the education of John Calvin

Despite what some blogs will tell you, we haven’t yet reached the anniversary of Calvin’s birth.  But we’re getting close.  I’d say next week, but I’ve been wrong before (I’m the Jack Van Impe of guessing birthdays).  To mark the impending occasion, my friend Chris Brauns wonders what it would take to bring Calvin up to speed so that he could minister well in our world (e.g., should he be required to watch a season of Seinfeld?).  Read his ideas and contribute your own here:  http://www.chrisbrauns.com/2009/06/29/giving-calvin-homework-how-would-we-bring-calvin-up-to-speed-on-500-years-of-history/.

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  1. Tertullian2009 June 30, 2009 — 8:56 am

    Mike:

    I think your comments on Chris’ blog are worth repeating and expanding. As depraved as our society is (and it is!) I think Calvin would be more upset by the current state of the church. Imagine Calvin at the General Synods of the RCA or CRC as they tip-toe around homosexuality and other issues of doctrinal import. Or imagine taking him to Family Christian Stores to check out the bestsellers – books and music – and maybe listening to a few sermons from some of our rockstar pastors. On the other hand, it would be really funny to watch Calvin get run out of most conservative churches for drinking wine. I don’t think Calvin would be terribly surprised that society in general has devolved into a narcissistic, hedonistic, and morally vacuous pigsty of debauchry (have him watch Sex and the City as well as Seinfeld). I think he would be more interested to see what the church is doing – or, more to the point, not doing – about it. Even churches that are on the right track still have to battle with religious consumerism, emergent/mission/post-whatever – ism, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, and the general lack of ecumenism that seems to define American Christianity. I think Calvin would just be heartbroken at how the church has allowed itself to become the peddler of vague spirituality instead of God’s chosen people, elected and sent in the Holy Spirit to bear witness to his truth and the salvation that only Christ can supply. Calvin might just look around at our churches today and ask, “Is this what my work has come to?” We’ve spent a lot of time this year – and we’ll continue to (and rightly so) – rehasing Calvin’s contributions to the church. Perhaps we should also spend a little time considering how well we have continued Calvin’s reformation.

  2. Well said. Your handle reminds me that it would be an even bigger stretch to bring Tertullian into our evangelical world. Imagine his reaction the first time he heard a preacher refer to a movie in his sermon!

  3. Jonathan Shelley July 2, 2009 — 9:43 am

    I’d like to have Calvin read some Stanley Grenz (Renewing the Center or Beyond Foundationalism), anything by McLaren, and maybe An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. If he wasn’t bed-ridden sick before, he would be after that. I also think it would be fun to get his reactions to Moltmann and Pannenberg, as well as feminist, liberation, and missional theologies. But I think the most fun would be taking him to an SBL or ETS convention. I wonder what he would think about the current state of scholarship and the topics under discussion.

    PS – how do you think he would react if he visited the Meeter Center at Heckman Library? Do you think he would be honored or embarassed that so many resources had been dedicated to studying him?

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