John Calvin – the Eminent Protestant Reformer

 John Calvin – the Eminent Protestant Reformer

John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was born in France-based Noyon. He was one of the leading second-generation Protestant reformers. Often called the reformed faith’s father, Calvin’s elucidation of Christianity and faith in God’s election is his theological heritage to the church. His Institutes of the Christian Religion and the social and institutional patterns he created for Geneva deeply impacted Protestantism. The impact was felt in North America and even in other places of Europe. It’s believed that the Calvinist form of Protestantism created a significant impact on the creation of the modern world. John Calvin also played a major role in the Geneva Bible’s printing. In 1564, this theologian bade this world adieu in Switzerland’s Geneva.

John Calvin’s Early Years

Calvin’s father planned a career in the church for him. By the mid-1520s, John Calvin had evolved into an outstanding scholar. He excelled at philosophy, was an adept Latin speaker, and became qualified for exhaustive learning of theology in Paris. In May 1521, the Noyon cathedral appointed Calvin to chaplaincy. When Noyon’s populace was affected by the plague, Calvin went to Paris with the young Hangests in August 1523. He stayed with his uncle and attended the College de la Marche and then went to the College de Montaigu. The latter had a more ecclesiastical environment, and John Calvin got a Spaniard as his instructor, who trained him in the scholastic philosophy and dialectics. Calvin quickly surpassed all his competitors in debate, grammatical studies, and philosophy. Though he wasn’t yet ordained, John Calvin preached more than a few sermons to the people.

Career Change of John Calvin

At his father’s insistence, John Calvin changed his career and attended the University of Orleans to study law. For five or six years, he studied there and achieved distinction in a subject he didn’t love. During these years, he kept himself busy in studying Renaissance humanism and took his classical knowledge a few steps further. In 1529, he went to Bourges to continue his education under Andrea Alciati. There, he learned Greek and started studying the New Testament in its original language.

John Calvin Rises to Become a Leader

From 1534 onwards, Calvin’s life took a dramatic turn, and his influence became absolute. People started depending on him for instruction and counsel, not just because he was a powerful teacher, but more so because they noticed in him the complete development of the Christian life consistent with the evangelical form.

Calvin shifted base to Switzerland’s Basel, where a group of theologians and scholars welcomed him. He studied Hebrew there and moved to Geneva at the age of 28. He stayed there till his death, except for a brief trip. 


John Calvin was a quiet man, unlike Martin Luther. His reticence made people consider him scholarly but pretty cold and distant. Yet, with the probable exception of Martin Luther, Calvin perhaps had the biggest impact on the Protestant Churches’ theology. Amongst Calvin’s most celebrated teachings, his Institutes of the Christian Religion is quoted often. John Calvin’s magnum opus gave assurance to sad hearts and steadiness to indecisive brains. It also helped people stand steady in the face of the smear campaigns run by those the opponents of the Reformation.

Calvin’s Institutes were written as a basic manual for those who desired to know a bit about the evangelical faith. In his magnum opus, the first nine chapters set forth Calvin’s outlook on Scripture. After laying down the Biblical authority’s principle, he lets his readers go forward to a reflection of the doctrines of Christ, man, God, the church, the sacraments, Christian liberty, justification, salvation, and political government. The comprehensive and unique theme of Calvin’s Institutes is God’s sovereignty. John Calvin taught that original sin wiped out the free will of people. It’s only by God’s plan that individuals can start having faith, which will lead them to experience the promise of salvation.

Final Words

From Calvin’s Institutes, the five points of Calvinism are quoted frequently. You can remember them using the acronym TULIP. It stands for total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. The acronym TULIP is believed to be first coined by Loraine Boettner in the book he penned, namely The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. However, it’s possible that the acronym was spoken of earlier but not recorded. Though TULIP began with John Calvin, he didn’t define them completely. The detailed definition came later in 1618 at the Synod of Dort when the reformed church dealt with what they believed to be the Armenian heresy. If you are looking for John Calvin Antique Bibles & Rare Bible, Visit the world’s most unusual gift-shop today.

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