Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609

Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609

Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609

Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609

Synopsis

In Calvin's Company of Pastors, Scott Manetsch examines the pastoral theology and practical ministry activities of Geneva's reformed ministers from the time of Calvin's arrival in Geneva until the beginning of the seventeenth century. During these seven decades, more than 130 men were enrolled in Geneva's Venerable Company of Pastors (as it was called), including notable reformed leaders such as Pierre Viret, Theodore Beza, Simon Goulart, Lambert Daneau, and Jean Diodati. Aside from these better-known epigones, Geneva's pastors from this period remain hidden from view, cloaked in Calvin's long shadow, even though they played a strategic role in preserving and reshaping Calvin's pastoral legacy. These "forgotten" reformed pastors, together with Calvin himself, are the central characters of this book. Making extensive use of archival materials, published sermons, catechisms, prayer books, personal correspondence, and theological writings, Manetsch offers an engaging and vivid portrait of pastoral life in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Geneva, exploring the manner in which Geneva's ministers conceived of their pastoral office and performed their daily responsibilities of preaching, public worship, moral discipline, catechesis, administering the sacraments, and pastoral care. Along the way, a variety of important subsidiary questions are explored, including: In what ways did the practice of preaching and church discipline change in Geneva after Calvin? What were some of the different ways that lay people in Geneva responded to the ministers' sermons and corrective discipline? In what ways were the structure and practice of pastoral ministry in Geneva similar to or different from other Protestant churches during the period? What can be learned about the ministers' religious priorities and pastoral concerns from their published writings? To what extent did Geneva's religious leaders such as Beza, Daneau, and Goulart remain faithful to Calvin's theological legacy and religious program? Manetsch demonstrates that Calvin and his colleagues were much more than "talking heads," dispensing theological information to the people in their congregations. Rather, they saw themselves as spiritual shepherds of Christ's Church, and this self-understanding shaped to a significant degree their daily work as pastors and preachers. This careful study of religious life in Geneva from 1536 to 1609 also shows that the clerical office in Geneva changed in subtle ways during the half-century after Calvin's death, even as the Company of Pastors remained committed to the reformer's pastoral vision.

Excerpt

The scene could scarcely have been more poignant. On April 28, 1564, the Geneva reformer John Calvin summoned the city’s ministers to his residence on the rue des Chanoines to give them final instructions as he lay dying of tuberculosis. the pastors who crowded into Calvin’s sitting room that day were, like Calvin himself, religious exiles, men who had left families and fortunes behind in France and had come to Geneva for the sake of the evangelical faith. Among the company were several of Calvin’s closest friends and long-time colleagues: the gifted Hebraist Michel Cop; the ferocious preacher Raymond Chauvet; the brilliant, but precocious, Nicolas Colladon; the noble-born poet and theologian Theodore Beza—all companions-in-arms with Calvin in the struggle to establish reformed Protestantism in Geneva and France. Calvin spoke to his colleagues for around a quarter hour. He reminisced about the early years of Geneva’s Reformation and the intense hostility that he had faced. He defended his teaching ministry and his role as an interpreter of Scripture. He expressed public support for his chosen successor, Theodore Beza. He apologized for his short temper during his long illness. Finally, he exhorted his pastoral colleagues to be on guard against all religious innovation in the future. “I beg you also to change nothing and to avoid innovation,” Calvin stated, “not because I am ambitious to preserve my own work … but because all changes are dangerous, and sometimes even harmful.” At the end of his speech, Calvin shook the hands of each of his pastoral colleagues, who left his bedside with heavy hearts and (according to Beza) not a few tears. a month later John Calvin, the reformer of Geneva, was dead.

John Calvin was undoubtedly the leading theologian and chief architect of Geneva’s Protestant church in the sixteenth century. But the long-term success of his religious program depended in large part on the company of reformed ministers who worked alongside Calvin with daily responsibilities for preaching the Word, performing the sacraments, enforcing discipline, and providing pastoral care in Geneva’s three city churches and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.