The past two millennia of church history have left us a wealth of theological writings and books on Christian spirituality. Today, Ben Shaw identifies which figure he would choose if he could read the works of only one Christian author.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Joining us this week on the Ligonier campus is Dr. Ben Shaw, professor of Old Testament at Reformation Bible College. Dr. Shaw, if you could read only one author from church history, who would it be and why?
DR. BEN SHAW: That’s a difficult question to answer, and I kind of narrowed it down to two before I narrowed it down to one. The two options that I thought of were Augustine and Calvin, and I finally decided to go in favor of Calvin for a couple of reasons.
Number one, he’s about 1,100 years later than Augustine, and so a lot of the issues that were perhaps unclear in Augustine’s day have been clarified in the intervening millennium. Second, I think Calvin is a little easier to get into without some kind of background or introduction. Thirdly, because Calvin commented on almost the entirety of the Bible, and his commentaries are actually pretty easy to read, even for the beginner.
On the other hand, Calvin didn’t write anything like the City of God, and I would certainly commend Augustine’s Confessions to anyone who would be interested. But Calvin, I’d say start with the Institutes and then move on perhaps to his commentary on Genesis, his commentary on Psalms is great devotional reading, and then his commentary on Isaiah.
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