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Calvin's Motto

John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation.

He was a principal figure in the development of the Christian theology later called Calvinism.

Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530.
John Calvin's personal emblem was a picture of a flaming heart held up in a hand with an inscription.

His motto reads: "Cor meum tibi offero, Domine, prompte et sincere."

In English, it is "My heart I offer to you, O Lord, promptly and sincerely."

Calvin College's Logo
 “Deo Gloria” means “Glory to God alone.”

This is sometimes called the motto of Calvin, and it gives us a good start on a better understanding of his theology.

To Calvin, Christians should not only be concerned with their own salvation but also with glorifying God in every part of God’s world around them.  

Psalm 24:1
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.

1 Corinthians 10:31
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Our relation to God

  • God, as the Holy Spirit, enters into immediate fellowship with us.
  • This differs from the Roman Catholic Church where God enters into fellowship with us through the Church.
  • The Church stands between God and the world.
  • Calvin and Luther are in agreement on this issue as in evident in their teaching of the Priesthood of All Believers.
  • Yet, Luther’s break was not completely clean as can be seen in his view of the sacraments.

Our relation to man

  • Since Calvinism places one’s entire life before God than all stand as equals before God since we are all lost sinners.
  • Therefore, there is no distinction between people except that which has been imposed by God.
  • Hierarchy is an important component within Roman Catholicism.
  • There is a hierarchy among the angels, within the church and throughout society.

Our relation to the world

  • In the Roman Catholic Church, there was a division between the things of God or the Church (sacred) and the things of the world (secular).
  • For Calvin, man is created in God’s image and the world is His creation.
  • The curse (the fall) does not rest upon the world itself but what is sinful in it.
  • No longer is a monastic flight from the world revered but instead serving God in the world in every position is important.  

A famous quote from Abraham Kuyper (Dutch theologian and statesmen, late 19th, early 20th century) that is often used to explain Calvinism:

“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest,
and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence
over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"


Written on 4 February 2014