Farel and Calvin
In Geneva, Switzerland there is a wall with four reformers of the Protestant Reformation in the center. It is called the International Monument to the Reformation or simply Reformation Wall. These four men are: William Farel (1489-1565), John Calvin (1509-1564), Theodore Beza (1519-1605), and John Knox (1513-1572). Today I want to share with you a little bit of the history of Farel and Calvin. Next week, on the last Friday of October, I will discuss Beza and Knox. Of course, there were many others who influenced the Protestant Reformation for good or for ill so take opportunities to learn more about the history of the church.
A couple of good resources (not books) this week to look into are Stephen Nichols, Five Minutes in Church History. I think they come out every Wednesday and for five minutes each week you can listen to something you probably never knew before.
The second resource is W. Robert Godfrey’s, A Survey of Church History from Ligonier. Several times a year Ligonier offers this resource for substantial discounts. I believe they are being offered this month for a donation of any size. Dr. Godfrey’s lectures are helpful to understand 2,000 years of Church history.
William Farel (1489-1565) was responsible for John Calvin becoming a minister in Geneva. He was a student in Paris in the early years of the Reformation. When Luther’s influence had reached Paris, Farel often promoted the ideas of the Reformation. He was appointed to be a preacher in 1522. Farel became converted and he then sided with the cause of Reformation. He came to Geneva in 1536. John Calvin was simply passing through that year and Farel eventually caused him to stay. Farel officiated at Calvin’s wedding in 1540. Take five minutes and listen to his story: https://www.5minutesinchurchhistory.com/william-farel/
John Calvin (1509-1564) is best known for his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He published it in 1536, the same year he passed through Geneva as a wanted man. We forget that many who fought to proclaim the truths of Scripture or simply get Scripture into the hands of the common man were hunted and threatened and many of the reformers lost their lives. The Institutes were intended as an elementary manual for those who wanted to know something about the evangelical faith. Early on he was branded as a Lutheran for promoting Luther’s views. No one ever used the term “Calvinist,” until long after Calvin’s death. In fact, it was the Synod of Dordt in 1618-1619 that we find the five doctrines that are commonly used today in the T.U.L.I.P acronym as a summary of Calvin’s teaching. Those at Dordt were combatting the heretical teaching of Jacob Arminius. Calvin gained a lot from reading Augustine (354-430). Ultimately the Reformation was a call back not to other theologians, but to the authority of Scripture as the only rule of faith and practice. This was radically different than the church’s common practice at the time of trusting in men or the traditions of men, or the authority of the medieval church.