Calvin on the Christian Life by Michael Horton

Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God ForeverCalvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever by Michael S. Horton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book made me want to read Calvin’s Institutes. An overview of what Calvin taught, it also provides a glimpse into who Calvin was, the kind of man he was. Going over Calvin’s teachings on God, it also talks about Calvin’s beliefs on the Sacraments of baptism and communion. I didn’t realize Calvin’s teachings on these before. The book also talks about Calvin’s views on Christians’ involvement in their culture and vocational views. It appears that Calvin did not try to be politically involved other than what he had to be. I learned more about what Calvin believed than I had realized before. There is a lot more to the man John Calvin than the 5 points that are often associated with him.

Horton’s books can be a bit difficult to get into, but once you are into them they provide good fodder for thought. I did learn more about what Calvin taught and I don’t think I agree with his views on communion. For those interested in learning more about Calvin, this would be a good overview of his teachings and a brief biographical sketch.

*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Quotes:
“Theology is not abstract theory, but the most practical knowledge of all.”
“True doctrine is inculcated not only by direct instruction but also by the patterns of public worship and fellowship in the communion of saints, in family life, and in everyday callings.”
“Scripture is authoritative because it comes from the Father, but just as much becaue the Son is its content and the Spirit is its perfecting agent.”
“Grace is the favor and gift of the Father, in the Son, communicated by the Spirit through the gospel.”
“It is crucial to see that Calvin’s emphasis on God’s sovereignty is intended to pacify rather than terrify the conscience.”
“We are indeed saved by works – that is, by perfect obedience to God’s law – but it is Christ’s, not ours. He not only bore our guilt in our place on the cross, but fulfilled all righteousness in our place by his life.”
“Sanctification is a matter of getting used to both our justifcation and our broader union with Christ in all of its dimensions – judicial and organic. This union is not the goal (as in Roman Catholic and some Protestant pieties), but the source of the Christian life. We are not just following Christ, but living in Christ and, by his Spirit, he is living in us.”
“Not only at the beginning, but throughout our Christian life, we derive all of our righteousness from Christ, not from ourselves.”
“Yet for Calvin the Christian life is a pilgrimage with a banquet spread in the wilderness for weary travelers.”
“There were medieval debates over whether the contemplative life (soitude and prayer) or the active life (good works toward others, especially the poor) was to be preferred, and a similar cleavage appears in contemporary evangelicalism.”
“It’s neither our quietism nor our activism that makes us Christians, but the activity of the triune God that makes us recipients of saving grace and active distributors of his love and service to others.”
“The Reformers rejected the belief that the living voice of the Spirit through popes, prophets, or private individuals made the otherwise dead letter of Scripture relevant, direct, and contemporary. We do not make God’s Word ‘living and active’; this is what it is in itself.”
“The Word and the sacraments are central in Calvin’s understanding of the Christian life.”
“The root of all sin is a refusal to trust in the one true God, as he has revealed himself in his Word.”
“…although the Reformer has a brief section on the state, nowhere in the Institutes does he talk about a calling that Christians have to transform the world.”
“For Calvin, Christ’s kingdom is completely distinct from all kingdoms of this age.”
“The church is where disciples are made, and the world is where discipleship goes.”
“God doesn’t need us, but we need him and we need each other.”
“In short, despite failures and setbacks, Calvin kept his focus on Christ in faith and neighbors in love rather than on his transformative influence. But keeping to his calling day in and day out, he had a far greater impact than he would have had if such an impact were his focus.”
“Monastic piety encouraged the mind to ascend away from thsi world and its history in contemplative speculation, while Calvin’s piety directed us to the reality of God’s presence in his Word and in his world.”
“He was convinced that Scripture, coming from God, gives us the ‘spectacles’ through which we come more clearly to see the world as God’s gift.”
“For believers the verdict of the future judgment has already been rendered; it’s just that our actual condition and experience have not yet caught up with that verdict.”
“…self-denial is ‘the sum of the Christian life.'”

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