The Life of John Calvin
Few Christian Leaders have suffered quite so much misunderstanding as John Calvin. He has often been dismissed as a theologian without humanity. In fact the very reverse is much nearer the truth. He was a man of deep and lasting affection, passionately concerned for the cause of Christ in the world; a man who burned himself out for the gospel; a man whose heart belonged to Christ.
In this book the reader will find a straightforward introduction to the life and work of the great Reformer of Geneva. W J. Grier’s fast-moving biography not only depicts the titanic struggle by which the gospel was established in Geneva, but also provides valuable insights into the work of God that we know as ‘the Reformation’. In Calvin’s own words, ‘God’s loving-kindness to us was wonderful, when the pure gospel emerged out of that dreadful darkness in which it had been buried for so many years.
For Calvin, the Reformation was primarily a movement of the Holy Spirit that turned attention from man-centered religion to God. It is the prayer of the publishers that the retelling of his wonderful story will help in the recovery of God-centered Christianity and the raising up of more ‘burning and shining lights’ today.
Table of Contents
- Early Years
- Wanderings and Flight
- A Protestant Manifesto
- Arrival in Geneva
- First Ministry in Geneva
- Calvin’s Ministry in Strasbourg
- Revolution at Geneva
- Geneva in Calvin’s Time
- Poor or Rich?
- Calvin’s Toils
- Calvin’s Frailties and Charm
- Building the Walls of Zion
- Calvin Versus the Libertines
- The Brink of Hostilities
- The Errors of Servetus
- The Burning of Servetus
- Efforts for Union of Protestants
- A City of Learning, Liberty, and Morality
- Preserved Amidst Perils
- The Remarkable Growth of Protestantism in France
- The Closing Year
- Calvin as a Thinker
- Preacher and Expositor
About the Author
William James (Jim) Grier was born on 18 November 1902 and grew up on a farm in County Donegal, Ireland. As a Classics student at Queen’s University Belfast, he was converted through the witness of a Christian student friend and in a W. P. Nicholson mission meeting. He was a foundation member of the university’s Christian Union, and then studied theology under Gresham Machen, Robert Dick Wilson and Geerhardus Vos in Princeton Seminary, New Jersey, 1923-25.
Having learned from Machen of the fight for the Reformed faith within Presbyterianism, he returned for a compulsory year at the Irish Presbyterian College in Belfast. He soon found himself in the same fight for the gospel against unscriptural teaching in the college. After three weeks in the classroom, listening in silence to things he knew were wrong, he began to challenge one of his professors. He later became involved as a witness for the prosecution in an attempt at church discipline. When the charges against this professor were defeated by a 90 percent majority in the church courts, Grier regarded this verdict as a declaration of institutional unorthodoxy by the Church and resigned.
Founding the Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Jim Grier became one of the founding ministers of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ireland, managed the Evangelical Bookshop in central Belfast, edited the Church’s Evangelical Presbyterian magazine for fifty-three years, and ministered the gospel faithfully in what became the Stranmillis congregation. He was a trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust, co-chairman of the Leicester Ministers’ Conference, a founding member of the British Evangelical Council (now Affinity), and served on committees of the Evangelical Fellowship of Ireland and the Evangelical Library in Belfast. Through the magazine and inter-church relations, he was a well-known and enormously respected leader.
He retired in 1979 after a ministry of almost fifty-two years and went to be with the Lord on 6 August 1983. He was the author of many books, including The Momentous Event.