The Practice Of The Sabbath In Calvin’s Geneva

Between 1542 and 1609, the Consistory frequently interviewed and sometimes reprimanded people for working on Sunday, whether for pruning trees, making lace, selling tripe, unloading boats, hunting birds, or moving furniture. The Consistory also disciplined people for engaging in recreational activities on Sunday that were deemed inappropriate for spiritual refreshment, such as hunting, dancing, banqueting, playing tennis or billiards, or bowling skittles. When Sunday labor was born out of service to the community rather than avarice, the ministers normally showed leniency. Read more»

Scott M. Manetsch | Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536–1609, 131.


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  1. Calvin also wanted the Lord’s Supper once per week and God’s Word sung but the goverment he was under would not always allow. So seeing the practice of Calvin’s church in Geneva is NOT always indicative to what he absolutely wanted to be done. There is what we want and then there is what’s on the menu. I know all analogies break down, but at times it seems that the more strident need to learn to take “yes” for an answer.

    I say that as one who left the PCA and would be considered by many as “more strident” in my Reformed views.
    Grace & Peace

    • Eric,

      If you read the chapter in our RC or if you will read the quotes provided by Bruce and if you look at Calvin sermons on Deuteronomy late in his career he will see that what consistory did in Geneva is what California taught. It will not work, as an interpretive principle, to set Calvin against himself. If an interpretation of the Institutes contradicts the way Calvin himself applied his own theology then that interpretation of the Institutes is suspect at least.

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