Read Calvin’s Institutes in 2009

My general New Year’s resolution is to be more intentional, efficient, and productive with my time. It occurred to me that if I cut most of the time I spend putzing around on the Internet and planned how that time was spent, I could really get a lot done. (And I wouldn’t miss the putzing.)

So one aspect of that is getting some good reading done. And fortunately for me, the Year of Productivity is also the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, so there is a lot of good Calvin-related stuff coming out. My favorite project is reformation 21’s Blogging the Institutes. They’ve broken Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion down into 5-days-a-week readings, and one of their bloggers posts on each day’s section.

I’ve mentioned before that Calvin is way underrated, by anti-Calvinists and Calvinists alike. His writing is instructional and devotional, and his intellect is really unmatched. Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of the most important books ever written, and this project makes it more accessible (and finishable). If you want to learn more about the Bible and theology, this is one of the best ways I could think of to do it. (I started today, reading two days’ worth, and it took me less than 15 minutes. It’s very doable!) You can get the reading plan by emailing, or contact me directly and I’ll get it to you.

Just for good measure, here’s Piper on the discipline of scheduled reading:

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year.

Or take a longer classic like John Calvin’s Institutes (fifteen hundred pages in the Westminster edition). At twenty minutes a day and 250 words a minute and six days a week, you could finish it in twenty-five weeks. Then Augustine’s City of God and B. B. Warfield’s Inspiration and Authority of the Bible could be finished before year’s end.

This astonishing discovery freed me from the paralysis of not starting great, mind-shaping, heart-enriching books because I lacked enough big blocks of time. It turns out that I don’t need long periods of time in order to read three masterpieces in one year! I needed twenty minutes a day, six days a week. (Brothers, We are Not Professionals, 66-67)



  1. Rebecca McDonald says:

    I want the reading plan. Send it to my email if you get a chance. Are the readings available online, or do I need a copy of the book?

  2. I like the breakdown of pages/words per 20 minutes. I struggle with not having enough time/energy to read something not for seminary, but this definitely makes it manageable.

  3. I constantly spent my half ann hour to read this weblog’s articles or reviews all the time along with a mug of coffee.

  4. Hello ould you mind sharing which blog platform you’re
    working with? I’m looking too srart my own blpg in the near
    future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolutionand Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems diffderent thjen most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for getting
    off-topic but I had too ask!


  1. […] Reading plan for Institutes of the Christian Religion. […]

  2. […] more reading. In addition to a Bible reading plan, I think I’m going to take another shot at reading through Calvin’s Institutes, which stalled out pretty early in the last […]

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