A Year Through Calvin's Institutes

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Deacon, Dec 31, 2014.

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Reading Calvin's Institutes

Poll closed Jan 12, 2015.
  1. Yes, I'd like to read it

    33.3%
  2. No way

    50.0%
  3. I'll give it a try but no promises

    16.7%
  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    I've never read all of Calvin's Institutes.
    And I wouldn't exactly call myself a Calvinist.
    But I thought I'd give it a shot and make reading Calvin's Institutes a project this year.

    Here's a post at The Gospel Coalition on Why and How to Read Calvin’s Institutes [LINK]
    Anyone want to join?

    Here's a One Year Reading Plan [LINK]

    Week 1

    January 1 Day 1 To Reader (1.3-8)
    January 2 Day 2 Prefatory 1-2 (1.9-14)
    January 3 Day 3 Prefatory 3-4 (1.14-23)
    January 4 Day 4 Prefatory 5-6 (1.23-27)
    January 5 Day 5 Prefatory 7-8 (1.27-31)

    Rob
     
  2. JonC

    JonC
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    I also have not worked my way through the entire thing....probably won't. For me the value of time seems to be increasing in direct proportion to the accumulation of birthdays. I'm getting stingy with time. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  3. Deacon

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    Happy New Year! ...and we're off!

    Calvin's Institutes is often listed among the top ten Religious books of all times.
    It's certainly worth reading!

    John Calvin originally wrote the Institutes in Latin then later in French.
    Here are a few English translations:

    John Allen's edition (1813) [LINK] – older but quite affordable on Kindle. (two volumes)

    The most common translation is Henry Beveridge's edition (1845) [LINK] which again is quite affordable. It is said that Beveridge sticks closely to the original Latin but is not always so precise.

    The McNeil/Battles edition (1960) [LINK] is the definitive critical edition of the Institutes with the best index and extensive footnotes. (Two volumes)

    I have the last two but will be reading the Battles edition.
    I'll provide weekly or monthy reading plans throughout the year and selections I find interesting.

    Please limit discussion or debates about the selections but feel free to start a new thread concerning them.

    Rob
     
  4. DHK

    DHK
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    I'll bet you can't read through five pages (equivalent of five printed pages) without a reference to Augustine, one of the founders of the RCC. :D
     
  5. Rippon

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    And about one third of the time Calvin disagrees with him. Referencing someone doesn't automatically signify agreement.
     
  6. DHK

    DHK
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    Are you sure about that?
    Dave Hunt quoting Richard Muller, a Calvinist. The quote is found in Hunt's book "What Love is This," page 55.
    Would you like to back your statement up.
     
  7. Rippon

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    Yes, I am positive that just because Calvin references Augustine does not equate with his agreement with the Bishop of Hippo.
    And of course, you must distinquish what Muller has actually said from Hunt's lies.

    Predestination did not lie at the heart of Calvin's theology. So even though Augustine and Calvin are, for the most part, in harmony there --that does not at all mean they were in full agreement in other areas.
    I have told you before that your reliance on Hunt on things pertaining to Calvinism is very misplaced. James White and others have taken him to task on this. He is no better than Norm Geisler who is really the source for most of Hunt's anti-Calvinist campaign.

    Sure enough.

    In The Institutes:

    Of The Knowledge Of God The Creator : Book 1, chapters 1-5 Augustine is mentioned twice.

    The Life Of A Christian :Book 3, chapters 6-10 there is no mention of Augustine.


    On Civil Government : Book 4, chapter 20 Augustine is mentioned once.

    I refuse to do all the homework for you. But you need to read more widely. Steer clear of Hunt and Cloud.

    By the way, outside of The Institutes, in Calvin's treatment of 1st and second Thess., which is 97 pages, there is absolutely no citation of Augustine.
     
  8. thatbrian

    thatbrian
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    I'm newly active here, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't this remark a textbook example of trolling? Is making inflammatory/cynical/sarcastic remarks OK here?

    Isn't this where the honest debate between mature Christians can take place? I was certainly hoping so. . .
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    LOL.....YES & YES (tongue in cheek)
    As you become aquanted with the personalities you will then be able to make conclusions .....here you have discrete (sometimes not so discrete) undertones to these poisonalties ....some might supprise you, many will offend you ..... some may even educate you. Tough it out awhile and see.:thumbsup:
     
  10. RLBosley

    RLBosley
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    :laugh::laugh:
     
  11. Deacon

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    “You know,” Calvin remarks, “how reverently I feel toward Augustine, yet I do not conceal the fact that his prolixity [longwindedness] is displeasing to me.”
    [From a letter to Farel, Sept. 1, 1549 (CR XIII. 374) mentioned in the introduction by Ford Lewis Battles]
    Calvin, J. (2011). Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. (F. L. Battles, Trans., J. T. McNeill, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. lxx). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

    Then John Calvin proceeds to write a tome of more than 1500 pages.

    "My purpose was solely to transmit certain rudiments by which those who are touched with any zeal for religion might be shaped to true godliness. And I undertook this labor especially for our French countrymen, very many of whom I knew to be hungering and thirsting for Christ; but I saw very few who had been duly imbued with even a slight knowledge of him. The book itself witnesses that this was my intention, adapted as it is to a simple and, you may say, elementary form of teaching."
    ibid (Vol. 1, p. 9).

    Rob
     
  12. Deacon

    Deacon
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    It's not too late to join us, we've only read the author's Introduction (Prefatory) to his work.

    I thought I'd post two weeks schedule at a time.

    I'll leave the weekends open in order to allow some 'catch-up' time if your weeks been too busy to read.

    For the present I'll post Calvin's outline to help us know where we are to read and stop.

    Rob

    *************​

    Start Week 2
    Book 1 – The Knowledge of God

    Tuesday, January 6 - Institutes I,i.1 (Battle, pp 35-41)

    Chapter 1 – The Knowledge of God and that of ourselves are connected. How they are interrelated
    • Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God
    Chapter 2 - What it is to know God, and to what purpose the knowledge of him tends
    • Piety is requisite for the knowledge of God
    Wednesday, January 7 - Institutes, l.ii.2 (Battle, pp 42-47)
    Knowledge of God involves trust and reverence
    Chapter 3 – The knowledge of God has been naturally implanted in the minds of men
    • The character of this natural endowment
    • Religion is no arbitrary invention
    • Actual godlessness is impossible
    Thursday, January 8 - Institutes, l.iii.3 (Battle, pp. 47- 53)


    Chapter 4 – This knowledge is either smothered or corrupted, partly by ignorance, partly by malice.
    • Superstitution
    • Conscious turning away from God
    • We are not to fashion God according to our own whim
    • Hypocrisy
    Chapter 5 – The knowledge of God shines forth in the fashioning of the universe and the continuing government of it

    (God manifested in his created works, 1–10)
    1. The clarity of God’s self-disclosure strips us of every excuse
    Friday, January 9 - Institutes, l.v.2 (Battle, pp. 53-58)
    2. The divine wisdom displayed for all to see
    3. Man as the loftiest proof of divine wisdom
    4. But man turns ungratefully against God
    5. The confusion of creature with Creator
    Monday, January 12 - Institutes l.v.6 (Battles, 58-64)
    6. The Creator reveals his lordship over the creation
    7. God’s government and judgment
    8. God’s sovereign sway over the life of men
    9. We ought not to rack our brains about God; but rather, we should contemplate him in his works
    10. The purpose of this knowledge of God

    (Man nevertheless, failing to know and worship him, falls into superstition and confusion, 11–12)
    11. The evidence of God in creation does not profit us
    Tuesday, January 13 - Institutes, l.v.12 (Battle, pp. 64-71)
    12. The manifestation of God is choked by human superstition and the error of the philosophers
    13. The Holy Spirit rejects all cults contrived by men
    14. The manifestation of God in nature speaks to us in vain
    15. We have no excuse

    Chapter 6 – Scripture is needed as guide and teacher for anyone who would come to God the Creator
    1. God bestows the actual knowledge of himself upon us only in the Scriptures


    (Two sorts of knowledge of God in Scripture)


    Wednesday, January 14 – Institutes, l.vi.2 (Battle, 71-76)
    2. The Word of God as Holy Scripture
    3. Without Scripture we fall into error
    4. Scripture can communicate to us what the revelation in the creation cannot
    Chapter 7 - Scripture must be confirmed by the witness of the Spirit. Thus may its authority be established as certain; and it is a wicked falsehood that its credibility depends on the judgement of the church
    1. Scripture has its authority from God, not from the church
    2. The church is itself grounded upon Scripture
    Thursday, January 15 - Institutes, l.vi.3 (Battle, 76-81)
    3. Augustine cannot be cited as counterevidence
    4. The witness of the Holy Spirit: this is stronger than all proof
    5. Scripture bears its own authentication
    Friday, January 16 – Institutes, (Battle, 81-89)

    Chapter 8 – So far as human reason goes, sufficiently firm proofs are at hand to establish the credibility of scripture


    (The unique majesty and impressiveness, and the high antiquity, of Scripture, 1–4)​
    1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
    2. Not style but content is decisive
    3. The great antiquity of Scripture
    4. The truthfulness of Scripture shown by Moses’ example

    (Refutation of objections regarding miracles and prophecy, 5–10)
    5. Miracles strengthen the authority of God’s messengers
    6. Moses’ miracles are incontestable
    7. Prophecies that are fulfilled contrary to all human expectation
    8. God has confirmed the prophetic words
    9. The transmission of the law is to be trusted
    10. God has marvelously preserved the Law and the Prophets
     
    #12 Deacon, Jan 2, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2015
  13. Rippon

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    Let's set some things in perspective here.

    Calvin's first edition of The Institutes was in 1536 and it was a little over two hundred pages. He kept increasing the length in subsequent editions of 1539 and 1543. And yes his last one was over 1,500 pages.

    But Calvin in his works is usually praised for his brevity and lucidity. He concentrates on the text with less diversions than others.

    Unlike the experts including Calvin himself, I suggest not reading The Institutes first. It would be wiser to go to his commentaries and especially his sermons. He is very readable.

    I have not read Martin Bucer on his commentary of Romans. However, it was apparently very wordy and unorganized. Calvin was a breath of fresh air in comparison. By the way, Calvin admired Bucer very much, the latter was a mentor to him theologically, pastorally and in other ways.
     
  14. Deacon

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    Here are the readings through the month of January.
    I found my old copy of Beveridge's translation and added the corresponding page numbers – I thought I gave it away in my last purge of books from my shelves – glad I didn't!

    Obviously these first chapters of Calvin's Institutes follow the first chapters of Romans rather closely.

    I believe Calvin's argument is rather weak in the quote below which was aimed at the Roman Catholic Church's claim of authority over scripture.
    Monday, January 19 1.Chapter 8.10-9.2 (Battle vol. 1. pp. 89-95) (Beveridge pp. 79-85)
    January 20 1 1.9.3-11.1 (Battle 1.95-100) (Beveridge 86-89)
    January 21 1.11.2-6 (Battle 1.100-106) (Beveridge 90-95)
    January 22 1.11.7-12 (Battle 1.106-112) (Beveridge 96-100)
    January 23 1.11.13-12.3 (Battle 1.112-120) (Beveridge 101-107)

    Monday, January 26 1.Chapter 13.1-13.3 (Battle vol. 1. pp. 120-124) (Beveridge, pp. 108-111)
    January 27 1 1.4.4-7 (Battle 1.124-130) (Beveridge 111-116)
    January 28 1.13.8-12 (Battle 1.130-136) (Beveridge 116-120)
    January 29 1.13.13-17 (Battle 1.136-142) (Beveridge 121-125)
    January 30 1.13.18-22 (Battle 1.142-148) (Beveridge 125-130)

    I'm enjoying it so far - nothing too heady.

    Rob
     
    #14 Deacon, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2015
  15. kyredneck

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    Lol, but DHK is a moderator! A BB moderator would NEVER indulge in such brutish behavior! :laugh:
     
  16. Deacon

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    Apparently there are a number of Beveridge editions. I'm using the one-volume print version by Eerdmans Publishing Company first published in 1989 (reprinted in 1997). It notes that following page 582, the page numbers resume at page 1.

    Can I confess that I've never been able to stick with a "Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan" – NEVER!
    I'm a binge and purge type reader – and I have to admit I've read ahead.

    Anyway, here is the reading schedule for February for anyone using it.

    First week of February
    1 - 1.13.23-25 (Battle; book 1, pp. 149-154) (Beveridge 130-135)
    2 - 1.13.26-29 (Battle; pp. 154-159) (Beveridge 135-139)
    3 - 1.14.1-5 [Chapter 14] (Battle 1.159-166) (Beveridge 140-145 )
    4 - 1.14.6-11 (Battle 1.166-171) (Beveridge 145-150)
    5 - 1.14.12-18 (Battle 1.171-178) (Beveridge 150-155)

    Second Week of February
    1 - 1.14.19-22 (Battle 1.178-182) (Beveridge 155-158)
    2 - 1.15.1-3 Chapter 15 (Battle 1.183-189) (Beveridge 160-164)
    3 - 1.15.4-7 (Battle 1.189-195) (Beveridge 164-169)
    4 - 1.15.8-16.3 (Battle 1.195-201) (Beveridge 169-175)
    5 - 1.16.4-8 (Battle 1.201-208) (Beveridge 175-180)

    Third Week of February
    1 - 1.16.9-17.2 (Battle 1.208-214) (Beveridge 180-185)
    2 - 1.17.3-7 (Battle 1.214-220) (Beveridge 185-190)
    3 - 1.17.8-12 (Battle 1.220-226) (Beveridge 190-195)
    4 - 1.17.13-18.2 (Battle 1.227-232) (Beveridge 195-201)
    5 - 1.18.3-4 (Battle 1.232-237) (Beveridge 201-205) "END OF THE FIRST BOOK"

    Fourth Week of February
    CALVIN'S INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
    BOOK SECOND​
    "OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE REDEEMER IN CHRIST, AS FIRST MANIFESTED TO THE FATHERS, UNDER THE LAW, AND THEREAFTER TO US UNDER THE GOSPEL"
    1 - 2.1.1-4 (Battle 1.241-246) (Beveridge 208-213)
    2 - 2.1.5-8 (Battle 1.246-252) (Beveridge 214-218)
    3 - 2.1.9-2.3 (Battle 1.252-258) (Beveridge 218-225)
    4 - 2.2.4-7 (Battle 1.258-264) (Beveridge 225-229)
    5 - 2.2.8-11 (Battle 1.265-270) (Beveridge 229-233)

    Comment:
    One of my favorite books on 'knowing the will of God' is Gerry Friesen's Decision Making and the Will of God [LINK]

    In the book, the author talks about different aspects of God's will, his sovereign will and his moral will and discusses areas how they intersect to act upon a believers walk with God, providing areas of freedom.

    Calvin seems to bump into this conclusion 500 years earlier, in Chapter 17, section 2
    (Battles, pp. 212–213; Beveridge, p. 184).

    This topic is further developed in chapter 18 as Calvin discusses "The Instrumentality of the Wicked Employed By God, While He Continues Free From Every Taint"

    Rob
     

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