Published on April 1, 2015 by Fred Zaspel

P&R, 2015 | 528 pages

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion of course constitutes a major landmark in the history of the church and of the world whose impact and shaping influence would be impossible to measure. As J.I. Packer observes in the Foreword to this new volume, it is one of the literary, spiritual, and theological wonders of the world. Both for its substance and its towering significance in the church, all serious students of theology must acquaint themselves with his seminal work.

And yet countless theologians have found that reading Calvin is not enough. We want also to read those who have studied him in greater depth, and this is the value of A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes. Originally published in 2008 in commemoration of Calvin’s 500th birthday (2009) and now reissued in paperback editors David Hall (pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, GA, and general editor of this Calvin 500 series from P&R) and Peter Lillback (president of Westminster Theological Seminary) bring together an team of 20 recognized Calvin aficionados who, in turn, uncover the significance of each next section of Calvin’s magnum opus for us and lead us to a deeper understanding of Scripture and the Christian life as seen through the eyes of the great Reformer.

Table of Contents

1.  The Historical Context of the Institutes as a Work in Theology
     William S. Barker
2.  A Primal and Simple Knowledge (Institutes Book 1.1-5)
     K. Scott Oliphint
3.  Calvin’s Doctrine of Holy Scripture (1.6-10)
     Robert L. Reymond
4.  The True and Triune God: Calvin’s Doctrine of the Holy Trinity (1.11-13)
     Douglas F. Kelly
5.  Election and Predestination: The Sovereign Expressions of God (3:21-24)
     R. Scott Clark
6.  Creation and Providence (1:14, 16-18)
     Joseph A. Pipa Jr.
7.  A Shattered Vase: The Tragedy of Sin in Calvin’s Thought (1.15; 2.1-4)
     Michael S. Horton
8.  Calvin’s Interpretation of the History of Salvation: The Continuity and Discontinuity of the
     Covenant (2.10-11)
     Peter A. Lillback
9.  The Mediator of the Covenant (2.12-15)
     Derek W. H. Thomas
10.  Calvin on Christ’s Saving Work (2.16-17)
     Robert A. Peterson
11.  Justification and Union with Christ (3.11-18)
     Richard B. Gaffin Jr.
12.  Appropriating Salvation: The Spirit, Faith and Assurance, and Repentance (3.1-3, 6-10)
     Joel R. Beeke
13.  The Law and the Spirit of Christ (2.6-9)
     David Clyde Jones
14.  Ethics: The Christian Life and Good Works according to Calvin (3.6-10, 17-19)
     William Edgar
15.  Prayer: “The Chief Exercise of Faith” (3.20)
     David B. Calhoun
16.  Calvin, Worship, and the Sacraments (4.13-19)
     W. Robert Godfrey
17.  John Calvin’s View of Church Government (4.3-9)
     Joseph H. Hall
18.  Calvin on Human Government and the State (4.20)
     David W. Hall
19.  Calvin’s Doctrine of the Last Things: The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting
     (3.25 et al)
     Cornelis P. Venema
20.  Essential Calvin Bibliography
     Richard C. Gamble and Zachary John Kail
Index of Scripture
Index of Subjects and Names


The essays in this book are consistently of high quality, although several struck me as especially insightful – such as Gaffin on Union with Christ and Horton on the human plight (to mention only two). For anyone even relatively new to the study of Calvin Barker’s essay on the historical context (chapter 1) is especially illuminating. Calvin was not a speculative but a carefully exegetical theologian, and in addition to opening Calvin’s teaching these essays will give the reader a new appreciation of Calvin as a pastoral theologian also. An indispensable resource for Calvin studies.

For those who would like to pursue Calvin studies further, here are the other titles in David Hall’s Calvin 500 series.

The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World

Calvin in the Public Square: Liberal Democracies, Rights, and Civil Liberties

Preaching Like Calvin: Sermons from the 500th Anniversary Celebration

Calvin and Commerce: The Transforming Power of Calvinism in Market Economics

Calvin and Culture: Exploring a Worldview

The Piety of John Calvin: A Collection of His Spiritual Prose, Poems, and Hymns

Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of his Quincentenary

Fred G. Zaspel


Buy the books

A Theological Guide To Calvin’s Institutes: Essays And Analysis (calvin 500 Series)

P&R, 2015 | 528 pages

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