Wednesday, 15 July 2009

7 things I didn't know about John Calvin

1. John Calvin was a skinny Frenchman. This keeps me from Idolising him.

2. John Calvin lost a son after he was two weeks old.

"The Lord has certainly inflicted a severe and bitter wound in the death of our baby son. But He Himself a Father and knows best what is good for his children."

3. After 9 years of marriage his wife died.

"I have been bereaved of the best companion of my life, of one who, had it been so ordained, would have willingly shared not only my poverty but even my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance. She was never troublesome to me throughout the whole course of her illness, but was more anxious about her children than about herself. As I feared these private worries might upset her to no purpose, I took occasion three days before she died, to mention that I would not fail in discharging my duty towards her children"

4. Calvin had an amazing work ethic.

When the doctor forbade him to go out in the winter air to the lecture room, he crowded the audience into his bedroom and gave the remaining lectures on Malachi there. To those who would urge him to rest, he had the wondering question, “What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?”

5. Calvin endured a particularly horrific experience.

At one point he urinated something of such size he writes, “Lacerated the urinary canal and a copious discharge of blood followed. This hemorrhage could only be arrested by an injection of milk through a syringe.”

6. He didn't want to be a Pastor.

Farel, who burned with an extraordinary zeal to advance the gospel, immediately learned that my heart was set upon devoting myself to private studies, for which I wished to keep myself free from other pursuits, and finding that he gained nothing by entreaties, he proceeded to utter an imprecation that God would curse my retirement, and the tranquility of the studies which I sought, if I should withdraw and refuse to give assistance, when the necessity was so urgent. By this imprecation I was so stricken with terror that I desisted from the journey which I had undertaken.”

7. He loved the glory of God above all else.

Calvin writes to Sadolet, “As to your preface, which, in proclaiming the excellence of eternal blessedness, occupies about a third part of your Letter, it cannot be necessary for me to dwell long in reply. …it is not very sound theology to confine a man's thoughts so much to himself, and not to set before him, as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God.”


  1. Typo warning on point 7's title - I assume it's meant to say "Glory of God" above all else...