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Institutes of the Christian Religion

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  4,989 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Here in a convenient one-volume edition is John Calvin's magnum opus. Written as an introduction to the Christian life, the Institutes remains the best articulation of Reformation principles and is a marvelous introduction to biblical Christianity.
Paperback, 1310 pages
Published May 1st 1959 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 1536)
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Years ago I took a course in Reformation Theology for which this book was a required text. It was a good course, taught by a knowledgeable professor, who did not force us to read the entire book. After the course was over I determined to read the entire book, but abandoned it in frustration when I got to about p. 250. Last year, I had to use it for work and decided that, since that was the case, I was going to conquer it finally.

The book is a long treatise on systematic theology, meant to provid
Douglas Wilson
Just finished Volume 1. The first time I read this I was still an Arminian, and I appreciated it then. Now I am simply amazed. What a treasure this is.
Aug 09, 2008 Husseyhousehold rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone alive today, wondering what God's Word teaches is necessary for our salvation.
Recommended to Husseyhousehold by: Dr. Frank Walker
I read Book One of the Four volumes in this edition, and learned that all the caricatures of Calvin and Calvinism are as far off the mark as equating a Christian with a Muslim terrorist of 9/11.

What most people call "hypercalvinism" is more often than not simply "Calvinism," or "biblical." The doctrine of election, far from being called "Calvinism," ought to be reclaimed as simply "truth." What is properly hypercalvinism, however, (i.e.: prayer and evangelism are unnecessary due to God being sov
Brent McCulley
Last January I begin an adventure that I had no idea how arduous it would be. As I begun to dive into Calvin's magisterial Institutes of the Christian Religion, I set out before me an endeavour that would slowly but surely change the way that I think on manifold facets. Although I would love to expound an innumerable levels on Calvin's thought, and what I have learned from this past year, I would rather, for brevity's sake, share very briefly three principles that Calvin has taught me which have ...more
if i ever finish this, i will immediately begin it again
Peter B.
I have now read this book twice (in 2009 and in 2011-2013). It is a classic work of Christianity, and one that I enjoy reading. It not only teaches systematic theology, but also practical theology, biblical theology, historical theology, and exhortations to the Christian life. And the humble spirit in which Calvin approaches his study is refreshing.

"When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, is comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minute
[Name Redacted]
Well, he's certainly...pedantic? I find that Calvin somehow manages to approach a religion grounded in love, mercy, compassion, purity and fidelity as though it were a cold, joyless intellectual exercise. He lacks the zeal of Luther, the passion of Augustine, the skill of Aquinas, and even the intellectualism of Evagrius... Were he alive today I somehow think he would be busy working for the IRS or writing the fine print in legal documents. It amazes me that my ancestors were so passionate about ...more
The basics and glories of the Christian faith are clearly stated in this book by the man who has had much evil spoken about him, John Calvin. Isn't it just like the devil to destroy the reputation of a man of God. In a day when doctrine is looked at as something to be ignored because it divided, this book brings the truth to light that every Christian should rally around the Gospel.

For Nine hundred years the Gospel was walled up inside the Catholic church, behind teachings like the treasury of
Justin Evans
Let's be upfront about this: I came into this reading disliking Calvin. I dislike almost everything about him. I dislike his rigidity. I dislike his scriptura sola thing. I dislike the way he twists his theology to satisfy two claims

i) God can't change
ii) People are worthless

even though God changes throughout the bible and people wouldn't be worth saving if we were worthless. I dislike the way he ignores the obvious conclusion from his theology, which was nicely smirked at in James Hogg's 'Priv
Once I became a Christian, this book was immensely helpful in teaching me to think carefully and thoroughly about the Christian faith, instead of being satisfied with a few platitudes, some assumed familial traditions, and a load of cultural baggage.

This book is the foundation of what is referred to as the Reformed branch of the church. It convinced me that Scripture reveals a view of the church that is well described by so-called Reformed doctrine. After encountering this book, I can say that b
Eye opening. Reading Calvin helped me to see why my understanding of the Bible had so many extra parts laying around after I had assembled it. I hope he can do the same for others.

I would recommend starting with the section on the differences/similarities of the old and new testaments in vol. 1
Mar 24, 2015 Trice marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
2012 Dec 6: I borrowed one of my dad's 2 2-volume copies (the paperback one) of Calvin's Institutes on my trip to the US in the summer of 2010 and with glee brought them back to join the population of my bookshelves. I have been doing lots of reading in the 2 and a half years since from those shelves (along with the shelves of others' - the wonder of having so many options!), but these 2 have not yet been opened. I did migrate Volume 1 to the cupboard of my night table, but it too has remained c ...more
Jacob Aitken
I actually finished this a long time ago. Finished it several times, actually. If people read Calvin, they will soon learn that all their stereotypes of him are wrong. He said nothing on predestination that Aquinas didn't say, for example. Most adherents outside the tradition, if honest, must confess that they have not read calvin all the way through.

Even if one rejects Calvin's theology, one must still come to grips with his breakthroughs in epistemology. A head-in-the-sand approach is no longe
This is a book in four volumes, representing nearly 4,000 pages written in the mid-sixteenth century in French and Latin, translated into English in the mid-19th century. The purpose of which is to provide guidance and direction in the study of the Holy Scriptures through a topical organization so that all may more fully understand the philosophy and teaching of the Christian religion. My notes are based upon the translation by Henry Beverage from 1845 and are limited to volume 1 only. Book one ...more
Lady Jane
John Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion provide a Scripture-based manifesto for Reform Christianity. Calvin revised and expanded it several times as his objectives for The Institutes changed from functioning like a small catechism to, ultimately, a guide to studying the Bible. One must rely on the framework conveyed by The Institutes almost like a rubric to correctly understand Calvin's Commentaries and other work.

Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne strove to make The Institutes, which consist
Max Benfer
I am currently going through this work for the second time, and find Calvin's prodigious mind and precocious arguments to be very encouraging and enlightening. In an age when many in the church are abandoning the authority of Scripture, it is refreshing to read, from the pen of this great theologian, "Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated...therefore, illumined by his power, w ...more
By far, one of my favorite works in theology. I love John Calvin's style and straight-forward explanation of theology. He takes care to be clear and precise in his discussion, but at the heart of it all, you can see a deeply pastoral heart. He is a man devoted to the Glory of the Lord and what it means to be ravished by His majesty and wonder.
Steven Wedgeworth
This probably better than Bavinck, which means the best thing ever. Time and time again, I discover that Calvin has already thought about that question and settled it. This is an easy-to read edition as well.
Matt Mason
Hard to put into words how great this was. Each page is marked by reverence for God and His self-revealing Word, lucid thinking, courage, and a grasp of historical theology. A theological and devotional masterpiece.
I spent one year and three days slowly working through the Institutes. What can I say about it? How about this: all other works which might be called systematic theologies are but shadows.
You can see the Calvin had trained as a lawyer by his arguments. He is clear, brings to bear lots of evidence, and makes sure to refute all the counter arguments. If you were not already aware you may notice the heavy reliance for important doctrinal points on the books of Isiah and John primarily. They are both often quoted in the text, and given the overall length of the work, that works out to a great number of quotations. I see his point, at times, was to try and reconcile the irreconcilable ...more
Chiek Er
Written in Latin by John Calvin during the 1500s, one of the greatest theologian ever lived, illuminates us readers on God's Goodness, Righteousness, and Providence in his omnibus of 4 books that form the institutes of the Christian Religion: 1. Knowledge of God The Creator. 2. Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers under the law and thereafter to us under the Gospel. 3. The mode of obtaining the grace of Christ, the benefits it confers, and the effects resul ...more
Calvin did not shy away from a fight. In the early years of the Reformation, he contributed with this defiant tome. Chapters with titles such as Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and His Adherents, in This Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls clearly show to what Calvin is reacting. At a time when the Church’s power, though waning, was still monumentally influential, it is no small feat for a man to defy centuries of established authority.

However, the work
Sean Higgins
Calvin is one of my theological/pastoral heroes. His Institutes still resonate 500 years after his birth, and I cannot think of many 1500 page systematic theologies I would so eagerly consume line by line.

That said, I don't love everything on every page. Book IV in particular seems excessive in its arguments against Catholicism, at least to my Protestant self. But, even that attention to detail demonstrates Calvin's love for sound doctrine that defines the true church. I also don't agree with h
Jake Wavra
Struggling to understand the hype surrounding Calvinist theology, I decided to go straight to the source. As predicted, the entire first half of this painfully drawn-out collection of essays attempts to strip mankind of free will, depicting God as the proud author of evil in the world. It’s a horribly depressing misrepresentation of Christianity, yet somehow continues gaining popularity. Calvin often contradicts his assertions with the same passage he uses to prove a point. For example, Lam. 3:3 ...more
Wes Bishop
Livrivox, a public domain audio book program, had book one of John Calvin's "famous" work. Downloading it I hoped to gain insight into one of Christianity's more famous theologians. To put it bluntly, I have never experienced the thinker more dull, narrow minded, or unoriginal in his development of thoughts and presentation of ideas. Knowing something of Calvin's personal history (his support of murdering theologians and academics who disagreed with him) I have a new found hatred for the French ...more
Originally written as a handbook for new Christians, John Calvin covers nearly every topic of doctrine which the church deals with. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Calvin is witty and meticulous. He gets very specific in each of the subjects he addresses. His level of scholarship is something that Christians today would do well to expose themselves to.

In this abridged version, every subject was nicely condensed into bite-sized pieces. One day, I will read the full, 1600-page, two-volume se
Christopher M.
It's interesting that no one becomes a Calvinist without really thinking about it. Our default position as humans seems to be "Give me free will or give me death!" However, this book and ones like it have been for me the starting point to a fuller understanding of what God is really doing in the world, who He is, and what place humans (including myself) have in history. This book influences everything...literally everything I believe about the Bible and how my ministry ought to look. Give it a c ...more
Chad Warner
Feb 08, 2015 Chad Warner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, Reformed, Calvinists
This is a summary of Christian theology by Protestant Reformer John Calvin. I'm a Christian in the Reformed tradition, so I felt was time I read Calvin’s classic work. I was mainly interested in his explanation of predestination (election and reprobation). I found other topics thought-provoking as well, including the image of God, free will, original sin, depravity, church offices, and baptism.

In most cases, Calvin provides ample scriptural support for his stances. The work is well-organized int
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Reformed Pub: Reading Schedule 1 70 Dec 03, 2014 01:06PM  
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  • Systematic Theology
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • The Religious Affections
  • The Bondage of the Will
  • The Christ of the Covenants
  • Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments
  • Systematic Theology
  • A Body of Divinity: Contained in Sermons upon the Westminster Assembly's Catechism
  • Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2: God and Creation
  • Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
  • The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (A Theology of Lordship)
  • Westminster Confession Of Faith (1646-7) (and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directories for Public and Private Worship, Form of Presbyterial Church Government, the Sum of Saving Knowledge, National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant)
  • Concise Theology
  • The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564), né Jean Cauvin, was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against ...more
More about John Calvin...
Commentaries, 22 Vols Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life A Reformation Debate Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms Truth for All Time: A Brief Outline of the Christian Faith

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“No one can travel so far that he does not make some progess each day. So let us never give up. Then we shall move forward daily in the Lord's way. And let us never despair because of our limited success. Even though it is so much less than we would like, our labour is not wasted when today is better than yesterday!” 29 likes
“Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves.” 20 likes
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