Calvin for Armchair Theologians

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Calvin for Armchair Theologians


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Good introduction to Calvin Review by Alex

I'll start this by saying I'm not Reformed and haven't really read much of Calvin, and I found this book a good introduction to the man, his ministry and his theology.

It starts with his early experiences that led him to Geneva and his Reformed theology (after contemplating a career in the Roman Catholic Church in France). It also deals with some of the controversies surrounding his life and theology, and finishes with somewhat dubious speculation about his heirs and successors down to the 20th century. But the latter part is short and its weakness does not detract from the overall book.

Elwood treats his subject sympathetically and with humour, skilfully making the time and issues understandable to the modern reader. Although Elwood makes clear Calvin could be a difficult person, one comes away far more sympathetic to the man than to many of his successors and followers today.

The audiobook is made all the more enjoyable by the excellent voice talent of Simon Vance.

I liked it and recommend it as an introduction to Calvin. As some one else has said, a kind of 'Calvin for Dummies'. This book will suit anyone who wants an introduction to this very influential theologian's life and teaching.

(Posted on 8/9/11)

Calvin for Dummies Review by Adam

I think this book accomplished what it wants. It is brief (just under 4 hours) but does a good job summarizing Calvin's basic thinking. There is not much biography here. A little more than the basic birth, school, marriage, work, death, but not much more.

Elwood mostly uses Calivin's Institutes as an organizing method. Because that is what Calvin is most known for, I think it is an appropriate choice.

There is a some humor in this book. It sort of (in a good way) feels like a Dummies book. So as Calvin for Dummies, it throws in a few jokes and several modern illustrations to help explain what Calvin was talking about. The narrator is Simon Vance again. (Same as the Bonhoeffer book I reviews on Friday.) But in this book he did not come across nearly as pretentious and condescending. He did not hit some of the jokes all that well, but most of the jokes were fairly subtle, so it did not feel inappropriate.

I am not sure that I will pick up another Armchair Theologian book (there are a ton of them.) It is hard to balance a brief book with the desire for more in depth understanding of a theologian. And I think I probably have about the level of understanding that these books were written for on many of the subjects that have Armchair books.

But if want an introduction to an area that you do not have a lot of experience with, I think these are probably a good option.

(Posted on 1/20/11)

\"Calvin for Armchair Theologians\" is an... Review by Matthew MacEachern

\"Calvin for Armchair Theologians\" is an excellent audio book in which to learn of the life and times of 16th century Reformer John Calvin. Included on this audio book are the spiritual triumphs of Calvin as well as his emotional and physical pains that he had to come to terms with throughout his own life\'s journey. Particularly helpful is the section which explains Calvin\'s view of the Eucharist in contrast to the views of the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and Ulrich Zwingli. For those who are searching for a somewhat concise but very helpful audio book on John Calvin, this one by Christopher Elwood (narrated well by Simon Vance) would be a great starting point.

(Posted on 12/17/09)

Simon Vance is a gifted orator... Review by Debra Bouey

Simon Vance is a gifted orator and he is at his finest here as well. I found it easy to listen to and absorb as I was working about the house. This is my first of the Armchair series and it provides a "meaty", in-depth outline of the critical areas of Calvin's life and ministry. Excellent and highly recommended, both for those looking for a refresher on Calvin and most particularly for those who are just beginning to explore the life and ministry of John Calvin.

(Posted on 7/15/09)

I thought this Audio was fantastic... Review by Derek Iannelli-Smith

I thought this Audio was fantastic for a brush up without the 'dummy' feel and it contained much meat and I would highly recommend it. This particular topic is one that was handled historically, professionally, and in a great scholarly manner. I highly recommend it!

(Posted on 2/7/08)

This is the first title in... Review by Ben McBride

This is the first title in the Armchair Theologians series that I have listened to, and I have to say that not only did I find it extremely educational but I thoroughly enjoyed it as well! It paints a clear picture of Calvin and the time he lived in, the things he taught and struggled with and his influence on the church today. The reading by Simon Vance is perfect, and the sense of humor this book displays at times is very much appreciated. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in the subject matter, and I look forward to listening to more in the series!

(Posted on 12/16/07)

In a happy example of clever... Review by Audiofile Magazine

In a happy example of clever writing and good casting, CALVIN FOR ARMCHAIR THEOLOGIANS takes what could be a grind of a listen to another plane. Simon Vance typically brings intelligence and awareness to his work, and it is his ability to reveal the trenchant wit in this overview of one of theology's most influential men that makes the piece a success. If listeners are seeking a refresher course in Calvinist thought, history, and influence or are simply curious about the often reviled philosophies and inspirations of John Calvin, they'll find satisfaction here. The popular Armchair Philosopher series scores again with this easy-to-absorb, enjoyable audiobook. D.J.B. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine

(Posted on 1/9/07)

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