Saturday, January 21, 2012

10 Distinguishing Marks of John Calvin’s Preaching

From Nathan W. Bingham at the Ligonier blog

1.    John Calvin’s preaching was biblical in its substance.
The Reformer stood firmly on the chief cornerstone of the Reformation—sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”). … The preacher, Calvin believed, has nothing to say apart from Scripture.”

2.    John Calvin’s preaching was sequential in its pattern.
For the duration of his ministry, Calvin’s approach was to preach systematically through entire books of the Bible. … Calvin preached from the New Testament on Sunday mornings, from the New Testament or the Psalms on Sunday afternoons, and from the Old Testament every morning of the week, every other week. In this consecutive fashion, Calvin preached through most of the books of the Scriptures.”

3.    John Calvin’s preaching was direct in its message.
When expounding Scripture, Calvin was remarkably straightforward and to the point. He did not launch his message with a captivating story, a compelling quote, or a personal anecdote. Instead, Calvin immediately drew his listeners into the biblical text. The focus of the message was always Scripture, and he spoke what needed to be said with an economy of words. There were no wasted statements.”

4.    John Calvin’s preaching was extemporaneous in its delivery.
When Calvin stepped into his pulpit, he did not bring with him a written manuscript or any sermon notes. The Reformer made a conscious choice to preach extempore, that is, spontaneously. He wanted his sermons to have a natural and passionate delivery that was energetic and engaging, and he believed spontaneous preaching was best suited to achieve those ends.”

5.    John Calvin’s preaching was exegetical in its approach.
Calvin insisted that the words of Scripture must be interpreted in their particular historical backgrounds, original languages, grammatical structures, and biblical contexts. … [He] insisted on the sensus literalis, the literal sense of the biblical text.”

For the next five marks of Calvin' preaching click HERE


  1. Calvin did have a lot of good to say, but it's wrong to give off them impression he was totally Biblical and didn't teach any errors.

  2. Hello Nick -

    Thanks for the comments!

    I didn't intend, and I certainly don't think the author intended, for the post to infer that John Calvin was error-less in his teaching.