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In this year of the 500th anniversary, we have been taking a look at the major players of the Protestant Reformation.

We have looked at William Tyndale in England, Martin Luther in Germany, and Ulrich Zwingli in German speaking Switzerland, and we now turn our attention to the Reformation in the French speaking area of Switzerland with John Calvin.

Calvin is essentially a second generation reformer having been converted around the time of Zwingli's death in the early 1530's.

But he casts such a large shadow over the Reformation that Luther's friend and successor Phillip Melanchthon referred to Calvin as THE theologian of the Reformation.

He was a brilliant man who, while still in his 20's, wrote his famous book, "Institutes of the Christian Religion" which is still known today as one of the greatest systematic theologies ever written.

Calvin was not just a theologian confined to his study. He was also pastor of Geneva for much of his life.

He faithfully shepherded the flock there as he preached verse by verse through the books of the Bible. In his first term as pastor, he was run out of Geneva for his Protestantism.

After a few years pastoring in Strasbourg to French refugees, Calvin was brought back to pastor in Geneva yet again.

It is in Calvin that much of the theology of the Reformation is most known. The Calvinist position which emphasizes the sovereignty of God in all things, especially in salvation, continues to be closely associated with Calvin. But it's important to note that Luther and nearly all of the reformers adhered to what is now known now as Calvinism, which is essentially the same theology developed by Augustine in the early part of the 5th century.

It is impossible to understate the impact of Calvin on Christianity. The theology of the Presbyterians, the Puritans, and the early Baptists was thoroughly Calvinistic.

And while there have been times when Calvinism has fallen out of favor, there is always an interest in his theology among those that appreciate Calvin's devotion to the biblical text.

The continued impact of the Reformation may even owe as much to John Calvin as it does to Luther. That says a lot about him.

Jarrod Belcher is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Williamson. He writes a weekly column. He can be contacted at fbcwilliamson@suddenlinkmail.com.

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