Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)” as Want to Read:
Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  10,509 ratings  ·  400 reviews
Published first in 1536, the Institutes of the Christian Religion is John Calvin's magnum opus. Extremely important for the Protestant Reformation, the Institutes has remained important for Protestant theology for almost five centuries. Written to "aid those who desire to be instructed in the doctrine of salvation," the Institutes, which follows the ordering of the Apostle ...more
Kindle Edition, 1548 pages
Published (first published 1536)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Institutes of the Christian Religion, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 charact…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)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,509 ratings  ·  400 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Roy Lotz
Many wicked lies get mixed up with the tiny particles of truth in the writings of these philosophers.

I am here writing a review of John Calvin’s most famous book, but I can’t say I’ve actually read it. I have read an abridged version, one that preserves about 15% of the original. This is still a fair amount, considering that the unabridged version runs to well over 1,000 pages; but there is so much I missed that I feel a bit self-conscious writing a review.

John Calvin is arguably the most
Aug 09, 2008 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 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 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
John Calvin is likely one of the most vilified, misunderstood, and unread men still discussed today. His influence is remarkable, and his most famous work, Institutes, is his crowning achievement. This is an ambitious and towering work that attempts to set forth a systematic understanding of Scripture and a defense of Reformed doctrine against the apostate Catholic church.

What Calvin has given us, as Abraham Kuyper says, "Calvinism means the completed evolution of Protestantism, resulting in a b
Peter Bringe
I have now read this book three times: Battles’ translation in 2009, Beveridge’s translation in 2011-2013, and White’s translation of the earlier 1541 edition in 2020-2021. 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
[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
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
Life-changing. This was my second read through but I spent the entire year reading it this time. Every Christian should read this if for not other reason than to be forced to work through their theology. Calvin is so pastoral and encouraged me spiritually the whole year.

Four stars out of five just because Calvin gets repetitive at times.
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
Douglas Wilson
Jan 12, 2009 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.
Alex Sachak
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books ever written!
Brian Pate
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theo-systematic
I agree with what Kevin Bauder said about Calvin's Institutes: "This kind of reading is not primarily about agreement or disagreement. It’s about watching a first-rate theological mind at work." Written nearly 500 years ago, the Institutes remains one of the most significant Christian works of all time. Incredibly, Calvin wrote the first edition when he was 27 . . . without a word processor!

My favorite chapters were on knowing God (ch. 1), justification by faith (ch. 6), predestination (ch. 8),
Peter Jones
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no author living or dead that I turn to with as much profit as Calvin. This is Calvin at his best. Clear, pastoral, mean at times, balanced where you don't expect him to be, covering a vast array of Christian theology, rooted in the church fathers, relevant even today, organized, on and on. It is in my top five theology books of all time. If you haven't read it you should. ...more
Christian Barrett
I have dedicated six months to this book. I will not regret those months, for truly I have been edified by the words of Calvin.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Calvin wrote this tome to educate a king uneducated on the tenets of Christianity in the hopes that it would end persecution. I’m assuming Francis did not read it, but obviously many others have and have been influenced by Calvin’s theology.

The Institutes was carefully planned and executed, which is wonderful when you are looking to systematize something as complex as an entire religion. It was truly an accomplishment in this sense, I think. Within the work, Calvin’s determination to accept God
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
Mar 05, 2013 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
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magisterial. What is there to be said which hasn't already been said? ...more
Josh Jackson
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was a marathon! A few simple reflections on John’s masterpiece from a simple reader:

- He loves the OT.
- He loves the Church.
- He hates false teaching.
- Stuff on trinity, revelation and the bible was gold.
- His ecclesiology is firmly built on his christology. The atonement isn’t some abstract theory, but affects all all of life.
- Got some cracking quotes on the incarnation.
- He’s a seriously smart man. But still just a man. Admits his own lack of understanding, and at times gives t
Aug 03, 2007 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
Sep 06, 2012 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.
Every year, my husband and I embark on a joint yearly reading project that explores, in-depth, some work, theme, or figure of historical significance to the Christian faith. In 2016, we started in the obvious place—the Bible—using the ingenious 52-week plan that divides the Bible up by genre, a wonderful alternative to going chronologically. Being bogged down by Leviticus...a thing of the past! I wholeheartedly recommend this plan.

The entire Calvin's Institutes was to be for 2017, but it took th
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a way to start off the year.

Honestly, I have no idea how to write a short review of this. To say its scope is massive would be an understatement, and to say that its articulation of Christian doctrine is magisterial is not exaggeration. I suspect that most Calvinists have not read Calvin, for if they had they would be aware of his breadth and depth of scholarship, and how that breadth and depth would be a hallmark of the early Reformed tradition even where later theologians departed from Ca
Feb 09, 2012 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 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
Aug 15, 2008 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. ...more
Book 1 (2009): Very devotional. Some of the helpful topics were the noetic effect of sin and images of deity.

Book 2 (2010): Some of the helpful topics were the effect of the fall on free will, the similarity of the OT and the NT, and the hypostatic union.

Read 4.20 several times, including once for class in Spring 2013, and once in March 5-6, 2015, for prelims.
Matt Mason
Apr 27, 2012 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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please add page count to ISBN13: 9781558833647 3 8 Jan 18, 2021 09:01PM  
Free Reformed Chu...: Listen to the Institutes - free audiobook 1 5 Dec 29, 2017 09:37AM  
Reformed Pub: Reading Schedule 1 79 Dec 03, 2014 01:06PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Bondage of the Will
  • The Sovereignty of God
  • Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God
  • Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
  • Knowing God
  • Mortification of Sin
  • City of God
  • Chosen By God: Know God's Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children
  • The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
  • The Holiness of God
  • ESV Study Bible
  • Systematic Theology
  • The Religious Affections
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • The Cross of Christ
  • Westminster Confession Of Faith w/ Catechisms (1646-7) (and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directories for Public and Private Worship, Form of Presbyterial Church Government, the Sum of Saving Knowledge)
  • Slow Brewing Tea
  • The Summer Home #1 (Key Series, #1)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
John Calvin, né Jehan Cauvin, re-translated from Latin Iohannes 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 around 1530. After reli ...more

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
122 likes · 17 comments
“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!” 58 likes
“Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves.” 35 likes
More quotes…