So a week in to my plan to read and blog on the Institutes in 2009 and I’m still on track! Its really been a great discipline to pen a concise summary of its teaching and reflect on what I am learning. Its also been good to interact with others doing the same thing.
But, I hear someone say, why bother reading a book that is nearly 500 years old?
Well, firstly as someone who has been a Christian a long time and has been in Christian circles a long time I think it becomes really easy to accept certain theologians & books as “sound” without ever examining them for yourself. So I have made it my ambition to read the classics for myself, not just hear what people have to say about them. I have my own thoughts but I would be interested to heard of any others that you would recommend as “must reads”?
Secondly, I have been struggling for a while to find the best way to deepen my theological knowledge in a structured way. I don’t have much spare time at the moment and with a young family I find myself in the house most evenings. But its so easy to just turn the TV on in the evenings rather than pick up a church history text book! Having the blog means I will be more disciplined to do the reading and analysis (nearly!) every day.
Thirdly, I believe in the “little and often” philosophy when it comes to spiritual growth. Reading only a short section of a book like this, but doing it every day means I will get a lot more out of it than trying to read longer sections, especially if I take the time to contemplate how I can explain it in a way that a modern reader will understand.
Fourthly, there is a large part of me that thinks the old books are the best! So much of today’s prose is superficial and massively influenced by our culture that its great to transport myself back to a time when things were really different. Its only when we step out of our own generation and read the books written when the world was different that we begin to understand how we got where we are. Having said that I also believe its important to really understand the culture we live in so we can communicate to it effectively, I guess I try to find a balance by alternating an old book with a new book, a secular book with a Christian book etc
So that’s my reasons why I felt compelled to take up this challenge, thanks for stopping by.
One thought on “A week into John Calvin’s Institutes of Religion”
I appreciate what you are doing and will continue to follow your Calvin insights as I read through the Institutes this year.
BTW: Among other old books for this year, I’m reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Milton’s, Paradise Lost and The Apocryphal/Deuterocannoical Books of the Old Testament.