It seems that many have a love-hate relationship with John Calvin, oftentimes because of his doctrine on predestination. Woodbridge said, “Despite his often negative reputation, Calvin is properly judged the great theological heir of Augustine and the theological refiner of Luther’s theological insights. He belongs in the pantheon of the greatest theologians in all of church history.”1
Let that statement sink in for just a minute. It is as though Christian theological thought reached its pinnacle in Augustine. Then began slowly declining through the medieval period, reached bottom during the 14th century with the Avignon Popes; and yet, there remained a bright and morning star shining in the likes of Wycliffe and Hus. Then theological thought began the arduous task of ascending the mountain once again with Martin Luther. Thought continued with Zwingli and Bullinger in Zurich. Bucer at Strasbourg and Peter Martyr in England, but attained to the level that it once had with Augustine in John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion.
Have any of you ever read the institutes? I have not read the full 1559 version, but have read an abridged version of the 1559 edition edited by John Lane; I encourage you to get a copy. John Calvin is pastor, theologian, and writer in that order. It is because of this that John Calvin was significant to the course of the reformation; we have what he wrote. It is pastor/theologian who would stand in the pulpits of reformational churches thereafter. It is his writings that make him highly significant to the course of the reformation. He wrote on almost every book in the New Testament and much of the Old Testament. His theological treatise in the institutes is widely regarded as one of the greatest theological writings in the history of the church.2
1 John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James, Church History Volume 2: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day. The rise and growth of the Church in its cultural, intellectual, and political context (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013) 181-183.
2 Ibid, 171-172.