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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Three Essentials


Corruption in the church was no stranger to Calvin.
[Photo formerly attributed to Hans Holbein (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.]

A low point of my summer came when I heard about the child sexual abuse by 300+ priests involving 1,000+ victims over 70 years in Pennsylvania. The scope of the scandal stunned me. 

The problem is not limited to the church. In our nation's schools, 25% of US school districts reported incidents of sexual abuse over the past 10 years. In 2014 alone, roughly 800 school employees were prosecuted for sex crimes with students. These were caught. Imagine 70 years.


Yet, non-believers will add the latest church scandal to their justifications for rejecting Christianity (of any stripe) altogether. 

Corruption in the church is not new. I think of the priests who operated houses of prostitution in Geneva, in the 1500's. 

The people ran the bishop out of town in 1530. William Farel, a French evangelist, came in 1531.
His co-worker, Antoine Froment cried in the markeplace, "We must reform the church in order to reform the nation!" 

Farel sought John Calvin, demanding he come to Geneva to apply the theology he was writing about. Calvin came at the age of 27, and rebuilt this broken city on three essentials:

1. Preaching the Gospel: "...so that people would be saved and start to be transformed and the church would be restored to biblical purity."


2. Teaching: "...so that people would know how to live, the authorities would know how to govern, and all would know how to work in their different spheres." 


3. Accountability: "...so that the teaching would not just be theoretical but applied in all areas of life."


Calvin had no room for a Sacred-Secular Divide. He believed "holy vocations" included the work of the banker as well as the pastor, and advised bankers to not charge high interest rates, identifying this as the sin of "usury" in the Bible. Calvin understood that Jesus is the Lord of all banks.


Geneva became "a city on a hill," where a healthy church of transformed people engaging in God-glorifying work throughout every sphere of life in the city brought righteous commerce and just governance to the public square from the inside out, not the outside in.  


John Knox came to Geneva and took what he learned to Scotland. English believers were influenced by Geneva, and later brought the so-called "Protestant Work Ethic" to North America.  

See Thomas Bloomer's, "Calvin and Geneva: Nation-Building Missions." Click
 here. 

There's hope. If...