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Piety's Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin's Institutes with Study Questions Paperback – August 20, 2010
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Mark Beach's Piety's Wisdom provides a finely done summary and analysis of Calvin's Institutes that should be of considerable service to Christian laity, pastors, and students in coming to terms with the thought of the Genevan Reformer. Beach writes clearly and concisely, and with considerable insight into Calvin's thought. The book includes a short biographical sketch and a contextual introduction to the Institutes. It stands as one of the best and most trustworthy introductions to Calvin presently available. --Richard A. Muller
J. Mark Beach has provided us with a concise guide to Calvin's Institutes that succeeds in identifying its contours and emphases. Calvin's magnum opus can prove tricky for the uninitiated and this volume will be invaluable as a quick and precise summary of the Reformer's thought. An ideal accompaniment for those eager to get their teeth into one of the most important theological texts ever written. --Derek W.H. Thomas
Though road maps (or a GPS) are no substitute for the experience of traveling through the country side, they can be a great help to the traveler in identifying the best route and the highpoints of the trip. J. Mark Beach's Piety's Wisdom is such a help for the reader who hopes to travel or navigate his or her way through Calvin's great exposition of the Christian faith, The Institutes. Written for the general reader, Beach offers a useful guide that identifies the important landmarks, points the way through, and thereby whets the reader s appetite for a first-hand acquaintance with Calvin's theology. --Cornelis Venema
From the Inside Flap
John Calvin's The Institutes of the Christian Religion presents one of the most winsome, thought-provoking, spiritually inspiring, and heart-searching summations of Christian truth ever written. Although works exist that either offer an analysis of Calvin's views or serve as a guide to his Institutes, none fully share the aim of J. Mark Beach's Piety's Wisdom. Keeping to the form, shape, and tenor of Calvin's own work, Piety's Wisdom offers busy pastors, seminarians, interested college students, and motivated laypersons a book that presents Calvin on his own terms. This summary can be used as an introduction to the Christian faith, as a primer for the study of Calvin, or a combination of each. While the book is suitable for individual study, the inclusion of study questions makes it an ideal tool for facilitating discussion in adult study groups.
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I find that these chapters catch the big ideas and present them in an understandable way. These readings are a bit tough for juniors and seniors, but that's a good thing. Calvin shouldn't be too easy, right?
I would have given five stars if the writing had been broadened a bit more. My students are able to follow the ideas, but it hasn't made them fall in love with Calvin.
In sum, if you are looking for a book that helps you understand The Institutes more, this is a great place to start.