Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Best of John Calvin

This year the Christian church marks with joy the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth in 1509. The mention of his name still calls forth strong sentiments among the faithful even today, some 500 years later. While most Christians probably only associate his name with "Calvinism" as we know it, there is much more to understand and learn about this giant of the Christian faith. In a previous post I mentioned that Calvin was no mere cold theologian,but he was first and foremost a pastor.

In the preface to Calvin's sermons on Ephesians the publisher notes: "Though he was a scientific theologian who intended, God helping him, to establish solid doctrinal foundations in the Reformed churches; and though he was a lecturer to the students who met in the College at Geneva, toiling to set before them the meaning of Scripture in the clearest light; nevertheless it was not to these activities so much as to the pulpit itself that was the major part of his time was given. His primary obligation was not to fellow-scholars, nor even to his students, but to the ordinary people - citizens of Geneva and exiles, shop-keepers and merchants, the young and the old - who crowded St. Peter's day by day to listen to his sermons in French."

Emile Doumergue, Calvin's foremost biographer would agree: " That is the Calvin who seems to me to be the real and authentic Calvin, the one who explains all the others: Calvin the preacher of Geneva..."

More later on the fascinating story of how his sermons were lost and then found. But till then, here is a taste of Calvin the preacher.