John Calvin – (1509-1564) French reformer and theologian
At the age of 14 Calvin went to Paris to study at the College de Marche in preparation for university study, which consisted of seven subjects: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Toward the end of 1523 Calvin transferred to the more famous College Montaigu. Calvin’s education was paid for in part by income from a couple of small parishes. So although the new theological teachings of individuals like Luther and Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples were spreading throughout Paris, Calvin was closely tied to the Roman Church. However, by 1527 Calvin had developed friendships with individuals who were reform-minded, which set the stage for Calvin’s eventual switch to the Reformed faith. Calvin’s father advised him to study law rather than theology.
By 1528 Calvin moved to Orleans to study civil law. By 1532 Calvin finished his law studies. In 1533 Calvin fled Paris because of contacts who through lectures and writings opposed the Roman Catholic Church. In 1533 Calvin experienced the sudden and unexpected conversion that he writes about in his foreword to his commentary on the Psalms.
For the next three years, Calvin lived in places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, an instant best seller. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out so Calvin decided to make a detour to Geneva.
Calvin’s fame in Geneva preceded him. Farel, a local reformer, invited him to stay in Geneva and threatened him with God’s anger if he did not. Thus began a long, difficult, yet ultimately fruitful relationship with that city. He began as a lecturer and preacher, but by 1538 was asked to leave because of theological conflicts. He went to Strasbourg until 1541, when he returned to Geneva, and remained in there until his death May 27, 1564.