Call of Calvin

I have just finished reading Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination and I have enjoyed it immensely. As usual, a rapid read needs to be followed up with a more considered read at a later stage.

At the end of the book Boettner presents a short biography of Calvin. (This has been useful since it may come as a surprise that this Calvinist should know so little about the man! I suspect I am not alone.) One cannot but be amazed and stirred by the portrayal of a man who was converted to evangelicalism and pursued the reformation of the Church single-mindedly to the point of risking his life.

I was particularly struck by Boettner’s account of how he came to be the pastor of the evangelical Church of Geneva. Calvin had always seen himself as a theologian not as a pastor. As a fugitive, he was only passing through Geneva, planning only to spend one night there. Yet Farel, the Genevan reformer, saw him as God’s man to save the reformation in that city. A quotation from Schaff’s account of the meeting between the two men:

Farel at once called on Calvin and held him fast, as by divine command. Calvn protested, pleading his youth, his inexperience, his need of further study, his natural timidity and bashfulness, which unfitted him for public action. But all in vain. Farel, ‘who burned with a marvellous zeal to advance the Gospel,’ threatened him with the curse of Almighty God if he preferred his studies to the work of the Lord, and his own interest to the cause of Christ. Calvin was terrified and shaken by these words of the fearless evangelist, and felt ‘as if God from on high had stretched out His hand.’ He submitted, and accepted the call to the ministry, as teacher and pastor of the evangelical Church of Geneva (Boettner, pp. 401-2)

Like many others, I can relate to the feelings of Calvin at being presented with this daunting task. But what about Farel threatening ‘…him with the curse of Almighty God’? Now, that’s what I call a ‘call’ to the ministry!

And, of course, the rest is history…

Call of Calvin