Adored ... Abhorred
"He (Calvin) the most Christian man of his age."
--Ernst Renan, French Historian
"Calvin was one of those strong and consistent men of history who people either liked or disliked, adored or abhorred."
-- Lewis W. Spitz, Lutheran Historian
"To omit Calvin from the forces of Western evolution is to read history with one eye shut."
-- Lord John Morley English Scholar
"The sixteenth century was a great century. It was the century of Raphael and Michelangelo, of Spenser and Shakespeare, of Erasmus and Rabelais, of Copernicus d Galileo, of Luther and Calvin. Of all the figures that gave greatness to this century, none left a more lasting heritage than Calvin."
-- Georgia Harkness, Theologian
"Few great Christian leaders have suffered quite so much misunderstanding as John Calvin. He has often been dismissed as a theologian without humanity. In fact, the very reverse is much nearer the truth … . He was a man of deep and lasting affection, passionately concerned for the cause of Christ in the world; a man who burned himself out for the gospel."
-- Banner of Truth Trust
" … Calvin made such a mark upon his age and, even beyond it, exercised an influence which does not yet seem likely to decline. Even more than a thinker, … he was a leader of men."
-- Francols Wendel, Historian
"The Genevese should bless the birthday of Calvin."
-- Montesquieu, Eighteenth century Philosopher and Political Theorist
"The longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin's system is the nearest to perfection."
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, English Preacher
"The strength of that heretic [Calvin] consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him. If I had such servants my dominion would extend from sea to sea."
-- Pope Pius IV, Roman Pontiff at time of Calvin's death
"Taking into account all his failings, he [Calvin] must be reckoned as one of the greatest and best of men whom God raised up in the history of Christianity."
-- Philip Schaff, Historian
"Calvin is the man who, next to St. Paul, has done most good to mankind."
-- William Cunningham, Scottish Theologian
"I have been a witness of him for sixteen years and I think that I am fully entitled to say that in this man [Calvin] there was exhibited to all an example of the life and death of the Christian, such as it will not be easy to depreciate, and it will be difficult to imitate."
-- Theodore Beza, Calvin's Successor
"If Calvin ever wrote anything in favor of religious liberty, it was a typographical error."
-- Roland Bainton, Yale Church Historian
[Calvin] "belonged to the ranks of the greatest haters in history."
-- Erich Fromm, Author
"Calvin has, I believe, caused untold millions of souls to be damned … "
-- Jimmy Swaggart, Preacher
"Better with Beza in hell than with Calvin in heaven!"
-- A saying coined by Calvin's enemies in Geneva
"It was the fact that Calvin's own character was compulsive-neurotic which transformed the God of Love as experienced and taught by Jesus, into a compulsive character, bearing absolutely diabolical traits in his reprobatory practice."
-- Oskar Pfister, Freudian Psychologist
[Calvin was] the "cruel" and "the unopposed dictator of Geneva."
-- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
"But we shall always find it hard to love the man [Calvin] who darkened the human soul with the most absurd and blasphemous conception of God in all the long and honored history of nonsense."
-- Will Durant, Historian
[Calvin was] "one of the terribly pure men who pitilessly enforce principles"
-- H. Daniel-Rops, Roman Catholic Theologian
"The famous Calvin, whom we regard as the Apostle of Geneva, raised himself up to the rank of Pope of the Protestants."
-- Voltaire, French Enlightenment Philosopher
Copyright © 1986 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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