Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought

By Kauber, Martin I. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought


Kauber, Martin I., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought. By William R. Stevenson, Jr. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, xii + 200 pp., $49.95.

This is an interesting book that views Calvin from a different angle than many other recent monographs, probably because the author is a political scientist rather than a theologian or a historian. Stevenson attempts to build on Ralph Hancock's work Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics (1989). He disagrees with Hancock's argument that Calvin's emphasis on predestination and divine sovereignty robs the public arena of spiritual purpose. For Stevenson, the concept of Christian freedom served as the basis for Calvin's political views and as a bridge between his theology and his politics. Rather than limiting the involvement of believers' involvement in the public arena, Christian freedom provides the foundation for participation.

The theme of freedom and slavery is a central issue of theology, and so it is not surprising that it was crucial to Calvin's system. Luther dealt with the issue as well in his treatise Two Kinds of Righteousness. How can Christians truly be free while they are responsible to follow at least the moral aspects of the Law? Christian freedom binds believers more closely to God himself as the source of our strength. Calvin developed his doctrine of the third use of the law whereby the moral law, rather than the ceremonial law, is binding upon the hearts of believers. Once they are freed from the penalty of sin, which provides both joy and embarrassment, they are able to respond to God in gratitude by obeying his commands. It becomes their natural desire to fulfill their responsibility before God. There is no conflict between law and gospel because the gospel fulfills the law.

A second aspect of Christian freedom is the activity of believers in the world toward their neighbors. Christians are freed to act for the greater good of society as they obey God's command to love their neighbor as themselves. Furthermore, while believers are freed from the penalty that sin warrants, they are continually aware of the holiness and judgment of God. Although Christians are free to act, they remain under God's watchful eye. The role of the civil government is to promote peace and tranquility. The government also possesses the power of the sword to coerce individuals into proper behavior and to punish them for misdeeds. Calvin believed strongly in the role of the godly magistrate to work with the church in this endeavor. The government should reflect and channel God's earthly care.

The Consistory was an institution that combined the services of both members of church and state. One issue with which Calvin had to deal was gaining the right for the Consistory to excommunicate unruly church members. The Consistory was not granted this right until late in Calvin's career, in 1559. The church, by contrast, supplied the checks and balances on civil government. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sovereign Grace: The Place and Significance of Christian Freedom in John Calvin's Political Thought
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.