For many years now, we have made the October 15 issue of the Standard Bearer a special issue commemorating the sixteenth century Reformation of the church. We have highlighted a Reformer, a doctrine, a controversy, or some other aspect of the Reformation, whether of that time or of a subsequent age.
It is high time that we feature John Calvin, the Reformer who completed the Reformation begun by Luther, spiritual and theological father of the Reformed churches, and one of the greatest men of God in the history of the church after the apostles.
The reader will learn something of Calvin’s life and work from this special issue.
There is much more to learn. Those who desire to learn more of and from Calvin will appreciate knowing where to look. For Calvin’s doctrine, the book to read is his 1559, final edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In this work, Calvin explains in systematic form all the main doctrines of Scripture and guides the believer in his understanding of Scripture. Although the popular edition today is the McNeill/Battles edition (Westminster Press, 1960), the older Beveridge edition is a more accurate translation (Eerdmans, 1957). Calvin’s Calvinism (Eerdmans, 1956; recently reprinted by the RFPA) contains two great treatises by Calvin, one on God’s eternal predestination and the other on the secret providence of God. Calvin’s commentaries on most of the books of the Bible are readily available, and often at a very reasonable price. They are generally sound, and useful to the layman in his study of the Word. Of late, a number of publishers are producing Calvin’s sermons in English. Among them are the Banner of Truth (John Calvin’s Sermons on II Samuel, and others) and Old Paths Publications (Sermons on Election & Reprobation by John Calvin, and others). P&R has just published Calvin’s Sermons on the Book of Micah.
Books on Calvin’s life and work abound. Two outstanding works in English for the serious student are Calvin: The Origins and Development of His Religious Thought, by Francois Wendel (Collins, 1963), and Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, by T. H. L. Parker (Westminster/John Knox, 1995). A more popular book is Thea B. Van Halsema’s This Was John Calvin (Baker, repr. 1990).
We would be sadly remiss if in our concentration on Calvin we overlooked his dutiful wife. The book to read on Mrs. Calvin is Idelette: A Novel Based on the Life of Madame John Calvin, by Edna Gerstner (Soli Deo Gloria, repr. 1992).