Calvin said there is no place on earth I’d rather not be than Geneva, but he sensed God’s call on his life, and so he went back to Geneva. He ended up staying there, Geneva becoming his adopted city. He not only led the church there, but as one biographer of Calvin said, while he lived in Geneva, his heart was turned toward France. And he spent much of his energy training pastors.
God Changes Calvin’s Plans
When we first meet John Calvin, we find him at the University of Paris, and he’s twelve years old. We sometimes make a big deal about the fact that he was a brilliant savant, but there was actually a law at the time that you had to be at least nine to enter the University of Paris.
So there’s Calvin, twelve years old at the University of Paris and studying law. The University of Paris is fascinating because this college was tasked with evaluating the teachings of a radical, heretical monk over in Germany: Martin Luther.
There’s no indication that Calvin was even paying attention to this as a student at law. His interests seemed to be in the humanities, and he planned to be a scholar. But God got ahold of Calvin: as he was going to write in the preface to his Psalms commentary, God subdued his heart and remade it in a teachable frame.
And once Calvin was converted, he turned all that energy—all of that training—toward theology. At this time in France the Reformation had not made inroads. The Roman Cat holism of the day was firmly entrenched. He did not have a Frederick the Wise in Germany like Luther did. Calvin needed to flee France—the heat was turned up on him. He wanted to get to Strasbourg, where the Reformation was firmly established. There was a University there, a church there, and Martin Bucer—who was actually converted through listening to Luther in 1518—was there, and Calvin wanted to go and study under him.
But to get there he had to go through Geneva. He intended to merely stay overnight in Geneva, but he got shanghaied—literally—by his friend, William Ferrell. So that overnight stay turned into an almost two-year stay.
Goes behind the scenes and uncovers the human side of the larger-than-life Reformers through user-friendly narrative stories on the Reformation.