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Calvin's 500th Birthday Celebrated: Critics and Supporters Agree He was America's Founding Father

by Staff
July 1, 2009
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BOSTON, (christiansunite.com) -- As America prepares to celebrate Independence Day this July 4, Vision Forum Ministries will be hosting a national celebration to honor the 500th birthday of John Calvin, a man who many scholars recognize as America's "Founding Father." The event -- The Reformation 500 Celebration -- will take place July 1-4 at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston. More than a thousand attendees are expected to gather for the four- day conference.

"Long before America declared its independence, John Calvin declared and defended principles that birthed liberty in the modern world," noted Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum Ministries. "Scholars both critical and sympathetic of the life and theology of Calvin agree on one thing: that this reformer from Geneva was the father of modern liberty as well as the intellectual founding father of America."

"Jean Jacques Rousseau, a fellow Genevan who was no friend to Christianity, observed: 'Those who consider Calvin only as a theologian fail to recognize the breadth of his genius. The editing of our wise laws, in which he had a large share, does him as much credit as his Institutes. . . . [S]o long as the love of country and liberty is not extinct amongst us, the memory of this great man will be held in reverence.'

"German historian Leopold von Ranke observed that 'Calvin was virtually the founder of America.' Harvard historian George Bancroft was no less direct with this remark: 'He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.'

"John Adams, America's second president, agreed with this sentiment and issued this pointed charge: 'Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised. Religious liberty owes it much respect.'

"As we celebrate America's Independence this July 4, we would do well to heed John Adams' admonition and show due respect to the memory of John Calvin whose 500th birthday fall six days later," Phillips stated.

Calvin, a convert to Reformation Christianity born in Noyon, France, on July 10, 1509, is best known for his influence on the city of Geneva. It was there that he modeled many of the principles of liberty later embraced by America's Founders, including anti- statism, the belief in transcendent principles of law as the foundation of an ethical legal system, free market economics, decentralized authority, an educated citizenry as a safeguard against tyranny, and republican representative government which was accountable to the people and a higher law.

The Reformation 500 Celebration will honor Calvin's legacy, along with other key Protestant reformers, and will feature more than thirty history messages on the impact of the Reformation, Faith & Freedom mini-tours of historic Boston, and a Children's Parade. The festivities will climax on America's Independence Day as attendees join thousands of others for the world-renowned music and fireworks celebration on the Esplanade with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

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