Books On Calvin In 2009 -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 13:4 (Winter 2009)
Article: Books On Calvin In 2009
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin

Books On Calvin In 2009

Michael A. G. Haykin

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also Adjunct Professor of Church History and Spirituality at Toronto Baptist Seminary in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Haykin is the author of many books, including The Revived Puritan: The Spirituality of George Whitefield (Joshua Press, 2000), “At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word”: Andrew Fuller As an Apologist (Paternoster Press, 2004), Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival (Evangelical Press, 2005), and The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality (Evangelical Press, 2007).

It is not at all surprising that the John Calvin quincentennial of this year has been attended not only by numerous conferences around the world, but also by a plethora of books on the French Reformer, far more than can be mentioned in a review essay like this. Given the number of these books, a basic rule for inclusion in this essay has been that the book actually appeared this year, even though I will not treat all of the books published in 2009. There were a number that did come out in 2008 in anticipation of the quincentennial, but no comment has been passed on these.

Biographies of Calvin

In some ways, the most important of this variety of books is the biography by Bruce Gordon entitled simply Calvin.1 Gordon, who is the professor of Reformation History at Yale, has written the magisterial biography of the Reformer for this generation, one that will well stand the test of time. The research that lies behind the work is impressive. For instance, I do not recall ever having read that the mother tongue of John Calvin was not French—which he learned later in life—but Picard, a Romance language still spoken today in Picardy, in north-eastern France, where Calvin was born in 1509. As Gordon notes, Picard is close to but distinct from French.2 Gordon not only knows well such details of Calvin’s life, but he also understands the great themes that dominated his thought: the unity of the church around the Word of God, the proper worship of God, and the sovereignty of God over his entire creation, especially when it comes to the matter of salvation. He is balanced in treating matters that have long been used to disparage Calvin’s name, such as the Servetus affair,3 yet he rightly refuses to whitewash Calvin’s failings—his occasional outbursts of anger, at times “volcanic,” and his “soft spot” for European aristocracy, for example.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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