The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

Reading John Calvin

One of the pieces of advice with regard to reading that I have given my students for a number of years now is to choose one writer, preacher, theologian and make it your life’s task to read everything about and by that person. I was given that advice several years ago but wish I had thought of it as I was setting out on ministry. I think of people like Sinclair Ferguson who seems to know everything about John Owen; or John Piper and his knowledge of Jonathan Edwards.

Late as it is in my life, as I transition to a so-called ‘retirement’ ministry, I have decided to take my own advice and become a student of John Calvin who I have long admired and benefitted from.

In fact, I have just begun to do something I have – to my shame – not done before; namely read carefully through the Institutes. I am doing so as a devotional rather than theological pursuit, having been easily persuaded to do so by the writing of David Calhoun.

I ‘discovered’ the late Calhoun very recently when I was asked to review his book, A Sheep Remembers [1]. That sent me on a search of other books by him and so I found Knowing God and Ourselves. Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally. It’s brilliant and really helpful.

I’ll no doubt keep you posted as I go but, for now, enjoy this comment about the great man by Marilynne Robinson, quoted by Calhoun

Calvin was a sickly, diligent pastor, scholar, diplomat, and polemicist, who wrote theology of breathtaking beauty and tough-mindedness as well as line-by-line commentary on most books of the Bible. [2]

[1] Calhoun, David B A Sheep Remembers. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2021

[2] Calhoun, David B, Knowing God and Ourselves. Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2016 p3

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