- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (September 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0664234232
- ISBN-13: 978-0664234232
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,907,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Calvin's Theology and Its Reception: Disputes, Developments, and New Possibilities Paperback – September 28, 2012
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From the Back Cover
--Randall Zachman, Professor of Reformation Studies, University of Notre Dame
"This outstanding collection of essays, edited by distinguished scholars Billings and Hesselink, explores the headwaters of John Calvin's theology in the sixteenth century, and maps out major tributaries of his religious thought to the present day. Readers will learn much from this penetrating study of the reception, development, and (sometimes) misappropriation of Calvin's rich theological legacy."
--Scott M. Manetsch, Associate Professor of Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois
"Billings and Hesselink have offered both the novice and mature scholar new avenues into Calvin's thought, by providing an innovative method of directly combining considerations of various topics in Calvin's theology with the reception histories of those topics. This advance allows for the serious grappling with the traditions in which all students and scholars work; genuinely providing a gift for Calvin scholarship, and a model to be explored for historical theology."
--R. Ward Holder, Professor of Theology, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire
About the Author
J. Todd Billings is Associate Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and the author of numerous publications including Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church and Calvin, Participation, and the Gift, for which he won a 2009 Templeton Award for Theological Promise.
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The authors are all scholars who teach, or have taught, on seminary faculties. While they have written serious essays that draw from extensive references I felt that the work collected here does have relevant application for those serving in pastoral ministry. I believe that the first four topics all touch on issues that powerfully shape faith and worship today. God's people who are gathered for worship need to understand scripture and revelation so that they allow the Bible to speak vibrantly and authoritatively into their lives. They need to know how closely believers are joined by faith to Christ and how this is the result of God's gracious mercy in choosing them. They need to appreciate the distinctive way in which Calvin understood the Lord's Supper so that they may be well-nourished when they come to feast at His table.
Here is one example, from Michael Horton's essay on the modern reception of Calvin's understanding of what it means to have union with Christ. Summarizing Calvin, he writes, "Justified once for all through faith by a righteousness that is external (alien) to us, we are nevertheless united to Christ by an inseparable communion so that, in spite of our weaknesses, we will always seek our salvation in him." (90) The implication then, Horton says, is this: "So when we consider ourselves, there is nothing but despair; when we consider ourselves in Christ, there is faith, which brings hope and love in its train. In the gospel, God calls forth a new world of which Christ is the sun and we are drawn into his orbit." (90; italics Horton) In our day, when it seems that we are constantly being pulled to worship other gods, I appreciate the clear way in which both Calvin and Horton articulate the bonds that hold believers to Christ.
In sum, Billings and Hesselink, who each authored one essay in this collection, and their collaborators, shine new light on issues that weren't simply resolved once-and-for-all because Calvin wrote about them nearly 500 years ago. These essays help us to understand how Calvin's work was perceived in its day, and how it can be reexamined to teach and strengthen the church today.
Disclaimer: I studied under two of the authors, J. Todd Billings and Sue A. Rozeboom, while I was at Western Theological Seminary.
Another thing that is very helpful about this book is the systematic way it is organized. Each section has a few articles. Topics covered include: Scripture and Revelation, Union with God, Election, the Lord's Supper, and the church in society. Each section includes both reflection on the historic as well as the contemporary implications of different aspects of Calvin's theology. Of particular interest to many who, like me, are interested in matters of spiritual formation, will be the discussion of Union with Christ by J. Todd Billings and Michael Horton.
Having lauded this book for its diversity, I must also say this: at least have of the scholars that are writing in this book are from institutions in western Michigan. Nevertheless, this is a fine book, and would be great for a class on Calvin or a discussion group of Reformed pastors of any stripe.
CALVIN'S THEOLOGY AND ITS RECEPTION is a great new resource edited by J. Todd Billings and I. John Hesselink. This book features essays by several Calvin scholars with the goal of looking at Calvin's writings and illuminating his thoughts on the topics of the inspiration and revelation of Scripture, union with Christ, election, the Lord 's Supper, and the church and society. But, the unique approach of this book is that it doesn't just stop with outlining Calvin's theology in these areas; the authors also trace the reception of Calvin's thought from the sixteenth century through current day.
I'm not a Calvinist, but I do have an appreciation for Calvin even though I don't agree with everything he taught. This book is a great guide through Calvin's writings and the interpretations of Calvin's writings throughout history. Because Calvin was consumed with God's glory, this book will have you thinking about the greatness of God and wrestling through your own understanding of Calvin's theology.
Review copy provided by Westminster-John Knox Books