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Barrett’s Book Notes: Calvin, Schaeffer, and Barth! Oh my!

9781433539565mMichael Horton. Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

There are few theologians I would rather read write about Calvin than Michael Horton who is himself a sort of Calvin for the twenty-first century. In his new book, Horton puts Calvin’s theology together in a fresh way. Here is the TOC:

1.  John Calvin on the Christian Life: An Introduction
2.  Calvin on the Christian Life: In Context

Part 1: Living before God3.  Knowing God and Ourselves
4.  Actors and Plot

Part 2 Living in God
5.  Christ the Mediator
6.  Gifts of Union with Christ

Part 3: Living in the Body
7.  How God Delivers His Grace
8.  The Public Service as a “Celestial Theater” of Grace
9.  Bold Access: Prayer as “The Chief Exercise of Faith”
10. Law and Liberty in the Christian Life
11. God’s New Society

Part 4: Living in the World
12. Christ and Caesar: The Two Kingdoms
13. Vocation: Where Good Works Go
14. Living Today from the Future: The Hope of Glory

One should note, Horton has also given a message on Calvin and Union with Christ at a recent Desiring God conference, and one can find Horton’s treatment of union in Chapter 6. Here is the video:

Finally, Ferguson praises Horton’s book, giving us a glimpse into its scope:

“Be warned. This looks like a book on how Calvin thought about living the Christian life. But open it and you will discover that Mike Horton is driving you on a grand Calvin tour of the whole of theology. And that, of course, is Professor Horton’s (and John Calvin’s) point: it takes the whole biblical gospel to make a whole Christian life. By employing the classical formulation of the two natures of Christ (‘distinct but not separate’), Dr. Horton provides readers with a key to help unlock Calvin’s teaching. But more than that, he shows why the Genevan Reformer’s vision of the Christian life remains unsurpassed. Thoroughly satisfying, thoroughly enjoyable, and thoroughly recommended.”
– Sinclair B. Ferguson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

9781433531545mThis series, edited by Justin Taylor and Stephen Nichols, continues to prove valuable, releasing volumes on some of the most important theologians and thinkers in church history, but doing so with a distinct focus on the Christian life.

Francis A. Schaeffer. The Finished Work of Christ: The Truth of Romans 1-8. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998.

In his Introduction to the book, Udo W. Middelmann explains that Schaeffer’s work on Romans grew out of his question and answer discussions with students in a flat in Lausanne, Switzerland in the 1960s. This work is important not only for observing how Schaeffer taught students Paul’s worldview, but also because these studies on Romans are an early window into Schaeffer’s entire frame of thought. As Middelmann says, “These studies are of special significance because they express most of the essential ideas and truths that are foundational to all of Dr. Schaeffer’s works and the content of his later books.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr. praises the legacy of Schaeffer, saying, “Schaeffer shaped the thinking of an entire generation of theologically-minded Christian young people.”

9780567152190R. Michael Allen. Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: An Introduction and Reader. London: T&T Clark, 2012.

Students in seminary may find that when reading Barth for a class they struggle to understand him. Allen’s new introduction and reader may help! Allen not only provides a helpful Introduction to the book and one that puts Barth’s thought in context, but he also breaks Barth’s entire thought down into fifteen chapters, providing excerpts on everything from the Trinity to the Christian Life. At the start of each chapter is a short introduction by Allen and each chapter is clustered with footnotes where Allen explains key concepts or terms. Legions of books have been published on Barth, but Allen’s volume is a good place to start.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at

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