Today is the 500th anniversary of the birth of reformer John Calvin, an important man in the history of the Christian church. To help mark the occasion, the Desiring God blog is doing a nine-part series on his biography. Here is the first part:
Five hundred years ago today, he was born Jean Cauvin in Noyon, France—about 70 miles north of Paris. His father was Gerard, son of a barrelmaker and boatman. Gerard was a lawyer, and it was his law practice that brought him into the everyday sphere of the church.
The young Jean benefitted immensely through his father’s ecclesiastical connections. He was able to be educated privately with the children of the wealthy De Montmor family and eventually garnered church support for his further studies.
Gerard originally planned a career for his son in the church. But when things later soured with the dioceses, he would redirect his son toward law.
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, and unknowingly launched the Reformation in earnest, the young Calvin was a mere 8 years old. He likely heard very little, if anything, about the rebellious German monk until he left for university in Paris at age 14. There he would hear more.
As part of the celebration, Desiring God is, today only, offering THL Parker’s 1954 biography of John Calvin, called “Portrait of Calvin,” for only $2. You can also download it for free. Why care about a man who lived hundreds of years ago and is not without controversy? I think John Piper gives good reason in his foreward to “Portrait of Calvin.”
“I am eager for people to know Calvin not because he was without flaws, or because he was the most influential theologian of the last 500 years (which he was), or because he shaped Western culture (which he did), but because he took the Bible so seriously, and because what he saw on every page was the majesty of God and the glory of Christ.”