John Calvin

John Calvin, who was Martin Luther’s successor, had a great impact upon the doctrine of Protestantism. He was born in France in 1509, and later he became the most important figure in the Protestant Reformation.

  • Background
  • Born on July 10, 1509, John Calvin studied the law at the University of Orleans, joining the cause of the Reformation. In 1536, John Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion, a landmark text which described the theories of Protestantism.

  • Leading Figure of Reformation
  • Calvin lived in Geneva for a short time when the anti-Protestant authorities made him leave. He returned in 1541 as an important spiritual and political leader. In 1555, he became leader in Geneva while his principles established a religious government.

    Calvin was compared to Luther as a Protestant theologian, having an intellectual approach to faith. Calvin instituted many positive policies, punishing ‘impiety’ through execution. People were then executed for their religious beliefs. Under his rule, Geneva was the center of Protestantism. Calvin died on May 27, 1564, in the place he ruled so many years, Geneva. Calvin remains one of the most important figures of the Protestant Reformation.

  • Calvinism
  • Except for Martin Luther, there was no man to have greater impact on the theology of Protestantism than Calvin. His well-known teachings were grouped under the name of ‘Five Points of Calvinism’ that teaches the following:

    • Total depravity of man meaning that the nature of man is basically evil not good. There is a direct influence of God although man will never seek God’s will with all his heart. Man might seek the benefits of association with the divine power.

    • Unconditional election which means that God elects his children from the foundation of time. God causes his children to make the decision of seeking Him.

    • Limited atonement means that death and resurrection of Christ represent the payment for the sins of those named God’s elected children and not the whole world.

    • Irresistible grace which means that God calls a person whereas his call will not and cannot be ignored.

    • Perseverance of the Saints meaning that it is impossible for someone to lose his salvation.

    Calvin was also convinced of the importance of education for the young and he established schools in Geneva enforcing on the parents to send their children to school. Children were taught the Christian doctrine, as Calvin’s faith in education was related exclusively to religious training.