One of the more encouraging recent trends in Christian publishing has been the appearance of biographies and works designed to help Christians understand how God has worked throughout church history. One of my favorite series on this has been Theologians on the Christian life that looks at key figures in the history of God’s people. In the latest installment of the Theologians on the Christian life series Dr. Michael Horton looks at Calvin on the Christian life. Calvin is a man who has a long history in the life of the Church. He’s rightly known as a Pastor but what is often overlooked is he was a pastor first. In this book Horton takes his readers into the Reformer’s personal piety and practical theology, drawing from his Institutes and biblical comments and other works.
Horton starts in the proper place with explaining the historical context of Calvin’s life. This is important because understand the time of the life of a theologian under consideration is crucial in order to understand why he said what he did during his ministry. Part one looks at what it means to live before God and part two considers what it means to live in God. Here Horton helps us understand Calvin on Christ the mediator and the gift of union with Christ. Part three considers what it means to live in the context of the local church, knowing and serving Him through the means of grace, in public, prayer and more. In the final section of the book Horton considers Calvin’s view on the government, vocation and the second coming of Christ.
Two of my favorite chapters in this book are chapter six and chapter thirteen. Christians today need to understand union with Christ and the doctrine of vocation. Understanding union with Christ is essential to understanding the gospel and what the Lord is doing in one’s life in growing them into the likeness of Jesus. The doctrine of vocation is one of the most neglected aspects of practical theology today. Calvin, the Reformers and the Puritans rightly emphasized the doctrine of vocation in their own day. Understanding the doctrine of vocation leads to understanding how you should live as a scattered members of the Body of Christ. Christians gather together on Sundays to worship the Lord and then scatter to their various vocations and jobs. These are some reasons why I enjoyed these two chapters.
Whether you are a new or seasoned Christian, I recommend reading Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever. Reading this book will help you gain insight into what the Reformers sought to do in the Reformation. In a day when the Reformers and Puritans are gaining in popularity, I encourage you to learn what the Reformation was all about by reading Calvin on the Christian Life by Dr. Michael Horton. This would be a good book for Bible College and seminary students to read along with serious-minded lay people interested in Reformational theology. I highly recommend this book and believe it is a needed resource for every student of church history.