Calvin's Institutes: Abridged edition. Edited by Donald K. McKim. Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
Have you ever wanted to read Calvin's Institutes but was hindered because of its size? Well you do not have to be hindered any longer. Donald K. McKim has produced an abridgement of For Lewis Battles' Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion. This abridged edition gives you a good feel for the Institutes. The selections are carefully chosen to show the breadth of Calvin's thought by a leading Reformed scholar. It includes an introduction that provides an overview.
Why read John Calvin today? Tony Lane provides this answer: "It is one of the most important theological works ever written and has had a profound influence upon European history . . . Its influence has extended beyond the circle of those who think of themselves as Calvinists." I would add that it is a theological treasure for the Christian believer even for non-Calvinists. I think that many non-Calvinists get caught up in the predestination issue. This is however, just a small part of the Institutes. It is not addressed until book three I think.
Some of the things that impressed me about Calvin's thought is its hardiness. It is an encouragement to endure hard times. A second thing is its realistic view of human nature. For example, he accepts the idea that believers struggle with doubt. Thirdly, I like his emphasis on discipleship. There is a strong emphasis on denying oneself, picking up one's cross, and following Christ.
McKim has done a good job with his selections. This is an excellent book for the beginner.