I have been reading about John Calvin for many years. So in some ways, I surprised even myself when I downloaded The Betrayal by Douglas Bond, as it is the life of John Calvin put into novel form, but I was looking for some lighter reading, so I bought it. It is a first person account of a fictional character who accompanied Calvin throughout his life. This unique method of communicating the story of Calvin’s life is actually quite compelling. For anyone wanting to gain a basic grasp of the life of Calvin, not only the events, but the motivations and passion behind that devoted servant of the Lord, I recommend the book heartily.
The following are some wonderful quotes that have caused me to pause and reflect on my life, and they should really cause us to thank God for the godly people he has given to the church in years past.
On the devotion of those who came to accept the truths of the Reformation in France:
But the devotees gathered in crypts, in wine cellars, in garrets, even on boats floating down the Seine—anywhere would they gather, and often at great risk, if only they could hear the Bible read and expounded.
An account of some practical advice (some that I need to hear sometimes!) from Bucer to Calvin:
“I know of your dedication to the work of God,” said Martin Bucer. “It is unrivaled. But human nature has that weakness by which it cannot always concentrate on grave and serious matters. There must also be provision made for certain relaxations from work and useful studies and a certain recreation of the strength both of the spirit and of the body in play and games. Such you may enjoy here in Strasbourg.”
On Calvin’s character revealed in a time of temptation:
But I saw that day that not only was Calvin a man, subject to the temptations of men, he was, in the profoundest sense, a man of God. I felt certain that had he been alone, without attendants, without brother or sister, had he known no other living soul in Geneva that night, had he and she been the only inhabitants of the planet, he would not have followed that pathetic young woman to her bed. He was a man of God, and as such he lived before the face of God.
On Calvin’s words to Farel about preaching and prayer:
I had heard Calvin explain to Farel, “Two things are united, teaching and praying; God would have him he has set as a teacher in his church to be assiduous in prayer.”
These are prick my own heart and show me that so often, people who love theology want to be like Calvin. But we don’t really. We want to have theological insights and wonderful sermons and writings. But we don’t want to be devoted to prayer, to the Word, and to personal holiness and sanctification as he did. But hopefully God will mold many leaders today not to be new Calvins, but to love the things that Calvin loved.