Page 1

their approach. Still, all of the sermons retainedan expositorycharacter and in almosteverycase,nuggets of insight that were not apparenton a straight-forwardreadingof the text came as a result of digging into the original languages. While it seemed to naturally flow from the preacher's style rather than purposely inserted for this occasion,thesereferencesto the original ianguageswas suitable given Calvin'semphasison the forma1 training of ministers including the teachingof Hebrew and Greek. Preachingfrom Calvin's pulpit and before a congregation that included many renowned preachers and scholarsis an unusualexpenence, and most acknowledged that they felt an unusual senseof prinlege as they preparedfor this assignment. Ugandan archbishop Rev. Henry Orombi reflectedthe sentiment of many when he contrastedhis "fear

500th Calvin's Personalreflections R A YP E N N I N G S

If we celebratedthe fiftieth or one-hundredthanniverSZI] (or multiple there-of) for every event of historical significance,there would not be time for much else. However,that the 500th anniversaryof aroundthe rvorld, John Calvinsbirth on July 10, 2009 promptedconferences the publicationof manl' volumes,and articlesin newspapersincluding the WashingtonPost,Nclr \brh Timesand the Wall StreetJournal, is indicative of John Calvin'ssignifrcance. Born and raisedrn a Reformedsetting,I havealwaysconsiderecl J,.hn Calvin as a persono[ ireat significancealthoughadmittedly,his personalityhas alwaysseemedal-'r..iand hard to identifywith. Truth be told. asa ihrid (and

even still), I find \tanrn Luther'scharactermore interesting.,lllhruqh as I maturedand Reformedtheology,thereu'asl;::..' ioubt in my mind that I ri'rs i L.rl\1nist.What impressedme sincem\' :rc:.1{e years, when I first tackle; :le Instifutes, was that in Calvin is [r'ru:r;.i svstemthat not only made sen-- ..i horv I might standjustified befr.rclio.i :lter I die, but alsohow I mi*h: ii.,ntv God while I am alive. Being.rlrr.c',viss!)mething more than a preFi:.i::.':.for etemity and being made readr':.' i:c. I wasnow of standing in the pulpit of John equippedto realjr'.:',': Calvin" with his desireto "be a faithAnd so Geneva.:: Ilerre's Cathedral,the I-auditoire;ni hrstoricalsites ful servantof JesusChnst." Noting wrth C:.',-.:.:eve speclalsignificanceand I L.okcd fonvardto the associated how much he still had to leam in the opportunity [o e\:{:-..:.1' them first-hand. My first imp:.'ssionswere disschoolof grace,he noted, "l am not appointing. On li.': r.r:;rda)' I arrived,Genevahosteda rive-type event. I a very good student,but He is a very wanderedfrom r:-.r:..:.:. io exploreold Genevaand r,l'asme: bv crowdswho n4tiPnt tecehcr " :.':.r ga1'prideparadethan a Calrin ...n[erence.I noseemeddressed::..':'J It is tempting,but ultimatelyunveript'rs'.rdon its walls, ticed a downtou:: -:r':;.i that sportedperiod-cartoorrs fiable,to claim Cahrn'sendorsement mocking Cah'rn;:.: ;.ii:rism. Throughout the citl'u'erc advertisements as justification for our or.rn uews. for a Calvin plai' . :'. ::iher investigation,it appearedthe productionwas Yet, I do agreewith the delegate "a causticlook .:: .,'.'.-.:. $'hich, the websiteassured,was not redemptive who. rvalkinglrom the sanctuary aftowardsCalvin" \rl:'..i j llearly wasnot excitedaboutthe CalvinI had come ter the last evening,suggested to me to celebrate. that Calvin would've approved of That changedli..: ::':r: :.rming as severalhundred, perhapsas many as a ''if this conference, for no other reathousand,gathr':.:*: :'.r '::irp at the historic St. PierresCathedral.Therers son,than the God-glonfying,Christsomethingabou: .:r.:-::.r:.J:n{the physicalspacethat Calvrninhabitedthat uplifting preaching which we have helps understan- :.-.. r.i:'...i-\'rn a differentway Knowing that Calvrnsufheard from this pulpit." It was the feredvariousph'.::-.:..::.:'..'its.I climbedthe stepsfrom the iower city to the power of the word whrchwascentral cathedral(93 unc'..::.:i.ri rnd felt somepain in my knees. The privilegeof to Calvin'svision for the growth of sittingin St.Pierc: . :ri...r:;r.dav afterday,listeningto the faithfulexposition the church, and for at leastfive days of God'sword. rc:'..:.:. j :'.. t'rfrvhatit must havebeenlike to live in Geneva in earlyJuly 2009, that power was and to hear the ::... ::'::-llng s'hich Calvin delivered. I realizedthat the evidentfrom Calvinspulpit. thousandsof rei'.:i.:.:.'r :..' -.rrneto Genevatook in that preaching,and eventually fannedou: : ::-':.'. -..unlriesin the world which in Gods providence. causedthe sprea; : ':.: i.:-':rned faith. I alsorealizedhow privilegedwe are in our day,wher.: ::.',:,- -: .1,:ibundance of literature in print and electronic form, while fir'e-'::.'-:.':- li.' :he pnnted word wasstill relativelyscarce,and -tt.h

09,2009 l2 Christian RenewalSeptembel







I have written elsewhere (http://cardus.calcomment/article/l109/) on why I think Calvin, in spite of some misgrvings, would havebeen pleasedwith this commemoration. There are two impressionsthat will linger longestin my own mind. The first is the comprehensiveness of the effectof Calvin(save Antarctica)was represented. ism. Every continent To worship in this historic cathedral,where refugeesfrom many countries gatheredin the 16th century and were taught the Reformedfaith, only to be subsequentlyused by God to spread the gospel of sovereigngraceback to their home countries,uniting heart and voice in worship of a God who in providence arrangesthe affairs of this world to accomplishHis purposes,is truly awe-inspiring. My day-job consistsof devising strategiesto assistorganizationsin accomplishingobjectives. But to stand in an assemblygatheredfrom around the world and to reflect on the history that brought us all together,is to realize how small man and his plans really are and how great God is. That greatnessis not only reflectedin the geographic scopeof the attendees'addresses,but also in the effectsof the ideasof John Calvin for every sphereof life. The secondimpressionthat lingers is the worship experience- both the preachingand the singing.The voicesof worshippers enthusiasticallysinging psalms in praise of their maker, the echo of their song reverberatingthrough the cathedral,send shiversup the spine. To hear preachers faithfully extolling the sovereigntyand glory of God, opening the Word with clarity and power, was soul-refreshing. It inspired me with wonder at what glory might be like. The contrast of this worship experiencewith Geneva's antipathy towards Calvin was stark. The civic-sponsored play "concludedwith the Calvin characterlifting a shroud from statuesof Calvin and three other Protestantreformers, then tuming to the stone Calvin and berating him for his repressiveruIe." The motives for such animosity are a tangrbleexampieof the biblical truth which Calvin so often reminded his audience: the natural heart is enmity against God with Christ nothing more than a foolish stumbling-block to unbelievers. The countercultural messageof Calvinism- that God, not man, is the measure of all things - doesnot naturally find an enthusiasticaudience. Thankfully the rest of the text was also on display in Geneva. Christ, for thosewho believe,is "the power of God and the wisdomof God" (1 Cor l:24). If the worship of God on earth can so lift the heart, and we know from His Word that it is such a small begirming of what awaits us in glory what might the future hold? SolaDeo Glona for what God has done, is doing, and will do.

(Abvd Thehandwriting on the wallby an unknownartist wasnone toocomplimentarytowardJohnCalvin; (Belov)SinclairFerguson,center,oneof the speakers,talks with fellowconferees in Geneva.

Personal Reflections - Calvin's 500th  

Published in Christian Renewal, Vol 28 NO. 1 Sept 9, 2009 pg 12-13

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you