This short study, drawing on a small part of Calvin’s vast written corpus, seeks to show how the reformer used the concepts of eternal life and death. Tackling with uncertainties on the fringes of eschatology, Calvin shows how difficult it is to grasp the meaning of these two concepts, even when the theologian stands on firm biblical theological grounds.
John Calvin was devoted to restore the sanctity of the Genevan townsfolk, by which he understood the practical fulfilment of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. To be sure, his primary intention was to exert an influence on the texture of daily life of the Genevan population. He delivered sermons and published-edited commentaries in order to establish his new theological ethics, and marital reforms concerning the adequate moral life of a Christian family.
In the early period of the Reformation, this multifaceted radical movement divided the Protestantism into two theological camps. To magisterial reformers (Zwingly, Luther, Calvin), the task of the reformation was not only to remove impurities but to maintain continuity. Anabaptist reformers, on the other hand, saw the task of the reformation as a necessity for a new church modelled not on Catholicism before Boniface (as Luther considered) but on the church before Constantine, or even on the New Testament.
This paper focuses on the early period of the reformer’s ministration, who was a very learned teacher, pastor and theologian at Geneva and Strasbourg. In these places he implemented his theological and ethical convictions against the destructive works of the Anabaptist radicals.
Calvin wished to change the structure o f his first catechism (1537/1538), which explained the Ten Commandments before the Apostles’ Cred. Having recognised that his first catechism was too difficult for children, Calvin rewrote his text. He arranged the Geneva Catechism (1542) in questions and answers in an effort to simplify doctrinal complexities. His second Catechism displaced all other Reformed catechisms until 1563, the year when the Heidelberg Catechism appeared. In 1563 the bishop o f Debrecen, Péter Méliusz, translated the Confession o f Geneva into Hungarian.
Contemporaries of Calvin were less preoccupied with the Servetus-affair than modern researchers. Calvin is known to have taken care of the formal complaint and legal proceeding against Servetus. The evaluation of his person and role in Servetus’ death caused long-standing debates among the prominent representatives of the Hungarian Calvin researchers.