chapter  2
22 Pages

‘The basic teaching of the Christian religion’

Calvin’s ‘Institutes’, 1536

The catechetical or pedagogic purpose of the work as 'The Basic Teaching of the Christian Religion' called for it to be translated out of Latin into French, as it was, by John Calvin, first in 1541. Calvin's composition of an extensive essay within the 'Institutes' on the question of the Church, its nature and membership, was guided by his sense of the Christian Church and its history. Calvin, trained in Scholastic methods of argumentation and in humanist techniques of rhetoric and political persuasion, the advocacy of virtue that Seneca submitted to Nero, was showing himself a master of those arts. Calvin's alignment of himself and the teachings he was unfolding as being of the ancient Christian Church, and in that sense catholic, was confirmed in his lengthy exposition of the formulary known as the Apostles' Creed. Calvin's eucharistic olive branch could be extended only so far, not, to the Lutheran Evangelical Churches and certainly not to the Catholics.