I’m so jazzed to tell you my book group is planning to read Calvin’s 1536 Institutes!
If you have been a regular here on my site you probably know that I have a theological book group through my Patreon page that’s been meeting each week via Zoom throughout the pandemic.
Every time we start a new book we open it up for new members. We’re just wrapping up an extraordinary journey through Julian of Norwich’s 14th century Revelations of Divine Love. In a couple weeks we start our new book. We’d love to have you along.
The upcoming book is dear to my heart. It is John Calvin’s 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion.
Calvin’s 1536 Institutes
The Institutes is the most famous systematization of Reformation theology. Earlier in the Reformation, most theological writing was focused on particular controversial topics or in the form of biblical commentaries. Calvin took all that and organized it for us.
When he first brought it out in 1536 he could accurately refer to it as a “little handbook.” In English translation it is only about 200 pages of fairly large print.
We’re not (currently!) taking on the 1559 final version of the Institutes. That is a much steeper climb — two hefty volumes of smaller print in English translation, filled with arguments more clear to 16th century theologians than today’s readers.
No, this is the early version, which presents Calvin’s summary of basic Christian teaching to the interested Christian reader. He dives into the core summaries Christians were expected to know, and explains them biblically and carefully.
What the Book is About
In my own words, that is
- What Christians believe (aka the “Apostles’ Creed” as the essence of Biblical theology).
- How Christians connect to God (aka the “Lord’s Prayer” as guide to our own praying).
- How Christians can live a God-pleasing life (aka the “Ten Commandments” as guide to our ethical behavior).
- How God communicates his grace to us in worship (aka “The Sacraments” as powerful vehicles for the gospel of Christ).
- How Christians can organize themselves for a good and just society (aka “Government”).
500 years later it is still a excellent tool to help Christians understand their faith and live lives of competent discipleship.
How the Reading Group Works
Here’s how it works. The Zoom link goes out through my Patreon page, to everyone who supports my work at the level called “The Education” or higher. (That’s $8.33 per month, which is $100 per year. That’s intended to be a handy round number for those joining via their continuing education budget.)
You can pick the book up on Amazon through this affiliate link. Look carefully on the page, because you’ll also find links to used copies that are much cheaper copies. (You might also look on Ebay, Alibris, AbeBooks, etc.)
This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking through, I get a little commission — though the price to you is exactly the same. Thanks!