Blogging Calvin’s Institutes: The First Week

I have just finished my first week of reading in John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion, following along with the Reformation21 ministry blog. It has been a good week.

Reformation21 provides a reading schedule for each day of the week, Monday through Friday, of this year-long study. Each day’s reading has been two to three pages in length. I have had to stop my reading a couple of times to look up words that Calvin uses that I have been unfamiliar with. I never knew that a “catabaptist” was an “Anabaptist.” Now I do. The Ref21 blog for each day has been written by Derek Thomas and provides a two or three paragraph summary of the day’s reading.

During this first week of reading the Institutes, Calvin has introduced his work to the reader. The purpose of the work, he says, is …

to prepare and train students of theology for the study of the Sacred Volume, so that they might both have an easy introduction to it, and be able to proceed in it, with unfaltering step….”

Calvin has also made an eight-part Prefatory Address to Francis, King of France, in which he states that because there are “certain wicked persons” in the king’s realm there is “no place in it for sound doctrine.”

Consequently, it seemed to me that I should be doing something worth-while if I both gave instruction to them and made confession before you with the same work.”

In his statements to the king, Calvin uses Scripture to address the charges and false teachings of those who are attacking “sound doctrine”, and in so doing, sets the stage for the “confession” of “sound doctrine” that will follow in the work.

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Just as there was a great need in the 1500s for a declaration of the biblical doctrine that is “confessed” in the Institutes, so there is a great need for the same declaration of biblical doctrine today.

In an age of modernity, religious liberalism and relativism, there is a need, like in the days of Calvin, for the resolute and unashamed, caring, yet firm, declaration of the truth of God’s Word.

Join us next week for the reading and blogging of the Institutes when we begin studying “The Knowledge of God the Creator.”

Note: This study, as beneficial as it will be to the student of the Word of God, is neither designed nor intended to take the place of personal, daily reading, study and praying over of God’s Holy Word.

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