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A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis (Calvin 500) Hardcover – May 15, 2008
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"This book is the work of a team of scholars . . . . Full advantage is taken of the current cottage industry of Calvin studies, which has achieved already notable insights in many areas. The essays vary in technical level, but are all strong and clear for the wayfaring man, and some are outstanding. They add up to a very valuable volume, which I commend with enthusiasm. For making Calvin known today as well as once he was, and in every age deserves to be, this really is a major step forward." --J. I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College, Vancouver
"As a contribution to the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth, this collection of essays is to be warmly welcomed. Although a number of the authors are not known primarily as Calvin scholars, they are all writers who stand in the Calvinian tradition and who affirm the fundamental tenets of Calvinistic theology. The essays cover a wide range of subjects, and everyone will find something that speaks to his own interests. For myself, the essays by Douglas Kelly on Calvin's doctrine of the Trinity and by Richard Gaffin on Calvin's doctrine of justification and union with Christ are worth the price of the book! If this symposium leads people back to read Calvin's Institutes for themselves, it will have fulfilled a good purpose." --A. T. B. McGowan, principal, Highland Theological College, Scotland
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Top Customer Reviews
Calvin is an extremely careful, Biblical scholar and the work is shot through with warmth and devotion to Christ and a desire to honor God and His sovereignty over His universe.
I think this is going to be a book that will be used in many schools, churches and seminaries and I know I will continue to study it and enjoy the essays many many times. This is a terrific book that should make you want to tackle The Institutes (I have never attended Bible school or seminary). They are well worth the effort.
Now having read this theological guide to the Institutes. I must say I go away being more convinced that I must really take time and effort to read the Institutes. What I found most helpful within this guide, is how they authors group various chapters of the Institutes into one chapter and shows very clearly the flow of Calvin’s thought in the Institutes. In addition to this, the authors of each chapter adds on to what Calvin has said in the Institutes, they give their summary of what Calvin has written, and shows it’s support from scripture or from other authors, past or modern.
This book really serves as a festschrift to John Calvin was well as a theological summary of the various section within the institutes. I have gain much from this book, and would highly recommend you to read this book alongside with Calvin’s Institutes. If there is only one guide you would need as you read the Institutes, you should get this book. I would be recommended this book for any one who is willingly to work hard to understand to try to understand the Institutes, whether you are a pastor, a layman or a seminary student. This volume will be of help and use to you as you read and study the Institutes.
Rating: 5 / 5
Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
A number of books have appeared just recently on the man and his legacy, and with good reason. If Luther is the ultimate expression of the Protestant Reformation, then Calvin would surely have to be the penultimate expression of it. Thus it is fitting that he be remembered and recognised during this anniversary year.
Of the many books which have appeared of late, one set of books is worth having a look at. "The Calvin 500 Series" is a very nice collection of volumes covering numerous aspects of the man and his thought. The general editor of the series is American Presbyterian pastor David Hall. He penned two of the volumes: The Legacy of John Calvin, and Calvin in the Public Square. This volume is edited by Hall and Peter Lillback. Taken together these three books offer a wide-ranging and detailed look at the life and impact of the Reformer.
Calvin's theology is nicely explored and expounded upon in this volume. Here a number of Calvin experts and scholars look at his theological position on a range of topics, ranging from his understanding of the Trinity to his views on worship,
Consider the chapter on election and predestination by R. Scott Clark. Many people wrongly assume that these theological distinctives are almost unique to Calvin, and constitute the primary focus of his thinking. Both assumptions are wrong, as Clark demonstrates.
He reminds us that most of the Christian church from at least the time of Augustine had strongly held to the doctrine of predestination. Indeed, the belief in double predestination (divine election and reprobation), which many assume to be a chief legacy of Calvin, was held by much of the Christian church. Aquinas, for example, taught it as clearly and unequivocally as anyone.
And these doctrines were not the central concern of Calvin's thought. Sure, the sovereignty and majesty of God are overriding themes in the theology of Calvin, but the issue of predestination does not fully appear in the Institutes until book III. And his stance on the issue was fully informed by what he found in the Word of God, such as Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and so on.
To be sure, many of these doctrines can be, and often are, controversial and subject to heated debate. Given the infinite and eternal God that we serve, things cannot be otherwise. Some will find themselves more at home with Calvin's theology than others.
But Calvin was not just some austere, cerebral theologian. He was also a pastor and a sincere disciple of Christ with a fervent faith. Consider his many writings on the topic of prayer. It might seem that a man who held such a high view of God's sovereignty would have little to say about prayer. Not so.
As David Calhoun writes in his chapter on Calvin and prayer, Calvin wrote and preached extensively on the topic. Indeed, he was a man of prayer, both privately and publically. As Calhoun reminds us, one of "the longest chapters in Calvin's 1559 Institutes is about prayer; it extends for seventy pages in the English translation".
As to prayer and the sovereignty of God, Calvin taught that "God, by means of our prayers, does what he planned all along to do". Indeed, prayer was ordained by God really more for our benefit than God's, said Calvin.
Calvin was not interested in offering a rational explanation as to what might be seen by some as a logical contradiction here. He knew that Scripture affirmed both the sovereignty of God, and the need for his people to pray. Indeed, he offers six reasons why we should pray, and discussed four rules of right prayer.
Yet Calvin will always be the subject of controversy. His experiment at Geneva for example has long been the subject of much discussion and disagreement. Some relish his work there while others abhor it. Nor has Calvin the man been found to be above reproach. His dealing with Servetus is certainly considered by many to be a blot on his otherwise good work and character.
But love him or loathe him - or remaining somewhere in between - no one can doubt the significant impact and legacy of this one man. If Darwin is going to receive so much attention this year, then it seems only proper to allow Calvin to also stand in the public spotlight. This volume, and the two others in the series, is a great place to start.