Calvin, John (1509-1564)
Published first in 1536, the Institutes of the Christian Religion is John Calvin’s magnum opus. Extremely important for the Protestant Reformation, the Institutes has remained important for Protestant theology for almost five centuries. Written to “aid those who desire to be instructed in the doctrine of salvation,” the Institutes, which follows the ordering of the Apostle’s Creed, has four parts. The first part examines God the Father; the second part, the Son; the third part, the Holy Spirit; and the fourth part, the Church. Through these four parts, it explores both “knowledge of God” and “knowledge of ourselves” with profound theological insight, challenging and informing all the while. Thus, for either the recent convert or the long-time believer, for the inquisitive beginner or the serious scholar, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is a rewarding book worthy of study! Reviewer:Tim Perrine
At the age of twenty-six, Calvin published several revisions of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a seminal work in Christian theology that altered the course of Western history and that is still read by theological students today. It was published in Latin in 1536 and in his native French in 1541, with the definitive editions appearing in 1559 (Latin) and in 1560 (French). The book was written as an introductory textbook on the Protestant faith for those with some learning already and covered a broad range of theological topics from the doctrines of church and sacraments to justification by faith alone. It vigorously attacked the teachings of those Calvin considered unorthodox, particularly Roman Catholicism, to which Calvin says he had been “strongly devoted” before his conversion to Protestantism. The over-arching theme of the book–and Calvin’s greatest theological legacy–is the idea of God’s total sovereignty, particularly in salvation and election.