John Calvin, 1509-1564

[Mentioned in Retrospection and Introspection, pp. 2, 14]

Calvin, one of the great Evangelical reformers in Europe, was born in Noyon, France. After receiving his master's degree, he went on to the study of law. When Calvin was seventeen, his father, a successful lawyer, was involved in a financial predicament and was excommunicated from the church. This event, together with Calvin's contact with teachers in the universities who had accepted Luther's teachings, probably had some bearing upon Calvin's conversion to Protestantism in 1533.

'This same year Calvin helped Nicolas Cop, newly elected rector of the University of Paris, prepare his inaugural, which defended various reformed opinions. When parliament took action against Cop, Calvin fled Paris. His travels in Italy and in France, which followed, paved the way for a lifelong correspondence in the interests of the Reformation with the leaders in both these countries. Farel, leader of the Protestants in Geneva, persuaded Calvin to join him.

In addition to preaching, Calvin drew up with Farel a condensed statement of Christian doctrine to which the people were required to swear as a profession of their faith. Their doing this as citizens laid the basis for Calvin's theocratic system of government in Geneva. Dislike of the austerity of Calvin's reforms and controversies over ecclesiastical matters led to his banishment from Geneva.

Signs of the times
August 8, 1959

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