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Calvin, John (1509–1564)

Amy Hatmaker


John Calvin radically changed religious interpretations, restructured church organizations, and altered the relationship between the church and community governance. He was born July 10, 1509 in Noyon, France to a staunch Roman Catholic family. His father served as a bishop's secretary, and this relationship resulted in Calvin interacting with aristocrats and other influential people. Calvin received a humanist education in Paris. He studied theology and planned for the priesthood until his father requested in 1527 that he study law. That same year he switched to Lutheranism. Calvin completed his law degree in Orléans in 1532. When several of his reformist associates were persecuted for heresy, Calvin fled Paris. His Institutes on the Christian Religion , a defense of French Protestants, was published in 1536 in Basel. Following this he planned to move to Strasbourg; however, he was detoured through Geneva where a leading reformist Guillaume Farel used the threat of God's wrath to convince him to stay in Geneva and aid their struggle to make Geneva a Protestant city. Calvin, using his beliefs as a guide, profoundly altered church and civil institutions in Geneva. Believing in strict biblical interpretation, he used a literal reading of the scripture to organize the church into a four-part hierarchical organization: pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons. Pastors preached the word, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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