There is another element in Calvinism, namely the possibility of revolution. If you read Calvin you think this is even worse than Luther. He certainly said that all revolution is against. the law of God, as Luther did. Then he makes an exception which has become decisive for West European history, He said that although no individual citizen should be allowed to make a revolution, the lower magistrates should be able and willing to make a revolution if the natural law, to which every ruler is subjected, should be contradicted by this ruler. Then the lower magistrates have the duty to revolt against him Now this of course is a possibility that in a democracy such as ours, where all of us are lower magistrates – by voting, we establish the government – under these circumstances revolution is, universally permissible. And this was the situation in Western Europe, where the kings and queens were mostly on the side of Catholicism, and Protestantism could be saved only by people who were convinced that in the name of God they can fight against their kings and queens, if kings and queens suppress the true Gospel, namely the purified Gospel of the Reformation.
Let me say a few words about his doctrine of the authority of scripture.. This is a very important point insofar as it was the way in which, finally, biblicism developed in all groups of Protestant faith. The Bible for Calvin is a law of truth, and of course also a law of word. At length, that the truth might remain in the world in a continual course of instruction to all ages, he determined that the same oracles which he had deposited with the patriarchs should be committed to public records.
With this design the Law was promulgated, to which the prophets were afterwards annexed as its first interpreters. The Bible, therefore, must above all be obeyed. It contains a “heavenly doctrine.” This was necessary – although again an adaptation – because of the mutability of the human mind. This was the necessary way to preserve the doctrines of Christianity by writing them down, and making, as Calvin says, God’s instructions speaks of “the peculiar school of the children of God.” Now all this can be harmless, or can be the opposite, and there is much discussion going on as to how to interpret his doctrine of the Scripture. In any case the answer is that this doctrine is absolute, but it is absolute only for those to whom the Divine Spirit gives the testimony that this book contains the absolute truth. But if this is done, then we can witness to the whole Bible as an authoritarian book of a radically authoritarian character.