John Calvin (;〔("Calvin" ). ''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.〕 (フランス語:Jean Calvin), ; born フランス語:Jehan Cauvin: 10 July 150927 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism, aspects of which include the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation. In these areas Calvin was influenced by the Augustinian tradition. Various Congregational, Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as the chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.
Calvin was a tireless polemic and apologetic writer who generated much controversy. He also exchanged cordial and supportive letters with many reformers, including Philipp Melanchthon and Heinrich Bullinger. In addition to his seminal work ''Institutes of the Christian Religion'', he wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible, as well as theological treatises and confessional documents.
Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestantism in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of the ''Institutes'' in 1536. In that year, Calvin was recruited by another Frenchman William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva, where he regularly preached sermons throughout the week. The city council resisted the implementation of Calvin's and Farel's ideas, and both men were expelled. At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees. He continued to support the reform movement in Geneva, and was eventually invited back to lead its church.
Following his return, Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite opposition from several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. During this period, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard regarded by both Catholics and Protestants as having heretical views, arrived in Geneva. He was denounced by Calvin and burned at the stake for heresy by the city council. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out. Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe.
==Early life (1509–1535)==
John Calvin was born as Jehan Cauvin on 10 July 1509, in the town of Noyon in the Picardy region of France.〔Robert Dean Linder, ''The Reformation Era'', (Greenwood Press, 2008), 139.〕 He was the first of four sons who survived infancy. His mother, Jeanne le Franc, was the daughter of an innkeeper from Cambrai. She died in Calvin's childhood, from an unknown cause, after bearing four more children. Calvin's father, Gérard Cauvin, had a prosperous career as the cathedral notary and registrar to the ecclesiastical court. Gérard Cauvin died in 1531, after suffering two years with testicular cancer. Gérard intended his three sons—Charles, Jean, and Antoine—for the priesthood.
Jean was particularly precocious; by age 12, he was employed by the bishop as a clerk and received the tonsure, cutting his hair to symbolise his dedication to the Church. He also won the patronage of an influential family, the Montmors.〔; 〕 Through their assistance, Calvin was able to attend the Collège de la Marche, in Paris, where he learned Latin from one of its greatest teachers, Mathurin Cordier.〔; ; . states that Nicolas Colladon was the source that he attended Collège de la Marche which McGrath disputes.〕 Once he completed the course, he entered the Collège de Montaigu as a philosophy student.〔; 〕
In 1525 or 1526, Gérard withdrew his son from the Collège de Montaigu and enrolled him in the University of Orléans to study law. According to contemporary biographers Theodore Beza and Nicolas Colladon, Gérard believed his son would earn more money as a lawyer than as a priest.〔. According to , there may have been a family conflict with the clergy in Noyon.〕 After a few years of quiet study, Calvin entered the University of Bourges in 1529. He was intrigued by Andreas Alciati, a humanist lawyer. Humanism was a European intellectual movement which stressed classical studies. During his 18-month stay in Bourges, Calvin learned Koine Greek, a necessity for studying the New Testament.〔; 〕
During the autumn of 1533 Calvin experienced a religious conversion. In later life, John Calvin wrote two accounts of his conversion that differ in significant ways. In the first account he portrays his conversion as a sudden change of mind, brought about by God. This account can be found in his ''Commentary on the Book of Psalms'':
"God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, yet I pursued them with less ardour."〔J. Calvin, preface to ''Commentary on the Book of Psalms'', trans. James Anderson, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), pp. xl–xli as quoted in . The translation by Anderson is available at See also .〕
In his second account he speaks of a long process of inner turmoil, followed by spiritual and psychological anguish.
"Being exceedingly alarmed at the misery into which I had fallen, and much more at that which threatened me in view of eternal death, I, duty bound, made it my first business to betake myself to your way, condemning my past life, not without groans and tears. And now, O Lord, what remains to a wretch like me, but instead of defence, earnestly to supplicate you not to judge that fearful abandonment of your Word according to its deserts, from which in your wondrous goodness you have at last delivered me."〔from: Bruce Gordon, ''Calvin'', New Haven; London 2009, p. 34.〕
Scholars have argued about the precise interpretation of these accounts, but it is agreed that his conversion corresponded with his break from the Roman Catholic Church.〔; ; ; 〕〔According to , Ganoczy in his book ''Le Jeune Calvin. Genèse et evolution de sa vocation réformatrice'', Wiesbaden: F. Steiner, 1966 p. 302, argues that Calvin conversion took place over several years and that it was not a biographical or chronological event. Cottret quotes Olivier Millet, ''Calvin et la dynamique de la Parole. Essai de rhétorique réformée'', Paris: H. Champion 1992 p. 522, noting a typological rather than a biographical perspective of the account of his conversion. The biographical argument is promoted by D. Fischer, "Conversion de Calvin", ''Etudes Theéologiques et Religieuses'' 58 (1983) pp. 203–220. According to Parker is in sympathy with Ganoczy's view, but in his investigations, he concluded that a certain period for his conversion could be determined.〕 The Calvin biographer Bruce Gordon has stressed that "the two accounts are not antithetical, revealing some inconsistency in Calvin's memory, but rather () two different ways of expressing the same reality."〔Bruce Gordon, ''Calvin'', New Haven; London 2009, p. 34.〕 At the time of his conversion (scholars have argued), Calvin also believed himself to have experienced a prophetic calling to reform the church, which is briefly reflected in the Psalms commentary account of his conversion and in many of his sermons and a number of his polemical tracts "〔See most recently: Jon Balserak, ''John Calvin as Sixteenth-Century Prophet'', Oxford 2014.〕
By 1532, Calvin received his licentiate in law and published his first book, a commentary on Seneca's ''De Clementia''. After uneventful trips to Orléans and his hometown of Noyon, Calvin returned to Paris in October 1533. During this time, tensions rose at the Collège Royal (later to become the Collège de France) between the humanists/reformers and the conservative senior faculty members. One of the reformers, Nicolas Cop, was rector of the university. On 1 November 1533 he devoted his inaugural address to the need for reform and renewal in the Catholic Church.
The address provoked a strong reaction from the faculty, who denounced it as heretical, forcing Cop to flee to Basel. Calvin, a close friend of Cop, was implicated in the offence, and for the next year he was forced into hiding. He remained on the move, sheltering with his friend Louis du Tillet in Angoulême and taking refuge in Noyon and Orléans. He was finally forced to flee France during the Affair of the Placards in mid-October 1534. In that incident, unknown reformers had posted placards in various cities attacking the Catholic mass, which provoked a violent backlash against Protestants. In January 1535, Calvin joined Cop in Basel, a city under the influence of the reformer Johannes Oecolampadius.〔; ; ; 〕
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