I was introduced to the writings of David B. Calhoun when he published his book with Banner of Truth, Knowing God and Ourselves: Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally. I enjoyed that book immensely, and this book is just as good. In Calhoun’s latest book, In Their Own Words: The Testimonies of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and John Bunyan, Calhoun works as a masterful editor as he labors to introduce readers to these 4 great men of church history by assimilating their own words from other works to provide accessible autobiographies to the readers. Calhoun’s voice is limited, but the places he chooses to insert himself make the reading experience more pleasurable.
I was interested and excited about this work because I don’t know of any other book that assimilates the biographical writings of these men in such a brief, accessible format. This book is around 230 pages, and by the end of the book, readers are acquainted with the personal struggles and victories of these men. The book isn’t so much a study of their doctrine as much as it is about how their doctrine animated their personal lives and commitment to ministry. I found it encouraging to be reminded of Bunyan’s struggle with sin and his view of himself. I found it comforting to know that Calvin’s desire to be left alone instead of fulfilling a pastoring role in a difficult community and church (although the Lord changed his heart and never gave him his desire of being left alone).
Calhoun assumes no knowledge of the reader but puts the book together in a way that is beneficial for those who are well acquainted with these men and those who know nothing about them. I commend this wholeheartedly. I personally read it during my devotional times as I found it to have a devotional feel to the way it read. Happy reading!