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George Cromwell Scott

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Cromwell Scott
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
In office
November 1, 1943 – October 6, 1948
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
In office
February 21, 1922 – November 1, 1943
Appointed byWarren G. Harding
Preceded byHenry Thomas Reed
Succeeded byHenry Norman Graven
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1917 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byThomas J. Steele
Succeeded byWilliam D. Boies
In office
November 5, 1912 – March 3, 1915
Preceded byElbert H. Hubbard
Succeeded byThomas J. Steele
Personal details
George Cromwell Scott

(1864-08-08)August 8, 1864
Kendall, New York
DiedOctober 6, 1948(1948-10-06) (aged 84)
Sioux City, Iowa
Resting placeGraceland Park Cemetery
Sioux City, Iowa
Political partyRepublican
Educationread law

George Cromwell Scott (August 8, 1864 – October 6, 1948) was a United States Representative from Iowa's 11th congressional district for just over four years, and was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

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  • ✪ John Calvin: A Reformer for Our Time by Timothy George


Welcome, it's so good to have you here for our annual Reformation heritage lectures. Let's begin with a word of Prayer from a Saxon Liturgy of 1539. Let us pray. Oh Lord God, Heavenly Father, pour out we beseech thee thy Holy Spirit upon thy faithful people. Keep them steadfast in thy grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, defend them against all enemies of thy word and bestow upon Christ's church militant thy saving peace through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever one God, world without end. Amen. Well, Beeson Divinity School is privileged and blessed not only to have a wonderful dean but a Dean who is one of the world's leading Reformation history scholars and here we are in the 500th year of the Reformation and Dean George has already taught us a great deal about Martin Luther and Erasmus and I'm eager to hear his lecture this morning on John Calvin so I'm just gonna turn it right over to him. Dean George, welcome. [Dr. George] Thank You Dr. Thielman and good morning ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I'm glad you've come back for the third installment in this series on the Reformation. Few figures in Christian history have been so highly esteemed or so meanly despised as the shy French lawyer who became not only one of the greatest theological geniuses of the Reformation, second only to Luther I'd say, but also as he has been called, the founder of a new civilization. Calvin is complicated. Some have gone so far as to depict him as the greatest teacher of Christian doctrine since the Apostle Paul and also a near infallible guide in every area of human endeavor from art and architecture to politics and economics, but his detractors have been vocal and numerous. Many of them think of him as the cruel tyrant of Geneva a morose, bitter, and utterly inhuman figure. This didn't start in recent times, in the 16th century he was a polarizing figure too. Some people in Geneva who didn't like Calvin or his Reformation decided that they would take out two letters of his name and so instead of Calvin he becomes Cain, taking out the two middle consonants in his name. In our own time a little closer to home, television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart has alleged that Calvin has caused untold millions of souls to be damned. More often than not, however, Calvin has simply been ignored, especially by his cultured despisers. One of the great writers of our time, Marilyn Robinson, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, who tries her best to rescue Calvin a little bit from his detractors reports that she "has encountered an odd sort of social pressure as often as I have mentioned his name one does not read Calvin," she said, "one does not even think about reading Calvin. Calvin seems to be neglected on principle." Why does Calvin still generate such contrary emotions what has kept Calvin from fading into the shadows of church history as so many other people have done from the past. What I want to do today is to give you a little bit of an overview, just a brief overview of his context. I'm not going to say very much about his life and biography though that's interesting too, but I want to talk a little bit upfront about his context. When he came, what he did in the Reformation story. And then I want to look at four principles I think that undergird Calvin's theology and in particular his view of ministry and what that says to us, and so I entitled this lecture "John Calvin, A Reformer for Our Time." A reformer for today. So we begin with the oft-noted fact that Calvin was a second-generation reformer. He was barely eight years old when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the castle church door at Wittenberg. He was born in the cathedral city of Noyon, that's about 55 miles to the northeast of Paris. His father was something of an administrative assistant to the bishop and he pulled strings in order to acquire a benefice for his obviously very bright and precocious son, young John Calvin, and this benefice was kind of like a scholarship. It actually was an office in the church and Calvin was assigned to be, even when he was barely twelve years old, assigned to be in charge of a chapel on the edge of town, but he didn't do anything, that's the way these benefices work. You hire a flunky priest to go and do your duty while you take the lion's share of the money. And so Calvin entered the stream of religious life through one of the great abuses of the late medieval church. This receiving of a benefice, what it allowed him to do was to go to the University of Paris, become a student, and there he studied at the Collège de Montaigu, the same school Erasmus had studied at earlier, and that Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits was also studying there about the same time Calvin was. I haven't been able to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I think it's fascinating to just speculate with some reason that maybe John Calvin and Ignatius Loyola were eating the same bad cafeteria food at the same time and maybe using the same books in the same library at the same time. These two great protagonists of the second generation of the Reformation. So, when Calvin joined the Protestant cause in the 1530s, again we're not sure exactly when or how that happened because he doesn't tell us very much about it, but it was in the early 1530s and at that point the Reformation movement seemed to be falling apart. Erasmus and Luther had famously quarrel Dover the bondage of the will driving a wedge not just between those two figures but really between the two movements they represented, humanism on the one hand and Reformation on the other. Luther and Zwingli had quarreled bitterly over the Lord's Supper at the colloquy of Marburg in 1529. Two years later, Zwingli was dead having been killed on the battlefield of Cappel. When Luther heard about this back in Wittenberg he made a rather ungenerous remark, "It's a well-merited end for such a heretic." And of course there was the peasants' war of 1525 and by the 1530s the bloody debacle in the city of Munster, which discredited Anabaptism as a force of constructive reform. When you said Anabaptist in the 1530s and subsequently for a century or more you didn't think about the pacifistic anabaptists like Michael Sattler, the Swiss brethren not bearing the sword, not taking the oath, living peacefully in your covenant... You didn't think about any of that, you thought about Munster, you thought about the horrible debacle of that city as people were slaughtered and killed within the city and then later in one of the few ecumenical adventures of the 16th century, Catholics and Protestants alike joined armed forces to conquer that city and put down the Anabaptist movement there. All this was happening when John Calvin became identified with the Reform movement. So it's this precise moment: Zwingli is dead, Erasmus is dying, Luther is quiescent if not quiet, the Roman Church is resurgent, the radical Reformation is fragmented, and discredited. At this precise moment John Calvin emerges as the leader of a new movement and the reformulator of a new theology. That isn't quite right, not really a new theology, but the theology of Martin Luther repackaged in a new way and given new life in a different setting, an urban city setting. Well, that's about all I want to say in terms of the context of Calvin. There's much more we could say but that's enough to show you he comes along a little later than Luther at a different moment in the history of the Reformation and that is going to shape the way he will do his work to a significant extent. I want to turn to the second part of this lecture and that is the four major points that seem to me to characterize Calvin as a reformer, Calvin as a theologian, Calvin as a reformer for our time as well. The first point is to see Calvin as a theologian of the frontier. A frontier theologian. Bernard Cottret, a French scholar, has written I think one of the best biographies of Calvin in recent generations, and he points out that all of the major cities in which Calvin lived during the formative years of his ministry as a teacher of the church, they were all frontier cities. Basel on the Rhine River, Strasbourg a little further to the north. Geneva itself. Now we think of Geneva today of course as a part of Switzerland, it is a part of Switzerland, sort of, but they've never quite given up their fierce Genevan independence. When you visit Geneva today you see the building that houses the Genevan Church, the Swiss Reformed Church of Geneva, it's called 'Église Nationale de Genève,' the National Church of Geneva. They're very proud of their Genevan independence. That became a problem for Calvin once he moved there because he was not Genevan. He was French speaking, French by culture but he was French and not Genevan, that was a problem for the people in Geneva. But it was a border town, it was a frontier city and it was squeezed in between the great country of France on the one hand and the Swiss Cantons on the other. In particular Bern which was not very far geographically from Geneva, which had a great conflict with Geneva in the 16th century and the Duchy of Savoy down toward Italy. Geneva is sort of squeezed into the intersection of these three polities. Now what does it mean to say that Calvin was a frontier theologian? Well, another one of his biographers, William Bouwsma, has found in this fact Calvin's sense of displacement and homelessness. He never really had a home and here, remember back to Erasmus, wandering from place to place, that was true to some extent of Calvin as well even though he lived in a city for a number of years he never really was fully accepted there, he only became a citizen of Geneva about four years before his death. And Bouwsma says this goes all the way back to his early childhood, to the fact that he was never very close to his father. Unlike Luther, here, now Luther had his problems with his father, we all know that, but in a sense he reconciled with his father and brought both his father and his mother to Wittenberg to live out their later days. Not so, Calvin. There was this frostiness with his father until his death in 1535, and also the fact that his mother had died when he was only four or five years old, so he grows up kind of cared for by other people who were kind to him and showered him with many wonderful gifts but never has that sense of really belonging. This homelessness, this sense of displacement this longing for a country to which he could never return -- France. Well this also ties into another major motif in Calvin (this is all a part of the first point I'm making about him being on the frontier) and that is his Reformation was a Reformation for refugees. He himself was a refugee, fleeing France, fleeing persecution, when he joins the Protestant movement to start with. One of my great teachers was Heiko Oberman and he gave our Reformation lectures here some years ago before his death and one of his lectures was on John Calvin and he talks about the Reformation essentially being divided between two different types. He called them trekkers and settlers. Well the trekkers are those who are scattered, who are on the move, they're travelling, they're displaced, they're often refugees. The settlers are those who enter more settled polity particularly in the territories of Germany and Scandinavia where Lutheranism is so very strong. But it was the followers of John Calvin in particular who became the great trekkers of the 16th century, the great trekkers of the Protestant message throughout all of Europe and really internationally. They trekked to Holland, from Holland to Hungary, from Hungary to Poland, from the churches of London to the Reformers of Lithuania, Knox was in Scotland. And in 1555 from Geneva there went out a mission for Brazil led by Admiral de Coligny. They wanted to get the gospel to the far ends of the earth and were insistent upon doing it. Well, Calvinism has been compared, maybe with some justification, to Bolshevism in the early 20th century. Bolshevism which was formulated by Lenin and others but became a kind of international coterie of folks and that was true of Calvin and his followers as well, they were not settlers by and large, they were trekkers, and a very different understanding of ministry came out of that fact. They were trekkers moving out from their city in Geneva and Zurich and Strasbourg and London unto the four corners of the world. I would not call Calvin a founder of the new civilization, that's Amel Leonard's term, I see him more as a purveyor of a discontinuous tradition, namely the tradition of Catholic Christianity in which he was deeply committed and believed that he was called to lead the church back to that important place. And so if you can think about comparing Calvin to the Middle Ages, more continuity between the mendicant friars, the Dominicans and Franciscans who broke with the tradition of Benedictine monasticism. If you visit a Benedictine monastery today one of the places you must always go to see is the cemetery because everybody in the monastery has a place in the cemetery. That's where you live, that's where you die, that's where you're buried, that's where you're remembered you have a place, and they called that 'stabilitas.' 'Stabilitas loci,' the stability of place. Well the great motif of the reformed Calvinists tradition was not 'stabilitas' but 'mobilitas.' Movement, mobility. And so Calvin as a theologian of the frontier I think ought to help us to see him and his historical significance as - I'm gonna use a word I like now but apparently nobody else does - a 'horizonal' figure. I've used that word in so many essays and editors scratch it out, "Ahh he's making a mistake, old George," and they put 'horizontal.' There is a difference between 'horizonal' and 'horizontal.' Somebody's horizontal they're dead! [laughter] Horizonal is different, it means you're moving toward the horizon, you're directed to the future and I think that's true of John Calvin and his Reformation he was a horizonal reformer. Now that's the first point I want to make. Calvin and the Reformation of the refugees, Calvin as a horizonal reformer. Now I'm going to come to my second point, Calvin's view of ministry as a calling rather than a profession. A calling rather than a profession. Of course Calvin had a profession, he was a lawyer, we know that Luther in defiance of his father gave up the study of law to become a theologian, whereas Calvin in obedience to his father gave up the study of theology to become a lawyer. And maybe that tells us something about the nuance of difference between these two great figures in the basic life decisions they made. But Calvin was not only a reformer, as I've said, of the second generation, he was also a reformer of the second occupation and he describes this in terms of a 'divine summons,' a calling. We know that famous phrase he uses in the preface to his commentary on the Psalms from 1557, one of the very few autobiographical references that Calvin ever makes about himself and his experience, and which he says it was by a sudden conversion a 'subita conversio.' Oh that God changed his heart and turned his direction and reoriented his affections so that he became as he puts it docile, 'docilitas,' teachable. That's the key word in the reformed tradition, teachable. Now we shouldn't get hung up on this word 'sudden' as though it's a flash of lightning, a split-second. Rather, the language Calvin uses in latin is 'praeter spem,' beyond all hope, beyond all expectation. This is how he described his conversion he says, "At one point Guillaume Farel, burning with a wondrous zeal to advance the gospel set all of his efforts at keeping me in Geneva although I was determined to pursue my own private studies when Farel realized he would get nowhere by his pleas. He came to the point of a curse, that it would please God to curse my leisure and quiet and my studies that I was seeking if in such a grave emergency (the situation in Geneva) I should withdraw and refuse to give aid and help. This word so overwhelmed me that I desisted from the journey I had undertaken." He stayed in Geneva, he became a reformer overwhelmed beyond all expectation. He became a reader in Holy Scripture to the church in Geneva and though he took on many duties over the years besides that, his primary vocation remained that of a pastor and teacher even though as I pointed out he never really felt at home in that city that he had adopted, but never quite adopted him. So when he talks about this 'calling,' ministry is a calling not a profession, he does it in very theological terms. The best place to read this is not his autobiographical vignette, though that's important, but go to his commentary on Galatians, chapter 1, where Paul is describing his own conversion which is at one in the same time a calling. And I think it's good to see Calvin in very much the same way. His conversion was also a calling, and there's not very much space between the two. And it consists, as he says in his commentary on Galatians commenting on Paul's statement about himself, that he was called like Jeremiah before he was born his mother's womb. He relates it to three steps. One, the eternal predestination of God in which our calling is rooted. Two, that separation from the womb, again quoting Jeremiah, in which God has dealt with us in this life historically by placing us here as opposed to there. And three, this calling which comes to us from beyond ourselves and is, Calvin says, the effect and the fruit of both of these other steps, God's electing grace in Christ and his placing us in history at a certain time with a certain charge to keep. And so Calvin talks about this in terms of predestination and I can't give a lecture on Calvin without saying a word about that can I? Not much, just a little. Mark Twain has Huckleberry Finn refer to a perplexing Calvinist sermon he once heard on what he calls 'preforeordestination.' [laughter] 'Preforeordestination.' Well, the most important thing to say about Calvin's doctrine of predestination is how totally normal and not unusual it was at all. He was in very large agreement with figures like Saint Augustine, whom he quotes more than anyone else in the Institutes other than the Bible. Thomas Aquinas, does that surprise you? It shouldn't. Thomas Aquinas was also an Augustinian, especially in his later writings in the Summa. Calvin is tracking Aquinas here. One of our graduates from Beeson Divinity School, Dr. Chad Raith, did a PhD comparing Aquinas and Calvin in their commentaries on Romans. Amazingly similar, some differences, but amazingly similar. He was tracking also Luther, of course, so he was not very original. He did teach that God was sovereign in salvation no less than creation and that divine election was entirely gratuitous, 'Ante praevisa merita,' as a Scholastic tag went, not based on God's foreknowledge of human achievement, not based on any merits that we have or can ever do, but surely and solely out of God's grace. And he taught this not because he was a dour despot or wanted to make people more miserable than they already were, but he taught it because he thought he found it clearly taught in Holy Scripture. But it's wrong to place predestination, I think, at the center of everything Calvin taught and believed. It's not an a priori metaphysical axiom from which everything else flows. If there is a center to Calvin's theology, and that's highly debated among Calvin's scholars, it's probably closer to being something like 'union with Jesus Christ' than it is the doctrine of predestination. It had a Christological focus for him, so Jesus Christ is the 'Speculum electionis,' The mirror of election. And it also had a pastoral import. In discussion discussing predestination in book three of the Institutes Calvin follows closely the method of Paul in the letter to Romans. It's good advice for all Calvinists, if I might say so. Some Calvinists begin right there in the middle of chapter 9: "Jacob have I loved Esau have I hated. Why did the thing say to the one who made it why'd you make me..." that's not where Calvin, or Luther either for that matter, start, they start where Paul does. In Chapter 1. And in Romans Chapter 1 what is Paul doing? Well, he's talking about what we might call 'general revelation,' he's talking about the doctrine of creation. He's talking about the fact that God is our maker, the one to whom we are accountable. You begin with God's general revelation in creation and in the conscience, Romans 1. This leads Paul on to a discussion of human sinfulness in chapters 2 and 3 and then to God's atoning work in Christ and justification by faith, chapters 4 through 7. Followed by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the declaration of God's unfathomable love in Chapter 8. Coming to a crescendo on those great verses at the end of Chapter 8, "What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing in heaven on earth, under the earth, made, unmade, can ever separate us from the love of God." Only then, when you have slowly and carefully and assiduously worked yourself from the beginning of Chapter 1 to the end of Chapter 8 in Romans, are you ready to consider the theme of God's electing grace in the history of Israel and in our own lives, that's chapters 9 to 11. And then when you very closely and carefully and assiduously worked yourself through those deep waters you come to the end of Chapter 11, and how does chapter 11 of Romans end? "Oh, the mystery, oh the depth! Who can understand it? Were you there when God made the stars," that great paean of doxology that you get at the end of Chapter 11. "Who can fathom it, who can understand it?" Which is just a more refined, sophisticated way of saying, "We'll understand it better by and by." Or as Charles Wesley we put it in one of the great hymns of the Christian faith, "Amazing love how can it be, that thou my god should die for me?" That's a better way to do predestination, that's Calvin's way of doing predestination, particularly in his commentary on Romans as well as in book three of the Institutes. The elect are not the elite, and we have to be really careful not to act sometimes as though we were. So Calvin walks onto the stage of history as a person under compulsion, reluctant to take center stage. Many times he will speak about Geneva being an abyss. "I'd rather take up 10,000 crosses," he says, "than go back there." And you never understand Calvin without fully hearing that reticence that hesitancy that shyness that bashfulness, whatever you want to call it. Not wanting to be center stage but compelled to do the duty he believed God had given him, not in his profession but in his calling. But it was not a calling without a sense of self-doubt. I say that even though the evidence for it is rather slender because Calvin so disliked any form of self-disclosure. We don't find in Calvin the sort of robust hand-to-hand combat with the devil the "Anfechtungen" that we see in Luther, but sometime read a letter that Calvin wrote, the correspondence between Calvin and Louis du Tillet in 1538. At that point Calvin had been expelled from Geneva, he had conflict with the City Council. They kick him and Farel both out of the city. He's on the road he's not yet settled in Strasbourg, that's where he'll spend the next three years of his life, the happiest years of his life where he gets married, he's a pastor of a church in Strasbourg. But he's not in Strasbourg yet, he's on the road no doubt experiencing great personal distress and he gets this letter from Louis du Tillet - Who was Louis du Tillet? Well, I would say he was Calvin's closest friend at that point, they had known one another in France before Calvin ever came to Geneva. He and his family had welcomed Calvin into their home as a shelter, as a refuge when he was fleeing persecution in France. They had read the scriptures together, they had prayed together, that was his best chum, Louis du Tillet. But now du Tillet is thinking, "Should I really have embraced the Reformation or not?" You got to think about this, there was a lot of people that said yes to the Reformation and then had second thoughts about it and they went a different way and Louis du Tillet was one of those. It was right that moment in his life when he was reconsidering, "Do I want to stay with Calvin and these reformers, or go back to the Roman Catholic Church?" Which he did, eventually. And so he writes this letter to Calvin and he casts aspersions, questions about the authenticity of Calvin's own calling, and when you read Calvin's response to what his best friend was saying, putting a question mark on his life and calling, it stung him deeply and that question haunted him I think for a long time. For Luther, the question was, "Are you alone wise? Who are you to go against 1500 years of the tradition of the church, are you alone wise? For Calvin, the question was "Was I really called, was it God who led me to that abyss of Geneva? Or was it something else?" So he doesn't have this calling in a robust way that does not also include some doubts and later on in the Institutes when he's talking about faith, he will say, "There's no such thing as genuine faith that is untinged by doubt." That comes from John Calvin, not Kierkegaard, not somebody else that you might think of, sort of an existentialist, it comes from John Calvin, because he understood that a real faith is a faith that has been through the fire, that's been tested, burnished in the oven of experience and comes through on the other side firm in its confidence in Jesus Christ. Well, let me go on to point number three, I want to leave a little time for questions today. The church as a community of grace sustained by Word and Sacrament. The Reformation was an ecclesial event. It wasn't just a matter of individual faith and belief in Jesus, that was part of it of course, but it was more and deeper than that. It was what Bonhoeffer would characterize as "Life together," life in community, life in covenant. Those are important things and important words for John Calvin. A community of grace sustained by Word and Sacrament. I'm not going to say any more about Calvin's preaching, I alluded to that on the first lecture and we were talking primarily about Luther but also Calvin, preaching as a means of grace. It was, but I want to particularly for a moment put the spotlight on Calvin's desire for the Lord's Supper to be central in the life and worship of the church. Celebrated, he thought, every week. Now I've heard pastors complain about that. "Every week? Well, it'll just become old hat." But they never say that about the offering. [laughter] We do that every week, it never gets old, we just keep on doing it. Calvin wanted the Lord's Supper to be every Sunday, now that's different from Zwingli. Zwingli was happy for the Lord's Supper to be celebrated as infrequently as possible. They eventually came up with a schema in Zurich of four times a year: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and the Feast of the two patron saints of Zurich, Felix and Regula. Those four times the Eucharist was celebrated in reformational Zurich. Calvin thought "That's not good enough," and so he pleaded, he lobbied, he argued that in Geneva the Lord's Supper should be celebrated every week. As a matter of fact he did not get his way with that request, the City Council refused to do it and set up the same pattern they had in Zurich, four times a year. And in the good Southern Baptist Church I grew up in, that's how often we did it, four times a year. Why? Where in the bible does it say that? Well it doesn't say that in the Bible, we get that pattern from the City Council mandate of Geneva and Zurich. A very unbiblical standard. Calvin says we need to celebrate the Lord's Supper because it's not just a ritual, it is a manifestation of the real presence of Christ in our midst. Zwingli had a saying about the Lord's Supper, "edere, est credere," To eat is to believe. And so we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross, we're grateful for that, and we celebrate that. So eating is believing, edere est credere. Well Calvin agreed with that of course but he said it's more than that, too. There's something else going on there eating is not merely believing, it's something that includes believing but it's also an experience, an encounter with Jesus Christ in a way that we don't find just walking along the sidewalk or going to the shopping mall or having fellowship with somebody over coffee. We lift up our hearts unto the Lord, the name for this in the traditional liturgy is 'Sursum Corda.' And here there's a little different take between Calvin and Luther, he does not accept Luther's doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ's body. He says, "In the Lord's Supper we don't bring Christ down from heaven and encase him in the corporeal elements of bread and wine, rather when we come to the table of the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are lifted up, 'Sursum Corda,' we lift up our hearts, let us lift up our hearts, we lift them up to the Lord. And that's where communion really takes place, in the heavenlies. Isn't that what Paul is talking about in Ephesians Chapter 1? For God has made us to sit together with Jesus Christ into heavenly places? He's not saying this is at the end of time and the great Kingdom of Heaven that is prepared for us for all -- it's happening right now and one instance of that is when we come to the table of the Lord which is one of the means of grace along with preaching. So Luther again gives the word that Calvin follows here the true marks of the church are the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. One more point, this 'Sursum Corda,' 'lift up your hearts' leads me to this point, to think about Calvin as the reformer of the long view. What do I mean by that? This upward view, lift up your hearts, this meditation on the future life if you want to read something in the Institutes that's really just edifying you don't want to wade through all 2,000 pages, go to that section where Calvin is talking about 'meditatio,' meditation on the future life. So rich, so deep because he was a reformer with a long view. He knew that history did not terminate on itself, that God was up to something in this world that none of us may ever see the conclusion of. Now most of you who are here today are younger than I am a few of you, a very few, may have a few years and miles on me, but there will come a time when none of us will be in this chapel, in this school, in this city in this world. We need to take that on and understand it that we are not meant to live here in this world forever and ever and ever and ever but that God has prepared a place for us in the heavenlies where Jesus Christ waits. I've gone away to prepare a place for you and if I go away I will come again and receive you unto myself. Calvin had this sense of the eschatological magnetism of the gospel. It pulls us forward to that time when God shall wipe away all tears, there will be be no more sorrow, no more crying, no more death, no more pain, and we will need no lights for Christ Himself will be the light, the Sun in that place. Well, to those who ask what will happen to the world? We answer: His kingdom is coming. To those who ask what is before us? We answer: the King stands before us. To those who ask What may we expect? We answer: We are not standing before a pathless wilderness of unfulfilled time with a goal which no one would dare to predict. We are gazing rather upon our living Lord, our judge, our Savior who was dead but now lives forevermore we are gazing upon the one who has come and is coming and who will come to reign forever. It may be that we shall suffer affliction in this world, yes, that we must if we want to participate in him, that we know that his work and his royal word will not fail whatever the affliction and so be comforted, saints. Jesus says I have overcome the world because this is true because this is rooted in the gospel, we can take the long view. This is the ministry and the theology of Calvin and it's worth thinking about and taking on board in this world of ours. Thank you very much. [applause] If Dr. Thielman thinks well of it, we'll take a question or two. [male audience member] Dr. George, I've heard Calvin called before, "the theologian of the Holy Spirit," Did he really articulate anything original regarding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit or was his were his thoughts, similar to his doctrine of predestination, just tracking along with Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and others? [Dr. George] Good question, I hope he didn't say anything original because if you did it was heretical. Originality is not a good thing in theology, leads people astray. The Holy Spirit was very much a part of Calvin's construal of the Christian life more pronounced, perhaps, in Calvin even than in Luther, Zwingli, the others, he made a big deal about it. And really you could see all of book three of the Institute being a treatise on the Holy Spirit. I mentioned his doctrine of the Lord's Supper briefly, How does this happen, that our hearts are lifted into heaven? This seems like a almost magical way of putting it. Well, it's the Holy Spirit who is able to take things separated in space and unite them in time. That's a powerful work of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit also who gives us assurance that we are trusting in Jesus Christ. So I don't think there's anything original there, but there's something emphatic there, something pronounced there, and I know there are theologians who talk about the Holy Spirit being the heart the center of Calvin's theology, I'd rather say "Union with Christ," but those are not separable are they? How are we united with Christ? By the power of the Holy Spirit. [male audience member] Great lecture Dr. George, though he was a refugee and had to flee France because the persecution and whatnot, could you speak to his civic vision of Geneva? I heard he was on the council, and just particularly maybe what his vision for the city of Geneva theologically and whatnot. [Dr. George] Yeah, Calvin was a very practical reformer, he was a lawyer after all, he knew how to make things work, and so he was very concerned about say how to put out fires in Geneva, they had a fire brigade because fire in a city like that could consume the whole thing. So, he was interested in practical things like that. he was also interested in care for the poor, the needy the whole office of the diaconate in Geneva was meant and revised by Calvin to be a, we might call it today, "social service agency" or something like that. They thought about it much more in biblical and theological terms as a service, a 'diaconia' So he did have a vision for the city, I wouldn't call him in some ways the forerunner of the social gospel especially if we understand the social gospel to be mostly social and not very much gospel, which is often the way it is, but he had a great concern for the poor, the needy, and he thought the city was to be a place where this sanctified life in Christ could be lived out and worked out and so John Knox, somebody accused me yesterday, a Presbyterian who was here, accused me of not saying anything about John Knox and and we've even taken down the pulpit with his likeness on it. That's not intentional! [laughter] Unless Vicki has something on her mind that I don't know about. Knox was important. You know Knox spent several years in Geneva during the 1550s working with the Marian Exiles, the english-speaking exiles, preaching to them every day and Knox referred to Geneva as the most perfect school of Christ on earth since the days of the Apostles. Well that's pretty high praise, but I think Calvin would say "That's what we're aiming for, that's what we want to do." So city life, citizen life, life in this world life that had responsibilities and duties to your neighbor, he found all of that very important in realizing God's work and God's glory. Maybe one more question Dr. Thielman? [male audience member] Thank You Dr. George, to what degree or how important do you think Calvin's experience was as a pilgrim, as a refugee, to the way he discussed the Lord's Supper or the Christian life? [Dr. George] Yeah, being a refugee I think forces one to think about what really matters in this world and so even though he had a great concern for the city, to pick up Waters's question, he never equated the city of Geneva with the kingdom of God and one of the distinctive marks about Calvin's ecclesiology as opposed to say Zwingli and Zurich was the clear distinction he makes between the city, the state, the governance authorities and the church. Now they're connected, he's not a separatist in that sense of the word. Everything is to be under the umbrella of the glory of God. But, they have very distinct missions to perform. So being a refugee, I think, is a kind of insulation against equating any earthly polity, whether it's a city council a state, a country, the UN, whatever, with the kingdom of God. They're distinct. They work together, they ought to work in harmony, they ought to advance good common things for all people on earth, but there has to also be very clearly this distinction between the two. I think that's that's not original to Calvin that's part of the Catholic vision as well and yet he reinforces it in an urban setting. So being a refugee I think also I'd answer it a second way, gave him a sense of empathy for people who were suffering, for people who were on the road, for people who were refugees as he himself had been a refugee and so you see that in his letters, the letters that he writes to the people, particularly those who are in prison were being persecuted for their faith who have fled their homes or been sent into exile and they're wandering here and there. He has a great empathy and sympathy for them and of course Geneva becomes a bastion where really thousands of them come in the sixteenth century and are welcomed warmly by Calvin and the people who are there, that's a part of the vision that he had for the Christian life. [Dr. Thielman] Thanks so much for three wonderful lectures this has been a particularly rich and instructive year of lectures for us and that's appropriate for this 500th anniversary year. Let's end our time together with a word of prayer, and this is a prayer from John Calvin. Let us pray, Almighty God, since thou hast clearly revealed to us thy will so that there can remain no pretense of ignorance, grant that we may submit to thee with a freer and more ready mind. Incline our ears to thee that we may attend to thee with all our hearts, that we may desire no other thing than to make our whole life approved by thee and as we cannot but turn aside through our obstinacy and wickedness from the right way, do thou so enlighten us by the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge that we may strive to embrace whatever thou has been pleased to prescribe to us in thy Word. When the course of this life is finished, may we partake of the fruit of our obedience and enjoy that eternal inheritance which thine only begotten Son has procured for us by his own blood, and now may God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be with us and guide us from this day forth and even forevermore. Amen. [applause]


Education and career

Born near East Kendall (now Morton), an unincorporated hamlet in the Town of Kendall, Monroe County, New York,[1] Scott's mother died when he was two years old, and his father died when he was five.[2] After being raised by his uncle, Scott moved to Iowa in 1880, when he was sixteen, to live with other relatives.[2] He attended the country schools and the high school at Dallas Center, Iowa. He taught school while studying the equivalent of a full college course load under the tutilege of his wife, Laura.[2] After studying law while working for a law firm in Adel, Iowa,[2] he was admitted to the bar in 1887 and commenced practice in Le Mars, Iowa in 1888. He moved to Sioux City, Iowa in 1901 and continued the practice of law.[2]

Congressional service

In January 1912, Scott announced his candidacy for the United States House of Representatives seat in Iowa's 11th congressional district, which was then held by fellow Republican Elbert H. Hubbard.[3] Hubbard defeated Scott in the June 3 primary, but died the following day.[4] A nominating convention in July 1912 gave Scott the nomination over state senator L.E. Francis. Upon defeating Democratic and Bull Moose Party challengers in the general election, Scott was immediately sworn to fill the remainder of Hubbard's term in the 62nd United States Congress.[1] Scott then served another full term in the 63rd United States Congress.[1] In 1914 Scott was renominated by the Republicans for a second full term, but was upset in the general election by Democrat Thomas J. Steele.[5] Explained one rural newspaper, "the central feature of the Steele campaign was personal solicitation of votes and personal publicity concerning the candidate."[6] By contrast, "Mr. Scott remained in Washington until ten days before the election and put in only one week of campaigning."[7] However, Scott ran again two years later, and recaptured his seat from Steele.[1] He was not a candidate for renomination in 1918.[1] In all, Scott served in Congress from November 5, 1912, to March 3, 1915, and from March 4, 1917 to March 3, 1919.[1] After leaving Congress, Scott resumed the practice of law in Sioux City.[1]

Federal judicial service

Scott was nominated by President Warren G. Harding on February 16, 1922, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa vacated by Judge Henry Thomas Reed.[8] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 21, 1922, and received his commission the same day.[8] He assumed senior status on November 1, 1943.[8] His service terminated on October 6, 1948, due to his death in Sioux City.[8] He was interred in Graceland Park Cemetery in Sioux City.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "George Cromwell Scott". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hon. Geo. C. Scott," The Hull Index, 1912-08-02 at p. 1.
  3. ^ "Wants Hubbard's Place," Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, 1912-01-19, at p. 5.
  4. ^ "Death Claims Congressman," Waterloo Evening Courier, 1912-06-05 at p.1.
  5. ^ "Eleventh Iowa Elects a Demo," Waterloo Evening Courier, 1914-11-04 at p. 1.
  6. ^ "Steel [sic] Victory Most Certain," Hospers Tribune, 1914-11-06 at p. 2.
  7. ^ "How Eleventh Was Lost," The Cedar Rapids Republican, 1914-11-08 at p. 20 (quoting the Sioux City Journal).
  8. ^ a b c d George Cromwell Scott at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Elbert H. Hubbard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas J. Steele
Preceded by
Thomas J. Steele
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
William D. Boies
Legal offices
Preceded by
Henry Thomas Reed
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
Succeeded by
Henry Norman Graven
This page was last edited on 15 May 2019, at 15:25
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