Johannes Calvinus (1509 – 1564)

On this day, in 1509… France gave birth to the brilliant Theologian John Calvin.

Calvin was a prominent Christian theologian during the Protestant Reformation and is the namesake of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism.

Born Jean Chauvin (or Cauvin) in Noyon, France, and French was his mother tongue; Calvin derives from the Latin version of his name, Calvinus.

Calvin went to the University of Paris to study Humanities and Law at the behest of his father. By 1532, he was a Doctor of Law at Orlans. His first published work was an edition of De Clementia by the Roman philosopher Seneca, accompanied by a thorough commentary.

In 1536, he settled in Geneva, halted in the path of an intended journey to Basel by the personal persuasion of the Reformer William Farel. He would live there until his death in 1564.

John Calvin published several revisions of his Institutes of the Christian Religion (a seminal work in Christian theology that is still read today) in Latin in 1536 (at the tender age of 26) and then in his native French in 1541, with the definitive editions appearing in 1559 and 1560, respectively. He also produced many volumes of commentary on most of the books of the Bible.

For the Old Testament), he published commentaries for all books except the histories after Joshua (though he did publish his sermons on the First Samuel) and the Wisdom literature other than the Book of Psalms.

For the New Testament, he omitted only the brief 2nd and 3rd Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. These commentaries, too, have proved to be of lasting value to students of the Bible, and they are still in print after over 400 years.

In the eighth volume of Philip Schaff`s History of the Christian Church, the historian quotes Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (after whom the anti-Calvinistic movement Arminianism was named) with regard to the value of Calvin`s writings:

“Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries… for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent spirit of prophecy.

His Institutes ought to be studied after the (Heidelberg) Catechism, as containing a fuller explanation, but with discrimination, like the writings of all men.”

I wonder… what would Calvin think of those that apply his name to their position today? What would he think of the proponents of paedo-communion and other Romanistic regressions of so-called Protestants?

Moreover… what would he think of Calvinistic Baptists, such as myself, that reject his mystical view of the LORD`s Supper and other facets of the Covenantal construct?


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