English 233: Introduction to Western Humanities - Baroque & Enlightenment

Introductory readings in John Calvin and the Reformed tradition

Required readings for our course are restricted to the following:

(1) Begin by reviewing the material on Calvin in Matthew and Platt, The Western Humanities, 3rd Ed. (p. 333).

(2) Then study carefully the excerpts from Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (first published in1536) on human sin and the power of God.

(3) Finally, examine the dispute between Calvin and Bishop Sadoleto of Geneva.

(4) Don't neglect the Study Guide that accompanies this second reading.

Other resources on Calvin and Calvinism

Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion are available in full, in plaintext, divided by book.  There are two additional sites under construction which are making this work available in HTML format.  

Calvin wrote detailed commentaries on the books of the Bible.  Of particular relevance to issues central to our course is his Commentary on Genesis, and in particular his exegesis of the creation and fall narratives.  The plaintext version here (of Volume 1 only of what Calvin had to say just about Genesis) is unfortunately not divided into sections, and so is a huge file.  It includes an introduction by the editor and translator, and runs up into the narratives concerning Abraham (Chapter XXIII).  Volume 2 of Calvin's Commentary on Genesis is also on-line.  Other commentaries currently available that Calvin wrote on various books of the Bible are to be had in similar format at the same site (Wheaton College's Christian Classics Ethereal Library), and more are being added continually.

A useful window into the basics according to Calvin is the Catachism of the Church Of Geneva that he composed as "a form of instruction for children."

Classic systematic statments of Reformed creed that were formulated after Calvin's death by theologians determined to be faithful to his teachings include

The Canons of Dordt (1619).

Here's a succinct definition of "Calvinism" based on this classic statement, provided by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.  How appropriate that these descendants of the Dutch Reformed fathers propose the acronym "TULIP" as a convenient mnemonic for memorizing the basic points!

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), which is also available in a version "with Scripture Proofs".  Since questions are raised by attempts to answer questions, there is also An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by Robert Shaw.

A classic Calvinist sermon - arguably the most famous sermon ever delivered in America - is Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". Edwards (1703-1758) was the foremost Puritan theologian in New England and the leading force in the religious revival in America known as "The Great Awakening."

You might find it interesting to review what the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia has to say on the subjects of John Calvin and Calvinism.

There are as well a goodly number of contemporary Calvinist statements on the Web.  You might begin with C.H. Spurgeon's A Defense of Calvinism.  There's also an account of a persistent conflict within American Protestantism, between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Feeling ambitious?  You might check out the monumental tome by Ellen G. Wright, The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan: The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation.  You'll see how universal history -- the cosmic struggle -- looks from the standpoint of Reformed Theology.

A comprehensive collection of web resources on the Reformation in general is to be found at Reformation Ink.  A rich collection of Historic Church Documents important Reformed tradition is maintained by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.

  Go to the Home Page of the course.

  Suggestions, comments and questions are welcome.  Please send them to lyman@ksu.edu .

      Contents copyright 1999 by Lyman A. Baker

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      This page last updated 02 September 1999.