The cause of demonstrators involved in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement would have been supported by John Calvin, the 16th century church reformer who helped shape modern-day Protestantism, says the general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
“I am sure he would have been in the streets of New York or London with a placard,” says WCRC’s Setri Nyomi of the French lawyer and theologian who wrote extensively about social and economic justice.
Nyomi made his comments in a Nov. 8 lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary. The Ghanaian theologian and Princeton graduate delivered three lectures during the week on the role of the church in the 21st century.
“Calvin expressed opposition to all forms of social oppression resulting from money,” Nyomi says. “Today, it is the global economic systems and practices that have more sophisticated forms of effects.”
Nyomi believes Calvin’s words resonate with life today. “The church of the 21st century needs to align itself with voices of justice … even if it means being out there in the streets,” he writes.
The WCRC endorses economic justice as an expression of Christian faith. The Accra Confession, a foundational document for the organization, declares: “We believe the economy exists to serve the dignity and well-being of people … Therefore we reject the unregulated accumulation of wealth and limitless growth that has already cost the lives of millions and destroyed much of God’s creation.”
The document was adopted in Accra, Ghana in 2004 by one of WCRC’s predecessor organizations, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
“This is not a convenient set of nice words to recite on Sunday and with which to soothe our consciences. It places demands on us,” Nyomi says. “A commitment on our part is called for.”