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The life achievements and influence of john calvin

The life achievements and influence of john calvin

Reymond, Christain Focus, 2008 repr, 152pp This book began life as a four-part lecture series on the life and influence of John Calvin. Reymond does not offer a full length biographical study here. You will have to look elsewhere for that kind of thing.

  • He considered it a great mystery, to be approached with fear and trembling and only in the context of faith;
  • Unlike most of his contemporaries, furthermore, Calvin included among the proper responsibilities of states not only the maintenance of public order but also a positive concern for the general welfare of society;
  • The second traditional metaphor for the Christian life employed by Calvin, that of a journey or pilgrimage —i;
  • For one, he shared with earlier Renaissance humanists an essentially biblical conception of the human personality, comprehending it not as a hierarchy of faculties ruled by reason but as a mysterious unity in which what is primary is not what is highest but what is central;
  • He possessed a great mind, spearheading a movement that transformed the church in America, Europe, and ultimately the entire world;
  • Geneva Reformer While publication of the Institutes was in progress, Calvin made preparations to leave his homeland permanently.

But what you get is a first class introduction to the life and thought of the Genevan Reformer. Reymond writes as a self-confessed admirer of Calvin, but he is not afraid to be critical when he thinks that Calvin was in the wrong. The writer is especially dismissive of his ideas on the Lord's Supper p. I think this is misguided.

Calvin's Theology

In Calvin's treatment of Communion we see the Reformer at his insightful best. Better I would say to question Calvin's paedobaptist views, but Reymond, a staunch Presbyterian would certainly not agree with me there.

The book follows the basic plot line of Calvin's life, interweaving an analysis of the key aspects of his theology. The teaching of Calvin's famed Institutes of the Christian Religion is ably summarized.

The seminal importance of the Institutes in Protestant thought is clearly demonstrated.

John Calvin Facts

The great blot on Calvin's character, for which history has judged him rather harshly was the burning of the heretic Michel Servetus in Geneva.

Reymond gives full attention to this matter in the final chapter. He does not exonerate Calvin for this role in the affair, but he rightly asks that we understand the Reformer's actions against the background of his times, where the burning of heretics was sadly commonplace on both sides of the Protestant and Roman Catholic divide.

What I especially liked about Reymond's treatment is that it is an unashamedly Christian work.

  • Fearing that they might be removed from office and disgusted with the trend toward flagrant immorality among the citizenry, the councilors revoked the ban on Calvin on May 1, 1541;
  • Calvin makes a distinction between the visible Church and the true Church;
  • He sometimes attributed a large place to reason even in religion and emphasized the importance of rational control over the passions and the body;
  • Calvin believed that human beings have access to the saving truths of religion only insofar as God has revealed them in Scripture;
  • Therefore, the central elements of the Gospel —the Incarnation and Atonement , the grace available through them, the gift of faith by which human beings are enabled to accept this grace for themselves, and the sanctification that results—together describe objectively how human beings are enabled, step by step, to recover their original relationship with God and regain the energy coming from it.

Some contemporary Christian historiography makes too much of a concession to secular assumptions. The facts are narrated and interpreted, but God's providential action is virtually left out of the picture.

John Calvin

Great periods of Reformation and Revival are described merely in terms of social trends and the work of human actors. Reymond's offers a theological reading of history that sets Calvin's life and work in the context of God's overruling providence. While basing his work on solid research and a careful examination of the historical evidence, Reymond does not set his theological assumptions aside. This can be seen right from the opening chapter, which is entitled, God's Preparation of the Future Reformer.

In the final chapter he urges his readers to consider that it is in God's providence that he has arranged for them to take up this book and learn its lessons. Reymond has written a gripping account of Calvin's life and achievements.


This study is easy to read and accessible without dumbing down, and well researched without being unduly technical. The author invites us to join him in thanking God for the theological giants of the sixteenth century, especially for the towering figure of John Calvin.

A brief bibliography gives hints for further reading. Still wondering what the fuss is about with all the talk of the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth? Then tolle lege - take up and read this book.