chapter  7
32 Pages

Parish Churches in Geneva and the Swiss Romande

ByAndrew Spicer

For Calvin and the other French reformers, the appearance and design of a place of worship was not of primary importance, in fact it was regarded as a matter of indifference or adiaphora. While they sought to abolish idolatry and all traces of superstition and the Catholic mass, they did not provide clear

* This essay is a revised and enlarged version of an unpublished paper, ‘Temples paroissiaux réformés de Suisse romande’ by Bernard Reymond. I am very grateful to

guidelines relating to the construction of a Reformed place of worship. Their principal concern was for the administration of the sacraments and preaching the word of God to the congregation rather than the building in which they gathered for services.1 This is reflected in the Reformed use of the term ‘temple’ rather than church. The Lausanne theologian, Mathurin Cordier argued that it was abnormal to use the Greek term ecclesia for an assembly of people, when the word templum applied to places where religious services were held. The use of the term ‘temple’ might evoke associations with the Biblical Temple of Solomon but the Reformers rejected any suggestion of a divine presence. For them, it was appropriate to describe these buildings as temples because, in accordance with I Corinthians 3: 16, when they worshipped the assembled faithful themselves constituted living ‘temples’of God.2