William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Biographical Sketch:

Francis Turretin was born October 17, 1623, son of Benedict and
Louise. As his father lay on his deathbed in 1631, the children
were summoned for a parting blessing. To Francis he said, "This
child is sealed with the seal of the living God."

Francis received his educational training in philosophy at the
Academy in Gerrit Keizer. Advancing to the study of theology, he
sat under John Diodati, Frederic Spanheim, Alexander Morus, and
Theodore Trunchin. He completed his studies at Geneva in 1644 and
prepared to go abroad. Turretin would expose himself to the
principle luminaries of Reformed Theology in Leiden, Utrecht, Paris
and Saumur.

After nine months of study in Paris with the Church Historian David
Blondel, Turretin was immersed into the conflict of reformed
theology and the theology of Moise Amyraut (1596-1664). Amyraut was
to give rise to Amyraldianism, a highly deviant aspect trying to
stem out of Reformed theology which attempted to take the doctrine
of Limited Atonement to replace it with a kind of Universalism.
Amyraut taught the doctrine of hypothetical Universalism: that Jesus
died for all men to make a way into heaven for each and everyone so
long as they were willing to initiate the conversion. In reading
Turretin's "Institutes" you can see vividly his refutation of the
Amyraldian doctrines, and how they are truly deviant from the
biblical record.

Turretin, in 1650, was called to the chair of philosophy at the
Geneva Academy. Pleading his commitment to the Italian
congregation, he declined, even as he declined a call from the
church in Lyons the year before. In 1652, Lyons renewed it call
following the untimely death of their pastor. Turretin filled the
pulpit there for a time.

On his return to Geneva, Turretin was appointed successor of his
mentor Theodore Tronchin in the chair of theology. Together with
his duties as pastor in the Italian church, he would hold this
position until his death in 1687. He died at la maison Turrettini on
Wednesday, September 28, 1687. His last years spent summing up his
remarkable career by preparing what he taught and defended for
years-Genevan orthodoxy. The Institutio was published seriatim:
volume one in 1679; volume two in 1682; and volume 3 in 1685.
Turretin was planning a major revision of the work when he died.
Francis Turretin's magnum opus is his Institutio Thelogiae Electicae
[Institutes of Elenctic Theology]. This massive work of Reformed
scholasticism extends to nearly 1800 pages in the Latin edition of
1847. Written in bulky Latin with sentences frequently lasting
nearly a half a page, Turretin's Institutes are at once familiar,
profound, erudite, thorough and precise.

Turretin was a Calvinistic Scholastic theologian in an age of
Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran and Socinian Scholastics. Like his
great predecessor, John Calvin, Turretin entitled his scholastic
work Institutio. This word suggests foundational or basic
instruction. Yet, if a typical layman were to read this book today,
he would undoubtedly become overwhelmed by its depth and
preciseness, its theological and philosophical treatises, and its
thoroughly biblical expositions. Yet, in Turretin's day, this was
seen as a foundational work. It was used as a catechism.
Among Reformed Theologians of the world, both present and past,
Francis Turretin's Insitutio fairs among the greatest Protestant
theological work ever written. And if more disciples of Jesus
Christ were to pick this work up and read it, then live it, the
church would a force to be reckoned with in this 21st century. We
may compare Turretin's work against Luther's voluminous productions,
Calvin's writings, and others. Yet, I believe Turretin's
theological compilation and sheer depth outweighs them all. Some
may disagree knowing Calvin and Luther, and others, were the
foundations on which Turretin's biblical theology emerged, and this
may be true, yet, his logic, order, and keen insight into the
Scriptures shines brighter among the scholastics than any I know.


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas