John Calvin

  • Hans J. Hillerbrand
Part of the Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Though overshadowed by the majestic Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto is an outstanding expression of his thought, and one of the classic apologies for the Reformation. Cardinal Jacobo Sadoleto, archbishop of Carpentras, was one of the learned and spiritual representatives of the Catholic church of the time. Combining learning and piety with practical churchmanship, he had written an open letter to the Genevan City Council in 1539, skilfully seeking to make the best of the religious uncertainty which had beset Geneva after Calvin’s departure one year earlier. Sadoleto bluntly acknowledged the sad state of the Catholic church and agreed that ecclesiastical reform was needed. Still, he argued, it was not necessary to reject the customs of centuries nor to sever the ties with the Roman church. Sadoleto’s letter called for a reply, and even though Calvin no longer had any formal ties with Geneva, in September, 1539 he supplied it. In January, 1540 the Genevan Council ordered the reply printed.


Catholic Church Christian Religion Evil Intention Private Admonition Evil Thing 
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  1. John Calvin & Jacopo Sadoleto, A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply, ed. John C. Olin (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966).Google Scholar
  2. F. Wendel, The Origin and Development of Calvin’s Thought (New York, 1963).Google Scholar
  3. F. Wendel, The Origin and Development of Calvin’s Thought (New York, 1963).Google Scholar
  4. G. L. Hunt (ed.), Calvinism and the Political Order (Philadelphia, 1965).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hans J. Hillerbrand 1968

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  • Hans J. Hillerbrand

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