Abingdon Pillars of Theology is a series for the college and seminary classroom designed to help students grasp the basic and necessary facts, influence, and significance of major theologians. Written by noted scholars, these books outline the context, methodology, organizing principles, primary contributions, and key writings of people who have shaped theology as we know it today. John Calvin (1509-1564) continues to be read and discussed because he illumines our human experience. Although inseparable from his context, Calvin’s theology speaks for itself, thus identifying ways Calvin remains a living voice for those who struggle with the meaning of Christian faith.
- Paperback: 85 pages
- Publisher: Abingdon Press (August 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0687659132
- ISBN-13: 978-0687659135
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.3 inches
John Calvin’s short life (1509-1564) has impacted, will impact, more people than those who live double the years. In the Pillars of Theology series, Abingdon Press presents examinations of lives and works written by those few who have forever shaped Christianity.
I am wholly unfamiliar with John Calvin, beyond the passing interaction with some of his followers, and brief quotes here and there, but I found it easy to interact with this book. The author, in a very concise manner, is able to introduce even the novice in Calvin to some of the theologian’s depth by providing quotes from him and about him.
Stroup does not shy away from the controversies in Calvin, either due to interpretation made by those far removed from him, or from the time and place with Calvin wrote. He examines the theologian’s life, detailing the highlights of his read from a preacher to what we can only understand now, as a prince among men buried in an unmarked grave in a city foreign to his birth. We can almost fill Calvin’s alien life, and his struggle to remain wholly independent of the city’s politics, yet remain a pastor of the people.
George Stroup handles Calvin’s 16th century theology without attempting to place it in the confines of the 21st century context. He understands how Calvin looks to our post-modern eyes, and tries to nullify our arguments before we make them. He accepts Calvin’s weaknesses without defending him and brings his experiences which shaped his theology to life.
This book should not be used as an ending point for the study of either the man or the system of theology attributed to him, but should serve as an excellent resource for those just beginning their studies in Calvinism, or those who seek a third party, but sympathetic view of the man and his doctrine.
Stroup treats Calvin’s doctrine according to what is found in the Institutes, essentially in the same order as found in the works by Calvin’s hand. He quickly explores the avenues and contexts which would lead the theologian to those doctrinal decisions, pulling down the mythological veil which surrounds the enigma of Calvin and showing the roots and foundations of his doctrine.
Finally, the author even allows time to show Calvin’s weak points in his doctrine (infant baptism).
I would highly recommend this book for those who are seeking a step up an entry level work on John Calvin.