Today marks the 500th anniversary of the great reformer John Calvin. His influence through the centuries has been enormous, not just within “reformed” circles, but felt wherever good theology is preached and appreciated. His Institutes cover the main and plain things of Christianity.
Many things could be said about his life and theology, both good and bad. I will leave that to those who want to discuss theology and sociology. My main point in recognizing Calvin’s birthday is for the impact he had on the early days of our nation’s history.
Because of the Reformation, a whole “new” way of viewing God and government emerged. The Puritans and Pilgrims (separatists) followed many tenetsof reformed theology, and thus sought a freer society in which to practice their religion. America’s un-explored shores beckoned to them and they answered arriving here in 1620, founding Plymouth Mass.
The impact of Calvin can also be found in the science of Economics. Yes, free-market, non-governmental economic thinking are biblical, and surely more rational than any other strain of economic thought.
But the area where Calvin shines strongest is certainly theology. His writings are numerous, and on varied topics. Besides the aforementioned Institutes, he also authored commentaries on several Old Testament prophets and Genesis. His works of theology include such titles as: Bondage and Liberation of the Will, Grace and its Fruits, Tracts and Treatises, and Treatises on the Sacraments.
It is fascinating to me that this year we in the West celebrate two historic men: John Calvin and Charles Darwin. Both have been impactful far beyond their years on earth, both have written books that have influenced the thinking of thousands, both are still speaking, though dead. Who should we hold up as our hero? That is for you to decide. Sure, they are just men, fallen in their nature, but men make choices that effect the flow of history.
I am thankful to God for John Calvin and his impact on history.
Sola deo gloria!