CALVIN, John
(1509-1564)
Noyon, France

Protestant Reformer whose systematic exposition of faith in action is set out in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536). In all his writings there is a characteristically strong emphasis on God's calling and the proper human response of grateful obedience. Calvin's influence is particularly associated with Geneva during his lfe, and subsequently John Knox and the Presbyterian tradition in Scotland and N. America. The rewards which come from striving to serve God in working in the world may be seen as evidence that that the Protestant ethic is indeed a prompt for the spirit of free enterprise capitalism. But God remains the source of all blessings. God is also the inspiration of scripture, and this guarantees its weighty place in Calvinist ethics. On the negative side, a distortion of Calvinist thinking is found in the rationale given for apartheid in the Dutch Reformed Church in the 1950s and 1960s.


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