While a student at College de Montaigu, Calvin furthered his study of Latin and learned the art of debate, or vocal argumentation, as they called it. It’s easy to picture the slender seventeen-year-old, brilliant in phrase, disrupting a debate and silencing the participants with his superior insight and knowledge. Debate was an art Calvin cherished, and I’m sure it fueled the fiery temperament he became known for.
Roberts Liardon tells us that at this time he also came in contact with a very famous Scotsman named John Major. Calvin was mesmerized by the scholastic philosophy of this Scotsman and spent every free hour he could with the instructor. Calvin would debate Major on the subjects he had learned in class, but Major’s articulate knowledge would leave Calvin yearning to learn more. Major had previously written a commentary on the Gospels, which had been influenced by Wycliffe, Hus, and Luther.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Calvin heard the undistorted details of Luther’s life and theology from the lectures of Major. He embraced the information and buried it deep within his heart.
In 1528, when Calvin was only eighteen years old, he received a master of arts degree. He was now fluent in Latin and proficient in philosophy and humanism. Just when it seemed that the road to priesthood had been paved for Calvin, an unexpected turn of events took place.
Gerard’s job was threatened. Calvin’s father had grown increasingly unpopular with the clergy at the cathedral in Noyon. They questioned Gerard about his accounting abilities and requested to review his books. Gerard was highly offended that his integrity was questioned and refused to turn the books over. His resistance resulted in excommunication.