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Institutes of the Christian Religion

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  7,015 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
Hardcover, 1059 pages
Published January 1st 1960 by Westminster/John Knox Press (first published 1536)
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Dave In Schaff's history of the Christian Church, he gives this quote, and says it was written to the Queen of Navarre.

Here is the footnote: "This…more
In Schaff's history of the Christian Church, he gives this quote, and says it was written to the Queen of Navarre.

Here is the footnote: "This characteristic expression he uses repeatedly; for instance, in the work on the Necessity of Reforming the Church, in Opera, VI. 503: "Canis, si quam suo domino violentiam inferri viderit, protinus latrabit: nos tot sacrilegiis violari sacrum Dei nomen taciti aspiceremus? Et ubi esset illud: Opprobria exprobantium tibi ceciderunt super me (Ps. 69:9)?" And, again in the same book (fol. 507), with the addition, that a dog would rather risk his life than be silent."(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Jul 18, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2007 justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if i ever finish this, i will immediately begin it again
Brent McCulley
Oct 04, 2013 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
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
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
Jan 04, 2017 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magisterial. What is there to be said which hasn't already been said?
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
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
Aug 03, 2007 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Donald Owens II
Jan 25, 2016 Donald Owens II rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-as-reference
I hesitate to review such an influential, comprehensive, volume. But recognizing that such reviews reveal more of the reviewer than the work, my thoughts may be of interest to my friends. I find this classic work deserves its fame and place. I noticed but a few weaknesses in reasoning, and at those points I realized his tendency to insult and belittle his detractors. This tendency, though doubtless common among his contemporaries, appeared to me to reduce his overall impact. Nevertheless I read ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jan 12, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
I finished Volume 2 of the other edition in October of 1985. And Volume 1 of the other edition in October of 1984.Finished Volume 1 Battles some time in mid-2009, and Volume 2 on December 26, 2009. What a magnificent architectural achievement.
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.
Mar 05, 2013 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
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
Mar 03, 2010 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
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
Nov 14, 2007 Max Benfer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wes Bishop
Dec 25, 2012 Wes Bishop rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2008 Gretchen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Matt Mason
Apr 27, 2012 Matt Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Sep 06, 2012 Michael-jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am actually reading the Henry Beveridge translation. Again, a book to be worked into your daily devotion time....3 pages a day will complete it in a year.
May 13, 2008 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephen Buerger
Jan 31, 2017 Stephen Buerger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A bit funny that the last chapter of the book is called "Of Civil Government."
Jun 19, 2011 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2017 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Would take too long to go into how readable, detailed, provocative and thoughtful it is. The biggest thing I took away from it is that most of what I've heard or read /about/ Calvin is not accurate. Beware of those who say, "so and so was influenced by Calvin" references until you've read this book for yourself because I daresay many who like to name drop Calvin (for good or for bad) have never actually read what he said.
Chiek Er
Feb 27, 2014 Chiek Er rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
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
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Reformed Pub: Reading Schedule 1 73 Dec 03, 2014 01:06PM  
Christian Theolog...: The Problem Of Sectarianism And Mutual Dialogue 42 24 Jun 24, 2014 06:37PM  
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • Systematic Theology
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2: God and Creation
  • The Bondage of the Will
  • The Christ of the Covenants
  • The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
  • Systematic Theology
  • A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
  • A Body of Divinity: Contained in Sermons upon the Westminster Assembly's Catechism
  • The Doctrine of God (A Theology of Lordship)
  • The Religious Affections
  • The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments
  • The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology, #6)
  • Holiness
John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564), né Jehan Cauvin, re-translated from Latin Calvinus into Jean Calvin in modern French, 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 aro ...more
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