John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) ( Noyon, France).
Lawyer, Theologian and Religious Leader, of French origin, considered one of the pioneers of The Protestant Reformation and Calvinism, a later name with which his disciples identified the set of doctrines promulgated by this religious thinker, which he adopted in Lutheran ideas, to further develop their own religious conception.
He was one of the main defenders of the Protestant religion before the Catholic Counter-Reformation and a key piece in extending in Europe this religion, practiced today by millions of people, belonging to different Protestant branches, reason why the which is also listed as one of the most influential people in history.
Early years and conversion to Lutheran faith
Juan Calvino was born in Noyon, a French city, north of Paris, on 10 July 1509, the son of lawyer Gérard Cauvin and Jeanne Lefranc. He began his studies at the Collége de la Marche and the Collége de Montaigne, institutions where he excelled as a good student.
In 1523, when he was 14 years old, at his father’s wishes, he entered to study Humanities and Law at the University of Paris. Later, he received his doctorate in Law from the University of Orleans.
As the son of the assistant Bishop of Noyon, Calvin had grown up under the Catholic religion, for which he showed great obedience.
It is not known at what specific time he began to sympathize with Luther’s ideas, but his first public demonstration occurred in November 1533, when his friend Nicholas Cop, rector of the Sorbonne University, gave before an audience an incendiary speech where he accused the Church of pursuing with the sword all those who did not recognize his authority, which many people assumed had been influenced by Calvin.
The speech caused great reactions, even prompting Parliament to open a process against it. Faced with threats to be convicted, Cop and Calvin decided to flee France.
First stay in Geneva
From that moment on, historians agree that Calvin embraced Luther’s doctrines, unaware of the divine right of the Catholic Church, assuming the Bible as a guide and faith as the only way to salvation.
Calvin would devote himself to researching, writing and promulgating about Theology Reformed, which had its beginning in Lutheran doctrines. In 1536, Calvin is in Geneva, working alongside Pastor Guillaume Farel, the first driver of the expulsion of the Catholic Church and the acceptance of theocracy in Geneva. Together they would engage in carrying and preaching reform doctrine throughout Switzerland.
That same year, they attended a debate in the city of Lausanne, organized to discuss what religion would be adopted by the territories around Bern. After an eloquent speech, in which he recited by heart what was preached and written by the first parents of the Church, Calvin not only managed to get the region to adopt the Protestant faith, but managed to get 120 Catholic priests, along with 80 monks , converted to the Protestant religion.
From then on, he would work closely with Farel to continue the reform process within the Church. However, on 25 April 1538, they were expelled from Geneva, on the grounds that they wished to impose on the people a Protestant yoke of excessive moralistic rigor.
Exile in Strasbourg
After separating from Farel in Basel, Calvin went to Strasbourg, where he assumed the pastorate of a french refugee church. He remained in this city until 1541.
It was during his stay in Strasbourg that Calvin composed a set of hymns, composed of 18 psalms, that would make up the sung cult, characteristic of the Protestant rite, as well as much of his work The Institution of the Christian Religion, being so beautiful the French form used by Calvin in the second edition of this book, which is also considered to be the father of modern French.
In 1539 he married Idelette de Bure, a widowed woman, with whom he had a son, who died after two weeks of birth. They remained married until 1549, when Idelette died.
Pastoralism in Geneva and final years
In 1941, the situation in Geneva was unsustainable. The General Council of the city wrote a letter to Calvin to return as Pastor. After a 10-month spiritual struggle, Calvin agreed, returning to Geneva, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
He was responsible for preaching and trying to change customs, in order to establish disciplined behavior, characterized by morality, assuming for this a great political power and control of public life.
He established a rigid council of pastors and elders with property to monitor and punish those who decide to break the norms of behavior, dictated by the Protestant faith. Attendance to worship was established as obligatory, as well as the establishment of temples without images of saints, candles, or altars.
The iron hand was also established towards the heretics, chasing, banishing and executing anyone who did not sink under the Protestant faith. Calvin exercised a strict dictatorship, making Geneva the central focus of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Gradually he made distinctions between what Luther preached and the ideas promulgated by him.
Perhaps the main difference lay in Luther’s claim that anyone could obtain salvation as long as he plunged faith in Christ’s teachings, while Calvin claimed that those who were saved had been chosen from the beginning by God, and those who were not righteous in proceeding had been chosen by God not to be saved.
In May 1564, Calvin died in Geneva, leaving as a legacy to barely 300 kronor and his library, which was sold at great cost by his heirs.
Image source: historiageneral.com
July 28, 2019