17 Lessons Learned from John Calvin's Biography
- Monday, April 04, 2011
13. Some traditions must change. “He argued for the freedom of the marriage contract and mutual consent of man and woman, a fundamental point he continually defended in his sermons. Consensual engagements were essential; children were not to be forced into unions by their parents” (295).
14. Every hero (except for Jesus) is a divided hero. “This was Calvin’s divided self: the confidence in his calling as a prophet and apostle set against his ever present sense of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. . . .It was his acute sensitivity to the gap between what was and what should be that distressed him” (334-35).
15. Biography is particularly strategic and can be used to build up the church or lead it astray. “Calvin’s friends had good reason for proceeding to publish [a biography] with haste. There were others who wanted to tell a very different story. Calvin’s nemesis Jerome Bolsec lived to have the last word, and penned two accounts ten years after the reformer’s death. Like many Catholics, he feared that the Protestant reformers were being accorded the status of saints, and he sought to destroy the reputation of Calvin and Geneva. In this, as Irena Backus has shown, he was extraordinarily successful” (338).
16. Work hard, but don’t neglect the body. “Calvin’s punishing routine and recurring illnesses aged him and put him in an early grave” (339).
17. Pray that your fruitfulness outlives you in expression of gratitude you will not see. “For a man who lived his life in exile, the most fitting memorial came from a land he never saw. In 1583 Geneva was under military threat from the Duke of Savoy, and Beza sent a delegation to England to seek financial assistance. Despite Elizabeth’s frostiness towards Calvin, the collection raised was extraordinarily generous, reflecting the gratitude of a nation for a city and a man that had once offered refuge and Christian teaching” (340).
Kevin DeYoung is Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is married to Trisha with four young children.
Publication date: April 4, 2011
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