Scholars continue to produce a great deal of literature on John Calvin's social thought. His views on legal, political, and economic issues still intrigue those interested in how Calvin used the medieval tradition that he inherited, where he fit in the reformation, humanist, and renaissance movements of his day, and how his thought shaped Western society in subsequent centuries. Almost inevitably, those engaged in such discussions turn to the question of natural law. That Calvin appealed to the concept of natural law on numerous occasions is a simple fact, but interpretation of these appeals has long puzzled and divided scholars. As William Klempa helpfully explains in his survey of twentieth-century scholarship on Calvin and natural law, two principal lines of interpretation emerged.1 One line views Calvin's use of natural law as a peripheral and relatively unimportant aspect of his thought, and perhaps even inconsistent with his broader theology. Proponents of this view typically stress the discontinuity between Calvin's natural law and the natural law of his medieval predecessors.2 The other line of interpretation sees natural law as crucial for Calvin's legal and political views and tends to highlight the continuity between the natural law thought of the Reformation and that of the Middle Ages.3 Some scholars, understandably, have offered somewhat mediating perspectives on this long-simmering debated.4
Observers of this debate can hardly avoid amazement at the sharp divergence of opinion on this issue. Nevertheless, certain dynamics of Calvin's theology perhaps make this divergence perfectly understandable. On the one hand, Calvin attributes positive uses to natural law at a number of crucial points in his writings, and does so in seamless fashion in the midst of broader theological discussions. On the other hand, Calvin expresses a dire view of human sin and writes of the absolute necessity of special, scriptural revelation if one is to do any truly good work or to have any true communion with God, since the natural knowledge of God can only condemn. The question that confronts every expositor of Calvin's natural law is how a writer who asserts the bondage of the human will apart from the saving grace of God, made known only in Scripture, can also so freely appeal to natural law when discussing a range of social and cultural issues. Too often, scholars' views of Calvin on natural law have been determined by letting one of these aspects of Calvin's thought swallow the other.5 August Lang, for example, concludes that Calvin holds the doctrine of humanity's universal sinful corruption "too strongly" to be a friend of natural law, his regular recourse to it notwithstanding.6
Part of the reason that these debates have not yet been resolved is the insufficient attention paid to Calvin's doctrine of the two kingdoms.7 In this essay, I argue that Calvin's two kingdoms doctrine provides crucial context for interpretation of his natural law thought. By means of this doctrine, Calvin distinguished the civil kingdom from the kingdom of Christ, two realms that he warned must never be confused. Calvin did, indeed, say things about natural law that at first blush seem contradictory, but much of this apparent contradiction is explained by the fact that natural law played very different roles in these two kingdoms. Calvin's positive use of natural law, in which he sets it forth as a standard for legal and political endeavors, invariably falls in settings dealing with the civil kingdom, where matters of salvation and communion with God are not at issue. Conversely, Calvin's negative use of natural law, in which he describes its purpose as condemning sinners and leaving them inexcusable before God, regularly falls in settings dealing with the kingdom of Christ and, thus, with crucial questions about salvation and eternal life. I suggest that recognizing this relationship between natural law and the two kingdoms in Calvin allows his interpreters to acknowledge the crucial-not peripheral-role that natural law plays in his social thought as well as to give due weight to his belief in the bondage of the will and natural law's consequent inability to contribute at all to salvation. To make this argument, I first introduce Calvin's general teaching on natural law, then explain his two kingdoms distinction, and, finally, discuss specifically how his two kingdoms doctrine illumines his use of natural law.
THE BACKGROUND OF CALVIN'S NATURAL LAW
This essay cannot investigate in depth the natural law thought of the later Middle Ages. However, since debates about the character of Calvin's natural law have often contained discussions of its relationship to medieval natural law, a few words are necessary as background. The most important point for present purposes is that the idea of natural law-though embedded in various theologies and metaphysical claims in different thinkers-was part of the common theological heritage that Calvin and his fellow Reformers inherited. This claim is straightforward, though by no means uncontroversial. The traditional division of late medieval theology into two distinct and competing schools, the realist, intellectualist via antiqua and the nominalist, voluntarist via moderna is familiar to scholars of this period. A common corollary of this dichotomous reading of the late Middle Ages claims that natural law flourished under the theology and metaphysics of the via antiqua-often thought to have reached its highest expression in Thomas Aquinas-but that the via moderna stripped natural law of its necessary philosopliical underpinnings. Proponents of this line of thought have often portrayed the last centuries of the Middle Ages as a time of theological decline under the leading lights of the via moderna, especially William of Ockham. The nominalists, it is claimed, rejected the elevation of reason over will, a way of thought that characterized the via antiqua and made natural law possible. The basis of ethics in nature and reason disappeared and, in its place, the theologians of the via moderna made right and wrong dependent solely on the divine will. This intellectual development ultimately declined into the legal positivism of the past couple of centuries that severed law from any connection with morality and made it nothing but the decree of the sovereign.8
The logic of such historical interpretation is compelling: the nominalist theology wrought a corresponding change in the basis of morality which in turn caused a change in the nature of civil law. However, many scholars of late have exploded this theory, showing not only the oversimplification of its historical analysis but also the underappreciated richness, complexity, and variety of late medieval nominalism.9 One consequence is the greater nuancing of the supposed nominalist rejection of natural law.10 All of the significant nominalist theologians believed in the existence of the natural law and its importance for law and ethics. Contrary to many older assumptions, the nominalists' teaching on the freedom of God and the contingency of the world did not entail the complete arbitrariness of the world and certainly not its instability. Though the nominalists did not see natural law as a necessary reflection of God's own character, they did believe that God ordained it and guaranteed its endurance. The intellectualists and the voluntarists may have propounded significantly different ideas about the relationship of natural law and the divine character, but they did not dispute the existence or importance of the natural law. Natural law was part of the Catholic theological tradition that Calvin inherited.11
The truth of this last claim relativizes the importance of attempts to categorize the Reformation figures as either nominalists or realists, adherents of the via antiqua or the via moderna. That is to say, identification of the Reformers in one or the other of the late medieval schools offers fewer clues about their natural law proclivities than has sometimes been thought. This is encouraging for anyone attempting to trace the natural law thought of the Reformers, for many mysteries remain unsolved regarding their allegiance to the medieval viae. Though proponents of the idea that nominalism is the great enemy of natural law have identified the Reformers rather generally in the nominalist school,12 the via antiqua in fact shaped the thought of several of the prominent Reformers.13 Calvin is perhaps as difficult as any of them to categorize. Scholars have suggested many but have been able; to prove few direct nominalist influences upon Calvin's early thought,14 and his mature theology reflects a strident opposition to any form of extreme voluntarism that puts God ex lex,15 Whether Calvin can be categorized as a nominalist or not, however, does not predetermine his status as a theologian of natural law.
True to expectations, given this common theological heritage, Calvin gave little, if any, indication that his treatment of natural law was especially controversial or out of the ordinary. Though he occasionally used the idea of natural law in his polemics against certain alleged radicals of his day, his targets in these contexts were clearly not Roman Catholics, Lutherans, or other magisterial Reformers. He aimed only at those on the fringe of the Christian world of his day.16 Not only was Calvin doing something historically rather unremarkable by appealing to natural law, but Calvin also never appeared cognizant of doing anything in tension with the rest of his theology when he made such appeals. Yet, neo-orthodox scholars such as J. B. Torrance have lamented that Calvin's use of natural law represented a failure of the great Reformer to carry through on his own fundamental insight that all theology-all knowledge of God-must come through Christ. Torrance believed that Karl Earth applied Calvin's insight more consistently than Calvin, and hence rightly banished natural law from Reformed theology.17 Recent scholarship has moved away from approaching Calvin's theology in this "accommodating" way.18 Nevertheless, the suspicion may linger that Torrance was basically correct. Torrance's claim would seem to depend on the assumption that natural law was a subject that Calvin simply did not examine or consider closely. Had he done so, surely so perceptive a theologian as Calvin would have noticed the inconsistency in his thought and modified it appropriately. However, to suggest that Calvin leit natural law-especially in its relationship to civil law-unexamined is hardly tenable. While Calvin indeed never wrote a treatise on natural law and made it the sole focus of his attention, the need to interact with items germane to natural law confronted Calvin throughout his adult life. He was trained as a lawyer, under two of the leading legal scholars of his day, in the midst of the Renaissance and Humanist interest in exploring the sources of the Roman law tradition, is In this tradition, natural law enjoyed a firm placebo Calvin's first book was an examination of Seneca's De Clementia, a work permeated with legal themes.21 From the first to the last edition of the Institutes, Calvin grounded civil law in natural law, and his biblical commentaries, which reflect his week-by-week preaching labors, teem with references to natural law.22 Moreover, the city officials in Geneva involved him intimately in the drafting of the city constitutions, a work seemingly out of place for a pastor but one for which Calvin was well suited and apparently highly skilled.23 In light of this sort of evidence, the suggestion that natural law may have slipped unexamined into Calvin's theology becomes quite dubious.
NATURAL LAW IN CALVIN'S THEOLOGY
Though many other writers have described the particulars of Calvin's claims about natural law, a general outline of them is appropriate here. An important structural feature concerns Calvin's basic distinction between the natural and the saving knowledge of God. An epistemological question-the relation of the knowledge of God and self-confronts Calvin's readers at the outset of the Institutes. Calvin, with some hesitation, begins with a treatment of the knowledge of God. Human beings know God in two ways, as Creator and Redeemer. The first is made known in Scripture, to be sure, but also in nature and the created order. This knowledge proclaimed in nature and therefore accessible to all people reveals much about God, but does not reveal God's saving action in Jesus Christ. 24 Calvin's statements about the manifestation of God in creation abound in both his exegetical and more systematic work. For Calvin, the natural world is a beautiful "theatre" of God's glory and no part of creation, no matter how lowly or corrupted, fails to throw off "some sparks of beauty." Calvin found it inconceivable that one could contemplate this world and fail to be overwhelmed by "the immense weight of glory. "25 Though obviously fascinated and astounded by the glories of the cosmos, Calvin was no less impressed by the intricate structure of the human body and human nature more generally. Though he located the image of God especially in the soul, Calvin, in a remarkable move for his day, granted that the image also resided in the body. The human person, he believed, was a microcosm, a world in miniature. The glory of the Creator displayed in the world in large figures was also revealed in small figures in each person.26
Much of Calvin's treatment of natural law emerged out of this context. Corresponding to the structure of the human person that reveals its creator was the internal witness of conscience that reveals its creator's moral righteousness. In several places, Calvin reflected on the engraving of God's law on the human heart and mind. Both tables of the Decalogue are stamped on the heart and therefore naturally known.27 Calvin specifically related the concepts of natural law and equity to this natural engraving.28 Conscience is clearly a crucial concept at this point for Calvin, because it is the means by which this natural revelation of God's law is known. Several scholars have noted that this intimate linking of conscience and natural law is one of the distinguishing features of Calvin's natural law thought when compared to that of his predecessors.29 Calvin believed that a long list of moral truths could be known through natural law, perceived through conscience, as Harro Hopfl has helpfully identified.30 He held that the basic principle of the natural law is equity, and therefore it concerns love and justice. Also, as explored in more detail below, Calvin saw natural law as the standard for civil law and governmental.31
A better known side of Calvin's teaching relates to the effects of sin on the natural order and the knowledge of God that comes through it. Calvin identified a general perversion of the order of nature produced by the fall into sin.32 But this perversion also reached human nature, defacing the image of God and corrupting even knowledge and the use of reason.33 Because of this, Calvin insisted that sin makes the natural knowledge of God insufficient and therefore that moral understanding requires a revealed written law.34 Along these lines, he spoke of the purpose of natural law as that of condemning sinners and leaving all people inexcusable before God.35 Hence, Calvin attacked the view of the "philosophers" whose ethical system consisted simply of living agreeably to nature.36 In the eyes of many readers, this side of Calvin's thought has frequently overwhelmed his positive affirmations about natural law.
As discussed in the introduction, it is at this point, faced with the tension of Calvin's positive affirmations about natural law and his decrying of all attempts to live a morally upright life apart from salvation in Christ and scriptural revelation, that interpretations of Calvin on natural law diverge. Neither dismissing Calvin's many references to natural law as incidental nor softening his account of the devastation of sin seems to do justice to his thought. A concept necessary to hold these aspects of his thought together, but one generally absent from discussions of his natural law, is his two kingdoms doctrine. Before turning explicitly to the connection of natural law and the two kingdoms in Calvin, however, the next section sets the stage by describing the general contours of his two kingdoms idea.
CALVIN'S DOCTRINE OF THE TWO KINGDOMS
Martin Luther famously propounded a doctrine of the two kingdoms that defined his understanding of civil life and the Christian's relationship to it.37 Luther was not entirely original in pursuing this line of thought.38 Nevertheless, his articulation of the two kingdoms idea, especially when combined with the social and political dynamics at work in the Germany of his day, was particularly powerful. Calvin, whose general theological debt to Luther can hardly be doubted, followed his two kingdoms approach in many important ways. 39 Calvin believed that God had established two kingdoms with distinct purposes, yet that both are legitimate and divinely ordained. The one, the earthly or civil kingdom, concerns temporal matters and is governed by the civil magistrate. The other, the spiritual kingdom or the church, is concerned with heavenly and eternal matters, things pertaining to salvation. Ecclesiastical government is to exercise authority over this kingdom. Calvin clearly asserted that to confuse these two kingdoms is to make an error of large proportions. The two kingdoms are so distinct that when people think about one kingdom they should call off their minds from thinking about the other.40
The importance of this subject for Calvin may be illustrated and its connection with other aspects of his theology illuminated by considering three related points. First, Calvin's two kingdoms doctrine must be considered in the light of his teaching on the kingship of Christ and the nature of the kingdom he has established. For Calvin, Christ's kingship is spiritual, pertaining not to things earthly or of this world, but to things heavenly and of the future life. His kingdom consists not in earthly pomp or delights, but in renouncing the world. In fact, Christians can endure the horrible sufferings of the present life because they know that Christ's kingdom has to do with the life of heaven.41 At present, Christ's kingdom is veiled in humiliation, and therefore it calls on faith to meditate on the visible presence of Christ on the last day.42 For now, Christians are pilgrims on earth, maintaining hope in a heavenly kingdom.43 Insofar as Calvin associated the kingdom of Christ with the life of the present world, he pointed readers to the church and its government.44 The implications of these views are numerous. For Calvin, the kingdom of Christ has nothing to do with human conditions and earthly laws. This truth, he explained, is rooted in the fact of the "twofold government" in man. The Christian need not think that the civil kingdom must take on a particular form in order for the spiritual kingdom to flourish. Christians may abide in all sorts of earthly conditions without fear of separation from Christ's kingdom.45 In fact, because of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, Christians need not woriy when Scripture fails to give detailed information about civil concerns. For example, the New Testament does not give a warrant for warfare, but since the NT is concerned with establishing the spiritual kingdom rather than a civil polity, the NT's silence is no objection to the legitimacy of war.46
Second, and closely related to the previous point, is Calvin's understanding of Christian liberty, which he applied only to the spiritual kingdom and not to the civil kingdom. Calvin, like Luther, believed that the idea of Christian liberty is rooted in an understanding of the gospel as justification by faith alone. Since anyone seeking salvation by good works lives constantly under the threat of punishment, such a person can pursue what is good only under fear. Receiving salvation by faith as a free gift of God, however, sets the conscience free from fear and enables Christians to pursue holy living with gratitude and joy. Though one can hardly even begin to achieve holiness when burdened by fear, to be liberated from fear by the gospel makes moral progress possible and inevitable.47 Calvin, however, raged at how this benevolent understanding of Christian liberty was often perverted.48 While he granted that Christian liberty frees believers from human-made religious regulations and the condemnation of the law, he stridently rejected the idea that it frees believers from obligation to obey God's moral law or human civil laws. In regard to the latter, Calvin concluded that society breaks down when Christian liberty is abused.49 He maintained that Christian liberty is entirely "a spiritual matter"50 and thus that it pertains to the spiritual kingdom of Christ and has nothing to do with life in the civil kingdom. For Calvin, enjoyment of Christian liberty does not change the obligation to submit to civil laws and magistrates, be they benevolent or tyrannical.51 Calvin clearly propounded this point in his treatment of Christian liberty in the Institutes and reiterated it in his treatment of civil government.52
Thirdly, and again closely related to the previous points, Calvin's understanding of the two kingdoms cannot be fully appreciated without reference to the sixteenth-century Anabaptist movement. The Anabaptists preoccupied Calvin throughout much of his life as a Reformer. He feared that fanatic and anarchic tendencies among the Anabaptists would bring the Reformation movement generally into disrepute, and even in the first edition of his Institutes he tried to make clear to King Francis I that he opposed Anabaptism as much as the monarch did.53 Sometimes explicitly, sometimes without naming them, Calvin attacked the Anabaptists at various points in his writings. No teaching of theirs was as much a concern for him as their abuse of Christian liberty. Calvin explained that they displayed their fanaticism by applying the gospel of Christian liberty to civil society.54 Anabaptists, whom Calvin accused of thinking that the Christian doctrine of regeneration meant a return to the state of innocence,55 claimed independence from civil laws and magistrates. Calvin condemned such anarchy without hesitation. He called their application of the doctrine of Christian liberty to the state a "Jewish vanity" because they sought the kingdom of Christ in the elements of this world.56
Calvin's two kingdoms distinction, particularly as seen through the three considerations immediately above, had a host of consequences in his broader thought. For one example, it structured his thinking on the relations of church and state, always more than a theoretical concern for Calvin. The two kingdoms doctrine shaped his defense of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and polity as altogether distinct from civil government.57 Even when the civil magistrate is a Christian, the jurisdiction of the church remains independent, and no one should possess the offices of both magistrate and minister.58 Contrary to Roman Catholic claims, ministers are not exempt from civil jurisdiction.59 Likewise, Calvin distinguished civil and ecclesiastical power in terms of the power of the sword, which only civil authorities bear.60 As scholars have recognized, such claims were remarkable for his day, even by Protestant standards.61 W. Fred Graham represents the opinion of many, however, in claiming that Calvin's convictions about the separation of church and state existed more in theory than in practice.62 A common source of such claims is that Calvin ascribed what can only be recognized as religious responsibilities to magistrates and, at least by present standards, seemed to violate his own established principles.63 Evaluation of Calvin's convictions here must await another occasion, though the stark inconsistency of his views ought not be simply assumed.64
THE RELATIONSHIP OF NATURAL LAW AND THE Two KINGDOMS
The preceding sections are in some sense merely a prelude to the principal claim of this essay, which concerns the importance of the two kingdoms for Calvin's natural law thought. Without the two kingdoms doctrine, Calvin's natural law thought tends to float in the midst of abstract moral-epistemological dilemmas: for example, how can someone with such a dire view of human sinfulness apart from redemption in Christ view natural law as a positive guide for civil life even for pagans? Calvin, however, did not view natural law in an abstract way, but used it for veiy practical purposes. Recognition of the two kingdoms doctrine enables Calvin's readers to see the concrete contexts in which Calvin frequently put natural law to use. Specifically, natural law played a significantly different role in the kingdom of Christ from what it played in the civil kingdom. Two important and related themes in Calvin's thought perhaps illustrate this point best.
First, Calvin's distinction between how sinful people handle "earthly" things and how they handle "heavenly" things is crucial for seeing the connection in Calvin's thought between natural law and the two kingdoms.65 Calvin unpacked this matter at great length in Book Two, Chapter Two of his Institutes. He begins this chapter by attacking the view of the "philosophers," who held that reason is a sufficient guide in all things, including government of one's self.66 Calvin's initial concern to debunk overconfidence in fallen reason, however, moves to a consideration of the great gifts and accomplishments that many non-Christians display. How does Calvin reconcile his wariness toward reason with his admiration of those relying on nothing but reason? He begins by expressing his satisfaction with the traditional theological view that fallen man's natural gifts were corrupted by sin and his supernatural gifts taken away. According to this view, reason is a natural gift, and was thus weakened and corrupted in part, but not totally destroyed.67 Following this general claim, however, Calvin becomes more concrete. He introduces the distinction between earthly and heavenly things (or, inferior and superior things). For purposes of this essay, it is crucial to recognize that this distinction clearly corresponds with the distinction that he makes elsewhere between the civil kingdom and the kingdom of Christ. By earthly things, explains Calvin, he does not refer to things pertaining "to God and his kingdom, to true righteousness and future blessedness," but to things which "have some connection with the present life, and are in a manner confined within its boundaries." By contrast, Calvin speaks of the heavenly things as "the pure knowledge of God, the method of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom."68 The two kingdoms distinction and the distinction between earthly and heavenly things are evidently the same distinction, viewed from two slightly different angles.
Calvin immediately reveals the importance of this distinction. He claims that sinners "have one kind of intelligence of earthly things, and another of heavenly things." In regard to earthly things, sinful human reason continues to operate at a basic level and enables the human race to maintain a degree of civil order and at times to discover and achieve great things. The fact that "no man is devoid of the light of reason" is proven by the continuing natural instinct to be a social animal and the primary ideas of justice that express themselves in all human societies.69 The accomplishments of sinful human beings in the "manual and liberal arts" display "the fact of an universal reason and intelligence naturally implanted."70 The works of pagan authors, the enactments of ancient lawgivers, and the various accomplishments of the philosophers, rhetoricians, physicians, and mathematicians all remind "how many gifts the Lord has left in possession of human nature" and warn against rejecting the truth wherever it appears.71 Calvin concludes that reason is "one of the essential properties of our nature," something that distinguishes human beings as divine imagebearers from the rest of creation.72
What then of Calvin's view of human ability to understand the heavenly things, that is, things pertaining to "the kingdom of God, and spiritual discernment?" In regard to knowledge of God and salvation, the first two branches of spiritual knowledge, Calvin believed that "men otherwise the most ingeneous are blinder than moles" and that "human reason makes not the least approach" in its understanding. The "natural man," who excels in all of the things listed in the previous paragraph, "has no understanding in the spiritual mysteries of God."73 In Calvin's mind, therefore, the possibilities of human achievement in the earthly and heavenly things could not differ more greatly.
For Calvin, the sinful human person, by use of reason and natural knowledge, can attain to great things in the domain of earthly things, that is, of the civil kingdom. By use of reason and natural knowledge, however, the sinful person cannot even begin to make the slightest approach to knowledge of God's being or salvation, that is, of the heavenly kingdom of Christ. Natural law, therefore, has a positive function to play in the life of the earthly, civil kingdom, according to Calvin. However, as he explains in a subsequent section, natural law has only a negative function to play in regard to spiritual things and the heavenly kingdom of Christ, where it serves merely to convict people of their sins and to strip them of all pretexts for ignorance.74 These conclusions, therefore, show the practical context in which Calvin put natural law to work. He denied that natural law could ever give knowledge of salvation in the heavenly kingdom, even while he affirmed that it provided true and useful knowledge of mundane things in the civil kingdom.
Calvin's explicit identification of natural law as the standard for civil law provides the second key context for understanding the intimate connection of his natural law and two kingdoms doctrines. In a recent article, Irena Backus claims that Calvin's belief that natural law is the basis for civil law was stable throughout his life.75 A comparison of the nearly identical treatment of the subject in the first and last edition of the Institutes supports this claim. This treatment in the Institutes is one of Calvin's most thorough handlings of this particular issue, though even here he notes that the subject of civil law, though a subject "of vast extent," is not really a matter of great concern in the context of the Institutes. However, he felt compelled to address it because of certain dangerous errors that he perceived. The error that he had particularly in mind was the claim that no commonwealth "is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations." Calvin uses a series of harsh adjectives to describe the nature of such views: perilous, seditious, stupid, and false. Calvin adopted the three-fold distinction of the Old Testament Mosaic law that had already been in use for centuries.76 Though the moral law, as the "true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all nations and of all times," is perpetual, the ceremonial and judicial laws were not. Calvin saw these judicial laws, which his opponents thought permanently binding on civil government, as preserving the rule of love embodied in the eternal, moral law, yet distinguishable from love itself. Any nation other than the ancient Jewish state is "left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial," though its laws ought to aim at the same principle of love.77 In response to those who feared that insult is given to the Mosaic law if not implemented in contemporary law, Calvin remarks that "The Lord did not deliver it by the hand of Moses to be promulgated in all countries, and to be everywhere enforced...."78 In other words, universal application was never God's intention when delivering these statutes.
In the midst of dismissing the Mosaic judicial law itself as the standard for contemporary civil law, Calvin points his readers to natural law. Significantly, this positive appeal to natural law occurs in a context in which Calvin explicitly speaks of the civil kingdom rather than the kingdom of Christ.79 As seen above, Calvin distinguished between the principle of love at which all law should aim and the concrete laws themselves. In the section immediately following this claim, he makes a similar sort of distinction, that between "the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests." Calvin explains that equity is something "natural," the end at which all laws should point. For Calvin, this means that laws will differ as circumstances differ and equity inevitably has different application. How then is the equity to be perceived? Calvin says, "as it is evident that the law of Cod which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which Cod has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it." Therefore, for Calvin, the law of love, the rule of equity, the standard of natural law, and the testimony of conscience are substantially identical. Therefore, he concludes, natural law "alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other." He proceeds to give concrete examples of how different punishments are given for the same crime in different places, concluding that uniformity of punishment "is not necessary, nor even expedient."80
One of the important things pervading the preceding discussion, and a theme that one encounters elsewhere in Calvin's writings, is the necessity of accounting for circumstances. This is evident in his handling of the Mosaic judicial laws. According to Calvin, God applied his eternal moral law in a way specifically suited for Israel in its own context: "having taken the Jewish nation under his special care, patronage, and guardianship, he was pleased to be specially its legislator, and as became a wise legislator, he had special regard to it in enacting laws."81 Yet this concern was already pressing for Calvin early in his academic life. His commentary on Seneca's De dementia troubled itself with just that, clemency, a ruler's tempering existing law with mercy to fit particular circumstances. Scholars have noted the centrality of equity for understanding Calvin's ethics,82 and the concept of equity in the Roman law tradition in which he was trained was an interpretive (not corrective) principle, meant to establish what is just in an existing, concrete legal order.83 No particular body of civil law-even the divinely revealed Mosaic judicial law-can be permanent. What is permanent, for Calvin, is the love and equity contained in the natural law, which is to be applied differently in various settings.
This evidence adds further support to the claim of this paper that Calvin's natural law thought must be interpreted in the context of his two kingdoms doctrine. Calvin did not believe that the civil kingdom can be governed solely according to the teaching of Scripture. Even the Mosaic law, which contains the only comprehensive body of civil law found in Scripture, was simply a wise application of a more basic law-natural law-that is to underlie all civil enactments. Of course, Calvin did not think Scripture irrelevant for civil law, as his practice of applying the example of Old Testament kings and events to contemporary civil issues illustrates.84 But neither was Scripture itself the fundamental or sufficient standard. Furthermore, natural law for Calvin is not an abstract moral code. Instead, natural law is the principle of love and equity, something meant to find concrete embodiment not only in individual lives, but also in the civil laws that bind people in community.
This connection between natural law and the two kingdoms also sheds light upon the above-mentioned dilemma that has often plagued scholarship on Calvin's natural law. One of the reasons that Calvin could affirm both a doctrine of the bondage of the will to sin and a positive use of natural law on the part of those under this bondage is because he viewed such issues under the rubric of the two kingdoms. For Calvin, any action performed apart from the saving grace of Christ, arising out of the judgment of reason alone, is sinful and displeasing in God's sight. No such action can earn any merit before God. This conviction, however, pertained to matters of salvation85 and, therefore, to the kingdom of Christ. The same action, having no value for one's standing in the kingdom of Christ, may be of great value from the perspective of the civil kingdom. The ancient lawgivers of whom Calvin wrote accomplished astonishingly great things for life in the civil kingdom, though their achievements were worthless for attaining life in the: kingdom of Christ. Calvin, therefore, could attribute both a wholly negative role and a remarkably positive role to natural law not because of internal inconsistency but because the former was true for the kingdom of Christ and the latter for the civil kingdom. Earth's famous claims about Calvin on the natural knowledge of God are thus only half true. His appraisal would accurately portray Calvin as viewing the natural knowledge of God as wholly negative and merely a possibility in principle, not in reality86-if his discussion were limited to matters of the kingdom of Christ. In fact, however, Barth overlooked the importance of the two kingdoms doctrine at this point. His claim that Calvin always viewed the natural knowledge of God in terms of the history of salvation87 is certainly incorrect and seems rooted in a failure to recognize that much of Calvin's treatment of this natural knowledge occurred in the context of the civil kingdom, which, as defined by Calvin himself, had nothing to do with the gospel or salvation.
The legal and political thought of John Calvin continues to be of historical interest as well as a model for many contemporary, constructive theological approaches to social issues. As Calvin scholars have long realized, coming to grips with his concept of natural law is crucial for a thorough understanding of his approach to social life. The protracted struggle over interpretation of Calvin's natural law, however, promises to linger as long as his doctrine of the two kingdoms is absent from the discussions. Through this doctrine, the context of Calvin's natural law is illumined and perennial barriers to appreciating his appeals to natural law-namely, his understanding of sin and salvation from it-are put in necessary perspective. Future work on Calvin and natural law, I argue, would profit from incorporating his two kingdoms view.
1. See William Klempa, "John Calvin ou Natural Law," in John Calvin and the Church: A Prism of Reform, ed. Timothy George (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, .1990), 73-76. Since the writing of this article, several books in English have appeared that make substantial contributions to the understanding of Calvin's natural law thought; see esp. Susan E. Schreiner, The Theater of his Glory: Nature and the Natural Order in the Thought of John Calvin (Durham, N.C.: Labyrinth, .1991); I. John Hesselink, Calvin's Concept of the Law (Allison Park, Pa.: Pickwick Publications, 1992); and Guenther H. Haas, The Concept of Equity in Calvin's Ethics (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997). Important also is the recent article by Irena Backus, "Calvin's Concept of Natural and Roman Law," Calvin Theological Journal 38 (2003): 7-26.
2. Probably the most well-known articulation of such views is that of Karl Barth, in dispute with Emil Brunner; see Barth, "No!" in Natural Theology, trans. Peter Fraenkel (London: Geoffrey Bles: Centenary, 1.946), 67-1.28. Before Barth, German scholar August Lang made a similar case in "The Reformation and Natural Law," in Calvin and the Reformation: Four Studies, trans. J. Gresham Machen (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1909),56-98. Michael Walzer generally follows this line of interpretation in The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965; London: Wcidenfeld und Nicolson, 1966), 30-31. More recently, Barth's interpretation is followed by James Torrance, "Interpreting the Word by the Light of Christ or the Light of Nature? Calvin, Calvinism, and Barth," in Calviniana: Ideas and Influence of Jean Calvin, ed. Robert V. Schnucker (Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1988), 256-57. While disagreeing with Barth at some points, Hesselink concurs with him on the crucial point of seeing all of Calvin's theology, including his view of the law, as centered in Christ (Calvin's Concept, 24-36), and he emphasizes the discontinuity between the Reformation and Middle Ages on natural law (Calvin's Concept, 67-70). Among Roman Catholic natural law thinkers, the theologically insightful Josef Fuchs argues that Romanist-Reformation differences on the nature-grace distinction caused a great chasm in their respective natural law claims; see especially Josef Fuchs, S.J., Natural Law. A Theological Investigation, trans. Helmut Reckter, S.J., and John A. Dowling (New York: Sliced and Ward, 1965), 10-11, 46-47, 62-63.
3. Emil Brunner's articulation of this line of thought provoked Earth's essay cited above; see Brunnei', "Nature and Grace," in Natural Theology, 15-64. A short time after Brunner's essay, John T. McNeill penned a relentless argument supporting the continuity of Calvin with his medieval predecessors on natural law: "Natural Law in the Teaching of the Reformers, "Journal of Religion 26 (1946): 168-82. McNeill's claims are generally, if more cautiously, supported in Richard A. Muller, The Unaccomodated, Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 39; Schreiner, Theater, 2-3, 77; Susan E. Schreiner, "Calvin's Use of Natural Law," in A Preserving Grace: Protestants, Catholics, and Natural Law, ed. Michael Cromartie (Washington, D. C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 54-55, 73; Paul Helm, "Calvin and Natural Law," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 2 ( 1984): 9-12; Backus, "Calvin's Concept," 11-12.
4. This is the approach of Klempa, "John Calvin on Natural Law." See also R. S. Clark, "Calvin and the Lex Naturalis," Stulos 6 (May-November 1998): 1-22.
5. On this point generally, see Klempa, "John Calvin and Natural Law," 84.
6. Lang, "The Reformation and Natural Law," 68-69.
7. Though my claim in this essay is that Calvin's two kingdoms doctrine is not given sufficient attention in interpretation of his natural law thought, I also believe that his two kingdoms doctrine is an overlooked category in Calvin scholarship more generally. On another occasion I hope to argue that this is due at least in part to the common (mis)characteriTation of Calvin as a "transformer" of culture along the lines of H. Richard Niebuhr's classic study, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951).
8. A number of scholars have developed variations of these basic claims. For example, see Heinrich A. Kommen, The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and, Philosophy, trails. Thomas R. Hanley (St. Louis, Mo.: Herder, 1949), 39-40, 57-58; Francis Oakley, "Medieval Theories of Natural Law: William of Ockham and the Significance of the Voluntarist Tradition," Natural Law Forum 6 (1961): 72-73, 83; Yves Simon, The Tradition of Natural Law: A Philosopher's Reflections (1965; reprinted New York: Fordham University Press, 1992); and Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, trans. Olive Wyon (New York: Macmillan, 1931), 1: 203, 205, 236, 278. see also the important study of Michel Bastit, Naissance de la loi moderne (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990) and the numerous works of medieval legal history by Michel Villey.
9. Perhaps most importantly, Heiko Augustinus Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology: Gabriel Biel and Late Medieval Nominalism (1963; reprinted Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2000). See also William J. Courtenay, "Nominalism and Late Medieval Religion," in The Pursuit of Holiness, ed. Charles Trinkhaus and Heiko A. Oberman (Leiden: Brill, 1974), 26-59. Important work on this issue from the perspective of legal and political history has appeared recently from Brian A. Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights: Studies on Natural Rights, Natural Law and Church Law 1150-1625 (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1997; reprinted Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001); and Annabel S. Brett, Liberty, Right and Nature: Individua Rights in Later Scholastic Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
10. On the place of reason and natural law in the thought of the most important nominalist, Ockham, as well as the lack of clear correspondence between his philosophy/theology and his political/legal thought, see Arthur Stephan McGrade, The Political Thought of William of Ockham: Personal and Institutional Principles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 28 and ch. 4; Rega Wood, Ockham on the Virtues (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1997), 32; Lucau Freppert, O.F.M., The Basis of Morality according to William Ockham (Chicago, 111.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988), ch. 3; Arthur Stephen McGrade, "Ockham and the Birth of Individual Rights," in Authority and Power: Studies on Medieval Laws and Government Presented, to Walter Ullmann on His Seventieth Birthday, ed. Brian Tierney and Peter Linehan (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 149-65; and material in several of the essays in The, Cambridge Companion to Ockham, ed. Paul Vincent Spade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), including Peter King, Ockham's Ethical Theory," 227-28, 235-36; Marilyn McCord Adams, "Ockham on Will, Nature, and Morality," 245-46, 263-66; A. S. McGrade, "Natural Law and Moral Omnipotence," 273-88; and John Kilcullen, "The Political Writings," 319. see also the summaries of the claims unpacked throughout their monographs by Brett, Liberty, Right and. Nature, 1-7; and by Tierney, The Idea, 5. Other writers have shown the importance of natural law for post-Ockham nominalists too; for example, see Francis Oakley, The Political Thought of Peter d'Ailly: The Voluntarist Tradition (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1964) (re Peter d'Ailly) and Oberman, The Harvest (re Biel).
11. This assumes, of course, that the Thomist tradition (essentially, the via antiqua) was Favorable towards natural law, a generally accepted idea. The natural law thought ol Thomas Aquinas is expressed especially in Summa Theologiae, Ia2ae 94. This must be read iu the light oF his broader theology oF law articulated in ibid., Ia2ae 90-108. A recent summary oF Thomas's natural law theology appears in David VanDrunen, Law and Custom: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of the Common Law (New York: Peter Laug, 2003), ch. 3. The Scotist theological tradition, which in some ways straddled the realist-nominalist divide, was also grounded in natural law. See the material on reason, morality, and natural and civil law in several texts of Duns Scotus, Duns Scotus on the Will find Morality, trans. Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M. (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986), 206-07, 210-11, 262-65, 266-81, 314-15. Helpful commentary on Scotus's place in the history of medieval thinking on law and ethics is found in Wolter's commentary on Scotus in Duns Scotus, 3-5, 18-19, 23-27, 60-61; and in Richard Cross, Duns Scotus (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 9, 89-91. The maverick medieval thinker Marsilius of Padua seems to be a prominent exception to the general acceptance of natural law; he did, however, have a doctrine of natural right. See Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of Peace, vol. 2, The Defensor fads, trans. Alan Cewirth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956), 191; For a comparison of Marsilius's views on law, justice, and the state with other late medieval thinkers, see Alan Gewirth, Marsilius of Padua: The Defender of Peace, vol. I, Marsilius of Padua and Medieval Political Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1.951), 132-35.
12. For example, see Oakley, "Medieval Theories," 72-73. Compare also A. P. d'Entreves, Natural Law: An Introduction to Legal Philosophy (London: Hutchinson, 1970), 69-71.
13. See Heiko Augustinus Oberman, The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986), 58-59.
14. Among those recognizing the difficulty of the question and concluding that no direct link can be proven between the young Calvin and important figures of the nominalist movement, such as John Major, see Bernard Cottret, Calvin: A Biography, trans. M. Wallace McDonald (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 20; Alexandre Ganoczy, The Young Calvin, trans. David Foxgrover and Wade Provo (Philadelphia, Pa.: Westminster, 1987), 60-61, 133, 176; Muller, The Unaccomodated Calvin, 4.1-45; David C. Steinmetz, Calvin in Context (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 40-41. Many of these writers do recognize nominalist theological themes in Calvin's thought, however; on this point, see also Alistair McGrath, A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 36-47, 162-63, 168-69.
15. see Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.23.2 especially, though the same sentiments are found in many other places throughout the Institutes. English quotations from this work are taken from John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1953). T use the Bevoridge translation rather than the more commonly used Battles translation because I take it to be a somewhat more literal rendering of the Latin text; see also the positive comments on this translation in Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin, 68, 218 n26.
16. See, for example, his use of natural law to combat those who wanted to impose the Mosaic judicial laws on contemporary civil law, in Institutes, 4.20.14-16, to be discussed in more detail below.
17. Torrance, "Interpreting the Word," 256-57.
18. Recent scholarship has in many ways discredited the nco-orthodox reading of Calvin generally, as well as its quick dismissals of his natural law thought more specifically; for example, see Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin, vii-viii and throughout; and Schreiner, Theater, 78.
19. For historical material on Calvin's legal studies, see especially Cottret, Calvin, 20-23; McGrath, A Life, 58-62; and Ganoczy, The Young Calvin, ch. 3. On various aspects of the importance of Calvin's legal training for the development of lus thought, see Backus, "Calvin's Concept"; Haas, The Concept of Equity, ch. 1; Ford Lewis Battles and Andre Malan Hugo, "Introduction," in Calvin's Commentary on Seneca's De dementia (Leiden: Brill, 1969), 137-38; H. A. Lloyd, "Calvin and the Duty of Guardians to Resist," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 32 (1981 ): 65-67.
20. Significantly, the Corpus Juris Civilis acknowledges the importance of natural law. For example, it understands private law to be "composed of three elements, and consists of precepts belonging to natural law, to the law of nations, and to the civil law." The Institutes of Justinian, trans. Thomas Collett Sanders (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970), 6 (1.1.4).
21. For English translation, see Calvin's Commentary on Seneca's De Clementia, trans. Ford Lewis Battles and Andre Malan Hugo (Leiden: Brill, 1969).
22. See John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1530), trans. Ford Lewis Battles (1975; reprinted Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 216-17 (sect. 49); Institutes (1559), 4.20.16. On the frequency of Calvin's use of natural law in his commentaries, see Hesselink, Calvin's Concept, 52. Harro Hopfl, The Christian Polity of John Calvin (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 179-80, argues that his appeals to natural law were by no means occasional or peripheral.
23. For pertinent commentary, see H. M. Kingdon, "Calvin and the Government of Geneva," in Calvinus Ecclesiae Genevensis Gustos, ed. Wilhelm Neuser (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1984), 59-60; and Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin, Geneva mid the Reformation: A Study of Calvin as Social Reformer, Churchman, Pastor and Theologian (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1988), 28-29.
24. Institutes, 1.2.1.
25. See Institutes, 1.5.1; 1.14.20; 1.15.3. And see Calvin, Commentary on Romans 1:20 and 1:21; for English translation, see The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, trans. Ross Mackenzie (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980).
26. Institutes, 1.5.1-2; and Commentary on Genesis 1:26. For English translation of the latter, see Commentaries on the Book of Genesis, vol. 1, trans., John King (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1948). On Calvin's view of man as "microcosm," see, for example, William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 78-80; and Mary Potter Engel, John Calvin's Perspectival Anthropology (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1988), appendix 1.
27. See Institutes, 1.2.3; 1.3.1; 1.3.3; 2.8.1; and Commentary on Romans 1:19; 1:2.1; 1:22; 2:14-15.
28. See, for example, Institutes, 4.20.16.
29. For example, see Klempa, "John Calvin," 82; Backus, "Calvin's Concept," 10-14; and Helm, "Calvin and Natural Law," 6-7. However, though this emphasis on the instinct of conscience involves & somewhat lessened view of the importance of reason for natural law than is found in other theologians, Calvin cannot be judged an opponent of reason or unwilling to concede that reason apprehends true knowledge. For example, see Institutes, 2.1.1. On the centrality of reason for the image of God, see Institutes, 1.15.8; and Commentary on Romans 1:26. Also, see again Klempa, "John Calvin," 82. Ralph C. Hancock, Calvin and the Foundation of Modern Politics (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989), x-xi, eh. 4, argues that Calvin was an opponent of the classical philosophical idea of teleolopjcal reason, not of reason altogether, with implications for his views on law and ethics.
30. Hopfl, The Christian Polity, 179-80: "Although lists are tiresome, it is necessary to offer some illustration of the range of moral questions on which Calvin took natural law to deliver rules of conduct, and the sometimes surprisingly specific character of those deliverances. Thus Calvin thought that 'nature' or 'natural sense' or 'reason' teaches the authority of fathers over wives and children, the sanctity of monogamous marriage, the duty to care for families, breast-feeding, primogeniture (albeit with qualifications) [sic] the sacrosanctity of envoys and ambassadors, the obligation of promises, degrees of marriage, the need for witnesses in murder trials, the need for a distinction of ranks in society; and natural law prohibits incest, murder, adultery, slavery, and even the rule of one man. And again, nature itself teaches the duty to award honours only to those qualified, respect for the old, equity in commercial dealings, and that religion must be the first concern of governors."
31. Institutes, 4.20.16. See Haas, The Concept of Equity, esp. 12-13, 68-71, and ch. 4 generally.
32. Institutes, 2.1.5.
33. The primary material in Calvin on this point is vast. Generally, see Institutes, 1.4.1-4; 2,1; 2.2; 2.3; and Commentary on Romans 1:29-30. On the distinction between human beings before and after the fall, see Institutes, 1.15.1; 1.15.8; 2.1.1; 2.1.6. On the defacement of the image of God, see Institutes, 1.15.4. Schreiner, Theater, 66-67, helpfully comments on how, for Calvin, the fall as a confusion of the natural order corresponds to the confusion in the order of knowing. Steinmetz, Calvin in Context, ch. 2, argues that Calvin's interpretation of Romans 1, though generally in agreement with the previous exegetical tradition, departed from it in affirming the noetic effects of sin, the damage to reason itself.
34. see Institutes, 1.5.14; 1.6,1-4; 1.8,1.
35. Ibid., 2.2.22.
36. Ibid., 3.6.3. Compare ibid. 3.7.1-3.
37. Luther sets forth his views on these issues, for example, in "Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed," in Luther's Works, vol. 45, ed. Walther I. Brandt (Philadelphia, Pa.: Muhlenberg, 1962), 81-139. For poignant examples of how his two kingdoms theology applies to Christians, see his Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount, in Luther's Works, vol. 21, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (Saint Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1956), 3-294. An excellent exposition of Luther's two kingdoms view is found in William H. Lazareth, Christians in Society: Luther, the Bible, and Social Ethics (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 2001). The theme is also fruitfully explored recently in John Witte, Jr., Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
38. For example, the fifth century Pope Gelasius established a view of twofold authority that resembled Luther's; see the writings of Gelasius included in Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State 1050-1300 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), 13-15. In the Middle Ages, a similar perspective is reflected in Ockham's dualist approach, in which the jurisdictions of pope and emperor were seldom to overlap or interfere with each other; see McGrade, The Political Thought, esp. chapters 3 and 5. Scholars have also identified other late medieval figures who inclined in a similar direction, such as Peter d'Ailley, Gratian, Aquinas, Huguccio, and John of Paris; see Oakley, The Political Thought, ch. 2; and Tierney, The Idea, 170.
39. On the similarities of Calvin with Luther on the two kingdoms, see Hopfl, The Christian Polity, 44; Ganoczy, The Young Calvin, 142-43; and Bouwsma, John Calvin, 204.
40. Calvin provides concise summaries of his two kingdoms view in his Commentary on Romans 13:1 and Institutes, 4.20.1. Many of the other relevant discussions in his writings are discussed below.
41. Instituiez, 188.8.131.52-5. In his "Brief Instruction," in John Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines, trans. and ed. Benjamin Wirt Parley (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1982), 86, Calvin also begins from the spiritual nature of Christ's office to explain why Christ could uphold the legitimacy of civil government and yet refuse to take up the sword in defense of his own kingship.
42. Institutes, 2.16.17.
43. See ibid., 2.16.14; 3.2.4; 3.7.3; 3.10.1; 4.20.2. Calvin identifies the end of Christians' lives as the end of their pilgrimage, with the hope of the resurrection the only thing sustaining them in their present suffering; see Institutes, 3.25.1-2. On suffering as a mark of the Christian experience in the present age, see esp. Institutes, 3.8.1.
44. Institutes, 2.15.5.
45. Ibid., 4.20.1.
46. Ibid., 4.20.12.
47. See generally Institutes, 3.19.
48. He already expressed concern about this in the Prefatory Address to the Institutes.
49. Institutes, 3.19.1.
50. See ibid., 3.19.9
51. Ibid., 3.19.15. Some of Calvin's words here are worth quoting: "Let us observe that in man government is twofold: the one spiritual, by which the conscience is trained to piety and divine worship; the other civil, by which the individual is instructed in those duties which, as men and citizens, we are bound to perform.... To these two forms are commonly given the not inappropriate names of spiritual and temporal jurisdiction, intimating that the former species has reference to the life of the soul, while the latter relates to matters of the present life, not only to food and clothing, but to the enacting of laws which require a man to live among his fellows purely, honourably, and modestly. The former has its seat within the soul, the latter only regulates the external conduct. We may call the one the spiritual, the other the civil kingdom. Now, these two, as we have divided them, are always to be viewed apart from each other. When the one is considered, we should call off our minds, and not allow them to think of the other. For there exists in man a kind of two worlds, over which different kings and different laws can preside. By attending to this distinction, we will not erroneously transfer the doctrine of the gospel concerning spiritual liberty to civil order, as if in regard to external government Christians were less subject to human laws, because their consciences are unbound before Cod, as if they were exempted from all carnal service, because in regard to the Spirit they are free. Again, because even in those constitutions which seem to relate to the spiritual kingdom, there may be some delusion, it is necessary to distinguish between those which are to be held legitimate as being agreeable to the word of God, and those, on the other hand, which ought to have no place among the pious."
52. Institutes, 4.20.1.
53. See the Institutes, Prefatory Address. see, for example, Hopfl, The Christian Polity, 58-60, and Ganoczy, The Young Calvin, 98-99, 103, on Calvin's early interest and distress concerning the Anabaptists. Cottret, Calvin, 208, remarks that "For Calvin the greatest heretics were the Anabaptists"; see also 275-81 generally. On Calvin's hatred of anarchy, see also Institutes, 4.20.5; and Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:2. For English translation of the latter, see The second Epistle of Paul The Apostle to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, trans. T. A. Smail (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1979).
54. Institutes, 4.20.1. see also Institutes, 3.19.15, where Calvin warns that Christians should "not erroneously transfer the doctrine of the gospel concerning spiritual liberty to civil order." Also relevant are his remarks in regard to the Libertines, in Calvin, Treatises, 192-94, 271.
56. Ibid., 4.20.1. see also Commentary on Romans, 13:1; Commentary on 1 Peter, 2:13. For English translation of the latter, see The Epistle of Paul The Apostle to the Hebrews and The First and Second Epistles of St Peter, trans. William B. Johnston (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1963). At the same time, it should be noted that Calvin ordinarily objected to the Anabaptists' low estimation of the Old Testament; for example, see Institutes, 2.10.1.
57. Institutes, 4.11.1. Note the discussions of Calvin's long-term struggles to secure the independence of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Geneva, especially in regard to participation in the Lord's Supper, in Cottret, Calvin, 130-31, 159, 163-68, 197.
58. Institutes, 4.11.4; 4.11.8.
59. Institutes, 4.11.15.
60. Institutes, 4.11.3.
61. Note, for example, the comparison of Calvin's views to those of Capito, Henry VIII, Zwingli, and even Luther at times, in Wallace, Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation, 56-57.
62. Graham, The Constructive Revolutionary, 158.
63. For but one example, see Institutes, 4.20.3, where Calvin asserts that the object of civil government includes prevention of blasphemy and other "offences to religion."
64. I suggest one line of argument that might explain, if not defend, Calvin's views on the religious responsibilities of civil magistrates in terms of his two kingdoms doctrine. Calvin asserted in a number of places that the highest priority of the civil kingdom was to maintain peace and safety in human society (for a few examples, see Commentary on Romans 13:1-3; Commentary on 1 Peter 2:13-14; Prefatory Address, 4; Institutes, 2.8.46; 3.10.6; 3.19.1; 4.1.3; 4.20.2-3; 4.20.11; 4.20.23; Treatises, 85; for helpful discussion of relevant issues, see also Hesselink, Calvin's Concept, 242, 247; Hopfl, The Christian Polity, 48, 67; and Ganoczy, The Young Calvin, 129). Calvin, as a man of his time, could hardly imagine a harmonious religiously-plural society. Thus, the necessities of peace, safety, and order seemed to demand that some uniformity in religious practice be maintained, and this work necessarily involved the authority that bore the sword, the civil magistrate. See Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:2; and also the very explicit material in Institutes, 4.20.2-3; 4.20.9.
65. Klempa, "John Calvin on Natural Law," 85, points to the importance of Calvin's distinction between earthly and heavenly things for understanding his natural law thought, though Klempa does not develop this with reference to the two kingdoms doctrine.
66. Institutes, 2.2.3-4.
67. Ibid., 2.2.12.
68. Ibid., 2.2.13.
70. Ibid., 2.2.14.
71. Ibid., 2.2.15.
72. Ibid., 2.2.17.
73. Ibid., 2.2.20.
74. Ibid., 2.2.22. Calvin offers a very similar analysis in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 and 3:19. For English translation, see John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trans. John Pringle (reprinted, Crand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2003).
75. Backus, "Calvin's Concept," 26.
76. Institutes, 4.20.14. This three-fold division was taught in the; thirteenth century, for example, by Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae 99; and Bonaventure, Breviloquium, 5.9.1.
77. Institutes, 4.20.15.
78. Ibid., 4.20.16.
79. See ibid.,4.20.1-2.
80. Ibid., 4.20.16. Hancock, Calvin and the Foundation, 86, similarly concludes that the concepts of divine law, moral law, the rule of love, natural law, conscience, and equity are equivalent for Calvin.
81. Institutes, 4.20.16.
82. See generally, Haas, The Concept of Equity. See also Backus, "Calvin's Concept," 16-19, 26; and Battles and Hugo, "Introduction," 137.
83. See Haas, The Concept of Equity, 71.
84. Among many examples, see Calvin, Treatises, 77-78.
85. Compare, for example, Institutes 2.3.3 and 3.15.1-3. Calvin acknowledges that in eveiy age there are some people, living solely by the guidance of nature, who "were all their lives devoted to virtue" and showed that there was some "purity in their nature." Yet he explains that, "in the sight of God," their works, because impure and imperfect, can merit nothing and cannot achieve justification.
86. See Earth, "No!," 105-08.
87. Ibid., 108-09.
DAVID VANDRUNEN (B.A., Calvin College; M.Div., Westminster Seminary California; Th.M., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; J.D., Northwestern University School of Law; Ph.D., Loyola University) is associate professor of systematic theology and Christian ethics, Westminster Seminary California. He is author of Law and Custom: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of the Common Law. His articles have appeared in International Journal of Systematic Theology, Journal of Markets and Morality, and University of British Columbia Law Review. Special interests include law and theology and history of Calvinist social thought.…