But these are books I want to plug in some way. Today's book is a classic. Many of you have already read it cover-to-cover--multiple times. You've been gripped by its lofty view of God and warmed by fresh, feeling devotion to God.
I'm talking about The Institutes of the Christian Religion.
This is probably the easiest book review I've ever written because the book is so well-known and studied little needs to be said really. There's even a Wikipedia entry for the book. And during a busy morning, it's an ideal book to "review."
But what those who may be intimidated by its size and the notion of "theology" will certainly miss is that The Institutes are aimed at strengthening the devotion of the "average Christian" to Christ. It's a book that aims at the heart as well as the head. Though studied by scholars, this is no cold academic tome. It's a summons to appear in prayerful awe before our awesome God and Savior.
The other thing likely to be missed by those who've avoided The Institutes is the centrality of the Holy Spirit in Calvin's thought. Well did Warfield remark that Calvin is "the theologian of the Holy Spirit." When you read The Institutes and Calvin's sermons, you encounter the Holy Spirit with deeper appreciation for Him and His ministry in the believer's life. If you're looking to learn more about God the Holy Spirit--better yet, to learn to "keep in step with the Spirit"--without the excess and weirdness that can be found on the shelves of Christian bookstores today, you'll want to read The Institutes and the sermons of Calvin.
The Institutes became a defining work of the Reformation for a reason. Calvin's genius and scholarship is still unparalleled and this work still sets the standard for biblical truth coupled with zeal for the Savior. If you've been avoiding The Institutes, let me encourage you to correct that mistake today!
The Institutes have been through numerous printings. And today, you can read the 1536 edition, Beveridge's translation, or get both Beveridge and Battles' translations along with Calvin's commentaries, four volumes of sermons, some letters, and four biographies on CD for $19.95. Or, download for free the massive pdf at CCEL.