Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Scripture and Church: Calvin, Servetus and Castellio

Bruce Gordon is coming to UTC to give a lecture at 7pm on Thursday, January 19 in the Raccoon Mountain Room. This is the second lecture in the LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecturer Series. The title of his talk is "Scripture and Church: Calvin, Servetus and Castellio." This is the abstract of the upcoming lecture:

"The 1550s was a decade of turbulence and conflict for the European Reformation. In German lands war loomed, while in France the reformed faithful suffered severe persecution. In England the young King Edward VI in whom such hopes had been placed was succeeded by his Catholic older sister, Mary. Within the Reformed church there many unresolved questions and tensions. This was evident in the trial and execution of the Spaniard Michael Servetus in Geneva in the autumn of 1553. This notorious case brought together three very different figures: John Calvin, Servetus and Sebastian Castellio. This talk will explore the differences between these men by considering the ways in which they interpreted the Bible and how those readings influenced their understanding of church and reform. The result is a consideration of the different paths the Reformation might have taken during those volatile years."

Bruce has written a wonderful new biography on John Calvin published by Yale University Press in 2009. The book puts flesh on a figure noted for his influential Institutes of the Christian Religion but whose life has been somewhat obscure. Although there is not all that much information on Calvin's person life, Bruce constructs an interesting and seamless narrative that places the great theologian within the context of Renaissance Europe. He also does a masterful job at describing Calvin as a regular person with character flaws, including arrogance and a desire for revenge against his enemies, while at the same time revealing Calvin's strengths, such as human compassion for the poor and desire for ecumenism among the other reformers. Calvin is sure to be the definitive biography of Geneva theologian for many more years to come and I look forward to his lecture at UTC.

No comments: