Although “God loves you” is a common summary of the central message of Christian teaching and preaching, a close reading of the Bible and attention to the Christian tradition will reveal passages of Scripture and Christian doctrines‒‒particularly John Calvin’s doctrine of predestination‒‒that seem to undermine confidence in God’s love for all people. For numerous theologians, including many within the Reformed tradition, the secret decree of Calvin’s God to save some and condemn others seems to undercut completely one’s assurance of salvation along with one’s ability to trust in and worship God. However, pastor and scholar John Calvin confidently spoke of God as a loving Father throughout his teaching and preaching. In Uncovering Calvin’s God, Forrest H. Buckner unearths Calvin’s teaching about the God of love who reigns sovereign over predestination. Drawing upon sources from across Calvin’s corpus, Buckner examines Calvin’s teaching on the knowledge of God and the doctrine of predestination to provide a more robust and cohesive understanding of Calvin’s theology, which Buckner then confirms through an extensive examination of Calvin’s preaching in Geneva. He then offers a critical comparison of Calvin’s approach with the teaching of Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, Arminius, and Barth. Using Calvin’s system as a starting point, this book helps readers perceive the essentials and trade-offs of any doctrine of predestination that takes seriously both the Bible and the loving God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Forrest H. Buckner is the Storm Family Dean of Spiritual Life, campus pastor, and assistant professor of theology pastor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.
Calvin's doctrine of predestination has long received much attention and just as much misinterpretation. Forrest H. Buckner proves that close reading of Calvin's texts and careful listening to his sermons brings new perspectives on this topic and helps to better understand the reformer. This book is an important contribution to Calvin research and to theology that wants to be relevant for the church.
This is a carefully researched and instructive study on a topic of central importance in Calvin’s thought. In clear and engaging prose, Buckner reliably guides readers into the heart of Calvin’s teaching about predestination, the love of God, and God’s disposition toward humanity, and he does so with admirable scholarly fairness and pastoral sensitivity.
Buckner’s published dissertation is readable, well-documented, and pastoral in tone. The reader will find in the author a sympathetic listener who is willing to work through the hard questions and provide twenty-first-century guidance based upon the teachings of an earlier pastor.
9/3/2020 - Reformations, the podcast for the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, interviewed author Forrest Buckner for an episode entitled “Reformations Conversation: A Talk with Forrest Buckner.” Link: https://anchor.fm/the-h-henry-meeter-center-for-calvin-studies/episodes/Reformations-Conversation-A-Talk-with-Forrest-Buckner-ej2nr9