Most people only know the name Calvin as the cheeky young boy with the pet tiger called Hobbes, however the first Calvin is one of the most important fathers of the Christian faith. Over the last few months of 2008 I became increasingly convicted to dust off my copy of Calvin’s Institutes from my shelf. It has been sitting there for a good few years looking at me every time I passed by the bookshelf. I initially did some digging and found some free lectures on the web: http://www.worldwide-classroom.com/courses/info/ch523/ that I have started listening to… and I even found a daily reading plan to help me read it in a year that I am going to work through starting in January.
At first I managed to put the still small voice to the back of my mind that was telling me to spread the net wider and see if there is anyone out there who would join me in the challenge of reading the whole of Calvin’s Institutes during 2009…however, it seems that Calvin is everywhere I look at the moment! Just the other day I saw that the editors of Reformation21 are doing a blog on the Institutes every week day during 2009 (http://www.reformation21.org/calvin/) and they have written a couple of short articles, notably “10 Reasons to Read the Institutes”, including:
“1. Because it the most important book written in the last 500 years.
2. Because it is foundational for every Reformed systematic theology ever since.
3. Because Calvin was the best exegete in the history of Christianity.
4. Because Calvin is one of the five greatest theologians in Christian history.
5. Because he wrote it as a “sum of piety” not as an arid, speculative dogmatic treatise.
6. Because it gave J.I. Packer the idea for “Knowing God.”
7. Because you will know God better, if you read it prayerfully and believingly.
8. Because it’s the 500th anniversary year of Calvin’s birthday. Don’t be a party pooper.”
The writer concludes with this challenge: “Now, did you ever read the Institutes carefully from beginning to end? It is one of the most important theological texts ever written and has been the source of immense help to Christians for four and a half centuries.”
So, after realising 2009 is the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth in 1509, I knew it was all over and I had to submit…it would be now or never. So, I’m giving in to the challenge and asking you if you want to join me to read through the Institutes in 2009.
I’m only looking for one or two others to join me in reading it and/or discussing the issues and topics that arise. For those of you who have already read it and are familiar with it, then feel free to feed into the discussions.