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John Calvin

theology geneva reformation

Calvin, John (1509–64), French theologian. After a “sudden conversion” in 1533, Calvin became a leader of the Protestant Reformation, eventually systematizing his ideas with those of other reformers. His Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) is one of the most important religious works ever written. Calvin's theology, which rejected the authority of the pope, focused on the faith of the individual and study of the Bible. Calvin also believed in predestination, the idea that God preordains some souls for salvation and others for damnation. His church organization became the model for Presbyterianism and the Reformed Churches. Calvin was active in politics, in 1541 establishing in Geneva a government based on his theology. The academy that he founded in 1559 later became the University of Geneva.

See also: Calvinism; Reformation.

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