The Biblical Preaching Of John Calvin -- By: Steven J. Lawson

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 13:4 (Winter 2009)
Article: The Biblical Preaching Of John Calvin
Author: Steven J. Lawson

The Biblical Preaching Of John Calvin

Steven J. Lawson

Steven J. Lawson is the Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. He has served as a pastor in Arkansas and Alabama for the past twenty-seven years, and his pulpit ministry takes him around the world. Dr. Lawson is president of New Reformation, a ministry designed to bring about biblical reformation in the church today. He is the author of many books, including The Expository Genius of John Calvin (Reformation Trust, 2007).

Regarded as arguably the most important and influential figure in Western Civilization over the past one thousand years,1 John Calvin towers above the landscape of church history as the greatest Reformer of the sixteenth century.2 A man of immense abilities and prolific industry, this monumental pillar of the Christian faith was many things—a world-class theologian, a revered exegete, a renowned teacher, a master commentator, a church statesman, and the most prodigious leader of the Protestant movement. But first and foremost, Calvin was a pastor, the faithful shepherd of two churches for almost thirty years, and amid his many pastoral duties, he was primarily a preacher of the Word. For this magisterial Reformer, biblical preaching was job number one.

Born five hundred years ago on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France, Calvin, a second generation Reformer, gave himself to the exposition of the Word of God as perhaps no one ever has in church history. Educated at the finest universities in France under the leading instructors of the day, this brilliant lawyer became the theological genius of the Reformation, the man whom many believe to be the greatest teacher of Christian doctrine since the apostle Paul. Apart from the biblical authors themselves, Calvin stands as the most influential preacher of Scripture the world has witnessed.

The Real and Authentic Calvin

On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, in 1909, Emile Doumergue, a noted Calvin biographer, stood in the great Reformer’s pulpit and said, “That is the Calvin who seems to me to be the real and authentic Calvin, the one who explains all the others: Calvin the preacher of Geneva, moulding by his words the spirit of the Reformed of the sixteenth century.”3 Doumergue added, “While he has come to be remembered as a theologian who recovered the doctrinal landmarks, which had been buried under the debris of confused centuries, or as a powerful controversialist, whose name opponents have sought to fasten upon beliefs which they judged odious,

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