Calvin's Institutes

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Rhetorician, Jun 24, 2006.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    To all who have an ear:

    I have been involved in an online ministerial academy this past school. I have mentored a few young men. One course we did one on one was Calvin and the Reformed Tradition. The textbooks were: Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School; and The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. I also personally augmented the lectures of Dr. George with others found on the web. (I will get the address and hyperlink if anyone wants it?).

    I was forced to read major large sections of the Institutes, probably about 40-50% of the entire work. It occurred to me that I had done more than most educated and ordained Presbyterian ministers had never read through the work; even on the level that I had to do with my protégé.

    My question is this:

    Has anyone ever read through the Institutes more than just to dip in for a proof text or to answer a theological question?

    Secondly;

    What impact has it had on your own theology?

    It occurred to me that many so-called "Calvinists" arrived at their understandings second hand w/o reading the "primary source."

    A little help as well as confession here would do me a world of good?!

    sdg!:thumbs:

    rd
     
  2. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I arrived at my understandings from the primary source. It is called the Bible. I have never read anything by Calvin.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  3. Plain Old Bill

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    I'm at the front end of the Institutes ads we speak.I have read parts of it from time to time.But then again I read chewing gum wrappers.
     
  4. DHK

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    Then how would you know that it is truly Calvinism?
    Did yoiu know that Calvin got most of his ideas from Augustine, and therefore it would be more accurately called Augustinianism, and not Calvinism? Of course, in most Baptist eyes, Augustine was a heretic.
    DHK
     
  5. Joseph_Botwinick

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    The primary source of five point Calvinism is the Bible, not John Calvin. If you read the Bible you will find the five points taught there. Augustine was correct about original sin. He was incorrect about its remedy (ie: Infant Baptism).

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  6. DHK

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    Perhaps original sin is taught in the Bible, according to your definition and not Calvin's. How would you know unless you have really studied Calvin's work out to find out first hand what Calvin meant by "original sin," and not just from second hand sources?
    DHK
     
  7. Rhetorician

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    Back to the OP Please!

    Gentlemen; Gentlemen!

    Have you read the Institutes?

    If so:

    Have they shaped your own personal theology either positively or negatively?

    I want to know who is a "1st generation Calvinist" and who got their theology "2nd hand?"

    It seemed rather simple when I posted the OP?:laugh:

    sdg!:thumbs:

    rd
     
  8. DHK

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    I have them but have not read them; but then I am not a Calvinist.
    DHK
     
  9. Dale-c

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    Yep, Same here. I have never read anything from Calvin, but I have read the book of Romans.

    I just don't see how people can read the book of Romans and HONESTLY still believe that we have a free will.
    I can see how they do it by emotion, but not honestly.
     
  10. Rhetorician

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    One high-water mark of church history &/or theology

    To all who have an ear:

    I am not advocating that anyone read them only to comment on whether they have or not and if so have they made any difference in your personal thought and/or theology?

    I heard John Piper say once that one of his seminary profs had told them something that would be earth changing as they went out into the ministry.

    It was this: make a major "shaker and mover" in the history of Christian Thought yours. Read him, study his life, study his works, to "make him your own." Piper choose Jonathan Edwards.

    I guess that is what I am advocating. There are several distinguished scholars or trend setters in the history of Christian Thought that all of us should know at least a little about. Just to name a few there is: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Luther, Edwards, the Wesleys, Whitefield, Bunyan, et al.

    You can add to the list as you will. I am only advocating that, in the spirit of Piper above, that each of us claim one major figure to make our own. But, when we choose; don't choose some "how to" latest methodological "stuff" like The Purpose Driven Church or cookie cutter "will it work at my church" idea.

    Choose someone who has real depth and substance; someone that is probably over your head that will make you reach and grow. I am not talking about an overnight commitment. I am talking about a lifelong commitment. A person and his work that you can never get out of your mind and always keep coming back to him for enlightenment, encouragement, and "a fresh word from God" as it were.

    Justconsideritplease!:thumbs:

    sdg!

    rd
     
  11. Rhetorician

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    Calvinist?

    DHK,

    Do you have to read the Institutes to be a Calvinist?

    Does reading them make you one?

    I don't understand the comment?:smilewinkgrin:

    sdg!

    rd
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    Ditto here as far as the Doctrine of Grace is concerned.
     
  13. DHK

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    No, you don't have to read the Institutes to be a Calvinist. However it has been my experience that there are many that claim to be Calvinists when they don't really know what Calvin meant by those "five points." Their definition and his definition varies greatly. Original sin is a good example.
    Is this the Catholic concept that man is born with original sin, that is the sin that was passed down from Adam, in effect our sin nature.
    Or does it mean that man is born in sin such that he cannot be saved. It is impossible for him to be saved. This fits in with limited atonement and election. Since according to original sin he cannot be saved, Christ only died for a few elect whose original sin he washed away. No wonder the Calvinist believes that all infants of heathen religions will also end up in hell!
    Most people don't understand what is meant by original sin, much less any of the other points of Calvin.
    DHK
     
    #13 DHK, Jun 24, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2006
  14. whatever

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    Ridiculous. I don't know of a single Calvinist who believes that all infants of heathen religions will end up in hell. There may be some, mind you, but by no means is it a necessary conclusion of Calvinism.
     
  15. Ransom

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    Rhetorician asked:

    Has anyone ever read through the Institutes more than just to dip in for a proof text or to answer a theological question?

    Secondly;

    What impact has it had on your own theology?

    It occurred to me that many so-called "Calvinists" arrived at their understandings second hand w/o reading the "primary source."


    Well, let's start at the end first. I wouldn't consider the Institutes a "primary" source. As a work of systematic theology, it's a secondary source - it restates the theology of the Bible.

    On the other hand, if i were studying the life, times, and theology of John Calvin, then obviously the Institutes would be a primary source. I've used it as both.

    I have read through the first book. Some years ago, I was learning a new desktop publishing tool, and I chose Book I of the Institutes as the text that I worked with. So obviously I had to read it quite closely. In the intervening time, I've read through extended passages of the other volumes as well.

    But I became a Calvinist primarly by reading the Bible; in fact I was an operational Calvinist before I really understood what the term meant. Later I "fine-tuned" what I believed through reading secondary sources, including the Institutes. Calvin's own work has likely had an influence on my personal theology, but not a major, perceptible one. It was all part of the fine-tuning, I'm sure.
     
  16. whatever

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    As for the OP, I've only read parts of Calvin's Institutes, and only after embracing Calvinism.
     
  17. TomVols

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    I read the Baker abridged version (just a couple hundred pages or so) well after I embraced the doctrines of grace. I have only read the original Institutes just here and there. I would like to read them cover to cover and plan to do so.

    Which edition/compilation of the Institutes did you use for the class?

    By the way, I'd love the links you mentioned.
     
  18. TomVols

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    Rhet wrote:
    I heard him say this, too. Trouble is, I can't nail down just one :smilewinkgrin: Broadus, Warfield, Spurgeon, McCheyne, Lloyd-Jones and Boyce have all competed for my "top spot." I just can't settle on one, though I've come closest to Broadus and McCheyne, followed closely by Spurgeon.
     
  19. Brother Bob

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    What does "being a Calvinist" mean?
    Does it mean John Calvin takes the place of Jesus?
    Does it mean that his "institutes" take the place of the Bible?
    Why would anyone want to call themselves a "Calvinist" instead of a "Christian"?

    How is the life of John Calvin compared to the life of Jesus?
    If John Calvin was alive today and ruling the way he did by destroying those that didn't believe as he did would you follow him now?

    I really would like to know for my life is in Jesus and not in any man. I get my doctrine from Scripture and would not even consider going outside of the Bible for doctrine.

    Just a thought!
     
  20. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I don't follow Calvin. I do agree with his Biblical teachings and disagree with his unbiblical teachings.

    I am guessing you have never read anything by Billy Graham and other famous free willers? Don't get too high and mighty. Tell me...would you ever consider agreeing with Christians inasmuch as they agree with Scripture? Don't be silly and stop slandering those of us who believe in the Biblical doctrines of grace and election.

    Just a thought!

    Joseph Botwinick
     

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