John Calvin, 2 Samuel 2:8-32 and resistance to civil government : supreme equivocation or mastery of contextual exegesis?

Over the years, it has been the considered view of some scholars that John Calvin regarded popular armed resistance to duly appointed but abusive civil rulers as illegitimate. Instead, they are of the view that the legitimacy of forceful resistance to a tyrannical civil magistrate, as subsequently d...

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Published in: Koers (Potchefstroom, South Africa) Vol. 82; no. 2; pp. 1 - 10
Main Author: Muttitt, Andrew
Format: Journal Article
Language: English
Afrikaans
Portuguese
Published: Noordbrug Koers Society of South Africa 12-01-2017
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Summary: Over the years, it has been the considered view of some scholars that John Calvin regarded popular armed resistance to duly appointed but abusive civil rulers as illegitimate. Instead, they are of the view that the legitimacy of forceful resistance to a tyrannical civil magistrate, as subsequently developed by the later Huguenots, Scottish Covenanters and English Parliamentarians, was rooted in the thought of Theodore Beza as it allegedly diverged from that of Calvin. They apparently base this view exclusively on a reading of the Institutes 4.20.24-31. This paper examines whether Calvin’s sermons on 2 Samuel, preached in 1562, put to rest accusations of equivocation raised by the infamous “perhaps” of 4.20.31; and if so, whether they evidence a development in Calvin’s thought which stands in irreconcilable contradiction to the position expressed in the last chapter of the Institutes. Johannes Calvyn, 2 Samuel 2:8-32 en weerstand teen die burgerlike owerheid: uiterste dubbelsinnigheid of beheersing van kontekstuele eksegese? Deur die jare was dit die oorwoë mening van kenners dat Johannes Calvyn gewapende weerstand teen die regmatige – hoewel onderdrukkende – owerheid as onwettig in die wêreld van die 16de eeu beskou het, en dat dit daarom ook onwettig vir vandag is. Daarenteen is hulle van mening dat die regmatigheid van gewelddadige weerstand teen die onderdrukkende owerheid, soos dit later deur die Hugenote, Skotse ‘Covenanters’ en Engelse Parlementariërs ontwikkel is, eerder in die denke van Theodore Beza gegrond was, na bewering in afwyking van Calvyn. Oënskynlik word hierdie mening uitsluitend gebaseer op ’n lesing van die Institusie 4.20.31. Hierdie artikel ondersoek of Calvyn se preke oor 2 Samuel, gehou in 1562, die aantyging van dubbelsinnigheid wat deur die berugte “miskien” van paragraaf 31 opgeroep word, kan weerlê. En indien wel, of hierdie preke ’n ontwikkeling in Calvyn se denke aantoon, wat in ’n onversoenbare teenstrydigheid staan met die posisie wat in die laaste hoofstuk van die Institusie ingeneem word.
ISSN: 0023-270X
2304-8557
2304-8557
DOI: 10.19108/KOERS.82.2.2352