Calvin and fasting


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 “John Calvin on fasting”  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  â€œâ€œaccording 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 faith” (4.12.14).     Calvin elaborates on the “need of the   times” as follows: “whenever a controversy over religion arises … whenever there is a  question about choosing a minister … whenever … any difficult matter of great importance  is to be discussed, … or [in times of] pestilence, war, and famine” (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 Calvin’s “need of the times”.

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