A New Edition Of Two Important Treatises By Calvin (With A Video Series By Bob Godfrey)

To say that John Calvin (1536–64) was a prolific and important author is to say the obvious. What is remarkable, however, is how much of what he wrote remains not only useful for the church but even vitally important. Two of his more important treatises were his brief work, The Necessity of Reforming The Church (1544) in defense of the Reformation and A Reply to Cardinal Sadoleto (1538). He wrote the latter to defend the Reformation of Geneva, even though the Genevan authorities had chased him out of Geneva. A lesser man might have told the Genevans to pound sand but Calvin was devoted to recovering two things: pure worship and the pure gospel (as he says in Necessity). So, he was unwilling to allow Cardinal Sadoleto to seduce Geneva away from the gospel and back to Rome. Among Calvin’s many treatises and letters these two are outstanding and deserve your close attention. They were written at a turning period in his ministry and at a crucial point in the history of the Reformation. They reveal his gifts as a humanist scholar, as a defender of the Reformation, and as a pastor who cared for the spiritual well being of the flock. He knew that the Reformation had recovered the gospel and that Rome sought to persuade evangelicals to sell their birthright for a pottage of salvation by grace and works. These are truths we need to hear and learn again. The Western church (and to the degree the West has exported her modern errors, the global church) needs a new  Reformation. The most radical, the most counter-cultural thing the church could do in 2021 is to embrace heartily and put to practice the theology, piety, and practice of the Reformation as embodied in these two works. If she is to take a first step in that direction, these two treatises will be invaluable.

Available from Reformation Trust. Both works have been translated by my friend and colleague Casey Carmichael, who does excellent work. They are accompanied by a series of videos by Bob Godfrey, who has forgotten more about Calvin than most of us will know and who has an unparalleled gift for explaining things briefly and clearly (and with humor).

This volume, with the accompanying videos, will work well for a small group study, an adult Sunday School or Christian education course, or for your personal or family study.


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  1. If someone is considering reading Calvin’s Institutes but feels intimidated by its length, they would do well to to choose these two short works. The central substance of the Institutes is encapsulated in both, especially The Necessity of…

  2. The Necessity… was absolutely vital to my understanding of the Reformation and my own movement to a more consistent Reformed piety and practice.

    Highly recommended.

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