July 10, 1509. John Calvin was born.
This year marks 500 years since his birth, and Jim and I decided to read a book that we’ve owned for a little while…but never read. A Heart Promptly Offered: The Revolutionary Leadership of John Calvin authored by David W. Hall.
This morning we simply read the foreword where, among other things, David J. Vaughan writes:
“David W. Hall’s treatment of Calvin as a leader will no doubt become the definitive work on the subject. His style is lucid and his research impeccable. No one knows Calvin better. Here you will see Calvin as he was, not as his enemies have tried to portray him. You will come to understand the significance of Calvin’s theology and to appreciate Calvin’s profound history-altering legacy. And better yet, you will be inspired by Calvin’s leadership and by his vision of the majesty of God. That vision, which is at the heart of Calvinism, is also the secret of great Christian leadership.”
Here is an approach to history that I can appreciate:
“First, men must be judged in light of their times. This does not mean that right and wrong are relative. What it does mean is that most men imbibe the principles and prejudices of their age. Great men may be ‘ahead of their time’ in some respects, but they are never so in all respects. Familiarity has a way of blunting the senses…
“The second factor to keep in mind while evaluating a leader’s life and legacy is that all leaders — even the greatest leaders — are imperfect. All leaders fail and sin. And some that lead greatly also sin greatly. One has only to remember David, the man after God’s own heart. Calvin is no exception to the rule here. What follows is biography, not hagiography. If we are looking for perfection, we will not find it in our history, for that is a record of our failures, foibles, and follies. The wisdom of God can be seen, however, in how he uses such frail and fallen creatures for the blessing of mankind as well as his own glory.”
I’m really looking forward to getting to know John Calvin.