Book Review: Men, Women, and Order in the Church by John Calvin

Men, Women, and Order in the ChurchMen, Women, and Order in the Church by John Calvin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have found myself reading more and more of Calvin’s sermons. While the basic content is the same as his commentaries, the delivery is quite different. Since I am pastor, I enjoy how he preaches a text to the congregation.

This is book is three sermons Calvin delivered on I Corinthians 11:2-16. While there is some discussion of head coverings, that is minimal, more than likely because it was assumed to be right. But what these sermons are good for is a defense of order in the church and hierarchy in general. It is interesting how often Calvin jumps from the relationship of men and women to masters and slaves, rulers and subjects, and other types of hierarchical situations. He applies what he sees in I Corinthians 11 to other aspects of social order because he believe that God made the world hierarchical. Therefore, “This natural order did come about by chance; rather God reveals his will by it, and means to test our obedience to see if we will submit to him.” He sees order, that is social hierarchy, as essential to the church and society.

Calvin believes that women are made in the image of God just like men. “As for the image, it is certain that is pertains to all females as well as to all males.” Yet Calvin also believe that women were subservient to men “as a class.” He did not see this as denigrating women, but rather as following God’s appointed order and structure.

These three sermons are much more a defense of order and hierarchy than a defense of head coverings. And for that reason they should be read.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it or could just be so poorly written/researched that it is not worth reading. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. This does not mean I agree with everything in it. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is pretty far from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

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Book Review: A Holy Vision for Family Life by William Gouge

A Holy Vision for Family Life (Building a Godly Home #1)A Holy Vision for Family Life by William Gouge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of three volumes on a Christian home. In our modern context this first volume would not be written. We are a very practical age. Give tips on how to my marriage healthy. Give me five ways to raise godly children. But Gouge does not begin there. Instead, a bulk of this book is about Christ and the church. Instead of beginning with how husbands are to love their wives, he begins with how Christ loves the church. Instead of beginning with wives submitting to their husbands, he begins with the church’s subjection to Christ. You will also find a discussion of baptism, what it means for us to be united to Christ, the benefits of our union with Christ, and a discussion of why marriage is not a sacrament.

There are some more practical chapters, but on the whole Gouge lays the theological foundation for his next two books. Therefore it is worth reading, not just for content, but also for his method.

I did have one disagreement. It appears Gouge believes that a marriage can be formed even though it is never consummated. In other words, sex is not a necessary part of marriage. I disagree with this and I am pretty sure most Reformers would as well.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it or could just be so poorly written/researched that it is not worth reading. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. This does not mean I agree with everything in it. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is pretty far from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

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God is not our Brother: Calvin on Christ’s Submission in I Cor. 11:3

We know that our Lord Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh; and God is not divided; He cannot be inferior to himself. How is it then, that Jesus Christ is set below God, his Father, as if he were not equal with in majesty and glory?

Now let us observe that there are two things to consider in Jesus Christ. One is that he is the Wisdom of God before the creation of the world. Here then, is the way which he has always been exalted over all things. Yet, inasmuch as he became a Mediator in order to bring us near to God, his Father, he is set beneath, not in that divine essence, which resides in him in all fullness, and in which he does not differ from his Father at all, but as to making himself our Brother. It is not to be said that God is our Brother; that would not do; yet Jesus Christ is such; even inasmuch as he has put on our flesh and nature, and being thus abased he stretched out his hand to us to join and unite us to God.

Thus there is no problem with saying that Jesus Christ has his sovereign lordship and majesty right along with God, his Father, insofar as he is the Eternal Wisdom who has always been; yet insofar as he became the Mediator, it is said that he humbled himself, yea, made himself as nothing, as St. Paul discusses in Philippians [2:8]. This is also why he is called the servant of God by the prophet in Isaiah [52:13, 53:11]; and he even came to serve us , which is an amazing thing: the One Who is The Glorious God, the One Who is adored by the angels, was willing to humble himself so far as to serve our salvation, and made himself as nothing, as we already said. (Sermon on I Cor. 11:2-3)