Guest / Limited Access /

I can proudly say that I have read the Institutes of the Christian Religion cover to cover at least twice. And I have read other of Calvin's writings. And I have read with real benefit books about Calvin by Reformed theologians. During my 26 years of teaching historical theology, I have always required my students to study Calvin and, in high-level courses, to read portions of the Institutes.

While I am generally opposed to Calvin and his theology, I find his writing stimulating and thought-provoking, and I largely agree with his doctrines of the knowledge of God, revelation, Scripture, and humanity, including sin. And I find his accounts of the person of Jesus Christ and the Trinity completely biblical and orthodox, if not particularly interesting.

One area of Calvin's theology with which I especially agree is his doctrine of Word and Spirit in the Institutes. Although much of the material there echoes Luther, Calvin puts it in a particularly lucid and incisive manner.

Many Calvinists and charismatics will be surprised to read these passages, because in them Calvin rests all true knowledge of God on the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. In my experience, too many Calvinists talk too little of the Holy Spirit, while too many Pentecostals and charismatics know little to nothing about Calvin's emphasis on the third person of the Trinity.

According to Calvin, all positive knowledge of God derives from Scripture, and all truth claims about God must be judged by Scripture. But the authority of Scripture rests on the Holy Spirit, who inspired it, and a valid understanding of Scripture rests on the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

Calvin was no charismatic, but he was closer to it than some Reformed people readily admit. At least ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedYou Need a More Ordinary Jesus
You Need a More Ordinary Jesus
We are united with a Christ who seems not to have done much of note for most of his life.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickA Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
A Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
Why the pulpit—and not the screen—still belongs at the center of our churches.
Comments
Christianity Today
Theologian of the Spirit
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.