John Calvin The SoCio-Theologian

One more reason why John Calvin is Important for today…

Reason #11: Calvin models for us the wide-ranging impact of his theology on Western European and North American civilization, whether it be the rise of the Western democracies; the development of economic life and international commerce, scholarship, and scientific discovery; or the promotion of the values of human dignity, personal freedom, social justice, and the rule of law.

Andre Bieler writes:

“The sum of medieval knowledge was theology – the study of God. The sum of the knowledge of the renaissance was humanism—the study and knowledge of humanness. Now, the science of Calvin is a theological and social humanism which includes a study of man and society through a twofold knowledge of man by man, on the one hand, and knowledge of man through God, on the other.” In other words, Calvin’s writings display a rare combination of the legitimate fruits of human inquiry, science, and scholarship completed by—and interpreted in the light of—the unchanging truths of the Word of God.

Calvin discussed many aspects of man’s life in society and in the world as a necessary corollary to his exposition of man’s relationship to God and Continue Reading…

John Calvin the Educator

One more reason why John Calvin is Important for today…

Reason #12: Calvin models for us a proper recognition of the importance of education—especially seminary training, which is the backbone of the Christian enterprise.

David Hall provides an apt summary of this point:

Calvin broke with medieval pedagogy that limited education primarily to an aristocratic elite. His academy, founded in 1559, was a pilot in broad-based education for the city….

Calvin’s academy, which was adjacent to St. pierre Cathedral, featured two levels of curricula: one for the public education of Geneva’s youth (the college or schola privata) and the other a seminary to train ministers (schola publica). One should hardly discount the impact that came from the public education of young people, especially in a day when education was normally reserved only for aristocratic scions or for members of Catholic societies. Begun in 1558, with Calvin and Theodore Beza chairing the theological faculty, the academy building was Continue Reading…

John Calvin Dealing with Self-Denial

It can easily be said that the summary of the Christian Life is one that is in constant self-denial. To what exactly it takes for one to be consistent in this may be at hard times to see. Understanding that the christian is not of his own, but only to seek the glory of God obeying His will can at times get hard living in the fallen flesh. However self-denial is still commanded of the Lord’ people. He who neglects it, deceived either by pride or hypocrisy, rushes on destruction. John Calvin provides quite the wisdom dealing with this issue in his Institutes 3.7.2 saying,

Hence follows the other principle, that we are not to seek our own, but the Lord’s will, and act with a view to promote his glory. Great is our proficiency, when, almost forgetting ourselves, certainly postponing our own reason, we faithfully make it our study to obey God and his commandments. For when Scripture enjoins us to lay aside private regard to ourselves, it not only divests our minds of an excessive longing for wealth, or power, or human favour, but eradicates all ambition and Continue Reading…

Regenration Takes Repentance

The act of justification cannot happen without one coming to the realization of their sin and asking for forgiveness and repenting for that in-which their sin has offended God. Calvin writes on this matter saying,

It is proper to consider what the dreadful iniquity is which is not to be pardoned. The definition which Augustine somewhere gives—viz. that it is obstinate perverseness, with distrust of pardon, continued till death,—scarcely agrees with the words of Christ, that it shall not be forgiven in this world. For either this is said in vain, or it may be committed in this world. But if Augustine’s definition is correct, the sin is not committed unless persisted in till death. Others say, that the sin against the Holy Spirit consists in Continue Reading…

Why Is John Calvin Important Today?

So why is Calvin important today? Why do we celebrate his legacy? What did he teach and do that merits perpetual remembrance in the church of Jesus Christ?

  • Calvin the historian, who unfolded redemptive history for us
  • Calvin the polemicist, who combated error and heresy on every hand
  • Calvin the pilgrim, who longed for home with eschatological hope
  • Calvin the traditionalist, who respected tradition so long as it was biblical
  • Calvin the catechist, who stressed the need to catechize children
  • Calvin the deacon, who showed sympathy to the poor
  • Calvin the vocationalist, who developed a sense of the sacredness of work
  • Calvin the law-promoter, who taught the law as a rule of life for believers
  • Calvin the author, who promoted God’s kingdom through scores of writings on an astonishing number of subjects

Be sure to check back for 12 more reasons why Calvin is important today.

(Taken with permission from Joel Beeke’s, Calvin for Today)

What Does it mean to “Know God?”

According to the Washington Post, 92% percent of America answered that they believed in God when asked. However believing and knowing God are two totally separate things. Knowing God consist more than just believing that he exists, but actually having an interest in obeying His commands, giving Him glory and worshiping Him for life. Calvin writes on this matter;

By the knowledge of God, I understand that by which we not only conceive that there is some God, but also apprehend what it is for our interest, and conducive to his glory, what, in short, it is befitting to know concerning him. For, properly speaking, we cannot say that God is known where there is no religion or piety. I am not now referring to that species of knowledge by which men, in themselves lost and under curse, apprehend God as a Redeemer in Christ the Mediator. I speak only of that simple and primitive knowledge, to which the mere course of nature would have conducted us, had Adam stood upright. For although no man will now, in the present ruin of the human race, perceive God to be either a father, or the author of salvation, or propitious in any respect, until Christ interpose to make our peace; still it is one thing to Continue Reading…

The Support of Free Will Refuted

Absurd fictions of opponents first refuted, and then certain passages of Scripture explained. Answer by a negative. Confirmation of the answer, Calvin writes;

Enough would seem to have been said on the subject of man’s will, were there not some who endeavour to urge him to his ruin by a false opinion of liberty, and at the same time, in order to support their own opinion, assail ours. First, they gather together some absurd inferences, by which they endeavour to bring odium upon our doctrine, as if it were abhorrent to common sense, and then they oppose it with certain passages of Scripture (infra, sec. 6). Both devices we shall dispose of in their order. If sin, say they, is necessary, it ceases to be sin; if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Such, too, were the weapons with which Pelagius assailed Augustine. But we are unwilling to crush them by the weight of his name, until we have satisfactorily disposed of the objections themselves. I deny, therefore, that sin ought to be the less imputed because Continue Reading…

What Caused the Fall of Adam?

Every evangelical knows of the fall of mankind, but what did that have to do with you or me? Why would have Adam’s fall, better yet how could have one single piece of fruit have such infliction and such vengeance on the whole of human race? John Calvin helps explain exactly what happen at the fall and its implications to humanity saying;

As the act which God punished so severely must have been not a trivial fault, but a heinous crime, it will be necessary to attend to the peculiar nature of the sin which produced Adam’s fall, and provoked God to inflict such fearful vengeance on the whole human race. The common idea of sensual intemperance is childish. The sum and substance of all virtues could not consist in abstinence from a single fruit amid a general abundance of every delicacy that could be desired, the earth, with happy fertility, yielding not only abundance, but also endless variety. We must, therefore, look deeper than sensual intemperance. The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove Continue Reading…

What is the Sum of True Wisdom?

Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. But where does one find his or her’s wisdom in a day and age that seems to claim so many truths. John Calvin helps break down how the evil of man can still yet be used for the good things of God and how God uses that to lead His people to find Him.

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, Continue Reading…

The College Days of John Calvin

Last night I was looking through my Logos library, searching for something to read before bed. William Blackburn’s book, College Days of Calvin, caught my eye. While I wasn’t able to find out much about Blackburn online, the little I did find seems to indicate that he was a fairly prolific biographer, particularly of those involved in the Reformation.

His book is a fascinating glimpse into the young and formative years of John Calvin. While much of the book is worth sharing, I was particularly impressed with Blackburn’s account of Calvin’s encounter with the one only referred to as, the hermit of Livry. The hermit’s presentation of the Gospel and evangelistic vigor was both encouraging and convicting. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. In fact, his presentation was so grand that, as Blackburn accounts, the hermit of Livry is later seen as such a threat to the Catholic Church that he is burned at the stake for sharing the Gospel.

I’ve included Calvin’s encounter with the hermit below:

Continue Reading…

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