Calvin on fasting
It is important to look at fasting in the history of our traditions, the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Church , that went into Union to form the Uniting Church of Australia.
On this web page we are focussing on the Presbyterian Tradition, and a few thoughts on what John Calvin thought about fasting. Both John Calvin and John Knox fasted regularly. (Mahesh Chavda pg 145 Hidden Power of Prayer and fasting) .
David Gambrell has written a short article on âJohn Calvin on fastingâ that you can find on the following website
Gambrell emphasises that Calvin wrote quite extensively regarding the importance of fasting in his Insitutes of the Christian Religion.
Calvin writes ââaccording to the need of the times, [pastors] should exhort the people either to fasting or to solemn supplications, or to other acts of humility, repentance, and faithâ (4.12.14). Calvin elaborates on the âneed of the timesâ as follows: âwhenever a controversy over religion arises â¦ whenever there is a question about choosing a minister â¦ whenever â¦ any difficult matter of great importance is to be discussed, â¦ or [in times of] pestilence, war, and famineâ (4.12.14).
At Assembly 09, discussion of a difficult matter of great importance was brought forward, in the proposals of changes to the preamble of the constitution. We are also in financial difficulty in the Uniting Church due to the current financial crises, because many of our givers are older retirees who have been reliant on interest or stocks, so again we qualify for Calvinâs âneed of the timesâ.
So according to Calvin, fasting is quite appropriate in such a time as this following the National Assembly with deliberation on the matter of the preamble in synods and presbyteries. Pastors and and ministers should encourage their people to do this humbly , and with repentance and faith.
Rev Anne Hibbard