John Calvin

Recommendation:  5/5

Description of author:  John Calvin (1509-1564) was the leading theologian of the Reformation.  Born in France, he served as pastor at Geneva in Switzerland.

Comments:  This short book is taken directly from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book III, chapters 6-10), his monumental work of theology.  It is a brilliant summation of Christian living written in a very simple, readable style.  The five chapters are titled:  (1) Humble Obedience, the True Imitation of Christ; (2) Self-Denial; (3) Patience in Crossbearing; (4) Hopefulness for the Next World; and (5) The Right Use of the Present Life.  Following are examples of the wisdom found in this little work:  The Lord first of all wants sincerity in his service, simplicity of heart without guile and falsehood (p. 20).  The one condition for spiritual progress is that we remain sincere and humble (p. 21).  Oh, how greatly has the man advanced who has learned not to be his own, not to be governed by his own reason, but to surrender his mind to God!  The most effective poison to lead men to ruin is to boast in themselves, in their own wisdom and will power; the only escape to safety is simply to follow the guidance of the Lord (p. 23).  But this we may positively state that nobody has made any progress in the school of Christ, unless he cheerfully looks forward towards the day of his death, and towards the day of the final resurrection (p. 81). Calvin’s emphasis on the Cross in relation to Christian living is a much needed antidote to the soft, self-serving Christianity that we have come to embrace in our culture.