There are only a few really big names in theology. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin are arguably the biggest. The reasons for this kind of status as a “major thinker” can be as complicated as their cumulative effect upon all that came after them or as simple as the significance of their spiritual thought. With someone like Calvin, his influence was felt as powerfully in civics, economics, and politics as it was in theology. Leopold Von Ranke for example said famously, “John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.’’ Dr. E.W. Smith said, “These revolutionary principles of republican liberty and self-government, taught and embodied in the system of Calvin, were brought to America, and in this new land where they have borne so mighty a harvest were planted, by whose hands?—the hands of the Calvinists. The vital relation of Calvin and Calvinism to the founding of the free institutions of America, however strange in some ears the statement of Ranke may have sounded, is recognized and affirmed by historians of all lands and creeds.” Calvin seems to be a very controversial figure at this time in history and no doubt we will continue to grapple with his thought and influence but one thing is clear, the neglect of John Calvin not only as a spiritual father of the Reformation but as a spire in history leaves us poorer in understanding than we should be, and many of the pale interpretations of the man, his thought, and effect of late do little to correct the deficit. If anything, the essence of his thought was the glory of God alone and the mercy and grace of God offered freely to sinners in desperate need, and on these his legacy stands.

1. Calvin in Paris.
2. Calvin and Farel.
3. Calvin in Strausbourg.
4. Calvin and Bullinger.
5. Calvin and Knox.
6. Calvin and Luther.
7. Calvin and his doctrine of church and state.
8. Calvin and Soteriology.

(Bill Waterson named the “Calvin” character of “Calvin & Hobbes” after John Calvin)

Christopher Neiswonger and Lindsay Brooks, with special guests Seth Stark and Joe Young.

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