John Calvin’s Movement From The Bible To Theology And Practice -- By: Brian C. Dennert

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:2 (Jun 2011)
Article: John Calvin’s Movement From The Bible To Theology And Practice
Author: Brian C. Dennert

John Calvin’s Movement From The Bible To Theology And Practice

Brian C. Dennert*

* Brian Dennert is a Ph.D. student at Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660.

Recent interest in the topic of moving “beyond the Bible” to theology and practice has raised awareness of an issue facing the church throughout its existence.1 While these conversations have sought to overcome the specialization that marks today’s ecclesiastical and academic worlds through dialogue between pastors and scholars from various disciplines,2 such discussions can still remain abstract and academic.3 Studying the examples of individuals that lived before the gap between the church and the academy developed may be one way to prevent these conversations from lingering in the theoretical realm, as these figures sought to apply their exegetical and theological insights in the churches they led.4 John Calvin rises to the forefront of such individuals, as he was a prolific commentator on the Old and New Testaments, an influential systematic theologian, and an eminent pastor and church leader. Therefore, just as exegetes, theologians, and pastors continue to draw insights from Calvin’s work, persons interested in understanding how to move from the Bible to theology and practice can (and should) learn from John Calvin.

Instead of offering an explicit theory on how to move from the Bible to theology and practice, John Calvin can contribute to the discussion by presenting an example of how one person made such a move. One of the most accessible places to discover Calvin’s implicit approach is the topic of church leadership,

particularly church government, as one can see how he developed his insights from Scripture into a theological vision and attempted to bring this vision into real-life practice in the Genevan church.5 In addition to being readily accessible in Calvin’s work, the topic of church government also serves as a place where the different meanings of “going beyond the Bible” may fuse, as it has both theological/doctrinal and ethical/practical elements.6

Therefore, the aim of this study is to understand how Calvin moved from the Bible to practice, not to evaluate Calvin’s biblical interpretation and theological beliefs concerning church government. After examining Calvin’s theology of church government an...

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