John Calvin: Religion, Beliefs & Quotes

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  • 0:01 Who Was John Calvin?
  • 1:23 Beliefs And Religion
  • 2:52 Quotes
  • 4:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will learn about an influential Protestant theologian: John Calvin. We will learn who he was and why he is important. We will also discuss the system of belief he developed, often called 'Calvinism.' Finally, we will see some quotes from John Calvin.

Who Was John Calvin?

John Calvin was a famous French theologian and a major leader of the Protestant Reformation. He helped popularize the belief in the sovereignty of God in all areas of life, as well as the doctrine of predestination. The theological approach advanced by Calvin has come to be known as 'Calvinism.'

Calvinism has five essential tenets, or 'points.' To explain this complex doctrine, theologians often make use of the acronym T.U.L.I.P., which stands for total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. We'll get into these points in more detail a bit later.

Calvin was born in France in 1509 into a devout Catholic family. Although born into a family of Catholic faith, he converted to Protestantism in 1533 after studying philosophy, humanism and law.

After his conversion, Calvin pursued reform in the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin's most famous and influential writing is The Institutes of the Christian Religion, which is a foundational work of Protestant systematic theology. John Calvin's reform in the Roman Catholic Church spurred the reformation of many churches during his time. Next to Martin Luther, John Calvin is probably the most well-known Protestant Reformer.

Beliefs and Religion

Calvin emphasized the role God plays in the process of salvation. He theorized that believers were predestined to salvation. This means that before God had even created the world, he chose which people would be beneficiaries of his gift of salvation.

Calvin affirmed a strict understanding of God's sovereignty. He believed that God was in complete control over humanity's actions and that nothing happens unless God wills it. The five foundational tenets of Calvinism are often referred to as 'points.' Let's take a look at each point of the acronym T.U.L.I.P.

Total depravity: This is the belief that all human beings are sinful and are born with an inherent sin-nature. Every human is completely sinful from the moment of birth.

Unconditional election: This is the belief that God predestined individuals for salvation, and that individuals cannot choose God without God enabling them to do so.

Limited atonement: This is the belief that God sent Jesus Christ to die for the sins of his chosen saints only, and not for the sins of those who are unbelievers.

Irresistible grace: This is the belief that God's chosen elect cannot resist God's grace in their lives.

Perseverance of the saints: This is the belief that once an individual is saved, he or she can never lose his or her salvation because he or she is eternally bound to Christ.


Now, let's take a look at some famous quotes from John Calvin:

'However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.'

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