In Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin accuses his scholastic opponents of considering the commandment "Love your enemies" to be optional. Specifically, he says that they call it an evangelical counsel, to be kept by monastics but not Christians in general.
The scholastic doctors made simple "counsels" of the commandments in which our Lord told us not to seek revenge and to love your enemies; they say one is free to obey these counsels or not. They have said that it is only monks who are obliged of necessity to keep them - monks to whom they have ascribed a more perfect righteousness than to other Christians - because monks are obligated to keep the "evangelical counsels", as they call them. 1
They hear that it is an evangelical counsel not to seek revenge; therefore some in private life are not afraid to take revenge, for they hear that it is but a counsel, and not a commandment.
Audit consilium Evangelicum esse de non vindicando: ideo alii in privata vita non verentur ulcisci, audiunt enim consilium esse, non præceptum.
While the whole topic of "precept vs. counsel", or supererogation, has been a divisive topic, I am curious about the specific example, rather than whether it's a valid distinction at all.
- Was there a contemporary group of scholastics that taught this, or were Calvin and the others simply incorrect about Catholic doctrine?
- If they were wrong, did anybody point that out at the time?
1 This is from the 1541 French edition, translated by Elsie Anne McKee (Eerdmans, 2009), in chapter 3, "On the law", p161. In the 1599 Latin edition, the corresponding text is in Book II, Chapter 8, paragraph 56; the Latin uses just consilia instead of consilia evangelica.