Calvin & Catholics

The apologetic character of this first theological treatise of Calvin, which he expanded constantly till 1559, is evident throughout this and every other part of the Institutes. Since it was written primarily in defense of the reformed religion against the attacks and slanders of its enemies, the abuses and idolatries of the Roman Church are constantly before the mind of the author. Speaking of the Roman Church, Calvin says:

The Church must necessarily fall whenever that sum of religion which alone can sustain it has given away. Again, if the true Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), it is certain that there is no Church where lying and falsehood have usurped the ascendancy. Since this is the state of matters under the Papacy, we can understand how much of the Church there survives. There, instead of the ministry of the word, prevails a perverted government, compounded of lies, a government which partly extinguishes, partly suppresses, the pure light. In place of the Lord’s Supper, the foulest sacrilege has entered, the worship of God is deformed by a varied mass of intolerable superstitions; doctrine (without which Christianity exists not) is wholly buried and exploded, the public assemblies are schools of idolatry and impiety.

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