John Calvin (July 10, 1509 - May 27, 1564) founded Calvinism, a form of Protestant Christianity, during the Protestant Reformation. He was born Jean Cauvin in Noyon, Picardie, France. Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses, in 1517, when Calvin was 8.
Calvin's father, an attorney, sent him to the University of Paris to study humanities and law. By 1532, he was a Doctor of Law at Orléans. His first published work was a commentary on the Roman philosopher Seneca.
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.
Writings by Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion
published in Latin: 1536
published in French: 1541
Calvin also published many volumes of commentaries on the Bible.
As much as his practice in Geneva, his publications spread his ideas of a correctly reformed church to many parts of Europe. Calvinism became the religion of the majority in Scotland, the Netherlands, and parts of North Germany and was influential in Hungary and Poland. Most settlers in the midatlantic and New England were Calvinists as well, including the Puritans and Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York). South Africa was founded by mostly Dutch (though some were French and Portuguese as well) Calvinist settlers beginning in the 17th century, who became known as Afrikaners. Sierra Leone was largely colonised by Calvinist settlers from Nova Scotia. John Marrant had organised a congregation there under the auspices of the Huntingdon Connexion. The settlers were largely Black Loyalists, African Americans who had fought for the British during the American War of Independence.
John Calvin had been travelling to Strasbourg during the time of the Ottoman wars and passed through the cantons of Switzerland. Whilst in Geneva William Farel asked Calvin to help him with the cause of the church. Calvin wrote of Farel's request "I felt as if God from heaven had laid his mighty hand upon me to stop me in my course". After eighteen months, Calvin and Farel's changes caused both to be banished.
For three years Calvin worked in Strasbourg at a church of French Huguenots. Calvin was invited back some time later and reorganized the structure of Geneva along biblical lines such as ministers, teachers, elders and deacons. In 1559 Calvin founded a school for training children as well as a hospital for the indigent.
Calvin's health began to fail when he suffered migraines, lung hemorrhages, gout and kidney stones. At times, he was carried to the pulpit. Calvin also had his detractors. He was threatened and abused. Calvin would spend his private moments on Lake Geneva and read scripture while drinking red wine. Towards the end Calvin said to his friends who where worried about his daily regimen of work, "What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when He comes?"
John Calvin died in Geneva on May 27, buried in a simple unmarked grave somewhere in Geneva by his own request.
Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, a comic character created by Bill Waterson, was named after John Calvin.
Other things named Calvin
Calvin, North Dakota
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan