Who was he: John Calvin was a theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. Believers in what came to be known as Calvinism were to be diligent, honest and frugal, and to pursue commerce with a high sense of divine calling.
Calvinist followers have a drive for economic development, rely on scientific analysis of economics, a confidence in the markets and that God, the social order and human community are all served by commercial success.
In the Calvinist manner, it is then apparent that a free market is imperative for the spiritual well-being of the people. Indeed, it is accepting that man is flawed – are sinners – and within that knowledge is the impetus for prosperity. Calvin's school of thought was to be skeptical of the goodness of humankind. This skepticism leads to free markets and prosperity.
There is, however, considerable suspicion among conspiratorial historians that the European money elite – to provoke schisms that would reduce the power of the Roman Catholic Church – funded both John Calvin and his priestly compatriot, Martin Luther. While this may not be able to be proven outright, at this late date it is certainly a possibility.
Background: John Calvin (Jean Cauvin) was born July 10th, 1509 in Noyon, Picardy, France. By the age of 12 Calvin was employed as a bishop's clerk, where he received the tonsure (the cutting of one's hair to symbolize his dedication to the church).
With the help of the Montmors, a wealthy family who had chosen to be his patrons, John Calvin was able to attend the Parisian Collège de la Marche. While there, Calvin studied Latin under one of its greatest teachers. Once this course was completed, Calvin entered Collège de Montaigu to study philosophy.
In 1525 or 1526, Calvin's father withdrew him from de Montaigu and instead enrolled him into University of Orléans, where he was to study law. In 1529, Calvin entered the University of Bourges, where he became intrigued with humanism. His stay at Bourges culminated in Calvin learning Greek, a necessity to study the New Testament. During this period of his life, Calvin underwent a religious conversion, accompanied by his break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Sometime during 1536, Calvin made his way to Geneva, where he had only intended to stay the night. However, another reformer by the name of William Farel convinced Calvin to stay and help him reform the church there. During 1537, Calvin was elected as a pastor, though he had not undergone any pastoral consecration.
Throughout the rest of his life, John Calvin focused on the reformation of the Church in Geneva and in 1553 had a heretic arrested, tried and executed. This cemented Calvin's status as a defender of the Christian faith. Calvin soon became the uncontested authority in Geneva and remained so for the rest of his life.