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New Horizons

October, 2009: John Calvin: Theologian and Pastor

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John Calvin: Theologian and Pastor

The Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther, was the most important development in church history since the apostolic age. Many people returned to biblical teachings long obscured or perverted in the Middle Ages. The foremost theologian of the Reformation was John Calvin (1509-64), whose five hundredth birthday we celebrate this year.

Calvin was born and educated in France, and he early demonstrated great intelligence and scholarly aptitude. His cousin Pierre Olivetan appears to have been a major influence persuading Calvin to embrace the Protestant faith. Calvin wrote, "God, by a sudden conversion, subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame."[1] Olivetan was an able Bible scholar who assisted in translating the Scriptures into French. Calvin later improved that translation, and it became the basis for the Genevan Bible. Read more

Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC

What is the difference between John Calvin and Homer Simpson? At least this much: only one of them is featured on a United States postage stamp this year. The cartoon character is the honoree, and Calvin's five hundredth birthday is not acknowledged by the Postmaster General (unlike Martin Luther, who was judged to be a sufficiently significant cultural icon to have his five hundredth birthday acknowledged in 1983).

As disappointed as Reformed philatelists may be, it is just as well, because not only would Calvin not recognize Homer Simpson, but were he to witness the state of contemporary Calvinism, he would scarcely recognize himself among many who claim to be his contemporary descendants. Read more

Nuggets in a Golden Booklet

Surely one of life's great pleasures is to have a worthwhile volume that fits in a coat pocket. John Calvin's so-called Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life qualifies as a most worthwhile volume, though the fit in the pocket is, in its most recent printing at least, snug.[1]

A devotional classic to be placed alongside Augustine's Confessions and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Calvin's Golden Booklet is not in fact a book in its own right, but an extract from his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion. It comes not from the first edition (1536) of that great work, but from the second edition (1539). From the second to the fourth editions of the Institutes, it served as the last chapter, "On the Christian Life." Calvin kept the material in the last two editions of the Institutes, but divided it into five parts and placed it in Book Three as chapters 6-10. Read more

Senioritis at Rutherford College

Dear James,

I intended to write to you six weeks ago, when you embarked on your senior year at Rutherford College, but time slipped away from me. I hasten to wait no longer, in light of your recent letter that finds you in the throes of the sort of anxiety that besets most collegians as they approach graduation. Read more

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