The link below is to a book review of ‘Sermons on Genesis,’ by John Calvin.
The link below is to a book review of ‘Faith Unfeigned,’ by John Calvin.
The link below is to a book review of ‘Sermons on Ephesians,’ by John Calvin.
The link below is to a book review of the ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion,’ by John Calvin.
I have started reading ‘Killing Calvinism – How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside,’ by Greg Dutcher. This book was released by Cruciform Press in June 2012, so I have been reading a new book for a change. Generally I read books that were written many years ago, often several centuries ago, so this was a bit unusual for me. It was however the title of the book, along with a review that I had read somewhere, that drew my attention to it and so I decided to buy it at Amazon in Kindle format.
So reading the book I quickly discovered that it was a very easy book to read, even though it dealt with a subject that was indeed crucial, timely and weighty. Calvinism is the behemoth of Christian theology, being a system of truth that epitomises the teaching of Scripture. It has produced great works of theology, some very technical and verbose in nature. Yet here was a book looking at this system of truth that was easy to read and speaking straight to the heart with great warmth and even humour (yes humour).
However, it would be a mistake to think that this book dealt with Calvinism in a detached manner, somehow separated from the adherent to it. Indeed, this book seeks to penetrate the hearts of the adherents of Calvinism and to strike at the heart of the matter. This is not a book that somehow produces a barren formalism, rather it smashes through formalism and seeks the real Calvinism, one that comes from the inner person regenerated by the spirit of God and transforms the lives of those that profess it. It is a living Calvinism that this book seeks and challenges everything else that claims to be Calvinism, but yet has nothing of its soul. This book is a clarion call for a Calvinism that ignited the hearts of a Calvin, of a Spurgeon and of a Bunyan and desires a turning away from all that is not. I love Calvinism – it leads me to God and the way of life he wishes me to lead and live. This book reminds me of this and for that I am thankful to Him for allowing me to read it. It is as Dutcher describes it, the windscreen of truth that allows me to see God and how he wants me to live for Him.
Buy this book at Amazon:
‘What Calvin Says – An Introduction to the Theology of John Calvin’ is the next book I’ll be reading (and reviewing here). This book by W. Gary Crampton was published in 2002 (my edition – the second edition) by The Trinity Foundation (www.trinityfoundation.org/). This edition is a paperback.
A quick glance at the table of contents seems to suggest that it follows the ‘Institutes,’ so I’m not sure whether it is just another short ‘abridgment’ of them or something more. Time will tell as I read through the book, which is 210 pages in length.
I have now read this book and have found my earlier thoughts sadly confirmed. My first comments on this book on this Blog at:
So I not only agree with my earlier thoughts on the book, but have even more to say about it. The illustrations (cartoons) I found to be completely inappropriate and the attempts by the author to justify them as irrelevant. There is just no place for the comical depictions of God given in the book.
The treatment of Calvin’s life is disappointing, with not enough detail given to it and some of the important events/incidents in his life are not treated or merely glossed over. It would have been better to have settled on the summary of the Institutes or do a full biography of John Calvin.
I also found the conclusions toward the end of the book disappointing and would suspect Calvin to be turning in the grave as a result of them.
The summary of the Institutes was probably not too bad, but I would have been better served to have read the Institutes rather than this book.
In summary – a very disappointing book that I would not recommend to anyone else to read.
I have now started to read ‘Calvin for Armchair Theologians,’ by Christopher Elwood. I have to admit that I come to this book with a very doubtful attitude. The front cover illustration of John Calvin and the many ‘comic-like’ illustrations throughout the book worry me. I just don’t get a sense that this book is a serious treatment of John Calvin. That is the impression that presents when just looking at the book – I hope to be proven wrong for having ‘judged a book by its cover.’ The illustrations in the book are by Ron Hill, who is apparently a freelance illustrator and cartoonist.
I have to admit that the ‘armchair theologian’ part of the title also gives me a poor impression of the book – it sort of gives me the picture of a guy who loves to watch sport on the TV while sitting in his armchair, while not really taking the sport seriously in his actual life – has nothing to do with it in reality, in that he doesn’t play sport. This is the idea that ‘armchair theologian’ paints for me, which is an approach to theology that is far removed from the Bible’s idea of involvement with the truth.
But, as I said, I hope to be proven wrong for having ‘judged a book by its cover.’
As visitors to ‘At the BookShelf’ would know, I have been reading ‘Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin. I have now started chapter four and progress through the book may appear slow and you may think this is a reflection on the quality of the book. That would be a mistaken assumption however.
In reality I am finding the book a brilliant treatment of the differences between the ‘partial reformers’ (such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc) and the more ‘radical reformer’ who sought a complete transformation of the church to that which more accurately reflected the New Testament model.
The ‘slowness’ of my reading is more a reflection of my reading half a dozen or so books at the same time. Reading so many books at any given time is fairly normal for me – in fact, I would call normal (for me) reading far more books at any given time, but I am trying to reign myself in a little here. I just love reading – I am a bibliophile and bookworm remember 🙂
The third chapter of Verduin’s work has to do with the lack of true church discipline in the churches of the Reformers and their indifference (generally speaking) to ungodliness in the church (remembering that their churches basically included all in a given location or region).
The third chapter presents a very clear case of the real time contradiction of the Reformers and the reform they were bringing to bear on such places as Geneva, Zurich, etc. To a large extent their work of reform didn’t go anywhere near far enough to satisfy their ‘stepchildren,’ who when they tried to go further were branded as heretics, with their efforts at a more thorough reform being identified by the reformers as evidence of their heresy.
It is a very engaging chapter I believe and one that is helpful for shedding light on Christianity even to this day.
I have been reading ‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin, in the last week or so. It is not the first time that I have read this book, having read it some time ago – probably 10 years ago now I would say.
This is a book that I would recommend to any believer, but particularly to a Reformed believer, whether he be Paedobaptist or Baptist. Verduin seeks to analyse the Reformation and the relationship between the Reformers and their ‘stepchildren’ from a Biblical standpoint, rather than any particular denominational standpoint. Though he does defend the stepchildren, he does so only when they are in line with Scriptural teaching on the point being discussed within that particular chapter.
Who are the stepchildren? The stepchildren or the ‘second front,’ as Verduin also describes them, are those believers who sought a complete reforming of the church. In fact, it may be fair to say that these believers sought a complete break from the Romish church, and a new church built on the teachings of Scripture and modelled on the New Testament church alone.
The frustration for these nonconformist believers was that the reform movement only went so far and did not result in the complete renewal that they desired and that the situation required.
Thus far I have read only the first two chapters of the book and once again I am finding it a very worthwhile read. I find myself in substantial agreement with the position of many of the stepchildren and with Verduin. With as much respect as I have for the Reformers, such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and John Knox, I too would have found myself frustrated at the level of reform achieved by them (though they were better men than I). A complete break and renewal would have been the way forward I believe.
The first two chapters deal with the joint secular-religious church-state that was set up at both the time of Constantine and then at the Reformation in the various Protestant nations that embraced the Reformation. They deal with the all-embracing religion that was constructed in such centres as Geneva and the ‘unified’ approach to it, as well as the reaction of the stepchildren and their withdrawal from it.
This book is as close to a must read for believers as there is I think – especially of the Reformed persuasion.
My copy of the book (paperback) is by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and was printed in 1964.