I was wondering what most here think of Calvin's strict influence in Geneva specifically regarding moral reforms.

How are we to view Calvin's efforts in light of today? and do such measures (as taken by Calvin) infringe on Christian Liberty?


Does the term CHristian Liberty apply to the non-converted? Should the non-converted Christian comply with any type of strict moral standard even though it will not produce a new birth?

Interpreting John Calvin: Chapter 9,
Against Luxury and License in Geneva

A fragment of Calvin’s writings called De Luxo (1546) demonstrates his desire to uphold and improve the piety and private morality of the people in Geneva. The intention of the document is to outline the base pleasures of life that ought not to take precedence over the good of the soul. Calvin quotes Augustine to epitomize the purpose of the tract when he says, “Out of your abundance actors are steeped in luxury, while the poor lack even necessities.”

Calvin attempted to set up a society where the Lord’s Supper remained at the center. This meant that the city-state of Geneva desired to protect against the pollution that immorality brought to the people over holiness. Calvin submitted a number of works to the Genevan council demonstrating the need to make whatever provisions necessary for the attainment of holy morals. Thus, Calvin had an intricate structure laid out for the use of the Law, the use of Punishment to that law, and the use of Church discipline (all of which remained tripartite in their structure (cf. table 59). The end of this crusade, then, was the “protection of communion through moral discipline,” for “a state with defective laws will have defective morals (Seneca, Ep. Mor. 94:38/LCL 3.36f).”

In this document Calvin explains the devilish tendencies of luxury that to him are “childish.” Abstinence should be sought rather than pleasure (luxury). Sensual pleasures in those outwardly shameless affect those who are weak and impressionable. In luxury lust is exemplified, and acts such as dancing, gluttony, drinking and dressing lavishly should be held in contempt. The poor, then, are oppressed by the acts of the rich.


Some Genevans then, and many critics later, considered Calvin's morality absurdly severe, with its banning of plays and its attempt to introduce religious pamphlets and psalm singing into Geneva's taverns.

-Mark Noll

Last edited by AC.; Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:28 PM.

The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine