Why Did the Consistory Play Such an Important Part in Calvin's Geneva?

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The Consistory dealt with religious and political features of Calvin’s system that was seen to provide organization and authority within the state of Geneva. This was not by means a new idea, it had previously been operated in Berne but the Genevan consistory had a higher authority. It dealt with justice, punishing people for crimes such as dancing, and gambling. It was also allocated to dealing with social issues, which looked to support families. Calvin was successful as he personally dealt with challenges from the opposition, e.g. Servetus; who opposed Calvin’s theology and questioned the legitimacy of the Trinity. The Libertines sided with Servetus to ‘annoy’ Calvin, but were disemboweled when Servetus was burned as a heretic. Furthermore Calvin had strong support from the council, and also French Protestants who found refuge in Geneva. Calvin’s preaching was also a strength, it enabled him to be in close contact with the people of Geneva, thus permitted him to influence them efficiently. His knowledge and organizational skills were much appreciated and his preaching provided him with a central role, which provided Geneva with stability. ‘The Institute of a Christian Man’ offered a guide to belief, and his views on predestination were particularly influential, and it remained the vital belief within Calvinism and gave confidence to his followers. It could be said that the Consistory played a main part with Calvin’s success in Geneva but Calvin’s strengths and the lack of opposition also played a significant role in his success in Geneva.
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