The Reformed Love Books
We have just published Herman J. Selderhuis’s John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life. This is an interesting biography that draws on Calvin’s own writings. I started into it and came across the following bookish paragraph. It’s 1534 and the young Calvin has found the opportunity to immerse himself in the Bible and patristics in the “quiet nest” of the library of the du Tillet family in the castle at Angouleme. Selderhuis comments:
Calvin’s words sound pious, but they probably had as much to do with the contentment he experienced in the solitude of delving in his books in peace and quiet. This bookish contentment distinguishes both Calvin and those who followed after him. Reformed Christians removed all else from their churches in order to direct attention only to the Word, and they cleared all else from their shelves to make room for books. Calvin insisted that faith consists not only in experience but also in knowledge, and this has fortified the reading culture of Reformed Christianity in which one who does not study cannot be converted either. Calvin is almost always portrayed with a book in hand and several others around him. This was how he passed his time in Angouleme and also in Ferrara. He wrote books, he bought books, and in his letter he described his pain in times of having to sell books. Later, his academy in Geneva would have an impressive library, and this became a distinguishing mark of all Reformed institutions. It is thus no wonder that studies of primary schools in the seventeenth century have shown that Reformed children scored higher than their Lutheran and Roman Catholic contemporaries. When a Reformed child sits in church, there is nothing to do but listen or read because there is nothing to look at, and at home it is barely any different. (Selderhuis, pp. 40-41)
I’d say that if you are Wesleyan or Lutheran or Catholic and you love books, you’re Reformed at heart!
Posted by Dan Reid
at February 9, 2009 8:46 AM