While Calvin and Luther were both critical leaders of the Reformation, there were some significant differences between them with regards to how they believed the churches should be run. Luther’s church was much more formal and established than Calvin’s church. Calvin’s church consisted of a number of smaller churches. This created the most significant differences between the two religions with regards to government.
Luther believed that the church should be under the control of the state and inferior to the state. Calvin disagreed with this concept. He did not believe that the church should answer to the state and that the church was actually superior to the state. This created a significant difference with regards to how their churches would be run from a governmental aspect. It also created differences with how their churches would interact with the governments under which they lived. Calvin needed to flee because of his beliefs (Boise State, 2015).
In the creation of the church hierarchies, there were significant differences. Luther’s church did not believe that there was any difference between the clergy and the lay people in the church. Bishops and clergy merely functioned in an administrative capacity. However, Calvinism disagreed and they created presbyteries for the church organization.
One of the major differences resulted from the age difference between the two individuals. Calvin was one generation behind Luther. While Luther was the original reformer who objected to the excesses and simony of the Catholic Church, Calvin believed that he did not go far enough (Brown). In addition, Luther had control of the churches in Eastern Europe, while Calvinism was more successful in Western Europe. Obviously, the political doctrines of these regions would impact the governmental changes of the church doctrines (History Channel, 2015).