Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Calvin Club

Introduction and Letter to King Francis

Following Cathy's plan, I have read all the introductory material and the Letter to the King.

Cathy has given an excellent explanation of why we would even want to read the Institutes and some of the history surrounding them.

As for me, I will include some of the quotes that struck me. The first few are from the Introduction, which I am assuming is written by the editor (John T. McNeill). He opens:
The celebrated treatise here presented in a new English translation holds a place in the short list of books that have notably affected the course of history, molding the beliefs and behavior of generations of mankind. Perhaps no other theological work has so consistently retained for four centuries a place on the reading list of studious Christians... It has been assailed as preventing a harsh, austere, intolerant Christianity and so perverting the gospel of Christ, and it has been admired and defended as an incomparable exposition of Scriptural truth and a bulwark of evangelical faith. (p. xxix)*

As for a comment about Calvin the man, he says:
He was not ...a theologian by profession, but a deeply religious man who possessed a genius for orderly thinking and obeyed the impulse to write out the implications of his faith. (p. li)

Calvin, in his own words to the reader in 1559, says this:
it has been my purpose in this labor to prepare and instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word, in order that they may be able both to have easy access to it and embrace it without stumbling. For I believe I have arranged the sum of religion in all its parts, and have arranged it in such an order, that if anyone rightly grasps it, it will not be difficult for him to determine what he ought especially to seek in Scripture, and to what end he ought to relate is contents. (p4)
Cathy has helpfully posted about why we would want to read such a summary of Christian doctrine, as well as reading our bibles ourselves.

If you want to join us, there is still time. You could skip the whole introduction if you wanted and even the letter to the king and start at book 1, chapter 1. Each chapter is only a few pages long - easy to tackle in one sitting! Join us as we think more about what we believe...

* It is quite possible my page numbers will not line up with Cathy's, while I think we are using the same translation with the same editor, I suspect mine might be an older print, published in MCMLX (1960)

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