加爾文的一生，看到他對上帝和教會的熱愛和委身，即便挑戰再大和艱難，他都莫忘初心，櫛風沐雨，砥礪前行。誠如他應邀回到日內瓦在上帝面前所立志的：「主啊！我願立刻、真誠地將我的心獻給你！ 」 (COR MEUM TIBI OFFERO DOMINE PROMPTE ET SINCERE ，My heart I offer Thee, Lord promptly and sincerely)。加爾文——他是真正的牧者！
The objective of this thesis is to analyse the Pastoral Theology of John Calvin and his pastoral ministry practice at Geneva Church, in order to carry out a reflection on pastoral practices at churches today. Calvin was widely known and studied for his work on Systematic Theology. However, his contributions as a pastor is even more significant than his achievements a theologian, due to his lifetime commitment in church reform and pastoral ministry practices at Geneva. He was therefore named the Shepherd of Souls.
The thesis analyses Calvin’s Pastoral Theology from the perspective of his theory on Ecclesiology and Pastoral Vocation i.e. Churches are the objects of pastoral service, while pastoral service is the route to healthy church development. They should both compliment each other, and serve as the tools of God in helping with the growth of His followers. Calvin’s Pastoral Theology was built based on the interpretation of the Bible. Calvin reflected on the nature of a church as he fought against the malpractice and corruptions of the Roman Catholic in the 16th century. The purpose of religious reform is to rectify and transform the church system and its framework of belief. Calvin claims that pastoral vocation was created by God, and hence the pastoral ministry and power owned by the pastor was also awarded by Him. Pastoral vocation is essential to sustain the existence of churches in the world, and to maintain the unity of His followers. Calvin claims that Jesus Christ is the real and only pastor, and yet, He set up pastoral vocation personally to share his glory with His servants. For Calvin, pastor is the executor of the signs of true churches and true believers. Therefore, he has clear and stringent requirements in recruitment, selectionof pastors, as well as in defining duty, character and model of a pastor.
The church reforms driven by Calvin not only involved transformation of the structure and systems of churches, but also emphasised on rebuilding spiritual and religious values. During his twenty-three years of pastoral service in Geneva, Calvin firmly and systematically reformed and established churches in Geneva holistically. His contributions to the Geneva Church include the establishment of confession of faith and constitution of churches; the election, ordination and training of pastor through Company of Pastors; the organisational structure to govern the Representative Polity; the comprehensive model in managing church discipline through the Consistory; unique and significant changes in worship practice, execution of sacrament and exegesis preaching. Besides, Calvin was known for his accentuation on the importance of God’s words, for his involvement in the development of Christian education, social justice and almsgiving, his commitment in nurturing pastors and missionaries, as well as his care towards the followers. He has a long-lasting influence to the protestant and universal church.
The passion and commitment of John Calvin towards God and church could be observed throughout his life. Despite the tremendous challenges and hardship, he had never forgotten his purpose, and had soldiered on, as he aspired “COR MEUM TIBI OFFERO DOMINE PROMPTE ET SINCERE, My heart I offer Thee, Lord promptly and sincerely”.
John Calvin, he is the true shepherd!