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John Calvin was born in Noyon, France, on July 10, 1509. He is best known for being a French theologian, church reformer, humanist, and pastor. Protestant denominations in the Reformed tradition regard him as a major formulator of their beliefs. He went to school starting at age fourteen. He received his formal education for priesthood at the College de la Marche and the College de Montaigue. These colleges were branches from the University of Paris. He also studied at the universities in Orleans and Bourges. He studied law as well as theology. His father wanted him to study law rather than theology.
Calvin became engaged in the spiritual renewal of his time to a high degree. He continued, improved, and completed the work of Zwingli and gave it a wider significance. He became the chief founder and consolidator of the Reformed Church of France and French Switzerland. He had a real passion in the proper functioning of the government, but recognized no power except that which derived from God. He held the belief that all authority was ordained by God.
In 1532 he published a commentary of Seneca's De Clementia, proving his skills as a humanist scholar. His association with Nicholas Cop, the newly elected
rector of the University of Paris, forced both to flee when Cop announced his support in 1535 of Martin Luther. Although he seldom spoke of it, Calvin underwent a personal religious experience about this time.
Within the next two years, Calvin moved around frequently, avoiding church authorities while he studied, wrote, and formulated from the Bible and Christian tradition the primary tenets of his theology. In 1536 he published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a concise and provocative work that thrust him into the forefront of Protestantism. Calvin sought to articulate biblical theology in a sensible way, following the articles of the Apostles' Creed. The work focused on the articles of "Father," "Son," "Holy Spirit," and "Church."
Calvin published the "Institutes" at a rapid rate, and took pains to present himself as the defender of the Reformed people in France. This is when Calvin became widely recognized. Calvin's role in the "Institutes" was of special importance. He was the defender on behalf of his French fellow believers, pleading their innocence against the charges that they were Catabaptists who were dangerous to ...
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