John Calvin was an influential figure of the Reformation, but have you ever considered some of the events, enemies, friendships, relationships, and influences that shaped Calvin, as well as monumental works such as his Institutes and biblical commentaries? What inspired Calvin to write these works and what was the context in which they came to life?
These historical questions are important for today because it is crucial to remember that Calvin was never a singular figure, towering above everybody else. All his life, he was dependent on a circle of other people. Bucer was a spiritual father who made Calvin a pastor and a Reformer. Erasmus inspired him to argue that the wisdom of antiquity finds its fulfillment in Christianity, and Zwingli, the artistic creator of the Reformed faith, created the liturgy of the Reformation that would shape Calvin’s Geneva. Calvin, like us all, was standing on the shoulders of giants.
In this podcast, Matthew Barrett and Bruce Gordon discuss the life and theological development of John Calvin, noting the influences of Bucer, Erasmus, Cicero, and Zwingli on his life and thought. In doing so, they show why history is so pivotal to the ongoing implications of the Christian faith for today.
Bruce Gordon is professor of Reformation history, Yale Divinity School. He is the author of a number of books, including biographies of Zwingli and Calvin. Dr. Gordon is also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Calvin and Calvinism.
Matthew Barrett is the author of Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Baker). He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and host of the Credo podcast. He is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.