John Calvin ranks high on the short list of the church’s most important thinkers, and The Institutes of the Christian Religion has consistently remained the central text of Reformed Christianity. As one of the most influential works in the Western canon, Calvin’s Institutes has enjoyed a prominent place on the reading lists of theological students and scholars around the world, and has left its mark in the fields of theology, philosophy, social thought, and legal theory. First published in 1536, Calvin’s Institutes became an instant best-seller, and has been republished and translated nearly 100 times in dozens of languages.
For nearly five centuries, The Institutes of the Christian Religion has remained a classic Protestant text and a monumental work of theology. It is written to introduce readers to the Christian faith—based on God’s Word—and to sustain and encourage Reformed Christians during persecution. More than anything else, the Institutes is characterized by the dominant theme of God’s sovereignty. It is divided into four books: the first three on the knowledge of God the creator, the knowledge of God the redeemer, and the ways in which we receive the grace of God by the Spirit. The final book describes the church. Along the way, Calvin writes on the authority of Scripture, election, the marks of the church, prayer, Christian liberty, the sacraments, civil government, and countless other topics, which—as a whole—make up what today is recognized as Calvinism.
This edition is a reprint of Henry Beveridge’s translation, which originally appeared in 1845.