The goal of Knowing God and Ourselves is to help students, especially beginning students, of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion to better understand what they are reading and to encourage them to persist in working through this important but challenging book.
Calvin intended the Institutes to be a guide in reading Scripture and a theological companion to his commentaries. Above all, he wanted his readers to respond to biblical truth with love for God and obedient lives. The subtitle of this book is Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally. Reading the Institutes devotionally is not merely one way of reading Calvin’s book. It is the only way to read it.
The sections in the Institutes to be read with each chapter of this book are clearly indicated. The reading assignments are from the McNeill-Battles edition of the 1559 Institutes; but if one prefers to use the briefer but ample 1541 French edition of the Institutes, translated by Robert White (and also published by the Banner of Truth Trust), the relevant chapter and page numbers for that edition have also been added to the ‘Read’ section at the head of each chapter in this guide.
‘By nature I love brevity’, Calvin wrote. The length of the Institutes may not seem to justify Calvin’s claim, but compared with many theologies, past and present, Calvin’s book is remarkable for its lucid brevity. David Calhoun has sought to follow Calvin’s advice in Knowing God and Ourselves. It is a short and lucid guide to Calvin’s Institutes, which, in turn, is a guide to the Bible.