A biblically-shaped theology of work energized Geneva. "Calvin," writes Bloomer, "taught that your work was your worship...[and] every believer has a holy vocation, not just 'full-time ministers.' For example, if you are a shoemaker, that is your vocation. So you have to work as unto the Lord, since you are presenting that work to him as worship."
As a result of a) God-honoring work, b) the nurturing of family, c) reasonable interest rates, and d) a system of law with accountability, the economic level of Geneva started to rise within the first generation. Years later, Max Weber, the German economist, pointed to Calvin's teaching in Geneva as one of the sources of Western prosperity.
When it came to caring for the poor, such as Protestant refugees, widows, and orphans, a charitable organization was established. But this was no handout program. "Anyone who could work had to work," writes Bloomer [emphasis his], "the poor were considered accountable too...It is said that all Protestant charities have their source in Calvin's organizations in Geneva, since they were copied and adopted in all the Protestant countries."
I don't mean to imply from my recent posts that everything the Reformers did in Geneva was a good model to follow. They made missteps. As Bloomer notes, there were excessive controls, particularly when it came to implementing their third principle for rebuilding the city, the principle of "accountability." (I'll comment on this in later posts.)
To learn more about Calvin and Geneva, read Bloomer's full article. YWAM Publishing (thank you, Warren Walsh) has granted permission to make Bloomer's chapter of His Kingdom Come available as a .pdf document. Click http://www.biblicalworldview.com/Calvin_and_Geneva_Bloomer.pdf.
In Geneva, Calvin and his associates had the rare opportunity of rebuilding "from the bottom up." The city was broken. Yet in this seemingly hopeless vacuum, a builder with vision saw an opportunity to create something extraordinary from the ground floor. And he took this opportunity.
Calvin's opportunity came 475 years ago. But--some may ask--are there any opportunities to build communities from the ground up today?
As a matter of fact, there are such opportunities! Consider the work of Agros International in Central America. Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o15FYwdy3to
Back to Geneva next week.