Robert Godfrey on John Calvin

Collin Hansen interviews Robert Godfrey on his recent book John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor.

Here’s a snippet:

I hope people will not neglect to read Calvin himself. The best places to begin are with his sermons and his commentaries. He is very accessible. His Genevan Catechism and his Reply to Sadoleto are also good beginning points. The Institutes of the Christian Religion is, of course, his greatest single work, but in its final form it was intended for theology students. It is heavier and more polemic than some of his other work, but certainly well worth reading.

Read the whole interview.

HT: Mike Bird

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Calvin Links

Do you have a blog or site devoted to John Calvin? Are you a blogger who writes from a Calvinist perspective? Have you reviewed, critiqued, or commented on Calvin, Calvinism, or any work by or about Calvin? Then let us know about it!

We just launched a new page on Calvin500.com which contains links to other sites relating to John Calvin. Links are added based on your submissions, and we have four main categories:

  • John Calvin
  • Calvinism & Reformed Theology
  • Reformed Schools
  • Posts of Interest

Links do not necessarily have to be to your site or blog. Perhaps you found a site or blog that was particularly helpful and simply want to share it with others. If so, please let us know.

Calvinism and Missions

One of the main objections to the Calvinist or Augustinian doctrine of election is that it is inconsistent with a robust doctrine of missions. Why evangelize if God is sovereign, has already chosen from eternity who will be saved and who will not, and will most certainly accomplish what He has ordained? These are important questions and more than just straw-man arguments, for some who bear the name Calvinist have followed these questions to their seemingly logical conclusion and rejected the Scriptural injections to proclaim the gospel to all without distinction.

If we allow Scripture to be our guide, we’ll find that election—rather than being the enemy of missions—is actually the very source of evangelistic zeal. Paul, the great missionary, labored “for the faith of those chosen of God” (Tit 1:1) and endured “all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Tim 2:10). It was confidence in the electing and saving God that motivating Paul to evangelize—even if it meant risking his own physical safety. The Lord Himself encouraged Paul not to be afraid, but to continue to proclaim the gospel, “For,” He said, “I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). These words echo what Jesus said in John’s Gospel: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). Notice the juxtaposition of missions (i.e., “I must bring them also”) and the certainty of the salvation of the elect (i.e., “they will hear My voice”). The fact that God had given many to the Son, meant that those many would certainly come, but this does not eliminate the need to bring them in; rather, it creates it. The simple resolution to the apparent tension is that God ordains both the end (i.e., election to salvation) and the means to the end (i.e., evangelism). So according to the Bible, election does not undercut missions. Instead, it provides the very basis for confident evangelism.

One of the best little books on this subject is J. I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove: IVP, 1961). Also worth consulting is John Murray’s The Free Offer of the Gospel (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2001).

There’s also a great article on Calvinism and missions in the latest issue of Themelios: Kenneth J. Stewart, “Calvinism and Missions: The Contested Relationship Revisited,” Themelios 34:1 (2009): 63–78. It’s worth a read.

Update: Here are a couple of other resources on the subject that look helpful:

19 Other Calvin Titles

Did you know that Logos Bible Software already has 19 other titles by or about Calvin and Calvinism available for purchase or pre-order? I just posted a new page of other Calvin titles. There are 9 titles authored by Calvin (i.e., his volumes in the Crossway Classic Commentaries series and the Beveridge translation of his Institutes) and 10 titles about Calvin and Calvinism (by authors like Warfield, Bavinck, Kuyper, Van Til, Piper, Shedd, Boettner, and others). Be sure to check it out.

90 Pictures of John Calvin

We just added a new page that contains lots of pictures of John Calvin. Enjoy!

Calvin on Predestination: A Balanced Appeal

One of my favorite quotes from Calvin appears in his discussion of the doctrine of election in his Institutes (III, XXI). The doctrine has been the subject of no small controversy for as long as the church has been in existence. Calvin responds to those who keep the doctrine from the people of God in an attempt to protect them. His balanced response powerfully refutes such a position:

Therefore, in order to keep the legitimate course in this matter, we must return to the word of God, in which we are furnished with the right rule of understanding. For Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which as nothing useful and necessary to be known has been omitted, so nothing is taught but what it is of importance to know. Every thing, therefore delivered in Scripture on the subject of predestination, we must beware of keeping from the faithful, lest we seem either maliciously to deprive them of the blessing of God, or to accuse and scoff at the Spirit, as having divulged what ought on any account to be suppressed. Let us, I say, allow the Christian to unlock his mind and ears to all the words of God which are addressed to him, provided he do it with this moderation—viz. that whenever the Lord shuts his sacred mouth, he also desists from inquiry. The best rule of sobriety is, not only in learning to follow wherever God leads, but also when he makes an end of teaching, to cease also from wishing to be wise. The danger which they dread is not so great that we ought on account of it to turn away our minds from the oracles of God. There is a celebrated saying of Solomon, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” (Prov. 25:2). But since both piety and common sense dictate that this is not to be understood of every thing, we must look for a distinction, lest under the pretence of modesty and sobriety we be satisfied with a brutish ignorance. This is clearly expressed by Moses in a few words, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29). We see how he exhorts the people to study the doctrine of the law in accordance with a heavenly decree, because God has been pleased to promulgate it, while he at the same time confines them within these boundaries, for the simple reason that it is not lawful for men to pry into the secret things of God. (Institutes, III, XXI, 3.)

Check out our Institutes Collection, which includes three English editions (translations by Norton, Allen, and Beveridge), the 1559 Latin edition, and the 1560 French edition. Get all of these and more at an even better deal in our Calvin 500 Collection.

John Calvin: Myth and Reality Starts Tomorrow

The “John Calvin: Myth and Reality” conference starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday (April 16–18). It is located in Grand Rapids, MI at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Speakers include:

  • Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, and author of Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004)
  • Richard Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI, and author of After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) as well as General Editor of Baker Academic’s Texts and Studies in Reformation and Post-Reformation Thought
  • John L. Thompson, Professor of Historical Theology and Gaylen and Susan Byker Profressor of Reformed Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and author of Reading the Bible with the Dead: What you can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can’t Learn from Exegesis Alone (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007)

For more information about Calvin 500 conferences, visit our Conferences page.

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Calvin500.com is looking for conference attenders who would like to blog about the conferences as they are happening. If you are interested in covering a conference on the Calvin500.com blog, use this contact form and we’ll be in touch.

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