John Calvin Thesis

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John Calvin

Short Biography

John Calvin and the Reformation

Calvinism: History

The Five Points of Calvinism

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Calvin's Doctrines: Predestination and Free Will


Evaluating Calvin and Calvinism

Calvin lives on

Why John Calvin is important


"God so led me about through different turnings and changes…"

John Calvin (quoted in Godfrey, p. 29).

Biography of John Calvin

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In time, Jean Calvin later became known as John Calvin, the father of modern reformed theology. In the book, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor, Robert W. Godfrey reported that the family name of Calvin evolved from the name, Cauvin. Godfrey described Calvin the way he continues to be known more than 500 years after he was born on July 10, 1509: "As controversial as he was influential, his critics have named a judgmental and joyless attitude after him, while his admirers celebrate him as the principal theologian of Reformed Christianity" (Godfrey, p. 28). According to Hugh Young Reyburn in the book, John Calvin: His Life, Letters, and Work, Calvin, born in Noyon, a small town in Picardy, located in Northern France; 50 miles northeast of Paris, grew up primarily under the care of his father and stepmother, as Calvin's mother, Jeanne, died when he was six-years-old. Calvin's father, Gerard, a lawyer, was more than 50 years old when "Jean" was born. The research for this paper, which examines the life of John Calvin and Calvinism, revealed that Calvin married and had two step-children, but that none of his biological children survived their infancy (Calvin and Beveridge).

Godfrey recorded a number Calvin's words. The following reveal the way Calvin perceived some of the "different turnings and changes" he experienced while traveling his personal path in life:

TOPIC: Thesis on John Calvin Assignment

When I was as yet a very little boy, my father had destined to me for the study theology. But afterwards, when he considered that the legal profession commonly raised those who followed it too wealth, this prospect induced him suddenly to change his purpose. Thus it came to pass, that I was withdrawn from the study of philosophy, and was put to the study of law. To this pursuit I endeavored faithfully to apply myself, in obedience to the will of my father; but God, by the sweet guidance of his providence, at length gave a different direction to my course. In first, since I was to obstinately devoted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire, God by a sudden conversions 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.

I was quite surprised to find out the before a year had elapsed, all who had images are after purer doctrine were continually coming to me to learn, although I myself was as yet but a mere novice and tyro [beginner]. Being of the disposition somewhat unpolished and bashful, which led me always some of the shade and retirement, ID and began to seek some secluded corner where I might be withdrawn from the public view; but so far from being able to accomplish the object of my desire, all my retreats were like public schools. In short, whilst my one great object was to live in seclusion without being known, God so led me about through different turnings and changes, that he never permitted me to rest in any place, until, in spite of my natural disposition, he bought me forth to public notice. (Godfrey, p. 28-29)

In 1523, John Calvin attended the University of Paris, where Mathurin Cordier, a humanist, taught him Latin. Melchior Wolmar, a Lutheran, taught Calvin the Greek language. Skip Knox explained in the article, "The Reformation: Calvin," that Calvin "developed a strong love of languages and earned his Master of Arts in 1528 in theology" (Early Career Section, ¶ 1). Calvin attended the University of Orleans during 1523, where he studied law. Calvin received his law degree in 1531, with a focus on sacred languages. During this time, Calvin also began to learn about reformist ideas he would later adopt and promote.

John Calvin and the Reformation

In 1532 when Calvin returned to Paris, he experienced a deep spiritual conversion. Unlike other reformers like Martin Luther of that time, Calvin did not write detailed reports of his conversion at that time. Calvin only wrote that he had experienced a "sudden conversion." The next year, however, in 1533, Calvin did write some of the details of his conversion. In the book, Western Civilization: Alternate Volume: Since 1300, Jackson J. Spielvogel explained that "Calvin experienced a religious crisis that determined the rest of his life's work" (p. 391). Spielvogel recorded Calvin's description of his conversion experience:

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 therin, although I did not leave off other studies, I yet pursued them with less ardor. (Calvin, quoted in Spielvogel, p. 391)

History of Calvinism

Calvinism continues to influence Protestantism, socially and morally. Lewis Loflin explained in the article, "Why We Should Know John Calvin," "Calvinism had profound social implications such as thrift, industry, and hard work are forms of moral virtue and that business success is evidence of God's grace. These views created a climate favorable to commerce along with establishment of modern capitalism" (¶ 1). Calvin agreed with Luther's complaints against the Roman Church, Loflin reported, as he also argued that a person is justified by faith alone and not by works.

Calvin, an avid reader and exceptional scholar, encouraged mass literacy as well as individual examination of the Bible and theological perceptions. "Protestantism in general[,] [nevertheless] opened a theological 'Pandora's Box' not just against the Catholic Church, but Protestantism as well" (c ¶ 2). Loflin explained that the theology of Calvinism, based on basic doctrines, may be expressed by the word TULIP, depicted by the following:

T: Total Depravity (Inability). This relates to human sin effects every aspect of our nature and character. It effects our emotions, thoughts and our free will. Calvinism teaches that a person that who is unsaved is unable to find salvation on their own. Salvation is only possible if it is God's will and causes salvation is granted through the Holy Spirit.

U: Unconditional Election. This doctrine teaches that God chooses some men to eternal salvation and some men to eternal damnation. These choices are not made based upon the acts of men or the work that they have done. Calvinism teaches that damnation and election are based completely on God's will and His will alone. Calvinism also teaches that damnation and election were predetermined by God even before the world was created.

L: Limited Atonement. This doctrine teaches that Christ died for the sins of some men, those who are predestined to eternal salvation, but not for others who are predestined to eternal damnation. Calvinism teaches that Christ did not die for everyone, only for those predestined to eternal salvation. Calvin believed that Christ died to atone for the sins of only particular individuals. He believed that if Christ had died for everyone then everyone would go to Heaven.

I: Irresistible Grace. This doctrine relates t o the fact when

God bestows his grace on an individual, it is because they are predestined to eternal salvation. Calvinism teaches that it is impossible for an individual to resist this grace and not gain eternal salvation. Calvin believed that regardless of what that individual did or what they thought, they were still predestined to eternal salvation. Calvinism teaches this principle which is also known as Total Depravity. Calvinists are comforted by the fact that God's love will allow them to overcome their sins, if they are predestined to eternal salvation, or they are among the elect.

P: Perseverance of the Saints. This doctrine argues that Saints,

or the elect, who are predestined to eternal salvation will always be under the protection of God until they receive their eternal salvation. (Loflin, Basic Theology Section)

The TULIP acronym, Loflin stressed, basically stated that when one became a Christian, he would be a "saint" forever, regardless of his actions.

The Five Points of Calvinism

Calvinism was founded and based on the principle that God possesses absolute power and supremacy. Calvin also believed that the world was created so that men would come to know God. He also taught that all men are sinners and that the way to know God is through faith in Christ and not through Mass or pilgrimages. In the article, "John Calvin," Chris Trueman noted that Calvin believed and taught that God gave mankind the New Testament, baptism and the Eucharist to provide them with continual divine guidance during the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "John Calvin" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

John Calvin.  (2010, February 26).  Retrieved October 24, 2021, from

MLA Format

"John Calvin."  26 February 2010.  Web.  24 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"John Calvin."  February 26, 2010.  Accessed October 24, 2021.