John Calvin

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John Calvin (French Jean Cauvin) (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology. In Geneva, his ministry both attracted other Protestant refugees and over time made that city a major force in the spread of Reformed theology. He is renowned for his teachings and writings, in particular for his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Calvin was born in Noyon, France. Calvin's father Gérard was an attorney who also served as a Noyon cathedral business administrator and lawyer. In 1523, he sent his fourteen-year-old son to the University of Paris to pursue a Latin, theological education and to flee the plague in Noyon. But when Gérard was dismissed from his position at the cathedral after disagreements with his clerical employers, he urged Calvin to change his studies to law, and he did.[1] By 1532, he had attained a Doctor of Laws degree at Orléans.

It is not clear when Calvin converted to Protestantism, though in the preface to his commentary on Psalms, Calvin said:

God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame.... Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off [legal] studies, I yet pursued them with less ardor.[2]

His Protestant friends included Nicholas Cop, Rector at the University of Paris. In 1533, Cop gave an address "replete with Protestant ideas," and "Calvin was probably involved as the writer of that address."[3] Cop soon found it necessary to flee Paris, as did Calvin himself a few days after. In Angoulême he sheltered with a friend, Louis du Tillet. Calvin settled for a time in Basel, where in 1536 he published the first edition of his Institutes.

  1. Henry Beveridge, translator, "Institutes of Christian Religion". Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 2008. pp. XI
  2. John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms – Volume 1, Author’s Preface. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, retrieved November 19, 2007.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Hill