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The Early Life of John Calvin Essay Sample

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The Early Life of John Calvin Essay Sample

He was born July 10, 1509 at Noyon, Picardy. Cauvin was his family name but Calvin seems to have adopted the spelling. His father was Gerard Cauvin, a lawyer and a secretary to the bishopric and he was also a legal representative of Noyon cathedral chapter. He was a man of great importance. Jeanne LeFranc was Calvin’s mother. ( Lefranc,1866) She has an extraordinary beauty and piety. She died when Calvin was still young and his father remarried. Calvin has three brothers namely Charles, Jean and Antoine and two sisters. His family were loyal Catholics and of great social standing in Noyon. His father, Gerard Cauvin was apprehensive in giving his sons proper education when his brother Jean was twelve he secured for him assistance in the church at Noyon and later a more rewarding one at Pont l’Eveque. The income was being used to settle the cost of his education.

At this time, Calvin probably received the tonsure, the only sign of office he ever held under the Roman church. He was a very talented child, and early displayed both the intellectual and personal traits which were meant to lay their stamp upon his life work. Beza says of him, “Even in his tender years he was in a astonishing manner devoted to religion, and a stern reprover of all the vices of his companions”. ( Life, p. 2; Opera, xxi, 121) At the age of fourteen he entered the University of Paris (In the Collège de la Marche. He was soon transferred to the Collège de la Montaigu, where he studied under the scholarly theologian, Noël Béda ).where he displayed unusual skill in Latin and dialectics, and acquired the foundations of his later ability to write a Latin that is almost unequalled in lucidity and vigor.

He seems already to have felt a mission to reform his associates, and a renowned story says he was so contemptuous that his fellow-students called him “the accusative case”.( Le Vasseur, (Paris, 1633, p. 1158; Kampschulte, Leipzig, 1869, i, 225.) Gerard Cauvin had primarily anticipated the most gifted of his sons for the priesthood, and the securing of the benefices was a step in this direction. But Cauvin pére was not a religious man; he was more an incisive observer of men and things! Before Jean had finished the work of the Faculty of Arts at Paris, which he completed at nineteen, his father decided that he should take Law instead of Theology .Beza gives the reason in a sentence which speaks a volume, “for the father thought the law opened a surer road to riches and honors”.( Life, p. 3; Opera, xxi, 121) Cauvin quarreled with the chapter at Noyon and was out of favor ecclesiastically. In spite of Jean’s religious bent, he followed his father’s wishes and went to Orleans to study Law.

Calvin imposed upon himself a rational discipline so scrupulous that he destabilized his health. He has dyspepsia that irritated him through life. His habit was to take a thrifty supper, “pursuing his lucubrations until midnight”, and then in the morning before arising review and digest his studies.( Ibid., p. 4; Opera, xxi, 122). This practice was disturbing to his health but there can be no question that Calvin’s iron spirit was enclosed in a flimsy body and did an almost health this practice may have been, there can be no question that Calvin’s iron spirit was enclosed in a frail body, and he did the almost exceptional tasks in his later years in a severe physical handicap. This explains the irascibility of his temper. Calvin rules his sick body as a symbol. (The Age of the Reformation, p. 181.) Calvin sustained his legal studies at the famous Italian jurist Alciati (Émile Doumergue, i, 141.) at University of Bourges At the age of twenty-two his father died and continue without any difficulty of his law course and got licensed to practice.

The best of his interest is in the field of religion rather law in no way he never used his legal training professionally. His training was of immeasurable standards in his later work at Geneva. Both theology and organization of the Calvinistic church bear the stamp of a law taught mind. But a qualified jurist could have imprinted effectively the ecclesiastical system which was established. Calvin began his career as a lawyer while Luther as a monk, (Ernst Troeltsch, London and New York, 1912, p. 72.) this is the disparity between Calvinism and Lutheranism . Calvin went back to Paris to study his main interest in the ground of humanistic culture after he finish his law course. During the period of 1532, his first book entitled Seneca Treatise on Clemency. His book gave an intense analysis of Stoicism.

It appears that Calvin has seen no reason to break with the Catholic Church.. The most important event of his life took place in Paris, his “conversion to Protestantism” .Gérard Roussel, a disciple of Jacques LeFévre with kinsman Robert Olivétan were his Protestant friend. Most likely, other influences can be founding the conflict taking place by from the preaching of Luther and Zwingli. In an unfavorable reaction against a corrupt morals of the clergy was anticipated to one of Calvin’s “puritanical” moral code, in the study of humanist, mainly Erasmus and the study of the New Testament which was aroused by Olivetan . He said, his sudden conversion is coming direct from God. (Opera, xxxi, 21 ) It occurred sometime between the publication of his commentary on Seneca in April 1532 and November 1533.( Commentary on the Psalms, Opera, xxxl, 21-24; Reply to Sadoleto, Opera, v, 412 )

The latter date marks Calvin’s beginning to an outward conflict with Catholicism. Nicolas Cop, his friend, was inaugurated as a rector at the University of Paris, though accuracy cannot be verified, Calvin wrote the address which Cop delivered. A part of the copy was accessible in Calvin’s hand but may have been transcribed; he had a vital interest in it. It contains too much of the doctrines of Erasmus and Luther to go well with the conservative Catholics of the Sorbonne faculty. Both Cop and Calvin found themselves in difficult quarters. Calvin was strained to flee from Paris. His studies in Paris were suddenly disrupted. He went to a friend in Angouleme and later to Noyon. He was imprisoned in his hometown for the uproar made in the church. (Lefranc, p. 201.) Whether he suffered from the reflected humiliation from heresy of his brother Charles who by that time was a disgrace at Noyon, is a disputable question.

The imprisonment was of short duration. Calvin was living in seclusion at Basle. In 1536, he published his first edition of his great work, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”. This classic went to five editions. It was sequentially revised and enlarged until it grew into eighty chapters. The Preface was a letter to Francis I protesting in disagreement to his persecution of the Protestants, and is a masterpiece of apologetic literature. It is courteous, logical, that if only Francis I had only read it could win him from the error of his path.( Life, p. 10; Opera, xxi, 125.) After the book of the Institutes Calvin went to Italy and then back to Paris and Noyon to reconcile some matters associated with his father’s estate. One of those trivial accidents changes the course of history. Calvin intended to go to Strassburg but went to Geneva instead. He stayed there overnight and met William Farel who was in attempt to establish the new Genevan Protestant church.

It was a chaos and needed the touch of a professional and Farel was clever enough to detect that Calvin was the helper he needed. Calvin was hesitant to give up the prospect of a quite life of study which awaited him at Strassburg, for this master-organizer was by nature retiring and studious, even somewhat shy When Farel said that “I denounce unto you, in the name of Almighty God, that if, under the pretext of prosecuting your studies, you refuse to labor with us in this work of the Lord, the Lord will curse you, as seeking yourself rather than Christ.” ( Beza, Life, p. 12; Opera, xxi, 125; xxxi, 26.) Calvin gave in. In August 1536 he began his ministry at Geneva and Calvinism was born. People has the idea of John Calvin, as a doctrinaire divider, a close to his own ideas to the point of fanaticism” with “a portrait in motion” which pays particular attention to the role of Calvin’s faith in shaping his life.

How a shy, retiring scholar became a forceful Reformer who left his impression on succeeding Western culture. In connection with the different trajectories that emerge from his thought and life. In the philosophies of Descartes and Montaigne.. How can the man who had “the same torment, the same melancholy, as Montaigne be t responsible for “the disillusionment of the world” and supporter for “the fate of both the elect and the reprobates”? The legacy in Calvin’s life led him in the straight on French humanism and the vertical context of a direct unmediated by God. His participation in the recovery of letters led by French scholars under the patronage of Francis I. In his culture, in his origin, in his thoughts, he was a humanist. He knew that it is very difficult to understand with clarity And would have doubted the ability to ascertain the truth with certainty. Doubts are raised with his humanist training and doubts concerning the interpretation of the scriptures beset him all his life. His life as a humanist was decisively altered by his vocation, which is to be a “direct interference” of God in the course of history.

His calling by God was the same as his election by God, “God chose Calvin, Calvin did not choose God”, this is the formula of election. God chooses in the same way as he rejects, without reason, by arbitrary action of his grace. His vocation gradually led him to become a theologian, writing for those who felt an intense conviction of being chosen by God and created the beginning of his theory of predestination. Being the elected was the source of Calvin’s strength and of his great weakness, Calvin was not wise. Over the years, he gave an increasing emphasis to predestination in his work, and that made him the prisoner of his own idea. predestination became the werewolf of Reformed theology. Calvin was agitated of his doubts about the meaning of the scriptures and its benefit from establishing Christian dogmas. like Trinity. “Is the Trinity definite from the point of view of the Scriptures? Does the standard of sola Scriptura of vital option to the Bible as the wellspring of authority, allow one to avoid uncertainty? The doubt and faith in divine election has led Calvin to decline in the reconciliation in dealing with his opponents.

Calvinist enterprise could not visualize, the least cooperate which was apparent as a compromise with conscience. The one who opposed him would be the eviction from Geneva or torture and execution. This tactics showed that Calvin was no modern since he has the “fear of sorcery and of heretics” of his age. It entailed their followers of hasty, barbarous remedies imprisonment, torture, the stake. Calvin’s relentless struggle to all opponents that led to the sophisticated view of the world. He participated inadvertently in the disappointment of the world. During his sermons, the Genevans who opposed him, by breaking wind and playing skittles does not make Calvin’s theology more attractive or agreeable than himself. “This is undeniably the most ideal summary of Calvin’s theology. God speaks; God chooses; God summons. God was a supreme ruler.

This God “equipped with a square and a compass” paved the way for the God of Deists. “Calvin’s God was a tidy God” for whom “cleanliness was next to godliness” However, “history of faith” and “portrait in motion” was the very picture of Calvin’s denouncing as in “great part unwarranted, the portrait of a doctrine divider attached to his own ideas to the point of fanaticism. Calvin’s Death and Importance Calvin passed away to be with his lord on May 27, 1564.Prior to is death, he had suffered a lot of pain and infirmities. He has no less than twelve major illnesses, with excruciating pain. On May 19 he called all of the pastors of Geneva and bade his farewell to them. Starting then on he remained in bed while he continued to dictate to a secretary. The eighty year old Farel came to visit his old friend. Calvin spent his last days in a continual prayer. Most of these quotations are from Psalms. His voice was broken with asthma but his eyes and mind remained strong. He saw all who wished to come and asked them to pray for him. At 8:00 o’clock in the evening, Calvin fell into a serene slumber and didn’t wake up.

He had lived 54 years, 10 months and 7 days. Calvin is the proof that God uses men according to His own good gratification. He was weak and shy by nature but was cast into the mainstream of the reformation. It was not the task he wanted and he called it his daily cross. But he knew that discipleship is exactly denying one’s self, taking up his cross and following the Lord. God has used him as the key figure in the Reformation and in ensuing church history. Calvin and Luther agreed on all points, with the exclusion of the doctrine of the sacraments. While Luther was predestined by God to shatter the striking and apparently permanent refuge of Roman Catholicism, Calvin, on the other hand was divinely appointed to build on the ruins, a new house, a glorious temple, the church were God makes His dwelling.

He was a man of iron will. He was ill and yet his ailments and pain was never permitted to interfere with his work. Calvin worked constantly with very little or no sleep at all even his wife in frustration asked a little time just to see him. His preachings was his strength. His theology was embedded in exegesis because God’s word was the standard for him. His commentaries are still available and scholarly modern commentaries. His influence spread out to Europe and eventually all over the world. His influence is his theology, liturgy, his church polity and his piety. The heritage of authentically Reformed Piety. Calvin did not have a striking personality which Luther has. Luther became something of a crab and spoke far too intensely in his disparity to those who did not agree with him on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper But Calvin respected him for the great work Luther did in the work of reformation.

Even if Luther would call him the devil he would still honor him as God’s chosen vessel. Calvin could appreciate Luther for what he did because Calvin’s life was inspired by the glory of God. His enemies called him, a God intoxicated man, drunk with God. His theology was God’s glory and the real essence was this great truth and it was also his life, Calvin’s life. He lived and died with God’s glory his deepest desire. The Influence The city’s moral and social manner slowly improves which influenced many other cities in Europe and saw Geneva as attempting to live out principles of religious reform. It was the effect of the labor of Calvin and other Geneva’s ministers. Geneva is emerging as the inspiration of religious and cultural reform and became a symbol of hope in an unruly world.

“ The most perfect school of Christ that ever was on the earth since the days of the Apostles.” The moralizing of social life, the work ethic the prohibition of begging, aid to the poor, these became some traits of the Calvinistic city. Calvin founded in Geneva a new church, the protestant church. His ideal of a church is not independent of the State but liberated and free to act in its own area. This was being argued from the very instant with the strict dependency by which German churches were subjected to political power. Therefore, the churches following Calvin’s lead in Switzerland, the Netherlands, England, Scotland and Colonial America feared the “annexation of the church by the state, a secularization of it’s theology benefit of political dogma, the strength and the religious distinction within the civil hierarchy.” They insisted upon freedom and the powers of the magistrate in order to administrate themselves and creating the Protestant Church.

These churches have always struggled for liberty for the autonomy of the Church within her own field in difference from the: Lutheran theologians. In Christ, the Church has her own King. The position in the state is not assigned by the consent of the government but jure divino. The Church has her own organization and possesses her own office-bearers. In the same way she has her own gifts to distinguish truth from lie. It is her privilege not he State to determine her own characteristics as true Church and to proclaim her own confession as the confession of truth. Benjamin B. Warfield quoted this, “Every Church in Protestant Christendom which enjoys today any liberty in whatever, in performing it’s functions as a Church of Jesus Christ, owes it all to John Calvin. It was he who first asserted this liberty in his early manhood…; it was he who taught his followers to value it above life itself and to secure it to their successors with the outpouring of their blood. Thus Calvin’s great figure rises before us today not only in a true sense the creator of the Protestant Church but the author of all the freedom it exercises in it’s spiritual sphere.

The great thinker and the organizer of the Reformed church. The separation of the church beneath the authority of the government while enabling Christians to influence the governments of the time, also enabled the church truly to be the church in the world. The evangelism today was merely a modification of the Reformed Theology. Calvin or Calvinism was influential agents in the rise of republican government. The effect goes beyond the original design. Generations to generations were on the shift to establish a new society in Northern Europe, with its deep doubt to human nature, its division of powers and its requirement for the equitable and methodical progression of leaders. With the “Protestant work ethic” capitalism thrived in northern Europe. Biblical reality once exposed and trained is powerful.

Reference

Lefranc, La Jeunesse de Calvin ( Paris, 1866), pp. 5-7. Life, p. 2; Opera, xxi, 121 Le Vasseur, Annales de l’église cathédrale de Noyon (Paris, 1633), p. 1158; Kampschulte, Johann Calvin, seine Kirche und sein Staat in Genf ( Leipzig, 1869), i, 225. Émile Doumergue, Jean Calvin: les hommes et les choses de son temps, i, 141. Lausanne, 1 899- 1917; Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1926-27 is the most comprehensive biography of Calvin The Age of the Reformation, p. 181 Ibid, p.4, Opera,xxi, 122 Ernst Troeltsch, Protestantism, and Progress, London and New York, 1912, p. 72. Opera, xxxi, 21 Commentary on the Psalms, Opera, xxxl, 21-24; Reply to Sadoleto, Opera, v, 412 Lefranc, La Jeunesse de Calvin, p. 201 Life, p. 10; Opera, xxi, 125. Beza, Theodore, The Life of John Calvin Sibson translation, Philadelphia, 1836, p.12, Opera, xxi, 125,xxxi,26 Harkeness, Georgia, John Calvin, The Man and His Ethics, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1931 page 4,5 and 7 Zachman, Randall, Calvin: A Biography; The Christian Century, Volume 118 Issue 27 October 10.2001, p.39 COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group Fisher. George P., The Reformation, Armstrong, Scribner; New York 1873 p.2 Beza, Theodore, The Life of John Calvin (Sibson translation, Philadelphia, 1836), p.12, Opera, xxi, 125,xxxi,26

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