Class: History 1110-001

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John Calvin and Martin Luther Essay

Edi Aguero

Class: History 1110-001

Date: 10/19/12


Calvin and Luther were two men who with their writings confronted those who had been prophesying their religious faith wrongfully. With their teachings and writings the Catholic Church faced a series of uncomfortable situations that had never been encountered before. Both born and raised in Roman Catholic families, Calvin and Luther as they grew up learned more about their religion, and began to question about the rules (commandments) the church was breaking. With all they did to reform the church, they acquired fame and support by many powerful leaders as well as hate and discontent by others especially the Catholic Church.

Calvin was the French Reformer of France who with his publications spread his ideas of a properly reformed church to many parts of Europe and from there to the rest of the world. It is especially on account of his voluminous publications that he exerts such a lasting influence over Christianity and Western history (Dr. Karin Maag, H. Henry Meeter). Martin Luther was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Protestant Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestant and other Christian traditions (, 1997). Both men did successfully influence most of the people in their countries, especially Luther, because he translated the Bible into the German language. In the other hand Calvin’s writings about reforming the church resulted in a success as well, because he questioned and critiqued the way the Catholics and the church idolatrized figures. For the remainder of this essay I will be answering the questions on the book regarding Luther’s and Calvin’s reasons to reform the Catholic Church and its believers.


According to Luther, faith is an experience that gives the faithful a great taste of strength. Luther also said, “It is impossible to write well about it or to understand what has been written about it unless one has at one time or another experienced the courage which faith gives a man when trials oppress him” (Lualdi, 25). Faith was something Luther did not feel, even though he was a monk soon to be priest. While in the Catholic Church, Luther never felt the taste of strength aforementioned. Faith comes from God; it is like a “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Lualdi, 25)

An individual Christian can become a “new man” by following his inner faith and not the external one, because the external one has no influence on the inner men. According to Luther, “it does not help the soul if the body is adorned with scared robes of priests or dwells in sacred places… (Lualdi, 25). It is true what Luther said, because if we think about it, no matter what you do on the outside of your body or around your life, your inner man will not be influenced to become better and more faithful men.

By defining faith alone as essential to salvation, Luther undermines basic Catholic teachings by stating in his writings some of the teachings the Apostles and God taught. He points out those teachings specifically because most of the Catholics especially the Church priests and Popes have adored, and idolatry figures not mentioned in the bible. If the word of God is present in the teachings of faith, he who hears Gods words will be blesses with; joy, liberty, freedom, life, power, grace, glory and many more blessings.


To defend his point of view, Luther used God’s words and teachings to prove he was not making anything of what wrote up. It was a challenging time for Luther to persuade the peasants of his home county and those around the world, because most of them were illiterate. The aforementioned reveals about the basis of his theology, that all he wanted to do was to address the wrongfully deeds and teachings the Catholic Church was doing. Even though, today the Catholic Church continues to adore and idolatry saints in the church, Luther’s writings did influence most Europeans and Americans.

According to Calvin’s doctrine of predestination God has already chosen ones destiny, and Him himself can decide if one’s life can take a different path as to what he had destined at first. The elect was chosen upon the same decree of when “God determined that Adam should fall from the unimpaired condition of his nature…” (Lualdi, 27). The reprobate was chosen based on the same decreed used to select the elect. The reprobates are the vessels of the just wrath of God, and the elect vessels of his compassion.

Problems that may arise from a person’s belief that he or she was predestined to election or damnation are; that an elected human might think that he or she is truly illuminated with faith, but that is untrue, because God is the one who elects who to be truly illuminated. A person who has been destined to damnation might refuse to accept God’s own will. That person might also refuse to accept that predestination, because he or she does not accept his or her destine, due to the actions of sinners of the past.


Calvin compares Catholics in their worship of saints and relics to the Jews who at one time in history worshiped the brazen serpent. He also states that the Catholics are hypocrites, because they say they venerate images, but instead they idolatry those images, leaving Christ on the side. The anger Calvin had for what the Catholic Church, can be seen clearly in his theology. Like Luther, anger filled their hearts because the churched was guiding the faithful to commit sin.

The specific evidence Calvin gives in his writings to undermine the cult of the saints is, “They adorn their idols now with flowers and chaplets, with robes, vests, girdles, purses, and frivolities of every kind. They light tapers and burn incest before them, and carry them on their shoulders in solemn state” (Lualdi, 27). To Calvin and to those who agreed with his theology, the veneration an idolatry of saints or other figures was an execrable crime that would condemn those who cult them.

The message and teachings John Calvin and Martin Luther gave to Europeans and people around the world with their theologies, are still a topic of debate and rejection especially by those who worship God different to how they did, and wanted others to do. When the topic of religion is brought to the table, most likely the arguers will not agree with each other especially if they have different points of view and their religion are different. With the teachings of Calvin and Luther it is clearly obvious of what they wanted to address, they wanted to Catholic Church to stop their hypocrisy and idolatry of saints and figures. What they wanted the most was to influence the Church to teach and preach what was written in the Bible and not what would be beneficial to the whole church.

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