French Protestant reformer; generally regarded as second in importance only to Martin Luther as a key figure in the Protestant Reformation
Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, regarded by historian Will Durant as among the world’s ten most influential works, gave birth to a distinctive “Reformed” theology, sometimes named after Calvin himself.
Calvin has also been called “the organizer of Protestantism” because in his pastoral work of organizing evangelical churches in Strassburg and Geneva, he developed an adaptable model of church government. The cultural impact of that “presbyterian” model has extended beyond church polity to influence modern democratic political theory. In the sixteenth century new social institutions emerged to replace the deteriorating ones that had once held medieval civilization together; many of the new institutions were influenced by Calvin’s model.
J. D. Douglas, Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell, Who’s Who in Christian History, Illustrated Lining Papers. (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992).