Contrary to some myths, Michael Servetus was not killed by John Calvin since he was a pastor/theologian and not a member of the magistrate. The book also considered the Servetus controversy in it's historical setting, and while it does not necessarily excuse what happened it should slow down the modern critic from ignorantly assuming Geneva was a hotbed of Calvinistic tyranny. Elwood thinks that theological Liberals, Barthians, Neo-Orthodox and Liberation Theologians are legitimate heirs to Calvin's legacy while seeing Conservative Reformed Christians such as those of Old Princeton as the wacky right wing extremists of Calvin's theological lineage.
by Christopher Elwood This is another book in the Armchair Theologians series provided to me by Logos Bible Software for review. For someone looking for a quick intro to Calvin, his life and very basic theology, this is a handy little book. But Calvin didnt consider himself a theologian; he felt that theology was faith seeking understanding.
Calvin for Armchair Theologians (CAT) is the first of the "Armchair" books that I've read.
Elwood reminds us that Calvin was a man of his day and should be judged as such.
It presents Calvin and his theology in its historical setting.
Elwood gives a good overview of Calvin's life and teaching, including a detailed breakdown of the Institutes that forms the bulk of the book. This book is an excellent overview for anyone seeking greater understanding of Calvin as a person, or of his teachings.
This book could also be titled "John Calvin in Four Hours." It is a brief biography, a summary of his religious views, and a look at his lasting impact on Western thought. But he wrote Institutes of the Christian Religion (about 1/3 of this book is devoted to explaining Calvin's views from ICR), wrote some speeches, and engaged in some debates. Most people today are unable to fathom 16th century Europe, with city-states under Church authority competing for power with one another and debating doctrine and heresies; a Europe faced with the Ottoman threat from the East and Protestant-Catholic divisions within.
John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of his greatest contribution to Christian thinking, so a good portion of this book focuses on his ideas. This is definitely a good biography for someone that wants to learn about John Calvins life and contributions in a short amount of time.
I'll start this by saying I'm not Reformed and haven't really read much of Calvin, and I found this book a good introduction to the man, his ministry and his theology. Although Elwood makes clear Calvin could be a difficult person, one comes away far more sympathetic to the man than to many of his successors and followers today.
Christopher Elwood is a historian of Christianity, with particular expertise in the early modern period and broad interest in other periods, who thinks of himself as a historical theologian. He is active in his local congregation and is a member of several organizations including the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, the American Historical Association, and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference.