Why Calvin Had Good News for the Poor

Matthew J. Tuininga | October 26, 2016


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When John Calvin became pastor in Geneva, most Protestant churches didn’t have deacons responsible for caring for the poor. In the medieval church, the diaconate had become an office with largely liturgical responsibilities. Most Reformed churches, following Ulrich Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger, assumed it was the state’s responsibility—not the church’s—to care for the poor.

Calvin decisively rejected all of these views. Identifying the church as Christ’s spiritual kingdom, Calvin insisted the church must witness to the justice and righteousness of Christ’s kingdom in its own way, in accordance with Christ’s commands. This meant, as one of the church’s essential ministries, it had to call men and women to serve in the spiritual office of deacon.

Justice, Not Charity

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Calvin, like other Christians before him, believed God has given the earth and its resources to human beings. As those made in the image of God, we’re called to share our resources and serve one another. Calvin often used the language…


To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-calvin-had-good-news-for-the-poor.