The Institutes of the Christian Religion are Calvin’s single most important work, and one of the key texts to emerge from the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The book accompanied the Reformer throughout his life, growing in size from what was essentially an expanded catechism in 1536 to a full-scale work of biblical theology in 1559/1560.
Among the intermediate editions of the Institutes, none deserves to be better known than the first French edition of 1541. Avoiding the technical details and much of the polemics of the final work, the Institutes of 1541 offer a clear and comprehensive account of the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, revelation and redemption, in the life of the individual Christian and in the worship and witness of the church.
Not doctrine only but its practical use is Calvin’s abiding concern. The author of the Institutes invites us both to know and to live the truth, and thus allow God’s Spirit to transform us.
The present translation is newly made from the French edition of 1541 by Robert White. It has been designed and annotated with the needs of a wide readership in mind.