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Rethinking Calvin

The unsparing eye of Calvin’s God is also that of the novelist coolly scrutinising creation

By Andrew Brown   January 2010

John Calvin did not, as it turns out, invent capitalism. But he might have made possible the modern novel. In the 500 years since his birth in a small town north of Paris, in 1509, Calvin has remained among Christian history’s most important and hated figures. “Calvinism” is a byword for guilt, and hatred of joy and art. It is also about predestination, which holds that God creates some to be damned, whatever their efforts to be good. It is Calvinism that speaks of the “total depravity of man” as one of the foundations of Christianity.

But in recent years…

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