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Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of the most important and straightforward works of theology ever written, yet so few people actually read it.
The Christian Heritage Series presents all four books of the Institutes in complete, unabridged, easy-to-read volumes. John Calvin certainly writes good theology, but he also writes with beauty and clarity—and both these aspects are captured in Beveridge’s translation. Calvin is concerned that readers not be puffed up with new knowledge, rather he wants us to be drawn to the majesty and holiness of God in order to know our sin and our need for grace. Read this classic to grow closer to God.
“For as God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of His Church, and makes us His by adoption, so we have said that He performs the office of a provident parent, in continually supplying the food by which He may sustain and preserve us in the life to which He has begotten us by His word. Moreover, Christ is the only food of our soul, and, therefore, our heavenly Father invites us to Him, that, refreshed by communion with Him, we may ever and anon gather new vigor until we reach the heavenly immortality.”~From Book IV of theInstitutes
Book 4 of theInstitutesis about the external helps by which God brings us in fellowship with Christ, three of the most notable being the Church, the sacraments, and the civil government. For Calvin, the Christian walk is never something an individual does in isolation, but involves pastors, elders, and deacons who preach the word, administer the sacraments, and exercise church discipline. Furthermore, God uses the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to remind us of His grace towards us, and uses the magistrate as His deacon, taking vengeance on evil-doers and rewarding the righteous.
“John Calvin was one of the eminent servants of Christ in the history of the church, and we should cultivate a demeanor of gratitude whenever we are given the opportunity to reflect on his contributions.... Returning to the teaching of the great Reformer himself will be a great protection against this kind of foolishness—the error of claiming the heritage of great men that you have almost nothing in common with. And guarding against this error may not be as daunting as you thought. As C.S. Lewis once pointed out, the great books often offer a great deal more clarity than the commentaries on them do.”~From Douglas Wilson’s Introduction