The Pastoral Heart of John Calvin
Calvin is an interesting historical figure just as there’s controversy about Luther who was he, how do we understand his psychology’s, language, some of the problems with Luther. The problem with Calvin is in a sense that he is hardly viewed as human. There’s a little book written a number of decades ago now called “the Humanity of John Calvin.” Sort of as if it was in doubt that Calvin has almost been treated sometimes like you know, - a great disembodied brain in Geneva just sitting there thinking and turning out work. And if we think about him beyond just being a brain, then many see him just as sort of gloomy, oppressive you know the definition of a was it of the Calvinist or of Puritan, it doesn’t really matter.
But a Puritan is one who fears that somewhere someone is having a good time. And that isn’t fair to Puritanism and it certainly isn’t fair to John Calvin. But it is sort of the general impression that Calvin has left in the popular mind of our day. And I think it is really worthy investment to try to get back behind that to see the real Calvin. That’s why I wrote my little book on Calvin, “Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor” because I think the most important thing about Calvin was first of all that he was a pilgrim following Christ to find the truth as it was in Christ. And secondly, that he was a pastor. I think for Calvin, all of his theological work was to help him and others do pastoral work. He wasn’t — you know we have a lot of people today who are pastors who really want to be theologians and they just need to be pastors to pay the bills. That is tragic for the life of the church. We need pastors who want to be pastors, who want to preach and who want to be out with the people to help them. Calvin was a pastor like that. And he did his theological work and his biblical studies to help him and others in the pastoral work.
And in that sense we see the heart of Calvin. He wasn’t just a brain. He thought getting things right in your brain was important but it was so that Christian lives could be properly balanced in the Biblical way and that was his passion.