By Bruce Gordon
Through the glory days of the French Renaissance, younger John Calvin (1509-1564) skilled a profound conversion to the religion of the Reformation. For the remainder of his days he lived out the results of that transformation—as exile, encouraged reformer, and finally the dominant determine of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s imaginative and prescient of the Christian faith has encouraged many volumes of research, yet this enticing biography examines a striking existence. Bruce Gordon offers Calvin as a man or woman, a guy without delay great, smug, charismatic, unforgiving, beneficiant, and shrewd.The booklet explores with specific perception Calvin’s self-conscious view of himself as prophet and apostle for his age and his fight to tame a feeling of his personal superiority, perceived through others as vanity. Gordon appears to be like at Calvin’s personality, his maturing imaginative and prescient of God and humanity, his own tragedies and screw ups, his huge relationships with others, and the context during which he wrote and taught. What emerges is a guy who committed himself to the Church, inspiring and reworking the lives of others, in particular those that suffered persecution for his or her non secular ideals.
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Extra info for Calvin
In this towering figure, Calvin was exposed to the complex interrelationship of legal studies, the church and politics. De l’Estoile was no solitary inhabitant of an ivory tower. As vicar-general he participated in the campaigns against heresy launched by the king and the Sorbonne: scholarship, teaching and persecution were without distinction of purpose. Deeply wedded to tradition, he had no sympathy for the evangelical cause, and, in common with many of his generation, held church reform to mean the rooting out of abuses, not the overturning of authority.
Ambition, when grounded in self-serving obsequiousness to others, was morally indefensible. However, an ambitious author of lower birth could rise in the world through the cultivation of virtue. The commentary bears witness to Calvin’s character as his father was dying. Through Seneca he was searching for Stoic virtues of self-reliance and self-dependence. His intellectual growth was not matched by the reception afforded his commentary. Despite his own efforts, and those of his friends, it was simply lost in the vast number of books printed in Paris that year.
But the young scholar was also working to make sense of his education, to formulate his own understanding of the relationship between classical culture and contemporary society, to find a way forward. It was the beginning point of a long intellectual journey. Seneca’s short treatise is divided into two books in the form of advice to the young Emperor Nero, who had ruled for only three years. It is a series of reflections on the nature of power and justice and how they are best employed by the prince seeking not to become a tyrant.