Biography of Juan Calvino

Biography of Juan Calvino

John Calvin was one of the Fathers of the Protestant Reformation which took place in Europe during the 16th century. His theories caused great controversy at the time and led to the rise of Calvinism. Thanks to his preaching, Switzerland became a refuge for all those Protestants who were persecuted in the rest of Europe.

He was born on July 10, 1509 in Noyón (France). From a young age he began to show his great talent for study and, above all, for religious matters. For this reason, his first apprenticeships were oriented towards an ecclesiastical career. He entered the Collège de la Marche and the Collège de Montaigne, renowned centers where other important contemporary figures such as Erasmus of Rotterdam.

But the religious career to which he wanted to dedicate Calvin He was far from the ideas of his father, who in 1523 sent him to the University of Paris to begin studying Humanities and Law. Over the years, he completed his training in both fields at the Universities of Bourgues and Orleans, to the point of obtaining a doctorate in Law from the latter. His stay in the university cloisters is what shaped his humanistic and reformed ideas.

In 5533, Calvin left Catholicism and began demonstrating as a Protestant. At that time he was involved in the scandal caused by a speech favorable to the Lutheran theses delivered by the rector Nicolas Cop. The controversy forced both to leave Paris and take refuge in Basel. There he wrote his work "Institutions of the Christian religion”In 1536. In it he expounded the Reformed faith he preached.

His meeting with the Genevan reformer Guillaume Farel convinced him that he should settle in Geneva. Between 1536 and 1538 he lived in the Swiss capital, where he laid the foundations for his future activity. Through his influence and preaching, large numbers of clergy were converted to Protestantism. However, he had a conflict with the authorities over the issue of the autonomy of the churches. Calvin wanted to impose his rules, which the city council did not accept, so he was expelled from Geneva and settled in Strasbourg.

Between 1538 and 1541 he wrote the “Epistle to Sadolet”, In what was a clear apology for the Reformation, and the "Brief treatise on the Lord's Supper”. In 1541, he returned to Geneva again and was able to institutionalize a Church according to his views. Little by little he achieved victories in the political and religious fields, although in some cases at the price of a rigor that would leave sad memories, such as the execution of Miguel Servet. Calvino supported his sentence to death at the stake.

Without a doubt, the most important years of his career were between 1555 and 1564. During them he was intensely active while peace reigned in Geneva, which became a safe place for Protestants persecuted in other countries. The founding of the Academy in 1559, led by Théodore de Bèze, trained an elite who would spread the Reformation throughout the European territory. In addition, an agreement was established between the churches of Switzerland and increased literary production Calvin, who began to write controversial writings and theological teaching, while finishing the definitive edition of the "Institutions of the Christian religion." Finally, on May 27, 1564, Calvin passed away and left an ideological legacy that would last to this day.

The central idea of ​​Calvin's theology is that of the transcendence and the sovereignty of God, very similar to Five Solas. The distance that separates God and man is such that it is “impossible to say anything about him unless he reveals it himself”, So for the reformer, the Bible is the only door to unveil the divine mystery. Any other knowledge can only offer "a warped and idolatrous image of God", as "human intelligence and will are perverted and can only bear bad fruit”.

Calvino qualifies that last point by affirming that man is bad, not by nature, but "in its nature"Which is corrupted by original sin. So, "can only want evil”And he will be eternally rejected by God, who, in his mercy, would have sent his son to act as a savior. However, not all men are redeemed: “Some are predestined for salvation, others for condemnation”. The theologian is aware of the scandal that this double predestination entails, but he does not attempt to explain it, since for him it is a fact proven by experience.

The sacraments are not seen as means or channels of grace, but as “symbols of the faith". Calvin only admits baptism and the Lord's Supper as sacraments. The destiny of the Christian It will happen "according to the two not separate but autonomous institutions: the educating state, based on justice, and the Church, the people of God animated by the Holy Spirit”.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: John Calvin: The Work in Geneva. Episode 28. Lineage