Sunday, February 25

Who was John Calvin, the theologian who helped found Protestantism and justify capitalism


  • Edison Veiga
  • From Slovenia, for BBC News Brazil

John Calvin

Image source, Public domain

Among the leading names in the movement that would eventually be recognized as the Protestant Reformation, the French theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) would rise to prominence in justifying not only a new religion, but also the economic system that, born from the rubble of feudalism, became dominant in the contemporary world: capitalism.

Of course, his analysis was pre-Marxist – the philosopher Karl Marx is from the 19th century – but his understanding of wealth and poverty, as well as labor relations came to influence a considerable part of society.

“Calvin and also Calvinism [es decir, interpretaciones posteriores de su teología] they understand that work should be seen as a blessing, since it should be done to glorify God,” explains historian, philosopher and theologian Gerson Leite de Moraes, a professor at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo.

“He doesn’t think that could be an ideology that falsifies reality. He really believed in it.”


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