I hope you are all successfully settling into the pace of the fall term. This post derives from visits to Calvin’s Auditorium.
Jean Calvin did most of his work in Geneva during the Reformation. Martin Luther receives credit for being the person to successfully start the Reformation in the 1520s, but by 1600 there were many more Lutheran churches (including the New England Puritans) than Lutheran churches. As a history teacher I often ask why Calvinism became more popular, but never get to a full answer. One part of the answer may have to do with global education. Whereas Luther wrote and preached a tremendous amount, Calvin started an Academy in Geneva. At his Academy he preached in an “auditorium” instead of a chapel. In the auditorium he would speak in the vernacular and allow for questions and dialogue. Many students traveled to Geneva from around Europe. For example, 200 students from the Netherlands spend three years in Geneva and then returned and helped make the Dutch a protestant country; John Knox studied in Geneva and then returned to Scotland to lead the Presbyterian Church. The point here is that one of the reasons that Calvinism spread farther than Lutheranism was that Calvin embraced international education.
I am not a proponent of predestination, but I did think of Holderness when visiting the auditorium. At Holderness, we sometimes question, appropriately, whether we are forcing our values on international kids and making them be like us. That’s a good question to ask. On one hand, having more international students should push Holderness faculty and students to evolve over time. On the other hand, if we believe that Holderness’ educational mission has value, we can believe that it is worth teaching it to international students from different educational systems. In the long run they take Holderness values back home or wherever they go-just as Calvin’s students carried his lessons around Europe. We do not have to have the unbending passion of Calvin, but Calvin’s strong belief that his educational mission had international value did prove effective.