Excerpts of John Calvin’s “Responsio ad Saboletum”

In 1539, Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto, a Jesuit monk and the Bishop of Carpentras, France, wrote a letter to the Genevese, urging them to return to the Catholic faith. The city council of Geneva asked John Calvin, who had been exiled from Geneva and was then a minister at Strasbourg, to write a reply, known as Responsio ad Saboletum. This highly academic and polished reply contains a lot of treasures. Here is just some essential excerpts.

On the gospel according to Calvin,

“… a man… when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced upon all sinners. Thus confounded and amazed by his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God; and, casting away all self-confidence, groans as if given up to perdition… the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete. As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, appeased the divine anger; by His blood, washed away our sins; by His cross, borne our curse; and by His death, made satisfaction for us… in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith, and come, as it were, into communion with Him, this we term… the righteousness of faith.” (pages 66-67)

  • Olin, John C., ed. A Reformation Debate. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976. [Amazon]

Feature image adopted from http://www.biography.com/people/john-calvin-9235788

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