John Calvin

By: Hannah Bergeron

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John Calvin

John Calvin was born in 1509 in Noyon, France. He was born the son of a middle-class attorney, into a middle-class family and throughout his early life he was surrounded by intellectuals. Early in his life he studied for an ecclesiastical career at the University of Paris. He studied philosophy and law and became familiar with humanistic writings at the University of Orleans (France). His father passed away, and Calvin returned to France to return to his theological studies, which is where he discovered the teachings of Luther. He was soon implicated in the "Affair of the Placards," which was scurrilous literature appearing all over Paris attacking the Catholic Church in a degrading way. After this, he was forced to flee the city to avoid arrest and punishment. He then went to Basel, Switzerland, where he started writing the first draft of his major work, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Major Teachings (As Distant From the Catholic Teaching) + Reason/Influences For Teaching What They Did:

-The Bible is the only source of revelation
  • He believed that ultimate authority is contained in scripture.
-Human nature is totally corrupted
  • He believed that man is no more than a savage beast.
-He said that man's sinfulness is so great that he can never overcome it
-Denied all sacramental grace
  • He rejected all Catholic practices that were not explicitly based in Scripture.
-Directed iconoclastic actions against all crucifixes, statues, sacred paintings, vestments, altars, confessionals, and stained-glass windows depicting saints
-He believed in predestination
  • He believed that some were predestined to heaven and most others to hell

The Early Church's Beliefs on Calvin's Teachings

Clearly, all of his teachings went against the Catholic Church's beliefs. They did not condone any of these beliefs and this is considered a heresy because John Calvin is using Christian teachings, but accommodating them to his beliefs and spreading false statements. For example, as Christians, we believe in scripture and tradition, and John Calvin is saying that this is wrong, only scripture is a real thing and tradition is not. Christians also have the belief that anyone can get into heaven, but John Calvin says that everyone is predestined and there is nothing that you can do about it. Everything that he really teaches, is the opposite of what the Church teaches.

Theocracy In Geneva

Calvin transformed the city's government into a theocracy dominated by himself.