The Five Points of Political Calvinism Summarized

“A summary from a Dartmouth historian Herbert Foster about a century ago noted the following as hallmarks of Calvin’s political legacy, and most are exhibited by the works of his closest disciples referenced above:

(1) The absolute sovereignty of God entailed that universal human rights (or Beza’s “fundamental law”) should be protected and must not be surrendered to the whim of tyranny.

(2) These fundamental laws, which were always compatible with God’s law, are the basis of whatever public liberties we enjoy.

(3) Mutual covenants, as taught by Beza, Hotman, and the Vindiciae, between rulers and God and between rulers and subjects were binding and necessary.

(4) As Ponet, Knox, and Goodman taught, the sovereignty of the people flows logically from the mutual obligations of the covenants above.

(5) The representatives of the people, not the people themselves, are the first line of defense against tyranny.

I have summarized the five points of political Calvinism slightly differently, referring to:

Depravity as a perennial human variable to be accommodated;
Accountability for leaders provided via a collegium;
Republicanism as the preferred form of government;
Constitutionalism needed to restrain both the rulers and the ruled; and
Limited government, beginning with the family, as foundational.

The resulting mnemonic device, DARCL (though not as convenient as TULIP), seems a more apt summary if placed in the context of the political writings of Calvin’s disciples.”

David Hall

(full article here)

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