Calvin's Preaching on the Prophet Micah

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It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of preaching during the period of European reformation. This book recognizes the centrality of John Calvin’s preaching to his reforming program. This study elucidates the reformer’s teaching within the very concrete historical situation in Geneva in 1550-1551. What emerges is a clearer picture of Calvin the preacher, Calvin the pastor as he struggles to commend the love of God to a difficult generation.


“Citizens of Geneva in the mid-sixteenth century had ample opportunities to listen to the preaching of John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin, as a ‘Doctor of the Church’ was charged with preaching and teaching responsibilities and was the best known of the preachers who labored in Geneva on behalf of the growing reform movement in the churches ... At the end of 1550 and the beginning of 1551, Calvin turned his attention to the book of Micah. This short book, which records the ‘word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth’ (Micah 1:1), was addressed to the people of Israel. Calvin preached on the book for two months in twenty-eight sermons. Dr. Michael Parsons’ excellent exposition of the major themes and emphases of these sermons on Micah brings us the vibrant sense of how Calvin viewed the work of this prophet and what he believed the message of the prophet had to say to his contemporaries in Geneva ... The message Micah proclaimed, as the message Calvin proclaimed, is the message that still must be proclaimed today in the context of the preaching and mission of the Christian church. The splendid study that follows will clearly convince us of this need, and with scholarly rigor and acumen, will convey the fullness of Calvin’s preaching on Micah, as well as the richness of the whole theology of the Genevan reformer.” – (from the Foreword) Donald K. McKim, Academic and Reference Editor, Westminster John Knox Press

“As a brief glance at the annual bibliography produced by the Henry Meeter Center shows, the study of John Calvin’s life and work continues apace throughout the world. Now, following in serendipitous proximity to Benjamin Farley’s fresh translation of Calvin’s Micah sermons from 1550-51, comes this latest book by the Australian-based systematician Dr. Michael Parsons. Dr. Parsons’ meticulous study serves as the perfect counterpart to Farley’s contribution by providing a detailed analysis of both the content and context of Calvin’s Micah sermons ... Indeed, perhaps Dr. Parsons’ real achievement in this book is not only that he has illuminated the historical context in which Calvin’s Mican theology must be understood, but that he has also shown how Calvin’s ‘self-conscious hermeneutic’ compelled him to proclaim the relevance of Micah’s prophecies to contemporary Geneva. There is a strong hint throughout that Dr. Parsons believes that this hermeneutical style should rightfully be adopted by the 21st century Church as well—one can hardly imagine Calvin disagreeing!” – Mark R. Lindsey, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

“Calvin is well remembered as a theologian and commentator on Scripture, but all of his biblical work was intended to serve the preaching of the gospel. Dr. Parsons has provided a close analysis of Calvin’s sermons on Micah, shedding new light on the theological structure and pastoral implications of the reformer’s pulpit work. It is a welcome contribution to both Calvin studies and contemporary pastoralia.” Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“John Calvin’s thought and ministry has been locked up for too long by an excessive focus on his famous Institutes to the neglect of his commentaries and sermons. In this study, Dr. Michael Parsons goes some way to rectifying this imbalance by giving us a stimulating glimpse at what Calvin believed was a crucial activity of his reforming work: the pulpit ... Dr. Parsons examines such topics as Calvin’s pulpit understanding of the dialectical relationship between God and humanity, his view of the city, God as the avenger of sin but also as loving Father, and the kingdom of God in history, to name but a few. Dr Parsons is abreast of the current debates in Calvin scholarship and interacts judiciously drawing conclusions that will steer Calvin research in fruitful directions.” – Professor Martin Foord, Trinity Theological College, Western Australia

Table of Contents

1. Calvin’s Preaching on the Prophet Micah CALVIN’S SERMONS (1550-51)
2. ‘Who are we that God should honor us?’
3. ‘He longs to be our Father, though we are miserable creatures’
4. ‘One would have to create a new world’: the city of Geneva
5. ‘In the name and by the authority of God.’
6. To snatch from ‘death’s claim’: the gospel and mission
7. ‘He is the king whom God has installed among us.’
8. ‘God’s enemies and enemies of the Word.’
9. ‘Choosing to make God our sole good.’ Geneva, the gospel and reform

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