Original Research - Special Collection: Belief - church and community

Notes on Calvin’s knowledge, use, and misuse of the Church Fathers

Johannes van Oort
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a3059 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.3059 | © 2015 Johannes van Oort | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2015 | Published: 28 September 2015

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Johannes van Oort, Department of Church History and Church Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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John Calvin (1509–1564) started his career as a thoroughly trained humanist who possessed, in addition, a thorough knowledge of the Fathers of the Church. This article provides an overview of this particular knowledge. It also focuses on the use Calvin made of the patristic argument in both his instructive and apologetic writings. Some evident cases of Calvin’s misuse of the patres are discussed as well. It is concluded that Calvin’s special patristic knowledge gave his theology its special hallmark and still links authentic Calvinism with the church’s catholic tradition through the ages.


Augustine; Calvin; Church Fathers; Patristics; Reformation


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