Calvin’s doctrine of Church & State: Calvin’s doctrine of the Church is, like Luther’s, the place where preaching is carried on and the sacraments correctly administered, ritually, Calvin, however, makes a much more radical distinction between the empirical Church ;and the invisible Church. While for ;Luther the invisible Church is only the Spiritual quality of the visible Church, for Calvin the invisible Church is the body of those who are predestined in all periods of history, not dependent always on the preaching of the Word. This is connected with what we have learned about Zwingli and Calvin: the doctrine of the Holy Spirit working also apart from the Christian message, and therefore universally active.
From this point of view the visible Church is an emergency creation, an adaptation of God to human weakness. Therefore it is not a matter of believing in the Church, but believing that there is a Church. The main function of the Church is educational. The Church always has to bring people, through those means, into the invisible Church, the body of the predestined.. On the other hand, the emphasis on this educational work of the Church is much stronger than in Lutheranism.
Although ultimately the Church is an emergency creation of God, actually it is the only way for most Christians to come to God at all Therefore he has developed a doctrine of the Church which is quite different from the doctrine which had been developed by Luther. Instead of two marks of the Church, namely doctrine and sacraments he has three marks: doctrine, sacraments, and discipline. And this element of discipline is very decisive. “As some have such a hatred of discipline, as to abhor the very name, they should attend to the following consideration. As the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the Church, so discipline forms the ligaments which connect the members together and keep each in its proper place.” The discipline starts with private admonition – and this admonition was very serious, mostly; it goes through public challenge (this was ruinous, socially) and finally to excommunication. But even excommunication is not(able to remove one from the saving power of God. While in Rome someone who is excommunicated can in this state not be saved, somebody who is in Protestantism can be, or possibly has been, predestined, and if so he will be saved in spite of the excommunication, namely, then the excommunication will not be effective.
These three marks are by Divine law. But there are other things by Divine law. There are four offices: pastors, or ministers (both words are used; ), doctors or teachers, presbyters, deacons. The most important of these four are the pastors and presbyters. These four are by Divine order, and they have to be always there. They are derived from the Bible. The Church has in itself, in its own mixed status, a community of active sanctification. This community is created by the Church and becomes manifest in the Lord’s Supper. Therefore discipline precedes the giving of the Lord’s Supper.