I find it curious that frequently the most ardent opponents of Calvinism are those who have read John Calvin the least. Justin Taylor recently had a nice post on reading through the Institutes in one year, which you can find here. It reminded me of an observation Marilynne Robinson made in the Introduction to The Death of Adam, a collection of essays on modern thought.
“In several of the essays in this book I talk about John Calvin, a figure of the greatest historical consequence, especially for our culture, who is more or less entirely unread. Learned-looking books on subjects to which he is entirely germane typically do not include a single work of his immense corpus in their bibliographies, nor indicate in their allusions to him a better knowledge than folklore can provide of what he thought and said. I have encountered an odd sort of social pressure as often as I have mentioned him. One does not read Calvin. One does not think of reading him. The prohibition is more absolute than it ever was against Marx, who always had the glamour of the subversive or the forbidden about him. Calvin seems to be neglected on principle. This is interesting. It is such a good example of the oddness of our approach to history, and to knowledge more generally, that it bears looking into. Everything always bears looking into, astonishing as that fact is.”
There is so much talk about Calvin, but so little study of his work. Make reading the Institutes one of your priorities in 2012. Let’s fix the problem 🙂