Ever since I began my journey years ago with the Doctrines of Grace, I have had the goal of reading Calvin’s Institutes cover to cover. While I have read large portions of the work, I have yet to read it as a whole.
Recently I came across Justin Taylor’s article on “Why and How to Read Calvin’s Institutes”. After reading through the article I was impressed with two things:
- This is an important work to be not only read but studied at length and with great care.
- As Packer states, the “readability of the Institutio, considering its size, is remarkable.” By just setting aside 15 to 20 minutes a day, reading through the Institutes could be done in a years time.
In the past, I have participated in online reading groups and have found the interaction with other readers extremely beneficial. Not only was it a blessing to know I was not alone, but it was wonderful to be impacted deeply by what the Lord was revealing about Himself through the group interaction.
So, starting in January 2013 I am making the commitment to begin reading through the Institutes with anyone that will join me. The reading plan we will use is divided up in very manageable portions per day and we are even given 2 grace days a week to catch up. This will not be easy but I do believe that the furthering of our understanding of God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s ways will far outweigh having to give up an hour or two a week.
Here is some basic information you will need to know in considering this commitment:
- You Need a Copy: It does not matter which copy of the Institutes you use as long as you follow along with the reading plan. I will be using this copy. If you are looking for a cheaper option there is also one for Kindle that is only .99 cents or you can read free online at CCEL.
- Reading Plan: Here is the year long reading guide we will be using.
- How We Will Interact: I have created a Facebook group so that all who join us will be able to share comments, questions, quotations, and insights as we read through this book. (You will receive an invitation once you confirm)
- What Will We Discuss: Weekly I will post questions to get the discussions going and encourage deeper reading into the material.
- Additional Resources: Additional resource on Calvin or the institutes will be highlighted to broaden our understanding of Calvin, his life and his ministry.
- Google Hangout: I will once a month host a Google hangout to live discuss the content. This schedule will be made available once we have everyone who wants to join signed up.
- Pass This Along: The more we have join us the better so feel free to pass this post along to anyone and everyone.
So, will you prayerfully consider joining us? If you’re interested or have more questions, please feel free to contact me.
DECIDED TO JOIN US?
Please email me at email@example.com to sign up!
While we wait for January 1, I have a few suggestions of things you can be doing in preparation:
- Be praying for our time. Pray that our year would be more about stirring our affections for Christ and His Gospel than being able to say that we read straight through the Institutes.
- If you do not already have a Bible reading plan be sure to find one. Calvin always put an emphasis on the authority of Scripture and it would be awful to allow our time in his work to replace our time in the Word.
- Begin disciplining yourself for at least 15 minutes of reading apart from your regular reading time. This will be a helpful habit to get into before we start. The daily readings should take this at a minimum.
- Read C.S. Lewis’ Introduction to Athanasius on the Incarnation
- One of the books I will be re-reading in preparation for our time in the Institutes is Calvin in the Theatre of God. If you cannot afford to purchase this book, it is offered free here from Desiring God:
- If you have not already, be sure to find the Facebook group and request to join.
Looking forward to this journey together. Praying that God would be glorified.
“Like surveyors, we will cover a lot of ground trying to walk with sure foot along the towpath of Calvin’s thought in order to appreciate its special contours, unlike miners , we will not dig in any one place expecting to carry away the mother lode.”