John Calvin was born in France under the name Jean Cauvin in 1509; his name would be Latinized to Calvinus and then known in the English translation as Calvin. Calvin comes at a time after Martin Luther has already started the movement of the Reformation of Christianity, first blow being Luther’s 95 Thesis in 1517. Calvin would be the secondary figure in this era after Luther, furthering the progress of the Reformation of Christian theology in Europe. He was born in the town of Noyon, France in the French region of Picardy, this region, larger in the time of Calvin, is north of Paris encompassing the parts of France up to the border with current modern-day Belgium containing major cities of Lille, Amiens, and Calais, with Calais being the city in the region just across the Channel from the famous chalk cliffs of Dover, England. John Calvin, the 1st of four sons to survive infancy, was the son of an attorney, Gerard, of decent stature in Noyon and a mother by the name Jeanne le Franc who was from the town of Cambrai where she had been the daughter of a local innkeeper. In history, the man Calvin is synonymous with the religious theology he becomes famous for of Calvinism which is best known for its major part in the creation of early Protestantism along with Martin Luther’s (Lutheran) theology. These Reformed movements rocked a Europe from being monolithically Catholic to being divided into regions that remained Catholic and regions that turned to one or another type of Protestant/Reformation Christianity. A simple sense of Calvinism can be said that it is a “Reformed Theology”, with a main principle of the Calvinist system being the Latin term Scripture alone, “Sola Scriptura”. This main Calvinist/Reformation Principle expresses the strong conviction that since the Bible is the word of God then so it must be the final authority in belief and practice. Calvin a man from France who became caught up in the time of the Christian Reformation would start simply wanting a life in the Catholic priesthood, then experience a religious experience/conversion, be forced to leave his home nation, search out refuge, put down in writing the tenants of his Calvinist/Reformist thinking , build upon with agreement and at times disagreement with the work of Martin Luther toward the greater development of Reformed Christianity , and in his home of Geneva gain and then wield influence with the secular/temporal power in matters of civil and sacred issues, all the while continuing to refine and publish new writings to strengthen and spread the ideas of the Reformation, Calvinism, and the Philosophical legacy of himself, John Calvin.
Calvin in his earlier more tumultuous parts of his life had to deal with many events that were at minimum inconvenient and at worst were devastating or dangerous to his life and theological journey. First, John’s mother would die only a few short years after his birth of a disease of the breast. He had only started with the simple desire of a life in the Catholic priesthood and for that path he did around age 14 get sent to the University of Paris where he studied humanities and theology. However, around 1526 with the influence of his father he would be switched over to the University of Orleans to follow the path to getting a law degree, it is thought that the switch was done for his father wanted a more financially beneficial career for John. He would attain his law degree but by 1534 he had had a religious experience or conversion that caused a rupture between him and the Catholic Church and for him to hold strong support for Martin Luther’s anti-Catholic ideas. During his university time, he had made contacts with humanistic and reform movements, the humanistic being a movement of the stressing of classical Greek style ideas. He encountered a mentor of the name Nicolas cop whose actions would begin Calvin on a series of inconvenient troublesome moves for religious refuge. His mentor,...
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