Calvin’s 500th birthday: party like it’s 1509!

calvin’s 500th birthday: party like it’s 1509It’s John Calvin’s 500th birthday! Well, it isn’t exactly his birthday quite yet (that doesn’t happen until July 10 this year). But that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from celebrating the hugely influential theologian’s life and work—there are conferences engaging Calvin’s legacy scheduled all throughout the year.

You don’t have to adhere to Calvinist theology to acknowledge the enormous significance of Calvin’s contributions to church history. Calvinism continues to be an important influence in Christainity today; Time Magazine recently noted its resurgence in evangelical circles. In honor of Calvin, then, here are a few links to help you get in on the celebration this year:

  • Not surprisingly, Calvin College in Grand Rapids has an extremely comprehensive list of Calvin-related conferences taking place in 2009. They’re taking place all over the world, from Tokyo to Calvin College’s own backyard in Michigan.
  • Perhaps the biggest Calvin celebration this year is the Calvin Quicentenniary, a conference and tour that visits most of the major locations relevant to Calvin’s life and ministry, and which features talks by a wide range of Calvin scholars. Have room in your schedule to visit Geneva, Switzerland this July?
  • Even if you’re not participating in the big Calvin conference just mentioned, the Calvin 500 Blog is posting daily about all manner of Calvin-related events, trivia, and discussion.
  • If you aren’t familiar with John Calvin or his teachings, there’s a good overview of his life and theology at the Christain History Institute. The Wikipedia entries for John Calvin and Calvinism have more detailed information if you’re interested.
  • Calvin’s most important written work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, is available online for free at Christian Classics Ethereal Library, if you really want to delve into Calvin’s ideas.
  • Not every Christian adheres to Calvinist theology, of course. The main theological branch of Christianity that is generally set in opposition to Calvinism is Arminianism. Googling around the web will turn up a lot of different (and strongly-held) opinions about the two strains of theology; for a neutral perspective, start with Wikipedia’s entry on the ongoing Calvinism/Arminianism debate.

Calvin’s birthday might not be the flashiest event in church history, but it’s an important one. Take advantage of this anniversary to learn a bit more about one of the church’s most famous scholars!

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