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John Calvin- Reformation
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John Calvin- Reformation


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  • 1. John Calvin and the Spread of the Reformation
  • 2. The Reformation spread throughout the northern part of Europe during the 16th century (1500’s) England- Puritans and Anglicans Scotland- Presbyterians Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden) – Reformed Switzerland- Calvinists parts of France- Huguenots – followers of Calvin the Netherlands- Reformed
  • 3. Nation-states began to align themselves along Protestant and Catholic lines Lack of religious unity created new tensions (both religious and political) The rising sense of nationalism came to be associated with religion divisions
  • 4. John Calvin  1509-1564  Born in France  Studied law as a young man  Very academic  In 1533 Calvin converted to Protestantism after experiencing some sort of spiritual crisis
  • 5.  Calvin worked to further the Reformation and develop a systematic “reformed” theology  He was invited to Geneva, Switzerland in 1541 to help establish a “Christian society” (theocracy) governed by Protestant civil (lay) and religious leaders
  • 6. Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland A Celebration of the Reformation and its Leaders
  • 7. Geneva
  • 8. John Calvin’s Influence  Calvin was an brilliant scholar and preacher  He worked to understand the scriptures and communicate the truths of God  Education was stressed- intellectual rigor  Based on Christian (biblical) principles  Hard work was praised and rewarded  Seen as part of God’s calling on one’s life  High moral standards were set in place, encouraged, and enforced  Family life was held in high regard and encouraged
  • 9. Calvin’s Geneva-  Geneva was governed by a powerful group of lay (non-ordained) church leaders  Their duty was to oversee and carry out the guidelines set for this new Christian society  Daily life was regulated according to the guidelines set by the church  Playing cards, heavy drinking, missing church services, dancing, being critical of church leaders were all investigated and very often punished
  • 10.  Preaching of the scriptures was the most important part of the worship service  NOT the Eucharist – Holy Communion  Calvin (and Luther) kept three sacraments of the Church  Communion  Baptism (infant baptism)  Marriage  Churches were stripped of religious decoration-  statues, stained glass, etc.  Singing (hymns and the psalms) was allowed but no instruments were used
  • 11. Perceived heretics were sometimes persecuted  In 1550, Michael Servetus was arrested and burned at the stake for challenging the doctrine of the Holy Trinity  Many believed that “heretical” ideas would undermine the church and its true mission
  • 12. The Institutes of the Christian Religion  Published in 1559  Calvin’s systematic theology
  • 13. Major ideas in The Institutes  God is absolutely sovereign over all of his creation  His will is absolute and absolutely just  Human beings are completely sinful and alienated from God  Human beings cannot do anything to gain salvation
  • 14.  Human beings do not have a “free will” to choose God  God “elects” (or predestines) those who will be saved  “…God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and who he would condemn to destruction…..The will of God is the highest justice…..”
  • 15. Calvin called the idea of God’s election “this terrible decree.” The doctrine of election brought comfort and certainty to many who believed themselves to be God’s “elect”.
  • 16.  “We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or death."
  • 17. Calvin’s warning  Book III, Chapter XXI (Institutes) "Human curiosity renders the discussion of predestination, already somewhat difficult of itself, very confusing and even dangerous. [Therefore] if anyone with carefree assurance breaks into this place, he will not succeed in satisfying his curiosity and he will enter a labyrinth from which he can find no exit."
  • 18. The Westminster Catechism (excerpt)  Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?  Answer: Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.  Question 2: How does it appear that there is a God?  Answer: The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his Word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.
  • 19.  Question 3: What is the Word of God?  Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.
  • 20. Impact of Calvin and his ideas  Calvin’s theological ideas influenced the development of the  Presbyterian Church in Scotland  - John Knox  The Huguenot (French Calvinists) church in France  Puritan churches in England and America
  • 21.  The reformed idea of “calling” or election brought a sense of dignity to all work and worldly endeavors  “the Protestant work ethic”  Strong appeal to the middle class  Max Weber’s thesis on Protestantism and modern capitalism  Calvin’s model of scholarship encouraged a high standard of intellectual engagement with the Bible and the application of its truths.  Example: Princeton University