A (New) Little Book on the Christian Life – J. Calvin

Reformation Trust (part of Ligonier Ministries) has recently issued a fresh translation and edition of John Calvin’s short work on the Christian life, which they have titled A Little Book on the Christian Life (2017). They sent me a review copy, and today I make you aware of it by way of this post.

Drawn from his larger work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, this book has gone through several editions and translations over the years, perhaps most popular the one by Henry Van Andel (former professor of Dutch at Calvin College), an English translation of a Dutch edition titled Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life (Baker, 1952). This one remains in print from Baker (2004). More recently The Banner the Truth has also published a fresh edition under the title A Guide to Christian Living (2009).

In their “Preface” to this new edition from Reformation Trust, the editors, Aaron C. Denlinger and Burk Parsons, briefly trace the history of this fine little book, explaining why a new translation was made. They also intend this popular work to be issued in connection with the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation celebrated this year.

For our purposes today, we quote from the first chapter, which is titled “Scripture’s Call to Christian Living.” Here is Calvin in his own words:

To begin with, what better foundation can Scripture give for the pursuit of righteousness than to tell us we should be holy because God Himself is holy? Moreover, when we were scattered and wandering like sheep, lost in the maze of the world, God found us and gathered us to Himself. When we contemplate this relationship between ourselves and God, let us remember that holiness is the bond of our union with Him. Not, of course, because we enter into fellowship with Him by the merit of our own holiness. Rather, we first of all cling to Him, and then, having received His holiness, we follow wherever He calls us. For it is characteristic of His glory that He has no fellowship with sin and impurity. Holiness is the goal of our calling. Therefore we must consistently set our sights upon holiness if we would rightly respond to God’s calling. To what purpose did God pull us out of the wickedness and pollution of this world – wickedness and pollution in which we were submerged – if we allow ourselves to wallow in such wickedness and pollution for the rest of our lives? [pp.6-7]

If you have never read this classic of the Reformed Christian faith, you are urged to do so this year as part of your Reformation heritage reading. The book is reasonably priced and may be found in multiple formats on the Reformation Trust website. Highly recommended – a must for every true believer.