Guide John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor

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Perhaps the key difference lies in the approach of the two men to their subject. Hints of this become readily apparent in the respective introductions.

For Godfrey,. Some have loved [Calvin], and some have hated him. All would agree that he was a man with a brilliant mind and a powerful will who had a profound impact on the development of western civilization. But was that impact positive or negative? So far, so relatively neutral. This book. He moved millions not through the power of his personality but through the power of his biblical ideas and words. This book focuses on the essential Calvin, a man who lived out his Christian faith as a pilgrim and a pastor PP , 9.

It would be wrong to conclude that what follows is mere hagiography.

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At the same time, Godfrey appears as a fair-minded and insightful appreciator and defender of Calvin, standing in the same tradition and — without merely applauding him at every turn — clearly sympathetic to him as a man and as a Christian, while aware of his frailty and shortcomings. For example:. For Calvin, worship was not a means to an end. Worship was not a means to evangelize or entertain or even educate. Worship was an end in itself. Worship was not to be arranged by pragmatic considerations but was rather to be determined by theological principles derived from the Scriptures.

The most basic realities of the Christian life were involved. In worship, God meets with his people to bless PP , In this book, Calvin is approached as neither friend nor enemy; I just do not categorize him in that sense. I feel nothing for Calvin either way, but I am fascinated by him as a person. Without intending to, he created a world-wide community of believers, arousing as much scorn as admiration and accomplishing so much in spite of his many limitations.

I have tried to tell the story of his life to discover what he was like as a person. It is well worth trying to get under his skin, and — if you get that far — I will let you out again at the end, I promise PL , 8. This authorial stance, so bluntly introduced, leads to a curious and sometimes uncomfortable tone at points in the book. Perhaps the terseness and wit of the prose, so commendable at points, contributes to this sense. Selderhuis claims a lack of bias, rather a fascination: however, this doubtless well-intended distancing of himself from his subject can occasionally come across as a little glib, even snide, occasionally bordering on the callous.

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So far, so potentially tongue-in-cheek. But when we are reading of the death of his wife, for example, Selderhuis displays a kind of empirical empathy without demonstrating much human sympathy:. Calvin claimed that he had lost his best friend, adding that she had been extremely faithful in helping him in his ministry. These are nice testimonies, but Calvin felt the need to add also that she never hindered him in his work. For one as truly afraid as Calvin was of the possibility that marriage could do this, this is, of course, a positive observation.

Still, although it is to be hoped that everyone might claim his or her partner was no hindrance, we might also wish that Calvin had simply dropped this remark. At the same time, Selderhuis demonstrates a more ready humanity in his style, but less in his substance. In contrast to many later Calvinists, at any rate, Calvin himself had no doubt as to whether or not we would recognize one another in heaven.

This would indeed be nice. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Before the foundation of the world God had ordained John Calvin to become an important reformer of His beloved Church.


John Calvin was twenty-five years younger than Luther. When Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door at the Castle Church at Wittenburg, Calvin was a young French boy of 8 years of age. As was the common practice, Cop was called to delivery the inauguration sermon on All Saints Day, November 1 st.

What was memorable about this sermon, other than it was perhaps one of the first sermons John Calvin penned, was that it specifically aimed critically at the abuses of Medieval Roman Catholicism and the unbiblical doctrines taught by the Romish Scholastic Theologians who taught at the university.

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During these years , as a young convert to the Reformation, Calvin wandered as a faithful evangelist of the biblical gospel of Christ, and officially renounced his devotedness to the Roman Church. Calvin was becoming a renowned and respected evangelist-preacher in Southern France, Switzerland, and Italy.

In , John Calvin would be elected pastor and teacher of theology at Geneva by the elders and the council and with the consent of the whole people. It was during this time, he desired to write the first edition of a handbook on Christianity to defend the true reformed faith, to humbly plead on behalf of the persecuted Christians in France, and to especially help Christians who had come to understand the true gospel so that they could read, interpret, and understand their bibles.

This book became a runaway bestseller and publishing sensation immediately, and made Calvin a famous pastor and theologian.

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And when our lips are polluted, O purify us by your Spirit, so that we may not only pray to you with the mouth but also prove that we do this sincerely, without any dissimulations, and that we earnestly seek to spend our whole life in glorifying your name; until being at length gathered into your celestial kingdom, we may be truly and really united to you, and be made partakers of that glory, which has been brought forth for us by the blood of your only begotten Son. Calvin, John. Hall, David W.

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