, so there wont be any photos.)

Then on my walk to catch the tram I came across this violin shop. (All three of our children are learning the violin and my wife plays the double bass, so I thought this was pretty cool. It was closed, so I couldn’t go inside.)

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