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Piety's Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin's Institutes with Study Questions (Beach)

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Reformation Heritage Books
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John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion presents one of the most winsome, thought-provoking, spiritually inspiring, and heart-searching summations of Christian truth ever written.

Although works exist that either offer an analysis of Calvin’s views or serve as a guide to his Institutes, none fully share the aim of J. Mark Beach’s Piety’s Wisdom. Keeping to the form, shape, and tenor of Calvin’s own work, Piety’s Wisdom offers busy pastors, seminarians, interested college students, and motivated laypersons a book that presents Calvin on his own terms.

This summary can be used as an introduction to the Christian faith, as a primer for the study of Calvin, or a combination of each. While the book is suitable for individual study, the inclusion of study questions makes it an ideal tool for facilitating discussion in adult study groups.  


Table of Contents:

1. Calvin’s Institutes in Context (Institutes Prefatory Address)

Book One: The Knowledge of God the Creator

2. Knowing God (Institutes 1.1-5)

3. The Necessity of Scripture (Institutes 1.6-9)

4. The True God (Institutes 1.10-13)

5. The Creation of All Things (Institutes 1.14-15)

6. Divine Providence (Institutes 1.16-18)

Book Two: The Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, First Disclosed to the Fathers under the Law, and Then to Us in the Gospel

7. The Fall and Human Corruption (Institutes 2.1-5)

8. The Way of Redemption in Christ (Institutes 2.6-8)

9. Christ the Redeemer – Promise and Fulfillment (Institutes 2.9-11)

10. The Person of Christ (Institutes 2.12-14)

11. The Work of Christ (Institutes 2.15-17)

Book Three: The Way in Which We Receive the Grace of Christ: What Benefits Come to Us From It, and What Effects Follow

12. The Holy Spirit – Our Bond to Christ: Faith and Repentance (Institutes 3.1-5)

13. The Christian Life (Institutes 3.6-10)

14. Justification by Faith Alone (Institutes 3.11-14)

15. Justification, Good Works, and Christian Liberty (Institutes 3.15-19)

16. Prayer (Institutes 3.20)

17. Predestination (Institutes 3.21-24)

18. Future Glory (Institutes 3.25)

Book Four: The External Means or Aids by Which God Invites Us Into the Society of Christ and Hold us Therein

19. The Church of Christ (Institutes 4.1-2)

20. The Church’s Office-bearers and Ecclesiastical Power (Institutes 4.3-13)

21. The Sacraments (Institutes 4.14)

22. Christian Baptism (Institutes 4.15-16)

23. The Lord’s Supper (Institutes 4.17-19)

24. The Duties of the Civil Magistrate (Institutes 4.20) 



J. Mark Beach is an Associate Pastor at Redeemer United Reformed Church in Dyer, Indiana. He also serves as Professor of Ministerial and Doctrinal Studies, and Dean of Students at Mid-America Reformed Seminary.



"Mark Beach’s Piety’s Wisdom provides a finely done summary and analysis of Calvin’s Institutes that should be of considerable service to Christian laity, pastors, and students in coming to terms with the thought of the Genevan Reformer. Beach writes clearly and concisely, and with considerable insight into Calvin’s thought. The book includes a short biographical sketch and a contextual introduction to the Institutes. It stands as one of the best and most trustworthy introductions to Calvin presently available." - Richard A. Muller

"J. Mark Beach has provided us with a concise guide to Calvin’s Institutes that succeeds in identifying its contours and emphases. Calvin’s magnum opus can prove tricky for the uninitiated and this volume will be invaluable as a quick and precise summary of the Reformer’s thought. An ideal accompaniment for those eager to get their teeth into one of the most important theological texts ever written." - Derek W. H. Thomas

"Though road maps (or a GPS) are no substitute for the experience of traveling through the country side, they can be a great help to the traveler in identifying the best route and the highpoints of the trip. J. Mark Beach’s Piety’s Wisdom is such a help for the reader who hopes to travel or navigate his or her way through Calvin’s great exposition of the Christian faith, The Institutes. Written for the general reader, Beach offers a useful guide that identifies the important landmarks, points the way through, and thereby whets the reader’s appetite for a first-hand acquaintance with Calvin’s theology." - Cornelis Venema