Friday, 2 January 2009

2009: the year of the Calvin

Jean Calvin was born in July 1509 – so all around the world this year, there will be celebrations of his 500th anniversary. Princeton Seminary has organised “A Year with the Institutes”, a wonderful programme in which people can join together reading through Calvin’s Institutes this year. The seminary will provide a daily text (just a few pages), together with an audio reading of the text. So you can subscribe to the audio version through iTunes (it’s all free), and by the end of the year you’ll have gone through the entire Institutes. All the details are here.

So why don’t you join in the fun, and read Calvin’s Institutes this year! No matter what you might think about Calvinist theology, the Institutes is one of the most remarkable theological works ever written. And don’t be taken in by those rumours about Calvin’s gloomy austerity – as far as works of dogmatics go, the Institutes is almost unrivalled for its sensitivity to scripture and its pervasive pastoral warmth. If you want to learn what it really means to think theologically, you could hardly find a better guide than Calvin. Even his mistakes are full of momentous significance; even in his worst moments, he is a magnificent figure who towers above most others.

Anyway, to help correct the impression of Calvin’s bleak austerity, here’s Oliver Crisp’s new painting of the young Calvin – a portrait in a sort of Flemish style, painted recently in Princeton. I think this beautifully captures something of Calvin’s personal sensitivity, his resolute but deeply pensive sense of vocation and commitment to the will of God:

19 Comments:

bobby grow said...

I'll be reading! I was going to start, on my own, about a month ago; but this works out better :-).

That painting is way cool!

bobby grow said...

Of course Calvinist theology, and Calvin aren't necessarily the same thing; so even those who have hesitation (me) toward 'Federal/Westminster Calvinism', can indeed be deeply edified by the Institutes of the man, Calvin. ;-)

kim fabricius said...

Splendid, image-changing painting: the large bright but cow eyes (the spots of white are superb); the lips full but chapped; and the undershirt peeking through - a nice homely touch. Fancy a beer, Jean?

Anonymous said...

Did this work begin its life as the portrait of one of Oliver's colleagues at CTI, namely Ben Myers?

Drew Tatusko said...

pull off the hat in that picture and the young jean looks like he would fit in well with a metal band. he's probably covering his mad tats on his head ala kerry king from slayer :-)

Jean Cauvin said...

Kim,

I'm not much of a beer guy, but if you are up for a flagon of wine, I'm in! Just to be clear, however, we will have to talk politics while drinking as it is just not proper to engage in theological discussion when under wine's influence...

Cheers,

Jean

cynthia r. nielsen said...

Thanks for this post, Ben! It's nice to read a positive post on Calvin.

Best wishes,
Cynthia

Andy said...

Thanks for this Ben. I've bookmarked it and will be reading through the Institutes again. Happy New Year!

TheBlueRaja said...

Oliver Crisp painted that?!

I know he prefers to sign his name with crayons, but I had no idea he was into fine art!

;)

Stephen Rose said...

Counterpoints:

John Calvin in "Beyond Creed"

Martyn Link said...

Great to see you promoting Calvin's 500th anniversary, I've been inspired to read and blog the Institutes during 2009 at:
http://martynlink.wordpress.com/

Just a week in and its going great so far! Happy reading!
Martyn

Matt Oskvarek said...

Yes, I just finished T.H.L. Parker's bio, John Calvin. The Institutes (while I have merely read portions) are very edifying.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Thanks for this Ben. I pointed this out to one of our pastors and now a large number from our church are spending the year reading through the Institutes and meeting bi-montly at a pub to discuss. (To discuss politics with flagons...of course.)

Charlie Golf said...

I'm in!... on reading the Institutes that is. As a typical American evangelical mutt, I'm sure I have a bit of Calvin in my confession even though I was raised Wesleyan. It'll be nice to nail it down a bit this year.

Matt Oskvarek said...

Charlie, you are both Wesleyan with "a bit of Calvin in your confession"?!! You will have to make a choice on that one. I mean, you will have to decide...uh...ur...I mean, you will....

We will just have to see what you have been predestined for there.

;-D

Jane said...

I think this is a great portrait on Calvin, Outside my office door here in teh library of the World Council of Churches in Geneva there is a very impressionistic watercolour of Calvin by Jean Guitton - must take a photo of it sometime ...

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if you are going to be at all honest about Calvin and his legacy you should make a thorough examination of the dark side of his life and what he actually did while he was alive---by his fruits and lived demonstration you will then know the REAL Calvin.

Why?

Because in my opinion it is the dark shadow side of his legacy that now (and has always)patterned any and every culture influenced by his legacy.

Including, and especially, the current Bush administration.

How many people, including children, were executed during Calvins reigh of terror in Geneva, and elsewhere?

How many people were executed via Calvin's PERSONAL instigation?

Why did Calvin, along with Luther and the Catholic "authorities" condone and promote the wholesale slaughter of the Anabaptists?

How many people, and children too, would Jesus execute?

Christ follower said...

First, let me say that I deeply respect Calvin for his work in theology and appreciate the Institutes. But I still have to ask myself, why commit to reading Calvin daily instead ofmore of Gods word?

Post a Comment

New book

Archive

Contact

Although I'm not always able to reply to all emails, please feel free to contact me.

Faith and Theology © 2008. Template by Dicas Blogger.

TOPO