f The Wittenberg Door: John Calvin: Theologian and Pastor

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

John Calvin: Theologian and Pastor

John Calvin was such an extraordinary theologian, we often overlook—or are simply unaware—that he was also a dedicated pastor. New Horizons offers a fine article, penned by James Edward McGoldrick, showing the various sides of Calvin. Here’s an excerpt related to his pastoral work . . .

The major theme of Calvin's theology was always the glory of God. In his zeal to promote the divine glory, he demonstrated deep concern for human beings, God's image-bearers, whom he longed to enlist in the cause of reformation. The eternal and temporal well-being of people occupied his attention, for he understood he could do nothing for God directly, but could honor God by assisting others to know their Creator and to realize their obligations to love and obey him. As a scholar, he lectured to candidates for the ministry in Latin; but as a pastor, he preached in French to communicate with common people. To learned and unlearned parishioners alike, he proclaimed, "The whole life of Christians ought to be a sort of practice of godliness." He defined godliness as a "pure zeal which loves God as a real Father and looks up to him as a real Lord; it embraces his righteousness and detests offending him more than it does dying."

To encourage the piety of God's people, their pastor taught them from Scripture, for he knew spirituality requires the truth of divine revelation as the basis for personal life and its healthful development. As the Holy Spirit leads Christians to accept sound teaching, that knowledge must regulate all of life. Even in his Institutes, Calvin sought to promote sincere piety as well as sound theology, and to demonstrate the connection between them.

With sympathy and compassion, Calvin sought to help believers as they struggled with temptation in their quest for spirituality, that is, for "reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces." Calvin recommended regular reading of Scripture as the principal means of progressing in sanctification. As the Holy Spirit creates faith in the Word of God, piety requires believers to organize their lives around Scripture, applying its teachings in all areas of their endeavors. They must participate in public worship to hear the Word expounded, and they must reinforce that with private study and meditation on biblical teachings.

You can read the entire article here.

Along these same lines I recommend the article John Calvin: Servant of the Word published in the Ordained Servant.

--The Catechizer

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