21 Comments


  1. Joel,
    Nice intro. I have my share of Calvin books, both his in print, and many about him. As I have shared, every Western (at least) theolog must pass thru this historical man of God!  I have just read a small book (207 pages) since here, it is: John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor, by W. Robert Godfrey (Crossway). Of course this is Calvin friendly, but I found it very good myself.
    Fr. R.
    PS..It is a fact that most of Calvin’s Sermons and many of his writings, are still only in Latin.

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  2. Joel,
    I feel a blessed man myself, having both my mentors somewhat…having two John’s – both Calvin and Wesley. They both go back with me for years! I love them both strangely. But Calvin (with Augustine, and Tertullian) are my first tutors!  I strain almost everything thru this paradigm. Both, the sovereignty of God, with the creation and responsibility of man!  Perhaps before you take on Calvin, you might want to read the Confessions of St. Augustine? Augustine was no doubt something of Calvin’s mentor. And as I wrote you, I see Wesley as at least a partial so called “Calvinist”. And I am not the only one in bibical theology to see this here!  Though, “my” position is my own somewhat.
    Finally, if you really want to read and seek to understand Calvin? Sometime, you simply must read the Frenchman, Bernard Cottret’s biography: Calvin (English translation, 2000, Eerdmans). It is full of solid historical work!
    Always yours,
    Fr. R.

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  3. Joel,
    I have a profound book by, again Richard Muller called: Christ And The Decree. Subtile is, Christology And Predestination In Reformed Theology From Calvin To Perkins.  This is what is called, Protestant Orthodoxy. The parts on Calvin are good (to my mind). I will perhaps share some of it on e-mail with you. If you would like? (The Calvin parts)

    I know what you mean on the second thought, why do some men respond and some men do not? To the gospel, and as you note for or after years? I have always wondered why I survived some of the combat situations I saw as a Royal Marine? We had some deep movements in Gulf War 1, much more than the Americans. I should have died?  Can only be the providence and will of God!
    Fr. R.

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  4. Joel,
    I know you have a lot on your plate at present. Yes, prevenient grace.. but this is grace which operates on the human will antecedent to its turning to God. Thank God for it!  But then there is that grace which is what we call “effectual”, the call of God wherein we are fully quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Here we as believers are passive (in ourselves) until then. (Rom. 9:11…the out-working of this is also seen in Rom.8:29-30.) Yes, lot’s of mystery here!
    As to Calvin and the Church, you would have to read some more I think. He was very visible Church oriented. But, High Church? Not in our sense. Let me quote: “Calvin, for his part, used “the church,” in the singular, to designate the community of the faithful united to Jesus Christ.” (Bernard Cottret) Here is also the footnote; This incontestable attachment of Calvin’s to the unitary concept of the church is to be ascribed to his insistence on the catholicity, in the sense of the universality, of the Western tradition. According to Calvin, the problem was still to reform the church and not to establish it all over again. As Jacques Courvoisier wrote, “It was not a question for him [Calvin] of restarting or re-creating this church, as the Anabaptists believed necessary, since at its historical origin there were apostles and Pentecost. This was not in question, because there is no more a re-baptism than there is a re-Pentecost…..Striving that the church, one in essence in Christ, might also be one on earth in reality, Calvin was never more ‘catholic’ than when he acted as a ‘reformer.’ ”

    Please, keep on reading Calvin in the future? He is worth the effort!  But certainly not infallible.
    Yours,
    Fr. R.

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  5. PS…Also Joel, the book I recommeded by Richard Muller: The Unaccommodated Calvin (Oxford) is not a beginners book. Muller might be the best Calvin scholar alive today? At least one of them.
    Fr. R.

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  6. Fr. Robert, I must say, that while this book enlightened me to some deeper insights of Calvinism, I would have to study more in depth such things as Election. I still follow my Arminian ways.

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  7. I have the Confessions, and plan on reading it soon. I want to read Barth as well. I cannot see Scripture for individual Election, where God sets out who will be saved and who will reap eternal damnation. On the otherside, there is something to be said for why two people can hear the same message, even for a life time, and one reject, one accept.

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  8. Always feel free to share, Fr. Robert.

    I can see, in my own life, the Grace Which Goes Before, and marvel at God’s working, pulling, dragging me along, but I still see the ‘whosoever will’ as a key to the Gospel. Further, I believe that I have a higher Church view than Calvin.

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