Thank God today for John Calvin, a man who treasured God’s glory

Today is the 500th anniversary of the birth of reformer John Calvin, an important man in the history of the Christian church. To help mark the occasion, the Desiring God blog is doing a nine-part series on his biography. Here is the first part:

Five hundred years ago today, he was born Jean Cauvin in Noyon, France—about 70 miles north of Paris. His father was Gerard, son of a barrelmaker and boatman. Gerard was a lawyer, and it was his law practice that brought him into the everyday sphere of the church.

The young Jean benefitted immensely through his father’s ecclesiastical connections. He was able to be educated privately with the children of the wealthy De Montmor family and eventually garnered church support for his further studies.

Gerard originally planned a career for his son in the church. But when things later soured with the dioceses, he would redirect his son toward law.

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, and unknowingly launched the Reformation in earnest, the young Calvin was a mere 8 years old. He likely heard very little, if anything, about the rebellious German monk until he left for university in Paris at age 14. There he would hear more.

Portrait of CalvinAs part of the celebration, Desiring God is, today only, offering THL Parker’s 1954 biography of John Calvin, called “Portrait of Calvin,” for only $2. You can also download it for free. Why care about a man who lived hundreds of years ago and is not without controversy? I think John Piper gives good reason in his foreward to “Portrait of Calvin.”

“I am eager for people to know Calvin not because he was without flaws, or because he was the most influential theologian of the last 500 years (which he was), or because he shaped Western culture (which he did), but because he took the Bible so seriously, and because what he saw on every page was the majesty of God and the glory of Christ.”

Who was John Calvin?

This year marks the 500th anniversary of reformer John Calvin’s birth. To mark that anniversary, Reformation Trust has published a collection of essays from some of the top reformed teachers and pastors looking at Calvin’s life, ministry and teachings. The list of authors in the 20-chapter book is impressive:  Derek W. H. Thomas, Sinclair B. Ferguson, D. G. Hart, Harry L. Reeder, Steven J. Lawson, W. Robert Godfrey, Phillip R. Johnson, Eric J. Alexander, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, Richard D. Phillips, Thomas K. Ascol, Keith A. Mathison, Jay E. Adams, Philip Graham Ryken, Michael Horton, Jerry Bridges, and Joel R. Beeke.

About the book, D.A. Carson says: “On the five-hundredth anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, it is utterly fitting that a book of essays should appear that is designed for ordinary Christians, not scholars. The scholars will have their conferences, of course, and rightly so, but here is a collection of essays that will inform and move ordinary readers to grasp something of the profound gift God gave to the church in the person and ministry—and especially the writings—of Calvin.”

Ligonier Ministries, of which Reformation Trust is a division, is selling the book as well as offering a sample chapter online. It would do anyone well to better understand a man who had a profound effect on church history and was probably one of the greatest Christian thinkers.