As To Books

The Rise aped Development of Calvinism. This book was written by four different authors with John H. Bratt as editor. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Co. Price $2.75. 

This book I find very interesting and instructive. The language is clear so that the book is easily accessible to the average reader. It is introduced by a chapter on the life and work of John Calvin by John H. Bratt. The next chapter describes the spread of Calvinism in Switzerland, Germany and France by Charles Miller. Then follow three chapters on the history of Calvinism in the Netherlands, in Scotland and England, and in America written respectively by Walter Lagerwey, Earl Strikwerda, and John H. Bratt. I heartily recommend this book to the interested reader. 

The reader will notice that this work is chiefly historical though it is by no means without critical comments on this history. With most of these comments I can agree. However, not with all of them. Thus, for instance, I would disagree with what the author, on pp. 29-32, considers the main emphases of Calvin’s program which, according to him, are five: his healthy biblicism, his Presbyterian form of church government, his theory of civil society, his “moralism” or emphasis on true godliness, and finally, his system of theology. This last, to my mind, cannot be put on a par with the other four items of emphasis mentioned by the author, but should have the first and principal place. Besides, the same author speaks rather deprecatingly of what are known as “the five points of Calvinism” or the Canons of Dordt which, according to him, “stripped Calvin’s ideas of their vitality and breadth.” I still maintain that the doctrine of Predestination is essential to Calvinism, p. 27. Besides, in this way the book contradicts itself for Strikwerda writes on p. 82: “The Synod of Dordt is a symbol of the triumph of orthodox Calvinism in the Netherlands. The orthodox Calvinistic position was now clearly defined and became the teaching of the official Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.” 

However, with this criticism I do not mean that this is not a good book. I recommend it to our readers. It is, indeed, instructive. 

—H.H. 

The Institutes of the Christian Religion, by john Calvin. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 

This work by John Calvin is so well-known that it hardly needs an introduction or recommendation. That is, it is well-known by name, although I doubt whether many of our readers ever read it and I am even wondering whether many of our ministers and theologians ever studied it. Yet, I certainly would recommend it to all our readers. It is a marvelous piece of work. The Instituteswere first written in 1536 when Calvin was still a comparatively young man. Yet, the work was universally received by the godly with great favor. As he himself expresses it in an “epistle to the reader? “In the First Edition of this work, having no expectation of the success which God has, in his goodness, been pleased to give it, I had, for the greater part, performed my office perfunctorily, as is usual in trivial undertakings. But when I perceived that almost all the godly had received it with a favor which I had never dared to wish, far less to hope for, being sincerely conscious that I had received far more than I deserved, I thought I should be very ungrateful if I did not endeavor, at least according to my humble ability, to respond to the great kindness which had been expressed towards me, and which spontaneously urged me to diligence.” The work passed through several editions and although it remained essentially unaltered, the final edition of 1559 was much enlarged.

I have no time to check up on the translation which was made from the Latin in 1845. 

But, once more, I wish to recommend this work of Calvin to all our readers. 

—H.H.