A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Wesleyan Praises Calvin

Today is John Calvin's 506th birthday. I am an unashamed and committed Wesleyan, but I very much appreciate John Calvin and the positive impact his life and theology had on the church. In honor of his birthday, I quote from Don Thorsen's book, Calvin vs. Wesley.

As Protestant Christians, Wesley and Calvin agreed with each other more than they disagreed. Both claimed to follow the heritage of biblical Christianity. Both claimed to follow the ancient creeds and teachings of key patristic writers: for example, they believed in divine creation, the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, salvation, resurrection, eternal life, and so on. They had noteworthy disagreements with Roman Catholic interpretations of the creeds and patristic writers, but they tended to agree about why they disagreed with Catholics. Finally, both claimed to be part of the resurgence of Christianity found in the Reformation and the Protestant traditions that followed them. Certainly both Wesley and Calvin were, and continue to be, foundational representatives of Protestantism. Thus, if for no other reason than to better understand the whole of Christianity, both Wesley and Calvin should be studied.

One of his [Calvin's] greatest legacies was the writing of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, which he first published with six chapters in 1536. Throughout his lifetime, Calvin revised the Institutes several times, occasionally expanding its length and other times adding chapters. He published his final addition in 1559; it contained eighty chapters. He published his final edition in 1559; it contained eighty chapters that were divided into four volumes or books....It is difficult to calculate how significant the Institutes has been in shaping countless lives and congregations for half a millennium. In a single publication, Calvin was able to distill his basic theological beliefs, moral values, and ministerial practices. If anyone wanted a publication to which he or she could turn in order to understand the essence of Reformed theology, then the Institutes provided a single source for understanding it.

Both Wesley and Calvin challenged the status quo, so to speak, in their respective ministries.

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