John Calvin

John Calvin (1509-1564) was a French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of Christianity.  He was born in Noyon, France, in 1509 and studied law at the University of Orléans and the University of Bourges. In 1533, he experienced a religious conversion and became a Protestant. In 1536, Calvin published his most famous work, Institutes of the Christian Religion. This book was a systematic exposition of Protestant theology and quickly became a standard text for Reformed churches.

In 1536, Calvin fled France to escape persecution for his Protestant beliefs. He settled in Geneva, Switzerland, where he helped reform the city’s church, a theocracy with the church playing a central role in both religious and secular matters. Calvin’s theology emphasized the sovereignty of God, predestination, the importance of the Bible, and the need for moral discipline. Calvinism had a profound impact on the development of Protestantism in Europe and North America. He argued that the knowledge of God is not inherent in humanity, nor discoverable by observation. The only way to obtain it is to study scripture. Calvin writes, “For anyone to arrive at God the Creator he needs Scripture as his Guide and Teacher.”

 He taught “justification by faith alone, writing in that God initiates and carries through the action and that people play no role; “God is completely sovereign in salvation.” He also believed in predestination, writing in his third issue of Institutes of the Christian Religion that “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.”

Calvin is considered one of the most important figures in the second generation of the Protestant Reformation. He developed a systematic theology that provided a foundation for Reformed Protestantism, emphasized the importance of education and literacy., and promoted a strong work ethic and a sense of social responsibility. Calvin was a controversial figure during his lifetime, and his legacy remains complex. However, there is no doubt that he was a major figure in the history of Christianity and the Protestant Reformation.