The biography of John Calvin can only rightly start by stating he was a French theologian and pastor who significantly influenced the Protestant Reformation.
He was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France, and died on May 27, 1564, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Calvin is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential thinkers in the history of Christianity.
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Early Life and Education of John Calvin
John Calvin was born into a Catholic family in Noyon, France. His father, Gerard Calvin, was a lawyer, and his mother, Jeanne Lefranc, died when he was young.
Calvin’s father sent him to Paris to study law, but he soon became interested in theology.
He studied at the College de Montaigu and the University of Paris, where he earned a degree in law.
However, he also began studying the Bible and early Christian theologians’ writings.
Conversion and Exile of John Calvin
After converting to Protestantism in the early 1530s, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he began work on his influential book, “Institutes of the Christian Religion.”
This work, first published in 1536, is considered one of the most important theological works of the Protestant Reformation.
Calvin’s ideas were controversial, and he was forced to leave Basel.
He went to Strasbourg, where he met Martin Bucer and other Protestant leaders. In Strasbourg, Calvin met William Farel, who convinced him to come to Geneva.
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Work in Geneva
A biography of John Calvin without his work in Geneva will be deemed incomplete.
Calvin arrived in Geneva in 1536 and quickly became involved in the religious and political life of the city.
He preached sermons, wrote letters, and worked to establish a community of believers committed to living according to the principles of the Bible.
He was instrumental in establishing the Consistory, a group of church leaders responsible for enforcing moral discipline within the church.
Calvin’s ideas had a profound impact on Geneva and Protestantism more broadly.
Additionally, he believed in predestination, the idea that God has already chosen who will be saved and who will be damned.
He also believed in the importance of the church as an institution and worked to establish a system of church governance that would allow the church to function effectively.
Legacy of John Calvin
The influence of John Calvin on Protestantism and Christianity more broadly cannot be overstated.
Additionally, his ideas on predestination, church governance, and the Bible’s importance continue to shape how many Christians think about their faith.
Calvinism, the theological system that Calvin developed, has been influential in many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Africa.
Today, there are tens of millions of people who identify as Calvinists.