What Did Catholics Really Think About Calvin

The following excerpt was taken from an 1877 issue of the The Tablet, a British Catholic weekly journal that has been published continually since 1840. This article was printed just over 300 years after Calvin’s death and shows the credit given to Calvin for his role in the “rebellion.”

It cannot be denied that Calvin was the greatest man of the Protestant rebellion. But for him Luther’s movements would probably have died out with him and his associates. Calvin organised it, gave it form and consistency, and his spirit has sustained it to this day. If Luther preceded him, it is still by his name, rather than Luther’s, that the rebellion should be called; and the only form of Protestantism that still shows any sign of life is unquestionably Calvinism. It is Calvinism that sustains Methodism, that gives what little it has to Lutheranism, and that prevents a very general return of Anglicans to the bosom of the church. It is hardly too much to say that no greater heresiarch than John Calvin has ever appeared, or a more daring, subtle, adroit, or successful enemy of the church of God. … Considering the end of man and the purposes of civil society, murder and robbery are light crimes, and the spread of epidemic disease of no consequence, in comparison with the crime which Luther and Calvin perpetrated when they revolted from the church.

Quoted in William Wileman, John Calvin: His Life, His Teaching, and His Influence (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 11.

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