Dr. C. Matthew McMahon’s Shorter and Longer Summaries of Calvin’s Institutes


By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

Would you like to read a modern summary of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion online? Dr. C. Matthew McMahon has written two of them.

“A Condensed Summary of Calvin’s Institutes is a shorter overview of John Calvin’s magnum opus – the equivalent of about 14 pages in Word. Outline 1 below itemizes the contents of Dr. McMahon’s shorter summary.

“A Longer Overview of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion” is the equivalent of about 44 pages in Word. Outline 2 below itemizes the contents of Dr. McMahon’s longer summary.

Some readers might disagree at various points with the author’s summary of Calvin’s thought – as they might with anyone else’s summary. Yet, in my view, these provide a helpful point of departure to gain a better understanding of the sweeping contents of this important work.

In order to make these documents even more accessible, I copied them to Word, then sent them to my Kindle application for offline reading.


 

Outline 1 of the shorter overview.

Part 1- Knowledge of God the Creator:                                                  

Section 1 – The whole Sum of Wisdom

Section 2 – Still-born Knowledge of God

Section 3 – The Fruitful Teaching of Scripture

Section 4 – God the Creator

Section 5 – God’s Creatures

Section 6 – Providence

 Part 2- Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ:                      

Section 1 – Man the Total Sinner

Section 2 – Christ in OT & NT

Section 3 –The Mediator

Section 4 –Christ The Redeemer

 Part 3- The Way We Receive Christ’s Grace:                                 

Section 1 – The Holy Spirit and Faith

Section 2 – Regeneration to Life

Section 3 – Justification by Faith Alone

Section 4 – On Prayer

Section 5 – Eternal Election

Section 6 – The Final Resurrection

Part 4- The Outward Means:                                                

 Section 1 – The True Church

Section 2 – The Church’s Ministry

Section 3 – The Church’s Authority

Section 4 – The Sacraments

Section 5 – Civil Government

Link to Shorter Summary of Calvin’s Institutes


 

Outline 2 of the longer overview.

BOOK 1: Knowledge of God the Creator

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves Are Connected

Chapter 2: What It Is to Know God

Chapter 3: Knowledge of God Has Been Naturally Implanted in the Minds of Men

Chapter 4: This Is Either Smothered or Corrupted, Partly by Ignorance and Malice

Chapter 5: The Knowledge of God Shines Forth in the Fashioning of the Universe

Chapter 6: Scripture Is Needed as Guide and Teacher

Chapter 7: Scripture Must Be Confirmed by the Witness of the Spirit

Chapter 8: The Credibility of Scripture

Chapter 9: Fanatics, Abandoning Scripture Cast Down Principles of Godliness

Chapter 10: Scripture Sets the True God Alone over Against All Other Gods

Chapter 11: It Is Unlawful to Attribute a Visible Form to God

Chapter 12: God Is Distinguished from Idols, so That He Alone May Be Worshiped

Chapter 13: God is One Essence, Which Contains Within Itself Three Persons

Chapter 14: Scripture Marks Distinguishes the True God from False Gods

Chapter 15: Discussion of Human Nature as Created

Chapter 16: God Nourishes and Maintains the World by His Providence

Chapter 17: How We May Apply the Doctrine of Providence to Our Greatest Benefit

Chapter 18: God Uses the Works of the Ungodly, and He Remains Pure

BOOK 2: Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ

Chapter 1: Human Race Delivered to the Curse

Chapter 2: Man Has Now Been Deprived of Freedom of Choice

Chapter 3: Just Damnable Things Come from Man’s Nature

Chapter 4: How God Works in Men’s Hearts

Chapter 5: The Knowledge of God Shines Forth in the Fashioning of the Universe

Chapter 6: Fallen Man Ought to Seek Redemption in Christ

Chapter 7: The Law was Given to Foster Hope of Salvation in Christ

Chapter 8: Explanation of the Moral law (The Ten Commandments)

Chapter 9: Christ Was at Length Clearly Revealed Only in the Gospel

Chapter 10: The Similarity of the Old and New Testaments

Chapter 11: The Difference between the Two Testaments

Chapter 12: Christ Had to Become Man in Order to Fulfill the Office of Mediator

Chapter 13: Christ Assumed the True Substance of Human Flesh

Chapter 14: How the Two Natures of the Mediator Make One Person

Chapter 15: Christ’s Offices – the Prophetic Office, Kingship, and Priesthood

Chapter 16: How Christ Has Fulfilled the Function of Redeemer

Chapter 17: Christ Has Merited God’s Grace and Salvation for Us

BOOK 3: The Way We Receive Christ’s Grace

Chapter 1: Christ Profits us by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 2: Faith: Its definition and properties explained

Chapter 3: Our Regeneration by Faith: Repentance

Chapter 4: Discussion of Confession and Satisfaction

Chapter 5: The Supplements they Add to Satisfaction – Indulgences and Purgatory

Chapter 6: The Life of the Christian Man

Chapter 7: The Sum of the Christian Life – The Denial of Ourselves

Chapter 8: Bearing the Cross – Part of Self denial

Chapter 9: Meditation on the Future Life

Chapter 10: How we must use the Present Life and its Helps

Chapter 11: Justification by Faith: First the Definition of the Word and the Matter

Chapter 12: Lift our minds to God’s Judgment Seat to Understand Justification

Chapter 13: Two Things to Be Notes in Free Justification

Chapter 14: The Beginning of Justification and its Continual Progress

Chapter 15: What Boasting About Good Works Does to Us

Chapter 16: Refutation of the False Accusations by the Papists

Chapter 17: The Agreement of the Promises of the Law and of the Gospel

Chapter 18: Works-Righteousness Is Wrongly Inferred from Reward

Chapter 19: Christian Freedom

Chapter 20: Prayer

Chapter 21: Eternal Election

Chapter 22: Confirmation of this Doctrine from Scriptural Testimonies

Chapter 23: Refutation of the False Accusations Against Predestination

Chapter 24: Election is Confirmed by God’s Call

Chapter 25: The Final Resurrection

BOOK 4: THE Outward Means

Chapter 1: The True Church

Chapter 2: A Comparison of the False and True Church

Chapter 3: The Doctors and Ministers of the Church

Chapter 4: The Condition of the Ancient Church in Government

Chapter 5: The Ancient Form of Government Overthrown by the Papacy

Chapter 6: The Primacy of the Roman See

Chapter 7: The Origin and Growth of the roman Papacy

Chapter 8: The Power of the church with respect to the Articles of Faith

Chapter 9: Councils and Their Authority

Chapter 10: The power of Making Laws

Chapter 11: The Jurisdiction of the Church and its Abuse

Chapter 12: The Discipline of the Church

Chapter 13: Vows

Chapter 14: The Sacraments

Chapter 15: Baptism

Chapter 16: Infant Baptism

Chapter 17: The Sacred Supper of Christ

Chapter 18: The Papal Mass a Sacrilege to the Lord’s Supper

Chapter 19: The Five Other Ceremonies.

Chapter 20: Civil Government

Link to Longer Overview of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion


 

Shorter Summary of Calvin’s Institutes

Longer Overview of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

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