The Teaching of Calvin for Today – (205 pp) by Harald J. Whitney – Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids MI $2.95
Sometimes called the greatest work in the Reformed tradition, Calvin’s Institutes stand as a brilliant memorial to the brilliant formulator of the Reformed faith. Unfortunately, the Institutes all too often remain merely a memorial. The wealth of spiritual, pertinent, Reformed teaching which they contain remains buried within book covers. With the purpose of presenting a condensed version of the Institutes, so that everyone may easily glean at least the essence of the Institutes, Mr. Whitney wrote this useful and appealing book. In his own words “…Institutes…are given only in profile and this to lure the earnest student to further study of the life and teachings of this great champion of the second generation of the Reformation.
The first section o fthe book presents a witty, blunt picture of Calvin the man. The recent attempts to portray Calvin as a warm, fun-loving fellow simply do not portray Calvin. The time in which he lived and the work he had to do demanded a cold, rigorous man, one devoted not to people, but to the Cause in which he believed. To represent the burning of Servetus as the action of a vacillating Calvin, desperately begging a rather heroic Servetus to please not force the issue (as did a recent Calvin College play), or to represent it in the light of 20th century American standards is to do injustice to the event. Calvin was a child of his own, time and heretics in the 16th century obeyed with death when they openly attempted to overthrow the truth.
Calvin is best revealed in the Institutes. With the Institutes the second section fo the book is concerned. The author follows the same order that appears in the original and supplies handy references to the exact book, chapter, and section of the original at every point.
The material is Reformed truth. Mr. Whitney has, as much as possible, set forth Calvin’s masterpiece with the original vocabulary. Anyone at all acquainted with the Institutes will immediately recognize cavil and sophistry as “Calvinistic.”
As a useful aid in catechism or society, as a stepping stone toward the reading of the complete Institutes, or as just plain good reading, The Teaching of Calvin for Today should find a place on every bookshelf.