On Calvin’s Approach to Theological Writing

On Calvin’s Approach to Theological Writing

Posted on:Jul 23 2008
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John T. McNeill in his essay on the Institutes speaks of Calvin as a God-possessed soul. He says, “Theology was no concern to him as a study in itself; he devoted himself to it as a framework for support of all that religion meant to him.”

This point resonates within my soul. I struggle to develop a theological approach that is fully integrative. My concept of Calvin as the great intellect that systematically puts down his thoughts may not be entirely accurate. Indeed, the more I read Calvin, the more I see that my concept of Calvin is not altogether accurate.

I identify deeply with his motivations. Calvin’s approach is best summarized as follows: One who picks up Calvin’s masterpiece with a preconception that its author’s mind is a kind of efficient factory turning out and assembling the parts of a neatly structured dogmatic logic, will quickly find this assumption challenged and shattered. The discerning reader soon realizes that not the author’s intellect but his whole spiritual and emotional being is enlisted in his work.

Bibliography: Calvin’s Institute of the Christian Religion Vol. 1

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