I have read several longer books on John Calvin’s life over the last few years. Every time I am convicted of gaps in my pastoral ministry, not my theology. In fact, Calvin the pastor has had a greater influence on me than Calvin the theologian. Of course, the theology and the ministry go together, but the more I read about him the more convinced I am that it was his theology applied in the church at Geneva, not his theology written, where he left his greatest fingerprint. I recently read David W. Hall’s short work on Calvin, The Legacy of John Calvin. This quote struck me because it confirmed what I had been feeling as I read about Calvin.
“While Calvin’s accomplishments have had lasting influence in many sectors, it is important to recognize an oft-ignored truism about his work: his reforms began in the church and only then radiated outward…He was prudent enought to realize that the best way to reform the culture was indirectly, that is, to first reform the church.