Realizing Calvin's Radical Potential: Interpreting Jeremiah 48:10 during the English Revolution

William John Lyons


In his Political Grace: The Revolutionary Theology of John Calvin (2009), Roland Boer asks “what if we let loose the revolutionary strain of Calvin’s theology and politics?” This article examines the impact of Calvin’s ideas on the English Revolution (1642--51), as exemplified in a sermon by Stephen Marshall on Judg 5:23. His much-repeated Meroz Cursed was first delivered to Parliament in 1641 and called for the execution of the King’s councillor, the Earl of Strafford. Picking up on Calvin’s written comments on Jer 48:10, the article examines Marshall's use of that text to argue that Parliament's choice was between taking divinely approved action or being judged for their inaction, echoing Calvin's usage. Calvin’s “revolutionary strain” was thus loosed to tumultuous effect in seventeenth-century England, culminating in the execution of Charles 1.

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