Book Review: Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary

Header: Edited David W. Hall, Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary. P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2010, 566 pages.

As most people in the Reformed faith know, July 10th is equivalent to an International Holiday for those that are Calvinists. In 2010 it will have been 501 years ago that John Calvin – possibly the greatest of all Theologians – was born in Noyon, France. 500 years later, in 2009, twenty-three leading Calvin scholars spoke from the international symposium in the historic Auditoire in Geneva, Switzerland (July 6-9, 2009). Here, those that gathered would enjoy listening to stimulating lectures, current research, and in-depth analyses from some of the finest experts on John Calvin during this Calvin500 Tribute Conference.

For those who missed this once in a lifetime opportunity and were not able to attend the Calvin500 conference, P&R Publishing – with the editing of Dr. David W. Hall – has made available the 23 lectures which were delivered by Calvin scholars, dealing with three main subjects:

Calvin’s Times: Wiiliam A. McComish, Robert M. Kingdon, John Witte Jr., Henri A. G. Blocher, Isabelle Graessle, Hughes Oliphant Old, Terry L. Johnson, George W. Knight III, and James Edward McGoldrick.

Calvin’s Topics: Douglas F. Kelly, Richard Burnett, R. Scott Clark, Anthony N.S. Lane, David H. Hall, Jae Sung Kim, A. T. B. McGowan, and Michael Horton.

Calvin Today and Tomorrow: Richard C. Gamble, Darryl G. Hart, William Edgar, Jae Sung Kim, Bruce L. McCormack, and Herman J. Selderhuis.

Theses scholars gathered to speak for one week, presenting their lectures in historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan Reformer. Their articles cover John Calvin’s theology, soteriology, and ecclesiology, as well as his doctrines of assurance, worship in the pulpit, church discipline, and his high view of the Scriptures. They go on to further examine John Calvin as a Frenchman, his political thought, Calvin the liturgist, and Calvin’s view of eternal life. Other articles explore Calvin’s impact on the arts, Calvinism in Asia, and the influential women in Calvin’s life. As Dr. Al Mohler writes in the forward to this book, “The gathering of scholars in Geneva in 2009 was not occasioned by merely antiquarian interests, but by a sense of Calvin’s continuing relevance.”

The positive side of this title is that it is meant for the scholar who wants to really dig in deeper to specific topics of Calvin’s life, thought, and legacy. This collection of lectures is ideal for people wanting to know more about Calvin’s life, his influence in society during his time, and how he still influences society throughout the entire world today.

If one is looking to know more than just the five-points of Calvinism, I’d recommend first reading Calvin’s Institutes. Following that, I would recommend volume one of the Calvin500 Series by P&R Publishing (Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis Edited by, David W. Hall and Peter A. Lillback), before coming to this collection. However, for anyone ready for this book, they are in for a fantastic read and can prepare themselves for enlightening analyses by some of the world’s greatest scholars on John Calvin. An additional bonus, of course, is that the reader can sit in awe while reading, and be spending only $30 for this book, as opposed to the $6,000 it cost to hear these lectures live. Along with simply being a great read, this book also helps serve as a resource for years to come – for students in seminaries, pastors in churches, and scholars that teach, or for those that just want to better understand the man named John Calvin – this book is a perfect resource for all.

Out of any current books I have read, Tributes to John Calvin provides one of the most comprehensive, informed, and rounded assessments of Calvin’s thought and theology today. This anthology commemorates John Calvin the way the reader today should know Calvin. More than five-points, more than just one of the Reformers, and more than just a guy that wrote a lot, Calvin was a man of the Word – a scholar like no other – who left a legacy that the church needs to know more of. For scholasticism, Tributes to John Calvin adds 23 more lectures to your library of Calvin; and is perfect for those particularly hard to find issues one may come across in research, making this a much-recommended book for anyone – be it teacher, preacher, scholar, student or layman.

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