John Calvin: From the Publisher
The three “big names” for which we have received the most requests from readers to present in a full issue are Augustine, Luther and Calvin.
Augustine we are now at work on for a future issue and it should be out sometime in the next year. Regarding Luther, so much was written about him in connection with the 500th anniversary of his birth that we have decided to take some time before devoting an issue to him …but someday.
We considered this to be the time to do an issue on Calvin as this year marks the 450th anniversary of his first going to Geneva and the same anniversary for the publication of the first edition of his Institutes.
We were confirmed in our inclination to do this Calvin issue now when the E.O. Television Company of Holland invited us to prepare a documentary film script for a television special on the life of Calvin. The resulting program was transmitted in Holland in the Dutch language this fall and is now being made into an English language film by Gateway Films.
This was one of the more difficult issues to plan and prepare. The mere mention of Calvin’s name still elicits strong reactions and emotions both pro and con. Our attempt has been to get beyond both the Calvinists and the caricatures and let Calvin be Calvin.
Calvin’s historical influence on the development of Protestantism and the modern church is both deep and diverse, reaching far beyond the Reformed and Presbyterian bodies. The early Baptists known as the “Particular Baptists” were Calvinists as were the early Congregationalists. The Anglicans were influenced by those who shared Calvin’s theology such as Martin Bucer and Peter Matyr Vermigli, and the Methodists look with gratitude to the Calvinist George Whitefield. Jonathan Edwards, C.H. Spurgeon and a formidible list including a notable company of Christian leaders ministering today gladly acknowledge a special indebtedness to John Calvin.
In closing, consider present day Geneva and its significant role in international political and ecclesiastical affairs. Do you see Calvin smiling, frowning, or just perplexed?
Copyright © 1986 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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