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We recently shared some quotations from Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, on church discipline. Now Jim Gunn, college chaplain of the University of Dubuque and friend of the Foundation, has been kind to share with me a couple of quotations from John Calvin on church discipline. 

The Institutes


All who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration . . . are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church.  For what will happen if each is allowed to do what he pleases?  Yet that would happen, if to the preaching of doctrine there were not added private admonitions, corrections, and other aids of the sort that sustain doctrine and do not let it remain idle.  Therefore, discipline is like a bridle to restrain and tame those who rage against the doctrine of Christ.  . . . Those who trust that without this bond of discipline the church can long stand are, I say, mistaken.


John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, chapter xii, sections 1 and 4


Ecclesiastical Advice


Since Satan cannot altogether extinguish pure doctrine . . . he is struggling to overthrow the church of Christ by this crafty stratagem: when discipline has been broken and loosened he cuts through the sinews of the body, so that the limbs become dislocated and a sad dismemberment follows.  I wish that those who want to cast off the yoke and allow everyone unbridled license would realize that they are seeking the ruin and devastation of the church.


Calvin's Ecclesiastical Advice, trans. by Beaty and Farly, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 1991, p. 111.  

Where does this leave us today?

Dr. James C. Goodloe IVGrace and Peace,
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
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