John Calvin was a 16th century French theologian who alongside such people as Zwingli and Luther worked for the reform of the Church in
Calvin’s influence was to be far more lasting than that of the other reformers. For Calvin was the theologian par excellence of the reformation. He is a theologian whose thought and writings continue to be of influence even today. Calvin wrote profusely. He lectured. He preached. He wrote a commentary on almost every book of the Bible. He preached at one time 5 sermons a week, many of which are still in print. His letters fill many volumes.
Calvin himself was a deeply humble man and insisted that upon his death he be buried in an unmarked grave so that the place of his burial could not become a shrine. After his death, though, his writings and theology were to have a profound effect on the Church throughout the world and not just in
Why should anyone be embarrassed to be connected with such a theological giant and genius? Well, even in his own day Calvin was a controversial figure as well as an influential one. After his death, he attracted many critics as well as many admirers. And it has to be said that he has not always been well served by his followers. Calvinism has acquired the image of a hard, austere, demanding and often joyless form of Christianity. And it has to be said, there is some truth in the accusation.
Despite this, I confess to being one of Calvin’s admirers. I may not always be drawn to Calvinism and those who claim to be following Calvin, but Calvin himself is one of my theological heroes. This is not to say that I agree with everything Calvin said and did. I am not even sure had I met Calvin I would have particularly have liked him. I am almost certain he would not have liked or approved of me. But there is in Calvin and his writings a profound theology that transcends such considerations of personality and celebrity.
Christians are called to follow Christ. Knowing how to do so, can at times be difficult and challenging. The New Testament tells us that one of the gifts of God to his Church is that of a teacher. All human teachers have their faults and weaknesses. No-one is infallible – a sentiment that Calvin would certainly have agreed with. But we do well to value the gifts of God and hear what he is saying to us through his servants. The wisdom of people like Calvin is something we can still learn from today.