John Calvin was a renowned and influential pastor and theologian in France during the era of Protestant Reformation. Calvin was born on 10th July 1509 in Noyon, France. His father was employed by a local bishop as an administrator in the Cathedral. Thus, Calvin was born and raised in a strong Roman Catholic family.
Due to the close ties between Calvin’s father, the Bishop and the noble family, Calvin’s father wanted him to become a Roman Catholic priest. However, John’s classmates and playmates in Noyon and eventually Paris were culturally influential and aristocratic.
John Calvin went to Paris when he was 14 years old where he studied in College de Marche to prepare himself for university studies. In this college, he studied seven subjects. These are rhetoric, grammar, logic, geometry, music, astronomy and arithmetic. He transferred to College Montaigu, a college that was more famous in 1523.
During his stay in Paris, John Calvin changed his name to Loannis Calvinus which is the Latin form of his name. In French, this name means Jean Calvin. At this time, several small parishes were paying for his education. As such, although new theological teachings of different individuals such as Jacque Lefevre and Luther were spreading in Paris, he was tied to the teachings of the Roman Church.
Nevertheless, by 1527 John Calvin established friendship with reformed-minded individuals. This formed the basis for his eventual switch to Reformed faith. Calvin’s father also advised him to pursue law studies at the same time instead of theology. By 1528, Calvin went to Orleans where he studied civil law. While in Orleans, Calvin studied in different places. He was also taught by different scholars who gave him a humanist education. He completed law studies by 1532 after which he published a first book.
Later, John went to Paris due to his contacts with people who opposed teachings of the Roman Catholic through writings and lectures. In 1533, John Calvin experienced an unexpected and sudden conversion that he writes about in the foreword of his Psalms commentary.
Following religious tension in France that provoked violent uprising against the Protestants, John Calvin fled to Basel in Switzerland. He published his first edition of the seminal work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion from Basel, Switzerland in 1536. Throughout the following years, Calvin became a principle figure in Christian theology development that later came to be known as Calvinism. Arguably, Calvin and Martin Luther are the most important architects on the Protestant Reformation.
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