Bob Godfrey, President and Professor of Church History at WSC has an excellent new book out just in time for Calvin’s 500th birthday: John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. I’ll review it in this space later this month or early next month, Dv. In the meantime, Bob sat for an interview with RHB’s Michael Dewalt during his recent trip to Grand Rapids.
Update: Colin Hanson has an interview with Bob that appears on the CT website today.
It’s good to see that copies are being sold in some Christian bookstores in Gangnam, Seoul.
I also told you that I saw RCC in La Bible in Gangnam.
Sorry to bug you here, but I’ve misplaced your email address. Got a question for you, completely unrelated here and non-controversial.
Might you contact me? reedhere at gmail dot com
Having seen all of the recommendations for Godrey’s new book and being curious about Calvin and his work, I decided to buy a copy. It is, indeed, an excellent work, especially for someone like myself who is not a member of a Reformed church. As I worked through the chapters all of the issues that I see being debated on blogs like this one began to become clear and obvious. It is very accessible for anyone, but particularly the layman who needs a glance at the “bigger picture” of Reformed church history without getting bogged down in difficult theological issues.
One item that was of particular interest to me was the degree to which Calvin went in an attempt to resolve differences with the Lutherans in order to bring them into confessional unity (pp. 94-96), especially where the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was concerned. It would appear that he had been close to reaching agreement with some of the more moderate Lutherans under the leadership of Philip Melanchthon, to the extent that he even subscribed to the Augsburg Confession, but could not win consensus from them. I detected a sense of lament surrounding these events, yet I’m not entirely convinced that things would be better today had they turned out differently in the 16th Century.
If memory serves me correctly, it was a short step from Melanchthon’s “moderate Lutherans” to pietists like Philipp Spener, followed closely by August Francke. And the legacy of Francke can be traced directly to the ELCA today, the merging of some wildly radical Lutheran synods creating one of the most liberal, social ministry-driven Lutheran church bodies in North America. Had Calvin been successful in winning over the moderates would there have been a greater chance that most, if not all, Lutherans would be as non-Confessional as the ELCA? And would the moderates’ influence under Francke have had a greater chance of pulling the Reformed confessionals along, as well? Of course, we can’t know how things might have turned out, but given the general circumstances in which we find ourselves today I think there’s a fair chance that it could have happened that way. At least well-grounded confessional Lutheran and Reformed denominations still exist and are struggling either to remain that way and to get others to return to a Reformation-era view of Scripture and God’s work in salvation, regardless whether or not the two groups ever ultimately fully agree with each other.
On the whole, I’d recommend that at least every layman in the Reformed churches read this book, as well as those in other denominations, particularly Lutheran. One final remark and it’s a wee bit scary: I finished the book yesterday, May 27, at about 8:12 PM, noting on the second to last page that Calvin died on May 27, 1564, at 8:00 PM! Now, I’m not superstitious, but …
Thanks George. As always I appreciate your thoughtful comments.