Sunday, November 15, 2009

Calvin at 500

This year is the semi-millennium of John Calvin's birth. My congregation has been celebrating with a three-week Sunday school session on Calvin and his legacy. Naturally, Presbyterians turn a birthday party into an opportunity for school.

I got to teach the third and final session this morning, on Calvinism and modern culture. I taught a whole course on this subject a few years ago, so I was brutally compressing a hurried term into a lightning-quick class.

We talked about the crucial role the Reformed tradition in creating democracy, the Protestant work ethic, science, and in general the "affirmation of ordinary life." This is exciting story, energizing to teach. The class was a rich one, and may lead to a longer course of study in the future.

The best part for me was articulating that the Reformed tradition has made a distinctive way of life out of an idea that is found in all Biblical faith - God made the universe as a great story and great task, in which we all have a part. God made a meaningful universe, as only God can. And God gave each and every one of us a life of work within that meaningful universe, work that is itself meaningful.

Thank you John Calvin for articulating that idea, decently and in order.


randy said...

i'm more a fan of calvin the comic strip character.

Anonymous said...

"This man, undoubtedly the greatest of Protestant divines, and perhaps, after St. Augustine, the most perseveringly followed by his disciples of any Western writer on theology, was born at Noyon in Picardy, France, 10 July, 1509, and died at Geneva, 27 May, 1564." Catholic Encyclopedia

"Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent."
John Calvin