Birth of John Calvin - July 10, 1504

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Virtual Founder of America



The German historian, Leopold von Ranke, was the one who declared that John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.

Today, July 10, marks the birth of this Swiss Reformer, John Calvin, in the year 1504. And yes, the usual focus of this blog is on American Presbyterians. But Calvin’s influence pervades all of our history and our culture, so it is entirely appropriate that we should look at the man and his message.

Do we have any idea of how many Calvinists there were in our country up to the time of the American Revolution in 1776? Loraine Boettner states that out of the three million citizens of the colonies at this pivotal time in our history, 900,000 were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, 600,600 were Puritan English, 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed, and there were a lot of French Huguenots, who were Calvinists. Two-thirds of our citizens had been trained in the school of Calvin.

Calvin was the first Reformer to demand a complete separation between the church and the state. Note carefully what I have just said. It wasn’t a separation between God and the state, which is the commonly held interpretation today, but between the church and state. No one denomination was going to be the favored church of the government, as it was the case back in England. There would be freedom of religion. And that unique idea could be laid at the feet of John Calvin.

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