John Calvin is most often known for his views on soteriology, anthropology and theology proper. He actually wrote a great deal more than this, of course. However, many Christians have not bothered to read anything else from him. In this excerpt, Calvin explains what a Christian’s duty is to a true church, and the grace Christians should show to one another in matters of minor disagreement. Indeed, Calvin believed we should “pardon delusion” amongst ourselves on unimportant issues. We should refrain from “inconsiderate zeal” and “immoderate severity.”
I’ll let Calvin explain the rest:1
We have said that the symbols by which the Church is discerned are the preaching of the word and the observance of the sacraments, for these cannot any where exist without producing fruit and prospering by the blessing of God. I say not that wherever the word is preached fruit immediately appears; but that in every place where it is received, and has a fixed abode, it uniformly displays its efficacy.
Be this as it may, when the preaching of the gospel is reverently heard, and the sacraments are not neglected, there for the time the face of the Church appears without deception or ambiguity; and no man may with impunity spurn her authority, or reject her admonitions, or resist her counsels, or make sport of her censures, far less revolt from her, and violate her unity.