Calvin, Zwingli and Catholic Theocrats got it Wrong
The 15th and 16th century Protestant Reformation accomplished a lot of good for society of the era. The reformers reigned in an out of control priestly rule of the Catholic Church that was entirely too tight with established, undemocratic secular royalty. The Pope himself aspired to be a theocratic monarch and deigned to pronounce correctness on all matters of faith and even philosophical thought even unto pain of torture and death during the inquisition. Yet he wasn’t alone in neo-theocractic conviction expecting people to tithe the church, and especially on vast tracts of landed owned by the Catholic Church (Maryland was the only Catholic colony to join the revolutionary United States). Two of the greatest Protestant reformers after Martin Luther each believed in the union of Church and State. They were John Calvin and Martin Zwingli.
For modern Americans the idea of a state theocracy is foreign. I have encountered a few ministerial references of those who believed America should be a theocracy, yet of course that would end democracy. Protestantism arose to correct practical errors of the Catholic Church of the era such as a vast quantity of fake Christian relics offered for sale or on display and indulgences. The unmarried priesthood was also reproved as not being the Bible although Jesus and Paul never married, and the Revelation mentions an unmarried elect. Paul did write though; “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:” Humans have original sin and a cast into thermodynamics penalty making hem unsuitable for developing theocracy as it would corrupt church and state together. People are saved individually by the Lord Jesus, and in the legal-civil sphere individuals are responsible individually and have individual civil rights protecting them legally from corrupting attacks from others. The recent Supreme Court decision banning abortion reminds me of the paradigm of individual rights differentiated from social and public concerns regarding pregnancy and law. Sex and pregnancy are social affairs rather than entirely individual and private. Individuals have a legal right not to have sex and to use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, that is they have the freedom to choose to conceive or not. The right to privacy shouldn’t be used to abort social conception unless conception was through rape. Rape violates individual privacy. If these are hard issues for the logic of secular democracy, for those with faith in God there may be no justifiable abortions except to save the life of the mother.
Maybe schoolchildren required to attend co-ed public schools by law should get free birth control pills and conservative moral counseling explaining good reasons to abstain from sex and to maintain celibacy until graduation. Birth control and celibacy prevent the issue of abortion from arising.
Chapter 14 of the Revelation describes an unmarried number of 144,000 men that were virgins and loyal to the Lamb following him. * In chapter seven 144,000 is the total of those saved from the children of Israel. Those wearing white robes praising God are a vast, non-specific number that have gone through tribulation in the world yet remained faithful, and there are millions, billions or trillions of angels and beasts. Chapter 14 seems to be quite a strong example of partial preterism in today’s light. That is, some of the things have occurred, some are yet to occur. In chapter fourteen it seems as if those gathered from different temporal points are part of a space-time paradigm extending over a period of human history that may be from the time of John’s composition unto the end of the human temporal history experience before the direct rule of God.
*The Revelation Chapter 14-3 “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Protestants believed in the Bible as the fundamental authority unlike Catholics who believed edicts or insights of important church officials equally important. The principle of sola scriptura– through scripture alone, with a priesthood of believers rather than of a separate commercial church priesthood and laity followers as class B Christians who who be vicariously forgiven of sins through the offices and instructions of the priesthood, was a very important reform. Yet in the fine print generally ignored by Protestant reformed era seminaries perhaps is the idea of the church being one with civic political leadership. That is why Zwingli could with good conscience put on his war helmet and battle to the death when Catholic warriors invaded his cantonment in Switzerland to purge the reformers.
There is a very useful eleven minute video that briefly covers Zwingli and Calvin of that day. I recommended watching it. From it one may discern the reason so many varieties of Protestantism have grown from the reformation’s beginning. Today many of those sects have gone over to apostasy, and/or are replete with content, practices and beliefs discordant with the ideas of the early reformers.
It is interesting to me that contemporary Christians have entirely lost track of Luther’s concept of a priesthood of believers. In my opinion in inability of modern clergy to adapt to the technology of the present day, unlike the reformers who took up Gutenberg’s printing press readily to print bibles in the vernacular of each country is notable. Modern clergy seek after a 10% tithe that is actually Biblically incorrect since the tithe mentioned in the Old Testament for non-working priests was divided three ways (priests, widows, orphans etc.) and collected only every third year. Modern Old Testament style tithing should be therefor 1% per year. That would be enough for a priesthood believers with Christians having regular jobs too. Pro theologians could work to write ecclesiastical tracts and messages for churches and work full-time at that with ordinary Christians sharing reading those or acting out those parts in small groups in churches/gathering halls. Perhaps those praising God wearing the white robes ain The Revelation Chapter 7 verses 9 and 10 re those ordinary Christians saved through the Lord’s atoning grace. They may be ones appropriate for a priesthood of believers and heterosexual marriage. “9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
It was interesting watching the video to learn that even stained glass windows ere regarded as idolatry by some reformers. If one thinks about it certainly statues do seem to be. The thing is, Christianity should be an active social matter with everyone being a priest and sharing the gospel; explaining to new arrivals the articles of faith- a popular catechism method for adults, with ongoing Bible education roles shared among the assembly of faith. Paraphernalia of votive worship with incense and velvet robe wearing potentates is a way to have mystery, ceremony and hierarchy established rather than to build an active living faith. Everyone at church should be a priest and actually believe and express principles of faith. Church should be far more participatory, and easily could be.