EXCERPT AND INTRODUCTION
Now for the next couple of months we are going to be looking at the life, ministry and theology of the incomparable John Calvin. We are going to do so not because we idolize him as the father of Presbyterianism but rather because we recognize him as one of God’s great gifts to the church. We recognize the contribution and part he played in the restoration of the gospel. Calvin was human…no doubt about it.
But he was extraordinary.
That a man…any man could suffer the way he did and not break is worth investigating. That a man…any man could produce so much material to benefit the kingdom of God is worth looking into.
Now the one thing from history that is certain is that no one is ambivalent toward Calvin. They may love him, or they may hate him but that are not neutral towards him at all.
— Listen to a few assessments of Calvin.
“The longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system is the nearest to perfection.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“I have been a witness of him for sixteen years and I think that I am fully entitled to say that in this man there was exhibited to all an example of the life and death of the Christian, such as it will not be easy to depreciate, and it will be difficult to imitate.” — Theodore Beza
Even Calvin’s enemies recognize his importance. “The strength of that heretic [Calvin] consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him. If I had such servants my dominion would extend from sea to sea.” — Pope Pius IV
And listen finally to these words of Will Durant, no fan of Calvin.
“We shall always find it hard to love the man, John Calvin who darkened the human soul with the most absurd and blasphemous conception of God in all the long and honored history of nonsense.”17 — Will Durant
You see what I mean…people either love him or hate him.
My prayer is that God himself will guide our study and that we will come away after studying Calvin not simply with a greater appreciation of Calvin, although I think that will happen, but with a greater appreciation and certitude that our God is God and that He rules and reigns in the hearts and affairs of men and that He can still use us with all our failures and foibles to advance the kingdom of the Son that He loves.