Book Review – The Expository Genius of John Calvin

John Calvin was one of the greatest preachers in history. Although he is often known more for such things as his theological genius, his role in the Protestant Reformation, and as the author of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, he was also a very capable preacher and expositor of God’s Word. In fact, Calvin viewed the pulpit as his most important work and he consistently preached several times each week. All his other activities were considered secondary to his work as a herald of the Word. In this excellent book, Steven Lawson profiles the great reformer and examines his pulpit abilities and method. Having heard Lawson preach on multiple occasions, I know that he is a great preacher himself and understands biblical preaching as well as anyone today and through this lens, he offers an inside look at the preaching abilities of one of the giants of the Christian faith. This is not a biography, although the first chapter does feature a quick look at Calvin’s life and legacy. Rather, this book is primarily concerned with Calvin’s approach to preaching and what made him such a powerful and influential expositor. Lawson looks at 32 different characteristics of Calvin’s preaching and leaves no stone unturned. Throughout the book, Lawson explains that one of the major reasons (if not “the” reason) for the weakness of the contemporary church is a low view of preaching and a deficient understanding of what makes for good preaching. Thus, the message of the book is remarkably clear – we must recover the approach and method of John Calvin. We must have more Calvin’s, Luther’s, Edwards’, Whitefield’s and Spurgeon’s who faithfully proclaim God’s life-giving Word to a generation that is desperate for the truth. I would highly recommend this book to any preacher or Christian leader and even to the layman who wants to learn more about what makes for good preaching.

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