Yesterday I finished reading Bruce Gordon’s masterful biography of John Calvin. The highest praise I can give Calvin is that it compares positively with my two favorite biographies, Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo: A Biography and George Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life.
Calvin was a towering figure of his age. But above all Calvin was a pastor, his heart attuned to the realities of life in God’s persecuted church. Gordon observes that
“Resignation to fate and delusions of perfection were equally abhorrent to Calvin. God’s providence is an excuse for neither inaction nor wickedness; it encourages joy among the faithful, and fortifies them to face the hardships of the world, but it is not an inoculation. The Gospel teaches God’s everlasting kindness and love; it is the source of comfort, and that is its chief power. Christian should wait on God with patience and perseverance, and submit to the divine will.”
– Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven: Yale, 2009), 278.