Book Review: John Calvin Goes to Berkely

Theology Made Accessible in a Novel.

John Calvin Goes to Berkely (author’s website)
John Calvin Goes to Berkely (Amazon link)

This book is the first in a series from University Christian Fellowship. It is a novel that weaves the age old questions of predestination and election into an interesting story line. The local University Christian Fellowship in Cal Berkeley is fractured. One of the members is a staunch high Calvinist. He is attempting to “convert” the rest of the leadership to his point of view, and is receiving outside pressure from his pastor to make this happen. The story revolves around the UCF leadership. Can they be salt and light? How does the fellowship respond to the challenges of a secular university? Can they understand the mystery of predestination? Is it solvable? How will the president Alex Kim cope with the division this issue causes? Can he bring peace and make everyone in the fellowship happy? Or is conflict and separation unavoidable?

The author James McCarthy does a fine job in presenting the major points of Calvinism and Arminianism, and the history behind these movements. The story is written in such a way that these theological points of view are made interesting and accessible to the average reader. It is fair to state that the author comes to basically Arminian conclusions regarding the issues at hand. The book also contains a bit of interesting history about Berkeley. The motto of Berkeley is: Fiat Lux. “Let there be light”. The author is obviously familiar with the campus. The reader will come away with a better understanding of how this rather unique college works.


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