John CalvinMost Protestant Christians know John Calvin (1509 – 1564) as the French theologian of the Protestant Reformation who fathered Calvinism, the theological backbone of the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian churches. However few know the unflattering, intollerant & self righteous side of Calvin, whom had 16th century Geneva (1540s & 1550s) under such control that he was known as the "the Protestant Pope" and the "Dictator of Geneva". Following is a brief synopsis of Calvin's life in Geneva, with URL linked references. A picture emerges of a well educated, polemic defender of the Reformed faith, who's vast theological contributions are marred by instances of religious intolerance, jealousy & mis-use of power/authority over those who disagreed w/ him, theologically or otherwise.
It is true that Calvin was a human being, or Luther's simul justus et peccator; but what's the point of highlighting such things, if not (usually) to marginalize and poison the material that Calvin offered the church, theologically? This is not to say that I agree with Calvin just because he is Calvin; indeed, I disagree with some fundamental things relative to Calvin's theology (like his construal of election ... I advocate for our Evangelical Calvinist understanding instead). But, if I quit paying attention to theologians and Christians because of some sort of heinous sin or character flaw in their person; then, there would be no one to pay attention to in the Christian faith---not to mention, David (in the Old Testament). I am not excusing Calvin's flaws, I am only trying to provide some perspective; Calvin was a man. Usually the mood that often prompts the kind of sentiment communicated in the above quote comes with something related to Calvin's handling of the Servetus incident. I have an old post on that here.
Does Christian character matter? Yes! Was Calvin someone who sought Christ, and yet remained a sinner? Yes! It would be very scary, indeed, if we all were studied, scrutinized, and scoped the way Calvin is. I would imagine that we would all be disqualified from the faith. I don't think it is wrong to try and know who Calvin was, for historical reasons; but it is the way that this kind of historical reconstruction is used that causes me to be wary in such instances.