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A French Voice on Islam 500 Years Ago

By Rev. Ian Brown

The greatest of all Protestant Reformers was the Frenchman Dr. John Calvin (1509-64). Born in Noyon, Picardy, he lived, testified, and died during the time of Islam’s greatest expansion into Eastern Europe. Calvin studied theology in the University of Paris from 1523 and later proceeded to the College de France in Paris to study Greek. He experienced a “sudden conversion” in the early 1530s and grasped Protestantism. Having attacked the abuses in the French Catholic church, he fled Paris and took up residence in Geneva for his own safety.

By 1453, the Turks had captured Constantinople. They then started to overrun Southeastern Europe during the lifetimes of the two great Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). Commented Calvin:
“When we see the troubles that are nowadays in the World – let us not be overcome by them! Neither let our Faith be defaced! But the more the devil labours and enforces himself to undo it -- the more let it advance itself and get the upper hand of such assaults!”
In his teaching, Calvin:

branded Mohammad a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-8) and defined the ‘Gospel of Mahomet’ “to turn all things upside down, and to bring all things to confusion”;

accused the Moslems of putting their Mahomet in the place of God’s Son [Sermons on Deuteronomy (13:1f)] and of placing an idol in the place of God:

Calvin explained in the 1536 edition of his Institutes: “The Turks in the present day ... proclaim ... with full throat that the Creator of Heaven and Earth is their God. Yet they – by their rejection [of the Godhead and Saviourhood] of Christ – substitute an idol in His place."

That is to say, Allah is an idol substituted by Mohammed and his Moslems – instead of the one and only true and Triune God.


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