Calvin’s Letter to Melanchthon on Luther’s Bombastic Pomposity

On 28 June, 1545, Calvin writes to Melanchthon-

Would that the fellow-feeling which enables me to condole with you, and to sympathize in your heaviness, might also impart the power in some degree, at least, to lighten your sorrow. If the matter stands as the Zurichers say it does, then they have just occasion for their writing. Your Pericles [i.e., Luther] allows himself to be carried beyond all due bounds with his love of thunder, especially seeing that his own case is by no means the better of the two. We all of us do acknowledge that we are much indebted to him. Neither shall I submit myself unwillingly, but be quite content, that be may bear the chief sway, provided that he can manage to conduct himself with moderation. Howbeit, in the Church we must always be upon our guard, lest we pay too great a deference to men. For it is all over with her, when a single individual, be he whosoever you please, has more authority than all the rest, especially where this very person does not scruple to try how far he may go.*

Noteworthy here are two points: Calvin’s view of the Eucharist is closer, by his own admission, to the viewpoint of the Zurichers (i.e., Zwingli and Bullinger) than it is to Luther’s utterly Roman Catholic viewpoint.  And second, Calvin isn’t a fan of Luther’s fanboys.  Lutherans then, as now, tended to idolize the beer swilling chap.


* According to the Editor of Calvin’s letters –    Hurt at the new attacks which Luther began to direct against their doctrine in his Short Confession upon the Supper, (see Letter CXXII.,) the ministers of Zurich published in 1545 an Apology, intituled:—“Orthodoxa Tigurinæ Ecclesiæ Ministrorum Confessio, una cum æqua et modesta responsione ad vanas et effendiculi plenas D. Martini Lutheri calumnias, condemnationes et convitia, etc.…”—Hospinian, Hist. Sacrament., tom. ii. p. 354. Provoked by Luther’s violence, this reply irritated the zealous Lutherans, afflicted Melanchthon, delighted the adversaries of the Reform by the unseemly divisions which had got the upper hand among them.