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Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology

, 2011
ISBN: 9780802865649

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Readers of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion often regard this masterwork of doctrine as a cold, sterile, and merely intellectual project. But Matthew Myer Boulton reads it very differently, arguing that for Calvin, Christian doctrine is properly conceived and articulated primarily for the sake of practical Christian formation—the immersive, restorative training for wholeness and holiness embodied in the church’s disciplinary treasury.

Although Calvin famously opposed the cloister, Boulton shows that his purpose was not the eradication but the democratization of monastic spiritual disciplines. Just as Calvin endorsed the “priesthood of all believers,” so too did he envision that ordinary disciples could live with God daily, consecrate themselves to the art of knowing God, and embrace spiritually formative practices including scriptural and theological study, daily prayer and worship, regular Psalm singing, frequent reception of the Lord’s Supper, renunciation of “the world,” rigorous moral accountability, and the like.

In the Logos edition, Life in God is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

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Key Features

  • Contemplates John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion as practical spiritual theology
  • Highlights how Calvin positions himself both against and alongside monasticism
  • Proposes a range of ways in which twenty-first-century theologians might critically retrieve aspects of Calvin’s work


  • Storming the Sanctuary
    • The City a Desert
    • Calvin’s Geneva
    • Summa Pietatis
  • Rereading the Institutio
    • Six Kinds of Knowledge
    • Radiance and Oblivion
    • Seeing through Scripture
    • God with Us
    • Doxology and Destiny
    • Prayer and Communion
  • On the Future of Protestant Theology
    • Reforming Calvin
    • Life in God

Praise for the Print Edition

Life in God is a beautiful example of how patient theological and historical reflection can be a catalyst for contemporary renewal. . . . This volume calls us to dispense with the destructive dichotomy of doctrine and practice and to embrace approaches to theology that explicitly strengthen a Christian way of life. Boulton demonstrates how the writings of John Calvin continue to serve as a provocative, inspiring, and clarifying conversation partner for contemporary theologians.

—John D. Witvliet, professor of music and worship, Calvin Theological Seminary

One of the great strengths of Boulton’s aptly named book is his emphasis on Calvin as a very practical religious thinker who was more interested in being a helpful interpreter of the Bible than in dogmatic logic. Building on newer research that places the reformer squarely in his historical context as pastor to people going through spiritual upheaval, Boulton provides a thoughtful and lucid examination of key themes in Calvin’s thought.

—Elsie Anne McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary

Boulton continues to manifest here his special gift for melding scholarly insight into theological classics with fresh reflections on the lived realities of worship, prayer, and service in Christian communities. Crisp historical vignettes and lucid interpretations of Calvin’s Institutes go hand in hand with very contemporary counsel for pastors and churches

S. Mark Heim, Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology, Andover Newton Theological School

A stimulating and fresh approach to Calvin’s Institutes. Boulton succeeds in demonstrating that for Calvin doctrine is in itself practical—and that Protestant theology today can gain much from reading Calvin.

Herman Selderhuis, president, International Calvin Congress

Product Details

  • Title: Life in God: John Calvin, Practical Formation, and the Future of Protestant Theology
  • Author: Matthew Myer Boulton
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 260

In his teaching and research, Matthew Myer Boulton explores ways in which Christian worship founds and forms Christian life. This exploration draws together his interests in the history and practices of Christian liturgy; theology and public life; biblical interpretation and proclamation; and the performing arts, including theater, music, and film. He has published on Reformed liturgical theology in dialogue with social science and Christian lamentation in dialogue with biblical studies, and he is the author of God Against Religion: Rethinking Christian Theology Through Worship (Eerdmans, 2008) and a co-editor and contributor to the volume Doing Justice to Mercy: Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice (University of Virginia Press, 2007). He is currently at work on a book on John Calvin and spiritual formation. An ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he also directs the early choir at Old South Church in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Enjoy January's Monthly Sale!


    Digital list price: $19.99
    Regular price: $15.99
    Save $4.80 (30%)