Protestantism did not appeal immediately to everyone in Geneva. Some felt closer to French-speaking Roman Catholic Fribourg than to relatively patrician German-speaking Bern, and for many the theology of Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli was altogether foreign.
We will explore each to show why Trevin and others find these figures so influential. John Calvin was a short Frenchman who spent his life in a city that did not always appreciate him.
He came under fire almost immediately in his role in Geneva, lost his job over a fight on the sacraments, was nurtured back to wholeness by Martin Bucer, and only begrudgingly returned to Geneva to finish the reformation there.
He also wrote what was until modern times the most widely published and read book of theology in English translation: Calvin But Not Luther? When Trevin Wax first released his list of the Top-Five Theologians perhaps the most controversial part of the list was the choice of Calvin over Luther.
I agree with his choice as do many scholars, not all of them Reformed and so a few words need to be said about why Luther is not above Calvin. With Luther, no one would doubt the influence of his reformation.
One could easily point out that without Luther there would be no Calvin—indeed there would be no Protestantism. His stance before the Holy Roman Emperor is iconic, almost a microcosm of the Reformation itself. But this would be a poor definition—in fact it would mean that only Luther can fit this definition, which is hardly a debate.
Not all influence is positive, of course. On this definition, many historians would grudgingly choose Calvin over Luther, but again not in a way that sees Luther as less than vital to the Reformation and evangelical history. Still, given the international influence of Calvinism—both in the Reformation and today in places like Korea—most would place Calvin ahead of Luther.
Wesley famously rejected Calvinism Another important factor is that the other dominant theology of evangelicalism, Arminianism, was itself spawned out of a rejection of certain points of Reformed theology, and Arminianism has always seen Calvinism as its chief opponent.
But if we had extended the list to 10 instead of 5, it hardly needs to be said that Luther would easily be on the list. For one, he was the youngest of the first-generation reformers, almost to the point that many consider him to be part of the second generation.
At the time of his conversion, the Reformation was more than a decade old, and the Reformed movement—as we would later call it—was already well underway with Zwingli and Bullinger in Zurich, as well as other Swiss cities. Farel gently asking Calvin to stay When Calvin arrived in Geneva in he was also stepping into a tense theological situation made worse by politics.
What was left was a chaotic Swiss region, now in need of something to galvanize them and secure their future. One of the steps taken by the city of Bern, for example, was to annex Geneva and forcibly move it from Catholicism to Protestantism.
Geneva was French-speaking as opposed to German-speaking Bern and Zurich and had answered to the Duke of Savoy for centuries. The only thing Bern lacked was the ability to send French-speaking pastors to shape the now-Protestant church in the city. Enter Calvin and Farel, two French exiles who had embraced humanism back in France, then the gospel, and finally broke with the Protestant church.
Bern had worked with Farel before and so hired him to Geneva; Farel also knew Calvin through friends and so eagerly wanted his help. When he returned to Geneva inhe was a wiser man, now married, and plunged himself into writing nonstop. Still, even after he was restored to Geneva, he was not immediately the major voice in the Swiss regions, and certainly not throughout Europe.
These things would come, but for now he was the younger brother to men like Bucer, Bullinger, and other leaders who had more experience and more leverage in other countries. Calvin and Bullinger meet Calvin never seemed to chafe in these circumstances, and his life is marked by his willingness to work with other cities and reformers to bring a unity to the Reformed faith.
His letters to these men are marked as much by his collegiality as they are by his willingness to offer his own perspective.
They also reveal his willingness to learn from his Reformed companions in other cities. Bucer and Bullinger—both eligible for the most influential voice in early Reformed theology—had a falling out to such an extent that Bullinger forever suspected Bucer of being a crypto-Lutheran on the sacraments.
By the end of his life he became the leading voice in the wider Reformed world as it began to develop in Scotland, England, France, and the Netherlands.John Calvin is a principal figure of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, along with Henry VIII, separated Protestantism from the Roman Catholic Church, and Calvin's doctrines and theology created profound changes within the fledgling Protestant churches.
Watch video · John Calvin, Martin Luther's successor as the preeminent Protestant theologian, made a powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism.
Calvin actively participated in the polemics that were exchanged between the Lutheran and Reformed branches of the Reformation movement. At the same time, Calvin was dismayed by the lack of unity among the reformers.
Dec 02, · The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would. John Calvin is a principal figure of the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther, along with Henry VIII, separated Protestantism from the Roman Catholic Church, and Calvin's doctrines and theology created profound changes within the fledgling Protestant churches. With his brother and sister and two friends, John Calvin fled Catholic France and headed to the free city of Strasbourg.