On July 4, 2011, we welcomed the newest member of the Burns family, Calvin Robert. For those wondering about his name, I thought I’d share a little about where it comes from.
To begin with, Robert is a family name. Both Jenn’s father and grandfather are “Robert.” Her dad was the only boy out of 5 kids and he went on to have 3 girls of his own. From his 3 girls he now has 5 granddaughters and, until Calvin, only 1 grandson. That’s a lot of ladies. As a way to honor Jenn’s father and grandfather (both great men in their own right), and to carry on a bit of the Jones lineage, we wanted to have Robert in his name.
As for Calvin, this name was in our queue long before we knew we were pregnant. After our first son Asher was born, I said I wanted our next son to be Calvin. While occasionally people think it is for Calvin from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, it isn’t. However, like the comic strip character, our Calvin is named after the 16th century theologian and reformer, John Calvin.
While there are many reasons we wanted to name our son after John Calvin, I’ll share three in particular.
First, John Calvin loved the gospel. Calvin experienced a conversion to faith, most likely in his college years. After his conversion, Calvin took every effort to help people see, hear, and savor the good news of salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone–whatever the cost. The cost of this love for the gospel was great and meant banishment from his home country, a life of constant persecution, and the looming threat of martyrdom. Despite these trials and challenges, it was his love for the good news of what God offers sinful man in the person of his son Jesus that motivated him and was at the very center of who John Calvin was.
Which brings me to my second reason we wanted to name our son Calvin, namely that John Calvin used every fiber of his being to serve the gospel. By all accounts, Calvin was an extremely brilliant man and a tireless worker who gave all his energy to whatever he put his hand to (often at the expense of his own health). After his conversion, he desired nothing more than to hide away to study, read, and write. But, obedient to the call of God, Calvin gave every ounce of his being to preaching, teaching, writing, and leading people to Jesus. He did this by preaching nearly 200 sermons a year, writing thousands of pages in books, tracts, and verse-by-verse commentaries on almost the entire Bible, and establishing a school for the training of pastors.
Finally, John Calvin changed my life. In my late twenties I sat in a Bible study class and heard, likely for the first time, someone open the Bible and explain the text in such a way that my vision of God was profoundly changed. The God I worshiped and served was now bigger and more glorious than I had previously seen. The subtle shift was that I now saw the story of the Bible, and all of history itself, revolved around God, not me (duh, right?). I came to discover that much of what I was hearing and seeing through the scriptures was nothing new, but the very thing boldly proclaimed by men like Martin Luther and John Calvin (though it is found much earlier in men like Augustine and the Apostles themselves). As I read Calvin and his contemporaries, I was pierced with a love for the gospel and the God who graciously saves sinners like me.
So, we chose to name our son Calvin with the hope that, like John Calvin, he would grow up with a deep love for the gospel and that he would use whatever gifts and talents God may give him to share that good news with others, leading them to worship the great and glorious God revealed to us in the Bible.
Finally, as a side note, his name is “Calvin” not “Cal.” Just like our other kids are “Asher” not “Ash” and “Grace” not “Gracie.” You have been warned ;o)
photo credit – Ryan Burns. Don’t steal.