Calvin Wednesdays #16: DeYoung’s Lessons from Calvin’s Biography
Kevin DeYoung has written out seventeen thoughtful lessons that he picked up from reading through Bruce Gordon’s biography of John Calvin. I’d encourage you to read through all of them, but here a few that really stuck out to me:
1. If you want to make an impact beyond your little lifespan, teach people the Bible. “What made Calvin Calvin, and not another sixteenth-century writer was his brilliance as a thinker and writer, and, above all, his ability to interpret the Bible” (viii).
4. The best friendships are forged in fire. “All his life Calvin would define friendship in terms of a commitment to a common cause; it was within that framework that he was able to express fraternity and intimacy” (29).
5. True strength is knowing your weakness. “However, one of his greatest strengths in his later career was an acute awareness that despite remarkable confidence in his calling and intellect he remained dangerously prone to moments of poor judgment on account of anger” (91).
7. Beware the temptation to want to be proved right in everything. “From the pulpit, before the Consistory and Council, and from the printing press, issued forth a single-minded determination to have the last word and to be proved right. This was not simply for the sake of ego: he was absolutely certain that he was right” (145).
14. Every hero (except for Jesus) is a divided hero. “This was Calvin’s divided self: the confidence in his calling as a prophet and apostle set against his ever present sense of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. . . .It was his acute sensitivity to the gap between what was and what should be that distressed him” (334-35).
16. Work hard, but don’t neglect the body. “Calvin’s punishing routine and recurring illnesses aged him and put him in an early grave” (339).
Read all seventeen lessons here.