Thursday, July 10, 2008

Book Review: Calvin: For Armchair Theologians

Elwood, Christopher. 2002. Calvin For Armchair Theologians. Illustrations by Ron Hill.

Ever since I became "reformed" several years ago (2001? 2002? 2003?) I've been curious about John Calvin. (And Martin Luther. And the Protestant Reformation. And other Reformers especially those in England who braved the turbulent times of Henry VIII, Bloody Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. And while I'm at it, I'll admit a curiosity for all things Puritan.) I haven't quite been brave enough to tackle Institutes of the
Christian Religion yet. (Both intimidated and busy.) But I have made time for Calvin for Armchair Theologians. Actually, I think I've read this one twice. Once in pre-blogging days and once now.

The title says it all. Anything and everything you wanted to know about John Calvin laid out in such a way that the average reader, the non-theologian, the non-scholar, can understand. This is just one of many in a series for "Armchair Theologians."

You've got some biography, some history, some politics, even some geography, but you've also got theology. The heart of this book is chapter three which is entitled "orienting theology." It is an outline of sorts of Calvin's greatest work the Institutes of the Christian

The at times irreverent illustrations are done by Ron Hill. And a few of them are real gems. My favorite being one that shows man burdened down by original sin with man-made wings strapped on to his arms, squatting down getting ready to jump, to try to lift his way up, to try to fly.

The book is interesting. It didn't answer all my questions. But it was a nice place to start.

I'd also recommend The Reformation for Armchair Theologians. I think I perhaps even liked it better than this one. The Luther for Armchair Theologians was good but not great. It could have been written better. (They all have different authors.) And coming in October 2008...Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians.)

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