Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 11, “Calvin and Calvinism” pp. 352-381. Part 4, “Calvin’s Geneva: 1541-64” pp. 365-372.
In 1540 Calvin was invited back to Geneva by the new council. Though he feared rejection he did return in 1541. As the pastor of Geneva he called the council to repent and live a Christian life (Ozment 1980, 366). He patterned his demands on the organizational structure he had seen in Strasbourg. “The church ordinance of 1541 scrupulously respected the political sovereignty of the councils and subjected the clergy to an emphatic oath of allegiance before the Lord Syndic and Little Council” (Ozment 1980, 366). The elders, selected from within the council, would have the responsibility of oversight and discipline. Calvin published a new catechism in 1541, with questions and answers. The organization was different from other catechisms. “The placement of faith before the law reflected the Calvinist belief that the commandments were not intended primarily to drive one to self-despair and subsequent faith, as Lutherans inclined to teach, but were to be embraced in a positive way as a guide to daily living, by all confessed Christians” (Ozment 1980, 367). Ozment details some of the fairness and mercy in the legal system at Geneva, observing that punishments in general were even-handed, swift, and relatively gentle. “The celebrated confrontations that have earned Calvin’s popular reputation as a theocratic tyrant all concerned a challenge to his authority “ (Ozment 1980, 368). Calvin, unwilling to accept failure in his reforms, “adopted a thoroughly Machiavellian stance on the issue: the success of his reform depended on nothing so much as fear and respect for his leadership and authority” (Ozment 1980, 368). Ozment discusses the failure of this stand as associated with the death in 1553 of Michael Servetus, a physician who identified the process of oxygenation of blood. He also rejected the Trinity, publishing a book stating so in 1531. Under assumed names Servetus and Calvin corresponded. In 1553 Servetus was arrested by the Inquisition. He escaped, and, oddly enough, went to Geneva where he was arrested, tried, and executed as a heretic. In 1559 Calvin established a school system in Geneva, both primary and secondary. Geneva quickly became the place of training for Protestants throughout Europe (Ozment 1980, 372).