Zeal for godliness
Carl Trueman at al
Star rating : 4
This book is a delight, in its production and cover design, and especially in its contents. It consists of 253 readings from Calvin’s great Institutes of the Christian religion. But it is not a mere selection of quotations from the book; its subtitle tells us it is ‘Devotional meditations on Calvin’s Institutes’.
The book began life in 2009 as ‘Blogging through the Institutes’. It is divided into short (one page) daily readings, which are little essays on particular sections of the Institutes.
Thirteen different preachers and theologians have written contemporary comments on Calvin’s book. They include Sinclair Ferguson, Paul Helm and Derek Thomas. Because Calvin’s work was written during the Reformation, there are naturally many refutations of Roman Catholic doctrines and practices.
Sinclair Ferguson, writing about Calvin’s view of the Sabbath, tells us that, ‘for Calvin, there is no twenty-four-hour time slot more inherently holy than any other; just as there is no place or space that is more inherently holy than another’ (p.80).
After dealing with objections to the doctrines of election and predestination, Stephen Nichols tells us that the great Reformer states, ‘Every believer embraces and shares a gospel of mercy’. This is the gospel of God’s electing grace, where ‘mercy appears on every side’ (p.180).
For this reviewer, the most thought-provoking sections were those on baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Calvin’s view of infant baptism is dealt with at length, as are the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and the Lutheran one of consubstantiation (pp. 233-259).
This is a book to buy and study. It would be especially profitable as holiday reading or when travelling on long journeys.