John Calvin was a Frenchman who compiled many of the ideas now identifed as Christian Reformed Doctrine and Calvinism.

He's got a reputation as a very nasty man that stems in part from his habit of refering to theological opponents as pigs, worms and anything else that came to mind. This left him strangely popular with Dutch people.

Many of his theological descendents reside in Holland, MI and go to either Calvin College or Hope College.

C.f. Theology, RCA, CRC.

Born in 1509 in Noyon, Northern France, Calvin was the fourth son of a local lawyer and church official.

1521 - Received a church office to finance his education.

1523 - Attended the College de la Marche in Paris. He befriended humanists such as Olivietan and scholars such as Bude.

1528 - Studied law at Orleans.

1532 - Published a Latin commentary on Seneca's De Clementia. His humanist features were revealed for the first time.

1533 - Fled from Paris after a lecture in favour of Lutheranism was given by his friend Nicholas Cop.

1528-1534 - Experienced religious conversion, the precise date is not known.

1534 - "Day of the Placards" in France. Calvin's bother was executed as a heretic. Calvin himself fled to Basle.

1535 - Published first edition of Institutes of Christian Religion in Basle, a clear and powerful statement of his theology.

1536 - Arrived in Geneva after intervention from Farel. He presented to the council a proposal called "Articles concerning the organisation of the Church and of Worship in Geneva".

1537-38 - Sympathetic church authorities try to enforce Calvin's confession of faith and his 21 articles.

1538 - He was forced to leave Geneva for exile in Strasbourg after opposition to his reforms from the newly elected syndics

1541 - Returned to Geneva upon the invitation of the Town Council (synod). Published his Ecclesiastical Ordinances, a detailed survey of how church and state should be governed.

1555 - Calvin's main opponents were all defeated. His main rival, Ami Perrin, the leader of the Libertine group fled after losing power in the synod and attempting to launch a rebellion. Calvin's influence remained unchallenged for the next nine years in Geneva.

1564 - Calvin died in Geneva.

Calvin had never intended to settle in Geneva after fleeing from France. He had originally aimed to live the life of a scholar in Strasbourg, a reformed city under Bucer.

Although he only made it to Strasbourg during his exile this time was vital to him. He was greatly influenced by Bucer and the organisation of the church and state in Strasbourg. It was during this time that he wrote his Ecclesiastical Ordinances. When he was invited to return to Geneva he was initially unwilling to return.

Even though he was invited back to Geneva there was still much opposition to him and his ideas. It was not until 1555 that he was able to exercise complete control over Geneva. Until then had been in bitter political battles over many issues but most importantly the power of exile and excommunication. Calvin insisted that these powers lay within the church but many wanted the state to retain these powers. By 1555 he had successfully won these powers for his church.

Calvin was a strongly contrasting figure to Martin Luther. He was a second generation reformer but rather than Luther's fiery preaching style Calvin utilised a deadly logic and an unerring attention to detail. His background as a lawyer, not a theologian, can be clearly seen in the focus of his writings towards organisation and rules rather than theological doctrine.

The workings of his logical mind can be seen through the doctrine of double predestination. The origins of this doctrine arise from following one logical conclusion after another:

IF God is omnipotent and omniscient
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THEN He must chose who will achieve salvation (predestination)
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IF He choses who will be saved then he must chose who will be damned.

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