White Horse Inn Blog
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Calvin At A Glance
For its value in both historical theology and Christian living Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series was a terrific idea. Of course such a series cannot go long before it includes a volume on the great Reformer John Calvin. If our count is right, Michael Horton’s Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever is the fifth volume in this series, and an important contribution it is. Horton reflects a close acquaintance with the Reformer, his writings, and his times, and his portrait of Calvin that accents this more pastoral dimension is a landmark event. He is here today to talk about his work.
Books At a Glance:
John Calvin is often thought of as a theological giant, which he was. And he is sometimes considered for his model carefulness in biblical exegesis. But he is not very often thought of as a pastoral theologian, a theologian with deep concerns for the Christian life. Is this because so many have not read Calvinsufficiently? Or is it rather that they just have not read Calvin really at all? That is, how pervasive are these concerns in Calvin’s writings?
I think you’ve put your finger on a popular impression out there, even among many Christians. I have to say, though, that it’s astonishing, given the fact that not a single doctrine or passage is explained without some connection to Christian living. Doctrine and life are interwoven in a tapestry that he calls “piety.” In this, he simply follows the ancient church fathers and the better medieval writers. He says that there’s no point in knowledge that “merely flits about in the brain.” As rigorously thoughtful as Calvin is, it’s all in service to the formation of Christian disciples. In my view at least, Calvin is the most insightful non-inspired teacher on the Christian life of anyone I’ve ever read. His brilliance lies not in creative innovation, but in his remarkable grasp of Scripture and the whole history of Christian teaching and his ability to synthesize the best insights, distilling them for his own age. As he himself said, the goal of all instruction is edification.
If you'd like to read the rest of the interview (and maybe read a few summaries!), click here.