John Calvin As Teacher -- By: David L. Puckett

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 13:4 (Winter 2009)
Article: John Calvin As Teacher
Author: David L. Puckett

John Calvin As Teacher

David L. Puckett

David L. Puckett is Associate Vice President for Doctoral Studies and Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to coming to Southern Seminary, he served as Professor of Church History and Director of Th.M. and Ph.D. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and as founding headmaster of Trinity Academy of Raleigh, North Carolina. He previously taught historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and church history and theology at Criswell College. Dr. Puckett is the author of John Calvin’s Exegesis of the Old Testament (Westminster/John Knox, 1995).

For almost five centuries, when Christians have thought of John Calvin, the theological content of his teaching has been the focus. He has been especially identified with his teaching on man’s depravity and inability to turn to God and the correlated teachings of God’s sovereignty in salvation and predestination. His teaching on church government and on baptism and the Lord’s Supper have had inestimable influence on the development of Reformed doctrine. The persistent influence of his thought is still evident among evangelical scholars. As recently as twenty five years ago, a survey of members of the Evangelical Theological Society found Calvin to be the individual with the single greatest influence on society members in their scholarly work. His Institutes of the Christian Religion handily beat out George Eldon Ladd’s Theology of the New Testament as the academic book that had made the greatest impact on members’ scholarship and the direction of their academic work.1 It seems that Calvin has continued to teach the church through his written work—especially through the Institutes.

Calvin’s educational background and personal connections prepared him for a ministry of teaching through the written word. As a young man, he participated in an intellectual movement that scholars today often refer to as Christian humanism.2 A number of the leaders of the early Reformation were drawn from this movement. Many of them looked to the great Desiderius Erasmus as a role model and source of inspiration and were, like him, persuaded of the need for an educational project to remedy the ignorance of the Bible in their day. 3Erasmus and others attempted to address the problem, producing a vast array of resources for Bible study. Among these were new texts, translations, and paraphrases, all published so that Scripture might have its widest possible transforming influence. They also produced new editions of the Fathers, especially those ...

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