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Friday, February 15, 2013

"Coffee with Calvin" (Donald K. McKim)

TITLE: Coffee with Calvin: Daily Devotions
AUTHOR: Donald K. McKim
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, (112 pages).

Many theologians have had many wonderful theological conversations over the table, like Martin Luther's "Table Talks," CS Lewis's and Jesus teaching his disciples during the Lord's Supper. Having a meal is usually a nice respite from the busyness of life. It is a time where people tend to be more relaxed and casual about things. It is also a time where people can have coffee and chat about things very personal and especially matters of faith. This is not a book about Apologetics. Neither is it a manual about drinking coffee. In fact, there is nothing to suggest any caffeine-laced beverage, apart from the cover of the book itself. It is essentially a devotional written to engage one of the greatest Christians classics ever written: The Institutes of John Calvin.

As a Calvin scholar, the author prepares 84 devotions that draw references from all four volumes of the Institutes. These devotions are categories under 8 sections:

  1. Basics of Christian Belief
  2. Life in the Church
  3. Following God's Ways
  4. Helps for the Christian Life
  5. Living as a Christian
  6. When Times are Good
  7. When Times are Bad
  8. Anticipating the Future
McKim covers a wide range of theological subjects and makes them palatable for the layperson. Each devotion begins with a short passage from the Institutes, followed by a brief commentary on Calvin's thoughts. The title of the devotion, the essence of the passage, is then condensed into a short devotional to urge the reader to think thoughts of God and to desire the things of God, as they train themselves unto good works to glorify God. A devotional must always lead the reader closer to God. A good devotional will make one long even more for God, without compromising the integrity and the essential message of the Institutes. 

Though the writings are a little too brief, it meets the purpose of engaging the reader with less words and more reflection. This is the mark of a good devotional. Whether one is comfortable with Reformed theology or Calvinism, this book is not intended to convert anyone closer to Calvin. Neither is it a marketing tool to promote the Institutes. It is simply a sharing of one who loves the works of Calvin, who desires to let the teachings draw one closer to God. That way, anyone desiring to keep pace, to think thoughts of God through the day, can easily pick up this book, open a chapter, and sip coffee gently while the thoughts of "Coffee with Calvin" slowly refreshes one's thoughts of God.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5


This book is provided to me free by Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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