Well…if you are not aware by now, today is John Calvin’s 500th birthday. The Reformed world has been commemorating this event for the entire year by releasing new works on Calvin, blogging through the Institutes, and gathering for the Calvin 500 tour/conference. It is a day to remember a man who continues to have a significant influence on the world and Christian faith.
My introduction to John Calvin probably mirrors many people’s experience. I came to know him through a bit of controversy. Some friends of mine had discovered reformation teaching and Calvinism during my sophomore year at Ball State University. For them, it was like a light switch went on. They became very passionate about God’s Word and sharing it with others. They wanted everyone around them to know about this wonderful teaching. They felt compelled to break off from our Campus Crusade bible study and start another study that highlighted the teachings of the Reformation which were rooted in Scripture. Of course, this brought about some difficult topics and eventually led to a Saturday morning meeting with an explanation of the five points of Calvinism. Many people saw my friends as divisive. Hardly any of us knew what Calvinism entailed. All we knew was that this teaching was bringing animosity to our close group of believers. For my own part, I really didn’t know what to think at the time. I tried to attend both Bible studies in order to keep a foot in everything that was going on. What they said made sense but I really didn’t process it until much later.
Today, I am thankful for my brothers though I have not seen them in years. My sophomore year at Ball State is a time in my life that I will always treasure. What they began on that campus took root in my life and eventually shaped my own beliefs. As I continue to work out my faith with fear and trembling, I find myself united with their understanding of Scripture more and more. It seems to me that the Lord used these godly brothers to mold me into the man I am today. Since it was the influence of Calvin that led to this scenario in the first place, I thank God for his servant John Calvin.
So…happy birthday John Calvin. Your legacy continues to draw many people to Christ. And I believe that is what you would have truly wanted.