John Calvin

John Calvin

John Calvin (1509-1564) was born July 10, 1509 in Noyon, France, and raised in a staunch Roman Catholic family. He was a French Protestant reformer and a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. At the age of 14 Calvin went to Paris to study at the College de Marche in preparation for university study. Toward the end of 1523 Calvin transferred to the more famous College Montaigu. By 1528 Calvin moved to Orleans to study civil law. The following years found Calvin studying in various places and under various scholars, as he received a humanist education. By 1532 Calvin finished his law studies and also published his first book, a commentary on De Clementia by the Roman philosopher, Seneca. Little is known about Calvin's conversion except that it occurred between 1532 and early 1534.

For the next three years, Calvin lived in various places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, his best known work written as a theological introduction to the Bible and a vindication of Reformation principles. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to permanently leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out between Francis I and Charles V, so Calvin decided to make a one-night detour to Geneva.

Geneva had recently declared its political independence from the Holy Roman Empire. Only two months earlier under the prodding of fiery reformer William Farel (1489-1565), it had declared allegiance to Protestantism. Farel, asked Calvin to join in the task of leading the Genevan church. He declined, explaining that he desired only to find a quiet refuge to study. But Farel, with characteristic zeal, thundered that Calvin's refusal to help in Geneva would bring God's condemnation down upon his head. Obviously shaken, Calvin accepted Farel's invitation as God's call.

Calvin spent 1538-1541 in Strassburg, enjoying his long-sought period of peaceful study. He was a pastor to French refugees, until 1541 when the Council of Geneva requested that he return to Geneva. He remained in Geneva until his death May 27, 1564. Those years were filled with lecturing, preaching, and the writing of commentaries, treatises, and various editions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Calvin has been called "the organizer of Protestantism" because in his pastoral work of organizing evangelical churches in Strassburg and Geneva, he developed an adaptable model of church government. The cultural impact of that "Presbyterian" model has extended beyond church political theory. In the sixteenth century new social institutions emerged to replace the deteriorating ones that had once held medieval civilizations together; many of the new institutions were influenced by Calvin's model.



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Books by John Calvin

8166: Institutes of the Christian ReligionInstitutes of the Christian Religion
By John Calvin

Theologian par excellence, Calvin is best known for his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a theological introduction to the Bible and vindication of Reformation principles. Beveridge's 1845 translation of Calvin's magnum opus is now available in a one-volume format that retains the pagination of the original two volumes.


230221: On Prayer: Conversations with GodOn Prayer
By John Calvin; John Hesselink, ed.

Drawn from Calvin's legendary Institutes of the Christian Religion, this practical, balanced discussion of prayer downplays special manifestations of grace and flights of mysticism, urging instead that we petition God for our everyday needs.


34583: Heart Aflame: Daily Readings From Calvin on the PsalmsHeart Aflame
By John Calvin

John Calvin described the Psalms as "an anatomy of all the parts of the soul." These select readings from Calvin's Commentary on the Psalms provide us with a year's worth of sure-footed daily meditations. Calvin wrote as one whose own experience is mirrored in the Psalms. Here we witness his remarkable knack for seeing the real issues, particularly how Christ is the focus of all of Scripture.


1513239: Letters of John CalvinLetters of John Calvin
By John Calvin

John Calvin wrote to kings and princes, Reformers and friends, nobility and common people alike. His letters reveal a man of deep pastoral concern, consistent and exemplary evangelistic zeal, with a humble sense of the final authority of God and His Word.


4256848: Concerning the Eternal Predestination of GodConcerning the Eternal Predestination of God
By John Calvin

The name of John Calvin is often associated with the doctrine of predestination. Readers will witness Calvin masterfully arguing his points, wrestling with the Scriptures, and fully engaged in the polemical world of sixteenth-century theological debate.


709275: John Calvin: God the Creator, God the RedeemerGod the Creator, God the Redeemer
By John Calvin

John Calvin's God the Creator and God the Redeemer are the first two books of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. One of the most famous theological books ever published, the Institutes was written and repeatedly refined over time by this significant Reformer. Calvin's system of doctrine and polity has shaped more minds and entered into more nations than that of any other reformer. The present volume also includes John Foxe's biography of Calvin, A Defense of Calvinism by C. H. Spurgeon, as well as an index.


44457X: Grace and its FruitsGrace and its Fruits
By John Calvin

As relevant today as they were when they were first preached to a congregation of French refugees in Geneva, these selections from Calvin's ministry on the Pastoral Epistles come from a heart aflame with devotion to God and love for the people of God. Their theme is the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ and applied to God's children by the Holy Spirit.


8956: Sermons on EphesiansSermons on Ephesians
By John Calvin

This is the first publication of an entire series of Calvin's sermons in the present century. Calvin's Ephesian Sermons, preached on Sundays in 1558-59, were first printed in French in 1562, then in English in 1577. Calvin was a preacher in a very real and authentic way. Because he was the first great modern preacher this material is basic to the history of preaching.


519342: Sermons on the BeatitudesSermons on the Beatitudes
By John Calvin

This collection of recently translated material contains five sermons from Calvin on the Beatitudes.

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