Monday, March 12, 2012
Jonathan Hill comparing Calvin and Luther
I am reading Jonathan's fine book "The History of Christian Thought" where he offers this apt comparison of John Calvin and Martin Luther-
In almost every way Calvin was wildly different from Luther, a man he admired but never met. Where Luther was passionate, charismatic and prone to exaggeration, Calvin was quiet and thoughtful, with a far more stable character. His writings give no hint of profound personal struggles of the kind that plagued Luther. He was also a generation younger than the German Reformer, and he inherited the central tenets of Protestantism rather than helping forge them.
Where Luther was a fiery prophet, Calvin was a logical systematizer. His great work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, remains the most important and influential work of Protestant dogmatics ever written.
Calvin's theology was, in essence, the same as Luther's, especially in his insistence on Scripture alone as the basis of theology and practice. But in systematizing and restating the Protestant faith, he gave it quite different emphases. He believed more or less the same things as Luther, but not in quite the same way. These different emphases would mean that Calvinism-the Reformed Church-would be quite distinct from Lutheranism.