John Calvin-Leader of the Protestant Church
John Calvin was a leader of the Reformation, the religious movement that swept Europe in the sixteenth century and divided the Christian world into Catholic and Protestant churches.
Who was John Calvin?
Calvin was born in France on July 10, 1509. After studying Latin, philosophy, and logic, he turned to the new Protestant faith. He was forced to leave France because of his religious beliefs, and in 1536 he went to Geneva, Switzerland. Except for one short period, he lived there for the rest of his life.
Under his strong leadership, Geneva became the centre of Protestantism. The Church wrote the city’s laws and governed every part of its daily life. The laws were strict. Genevans were expected to be thrifty, hard working, and serious. Dancing and singing-except hymns-were forbidden. And there was severe punishment for those who disobeyed.
Calvin’s religion was stern. Man, he believed, was sinful and could receive salvation only through God’s grace. But only the few chosen by God would receive grace. And long ago God had already decided who would be among the elect. This was Calvin’s doctrine of predestination.
Calvin died on May 27, 1564. But by then his ideas had spread from Geneva to much of western Europe. The English Puritans who went to America in the seventeenth century were Calvinists. The Presbyterian and other Reformed churches were Calvinists. The Presbyterian and other Reformed churches of today base their religious beliefs on John Calvin’s teachings.