John Calvin is a name that many Christians know but not much is know about. For instance he is most commonly know for his adherence to the doctrine known as predestination but there is so much more that he taught and brought to the table that is either outright rejected or unknown to many who do not adhere to Calvinistic ideas.
To help in this endeavor to introduce Christians to Calvin and his teaching Westminster John Knox Press has recently released a work on the subject at hand entitled, A Brief Introduction to John Calvin. This work written by Christopher Elwood is an attempt to highlight the mountain tops of Calvin himself, his teachings, and his effect on the history of Christianity (the past and the present). While this work claims to brief, it can barely be called that, it is more along the lines of a large pamphlet. It is a extremely short book less than 100 pages distilling down a large amount of information and commentary.
While Elwood does a good job of gathering a short biography of Calvin in the first few pages, the biography is not useful to anyone who has even the remotest idea of who Calvin was. Yet it does provide a small foundation for those who do not know the slightest bit of information on the man. When it comes to his teachings and extent of his influence there is a greater amount of space dedicated to this endeavor.
While I do not agree with all of the conclusions which Elwood puts forth about Calvin and Calvinism he does a good job at representing the man and the theological view as a whole. This is no easy task distilling all of Calvin’s works (his Institutes, sermons, commentaries, letters, ect.) down into a small number of pages.
While this book is of no use to the scholar or even to the educated pastor, this work is of great use to the laymen or to the high school student looking to read a short commentary on Calvin and his works. To this task this work is well suited and will be of great benefit.
This book was provided to me free of charge from WJK Press in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.