Date of Award

Spring 2011

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Charles Rock


Through an examination of John Calvin’s intentions in ending the prohibition on usury and the practical application of his teachings in sixteenth-century Geneva, and a consideration of the elements of poverty, social outcasts, and exploitation common to both Geneva and the modern world, it can be argued that the Reformer has much to offer of continued relevancy for those seeking to engage their contemporary world by finding alternatives that can help the financially disenfranchised. Calvin is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Interest,” and as such many people have directly blamed him for the exploitation associated with capitalism. This argument can be shown to be in direct opposition to the spirit of Calvin’s teachings. Common links between sixteenth-century Geneva and the modern world including the enduring presence of the poor, the refugee/migrant, and economically exploitative practices can be used to develop the idea of Calvin’s continued relevance. Because these elements persist, it is quite likely that Calvin still has something to contribute to the discussion of how to move towards a society in which solidarity is increased and each member of the global society is enfranchised. Through an examination of modern economic alternatives, it is possible to find traces of Calvin’s teachings and extrapolate where his interests might lie where he alive today. Because Calvin pursued the goal of making society a place of brotherhood and solidarity, striving to enfranchise all its members, regardless of their nationality or creed, his relevancy is lasting and important for those who today seek to find and use alternative approaches in order to better address the needs of modern society.