Fun Facts From Church History: The Caroli Affair

calvin_bookAt the conclusion of the whole sordid affair (about which you can read in Schaff’s history),

Caroli was deprived of his functions by the synod. The great council of Berne confirmed this sentence; pronounced Farel, Calvin, and Viret innocent of the charges brought against them; condemned Caroli to banishment as guilty of slander and other excesses; and remitted the cause to the consistory to be formally terminated.

As the presumptuous doctor was unwilling to submit to that authority, the parties were summoned before the civil magistrates (avoyers) and the councils. Calvin, Farel, and Viret accordingly presented themselves, June 6, but Caroli did not appear.

An usher, sent by the lords of Berne to seek him, brought word that he had disappeared. He had in fact fled early in the morning, and had taken the road to Soleure. From that place he withdrew into France, to the cardinal of Tournon, the great enemy of the Reformation.

The latter obtained absolution for Caroli from the pope. The wretched man had hoped that, by returning into the Roman Church, he should get a good benefice; but he found that he was held in equal contempt by Catholics and Protestants.

To close the affair, it was agreed to approve the terms Trinity, substance, and persons (Calvin himself had made use of them); but at the same time that if any pious man declined to employ them, ‘he should not be cast out of the Church, nor should be looked on as one who thought wrongly as to the faith.’

And then this very interesting remark in our author-

This episode in Calvin’s life shows us not only his firm attachment to the truth, which everyone acknowledges, but likewise a spirit of freedom which is ordinarily denied to him. It is clear that with him the Word of God stood before all, and that the faith, the life, and essence of Christianity had more value in his eyes than mere traditional terms, which are not to be found in the Scriptures.*

*History of the reformation in Europe in the time of Calvin (Vol. 6, pp. 383–384).