Calvin: A Guide For the Perplexed

Calvin-A Guide for the Perplexed, by Paul Helm ★★★★
This book is written by one of the upcoming stars in the world of Christian philosophy, being both reformed in his thinking and a philosopher by trade. He currently teaches at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. This book is rather short for the task that Paul Helm attempts, in that he tries to show who the “real” Calvin really is. No attempts at historical revisionism are made. Most of the time, Helm discusses Calvin’s thoughts regarding God, the trinity, the person, and the nature of Christ, delving only shortly into those items most commonly associated with Calvin, i.e, predestination and particular redemption. All in all, Helm points out that Calvin tends to not be as harsh around the edges as many in Reformed thinking make him out to be. It is amazing how many sects of Reformed thought readily quote Calvin, without trying to understand the nature and character of Calvin. It is true that Calvin’s theology underwent further development following his death, as would be expected. The question of whether the typical caricature of Calvin described by TULIP would hold. It is Helm’s thinking that such theology does follow from Calvin, though Calvin never fully developed the theology named after him. Interesting discussion about Covenant theology was also engaged, again without absolute certainty that Calvin’s approval would be forthcoming. A final conclusion of the most important characteristic of Calvin’s thought, that of the majesty and sovereignty of God, was emphasized. Although the book was ready in a somewhat thick and stodgy fashion, it reflected the excellent thought of the writer and helped me see Calvin in a moderately “mellower” light.