POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Light for the City - Calvin's Preaching, Source of Life and Liberty

OK, I am just finishing a book entitled Light for the City - Calvin's Preaching, Source of Life and Liberty by Lester De Koster. I was thinking of doing a full review of the work but decided to include it here as a "tiny-mini-review" instead. 

The books premise is up front and repeated throughout the book.  Calvin's pulpit ministry founded a free and just society in Geneva fulfilling the ancients longings for the Polis, or the CITY. I would say that it is a quite a fan boy volume in favor of John Calvinism.  I didn't realize the exclamation point could be used so enthusiastically after the word "Calvinism" after reading the book.  The strong points are the focus on the positive social transformation of Geneva and its reputation throughout Europe at the time of Calvin.  So many people live with a caricature of Calvin as an oppressive religious despot who was simply out to get free thinkers like Servetus.  This book gives a very positive view of Calvin which can serve as a corrective to this caricature.  Though its fan-boy tone may show too much bias. The book also shows that Calvin's preaching was after creating a just city in the time between the advents of Jesus - establishing a state through the work of transformational Bible preaching.  It is helpful for those who teach Christian faith is just about "souls getting saved for heaven." 

A huge weakness is the book's very clear rejection of the separation of church and state - something I find scary about some reformed people.  I personally think such a separation should always remain, though some people like this author seem to like the historical link between church and magistrate.  Overall, I liked the book but just not much as the author likes Calvinism!!! I appreciate Calvin's commentaries on Scripture, parts of his theological legacy and his social influence on the move towards European democracies.  In many ways Geneva influenced both France and Great Britain towards liberty and capital based economies, a fact lost on many secular revisionist histories.  I think the book is worth the read for those who desire to see pulpits have the depth and strength to bring real, social, just holistic change in society.  For those who are theocratic nut jobs already...I fear they would find too much fuel for their fire in this book.