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Fear Does Not Equal Faith, Essay Example

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Words: 254

Essay

The strict discipline of John Calvin’s philosophy had a dramatic and often polarizing effect on religion, faith, and societies. Under his influence, Geneva adhered to his teachings interpretation of Christianity. Severe consequences such as social isolation, imprisonment, and even death awaited those who disobeyed. Those in agreement with Calvin’s beliefs and methods would argue that his intentions were to improve society and live by the Scripture. However, Calvin’s interpretation and enforcement of Christianity inspired fear and hypocrisy as opposed to true devotion.

While morality, temperance, and self-control are important concepts in Christianity, so are love and compassion. True faith comes from within and must be genuine. By motivating people with intimidation, Calvin and his followers did not allow for true faith to develop. People accepted Calvin’s interpretation of religion for superficial reasons and to prevent retribution from society.

The Scripture can be interpreted from a perspective based on fear and pessimism or out of joy and devotion. Though Calvinists tended to embrace the former view, the actual beliefs were not the problem. Even though Geneva and other Calvinist societies embraced the strict ideals of predestination and extreme self-restraint, Christianity still requires compassion as a daily practice. People who disagreed with the Calvinist philosophies were given no remission; they were penalized. Though Calvin quoted many Biblical verses which justified his extreme rulings and condemnations, there were just as many Biblical verses which preached love, tolerance, and kindness. However one feels about Calvin’s beliefs and personal practices does not excuse the harsh measures used to enforce these ideals.

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