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16. Calvin and France: A Paradoxical Legacy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter concerns the work of Calvin and his legacy in French history, society and culture. There are enigmas concerning the religious influence of Calvin that are felt acutely in secular France. His opposition to traditional Catholicism helped engender a culture of criticism and a spirit of negativity toward religious belief that rumbles on right up to the present. Protestantism, as a minority, later became an ally with forces that essentially were not Christian. This identity born of necessity distanced it from classical Calvinism in alliances with Enlightenment free-thinking. As a result of these processes, Calvin's thought became virtually unknown not only within French Protestantism, but in society as a whole. The chapter presents each of these strands without proposing to give more than some hypothetical ideas about the development of the Calvin legacy in France.

Keywords:Calvin legacy; criticism; France; non-calvinistic Protestantism



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