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The Displaced Calvin: 'Refugee Reality' as a Lens to Re-examine Calvin's Life, Theology and Legacy

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Drawing on scholarship that highlights the fact that Calvin was a refugee who ministered to other refugees, this essay argues for a re-evaluation of 'the displaced Calvin' as source and motivation for Reformed witness today. The first part of the essay attends to some biographical details that amplify the centrality of the 'refugee reality' in Calvin's life. The second part of the paper traces the impact of this experiential reality on Calvin's theology, focusing mainly on how it may serve as a lens to aid our understanding of Calvin's reading of Scripture, as well as his doctrine of predestination. The brief conclusion suggests that, given increasing migration, displacement and xenophobia, the celebration of the legacy of the displaced Calvin requires a graceful theology of hospitality.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch 7600, Republic of South Africa;, Email:


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