Now I don’t want to go much into the doctrine of the sacraments in Calvin. The main thing is that he tries to find a mediation between Luther and Zwingli. He does not want, with Zwingli, that the Lord’s Supper is only a meal of commemoration; he wants the presence of God, but not a presence which he finds superstitious and magical, as he sees it in Luther, where even those who are not belief-ful eat the body of Christ The doctrine of the State: Calvin was a humanist and therefore gave to the state much more functions than Luther. Luther gave it practically only one function: to repress evil and preserve society from chaos. Calvin uses also the ideas of humanism, of good government, of helping the people, and many other things of a more positive way. I can give you this very drastically: the function of a policeman in Germany is to repress; the function of a policeman in this country may also be this function, but beyond this it is the function to help. For us, when we came 20 years ago, it was really an experience when you wanted something you could go to a policeman! Nobody could do that in Germany! Now I hope this has changed, but I don’t believe too much. The state represses, but it never helps.
But Calvin never went so far as to say, with the sectarian movements, that the state can be the kingdom of God itself. He calls this a Jewish folly. But what he says was, with Zwingli, that a theocracy has to be established, I. e., a government which not priestly government, but the rule of God through the application of the evangelical laws, through the political situation. And for this he indeed works hard. And he demands that the magistrates of Geneva care not only for legal problems, the problems of order in the general sense, but also for the most important content of the daily life, namely for the Church; not that they shall teach in the Church or give decisions (as to what things) shall be taught. But they must supervise the Church to punish those who are blasphemers and heretics – and so he did, with the help of the magistrates of Geneva – and to create in all respects a kind of community in which the law of God governs the whole life. No priests and ministers are necessarily involved in it. Theocratic rulers usually are not priests4hen the theocracy becomes hierocracy – they are usually laymen, and that is usually what he wanted. The state must punish the impious, he says. They become criminals because they are against the state law, which is based on the Divine law.
Calvinism has saved Protestantism from being overwhelmed by the Counter- Reformation. And it has done so on a world-wide scale by the possibility of alliances of Protestants all over the world – Cromwell especially did this – the world alliances which we still have in this country, as an idea of allying the good people against the evil people; of course the evil people are the political enemies, but this is done in the name of the good people, which is something the Lutherans would not do; when they tried it they fell down. This gave Calvinism a tremendous international power.