July 2009 will mark the 500th Anniversary of the birth of John Calvin.
Salt and Light will be focussing on the life and legacy of Reformer John Calvin on Radio Tygerberg (104FM) this Tuesday (23 June) at 8:30pm. Those outside of Cape Town can listen online at www.104FM.co.za. The July edition of JOY! Magazine includes a 3 page cover article on 500 years of John Calvin.
The outlawed and exiled French Reformer, John Calvin, became the most influential man of his age and his teachings have been recognized to have provided some of the most important foundations in the shaping of Great Britain and the United States of America in particular.
SEPARATION OF POWERS
The Reformation teachings of John Calvin were foundational in the development of modern Europe and North America. Calvin’s concept of the separation of the church and civil government - where each stand independent of each other yet recognise each other’s Divine authority, supporting each other within their own spheres – transformed Western Civilization.
FAITH AND FREEDOM
Calvin’s ideas of religious toleration, representative government, constitutionalising monarchies, establishing the rights and liberties of citizens and the Christian work ethic led to the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions, developing the most productive and prosperous societies in history.
Calvin’s Reformation teachings dominated European and American history for centuries – setting the agendas and inspiring most of the greatest social Reformers. The record of history is that in every fight for freedom Calvinists were on the forefront of political and military resistance to tyranny. This was true of the Puritans in England, the Dutch fighting for freedom from Catholic Spain in the Netherlands, the Huguenots in France, the Presbyterians in Scotland, and the founding fathers of the United States of America. Historians have noted that Calvinism thrived in those countries where opposition was the greatest.
SOME FAMOUS CALVINISTS
Some of the greatest philosophers, writers, Reformers and Christian leaders in history have described themselves as Calvinists. Some of John Calvin’s influential disciples include: John Knox, William The Silent, Oliver Cromwell, John Owen, John Milton, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, George Whitefield, William Carey, William Wilberforce, Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Shaftsbury, Charles Spurgeon, David Livingstone, the Covenanters in Scotland, the Huguenots of France and the Pilgrim founders of America.
Calvin’s concept of the Christian life was as a militant pilgrimage leading safely home by a pre-destined path of service and suffering – as we fulfill our cultural calling. John Calvin stands out as one of the finest Bible scholars, one of the greatest systematic theologians, and one of the most profound religious thinkers in history. John Calvin was Bible-centred in his teaching, God-centred in his living, and Christ-centred in his Faith. The rigorous pursuit of moral righteousness, both personally and in society, was one of the primary features of Calvinism. Calvin made character a fundamental test of genuine Christianity and taught a dynamic social activism.
2009 will also be the 450th anniversary of the final edition of Calvin’s monumentally important book: The Institutes of the Christian Religion. TheInstitutes has been described as: “The clearest, most logical and most readable exposition of Protestant Doctrines that the Reformation age produced.” The final edition of the Institutes, of 1559, contained 80 chapters and more than 1000 pages. The Institutes stands out as the finest textbook of Theology, defense of the Protestant Faith, manifesto for the Reformation, handbook for catechism, weapon against heresy, and guide to Christian discipleship. It is a systematic masterpiece which has earned itself a permanent place amongst the greatest Christian books in all of history.
THE POWER OF PRINT
An outlaw and exile from France, Calvin was invited to minister in Geneva where, for over a quarter of a century, he preached an average of five sermons a week, lectured to theological students, wrote commentaries on almost every book in the Bible, as well as numerous other theological books, producing a river of theological treatises and a massive amount of correspondence, which alone fills eleven volumes. John Calvin stands out as one of the most productive and hard working Reformers in history, he trained and sent out pastors, church planters and evangelists who established over two thousand Reformed congregations in France alone, just in his own lifetime.
RESOURCES FOR REFORMATION
The Reformation Society is dedicated not only to inform and inspire but to involve. Not only to motivate but to mobilize. Not only to educate but to enlist Bible believing Christians in the World War of Worldviews, to change lives, transform nations, make history, by Biblical Reformation and Spiritual Revival. For DVD, CD, MP3 and book resources for Reformation and Revival contact or visitwww.ReformationSA.org.
ORGANISE A REFORMATION CELEBRATION AT YOUR CHURCH OR SCHOOL
Our goal is to see people’s minds renewed, devotional lives restored, Christians networked and involved in local Christian Action groups, Reformation Societies and Transformation Teams, rekindling the fires of Spiritual zeal by practical hands-on involvement in Reformation work. If you share our concern for Biblical Reformation please contact the Reformation Society to help organise a Reformation Celebration in your college, school or congregation.
May Calvin’s emblem of a heart aflame in the hand of God become true for us as well, and may his motto: “Promptly and sincerely in the service of my God” be ours as well.