Calvinism

Calvinism: A History

D.G. Hart
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32btkt
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    Calvinism
    Book Description:

    This briskly told history of Reformed Protestantism takes these churches through their entire 500-year history-from sixteenth-century Zurich and Geneva to modern locations as far flung as Seoul and São Paulo. D. G. Hart explores specifically the social and political developments that enabled Calvinism to establish a global presence.

    Hart's approach features significant episodes in the institutional history of Calvinism that are responsible for its contemporary profile. He traces the political and religious circumstances that first created space for Reformed churches in Europe and later contributed to Calvinism's expansion around the world. He discusses the effects of the American and French Revolutions on ecclesiastical establishments as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century communions, particularly in Scotland, the Netherlands, the United States, and Germany, that directly challenged church dependence on the state. Raising important questions about secularization, religious freedom, privatization of faith, and the place of religion in public life, this book will appeal not only to readers with interests in the history of religion but also in the role of religion in political and social life today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19536-1
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xii)

    For close to five centuries, Geneva, the city that gave birth to Calvinism, has enjoyed an international influence. John Bale, a refugee to Geneva during the Reformation and a friend of the Scottish reformer, John Knox, marveled at the city’s polyglot demographics. To see Spaniards, French, Scots, English, and Germans “disagreeing in speech, manners, and apparel, sheep and wolves, bulls and bears, being coupled with the only yoke of Christ,” was a “wonderful miracle of the whole world.”¹ What inspired Bale, though, was troubling to city officials and citizens, especially when Geneva needed to raise a militia against the emperor’s...

  5. CHAPTER ONE CITY LIGHTS
    (pp. 1-25)

    During the winter of 1522, a group of Christians in the city of Zurich met in the home of the printer Christopher Froschauer. Church teaching required Christians during the Lenten season to abstain from meat. In a bold act of defiance, comparable to flag burning today, the assembled ate the sausages served by the host. One of those present was the local priest, Ulrich Zwingli, who was surprised by the food and abstained from eating. Even so, Zwingli defended the choice of food the following month with a sermon entitled “On the Choice and Freedom of Foods.” His reasoning was...

  6. CHAPTER TWO GOD’S FICKLE ANOINTED
    (pp. 26-46)

    In the first quarter of 1547 the ruling class of Europe lost two members who each had a stormy relationship with church reform. The first was Henry VIII of England, who died on January 28, 1547, in all likelihood from symptoms related to obesity and gout. (Later stories about syphilis gratified those who disapproved of his womanizing and revolving marriage bed but were likely untrue.) The second loss from Europe’s royal ranks was Francis I, king of France, who died on March 31 at the age of thirty-two, the husband of only one wife. Both kings had dabbled in the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE TO REBEL AND TO BUILD
    (pp. 47-71)

    In 1559, Frederick III became the prince-elector of the Palatinate, a small German-speaking territory within the Holy Roman Empire. As was typical throughout the Germanic parts of the empire, he inherited a Protestant church that had been reformed along Lutheran lines. Granted, the Lutheranism in Frederick’s hometown, Heidelberg, was not the high-octane variety that some, known as gnesio-Lutherans, were advocating. These conservative Lutherans regarded the form of Lutheranism cultivated by Philip Melanchthon (one that inspired hopes in places like Geneva for unity between Lutherans and the Reformed) as betraying Luther’s original insights. Still, the Palatinate church had a reputation even...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR SHAKING THE FOUNDATIONS
    (pp. 72-94)

    The origins of the earliest Reformed churches defied a general pattern. Individual clergy came to Protestant convictions through circuitous routes, members of city councils calculated the spiritual, political, and economic benefits of reform, and the combined efforts of clergy and magistrates produced reformations that bore the imprint of local settings. To be sure, Luther’s struggle with Rome and the reforms promoted by humanists functioned as banks to channel the surging waters of reform. But the idiosyncratic character of Reformed Protestantism’s beginnings meant that new churches lacked common characteristics that could identify them, at least initially, as a distinct version of...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE TAKING THE WORD TO THE WORLD
    (pp. 95-116)

    The Reformation era was also the Age of Discovery. Even before Luther instigated challenges to Rome or Zwingli contemplated eating meat on Friday, Spanish and Portuguese sailors had discovered parts of the world formerly unknown to Europeans. Although the discovery of new lands and Protestant beliefs were part of a general challenge to Christendom’s received ways, these developments were not directly linked. Explorers like the Italian Christopher Columbus and his royal patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, were devout Roman Catholics and their interests in exploration included at least the extension of Rome’s true religion throughout the world,...

  10. CHAPTER SIX NEW COMMUNITIES IN THE LAND OF THE FREE
    (pp. 117-136)

    John Philip Boehm arrived in Pennsylvania in 1720, when he was almost the same age as the British colony that William Penn had established in 1682 on the western side of the Delaware River. Born in 1683 to a Reformed pastor, Philip Ludwig Boehm, in the territory of Hesse-Kassel, John Philip pursued work similar to his father but without crossing the threshold of ordination; in 1708 the son took a position as teacher in the Reformed parish of Worms. Salary disputes led Boehm in 1715 to take a similar position at Lambsheim but the new home did not end worries...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN AN EXHAUSTED EUROPE
    (pp. 137-159)

    In 1726, only three years before the Presbyterian ministers who were trying to establish a Reformed communion in North America determined to adopt the Westminster Confession of Faith as the doctrinal standard for their church, Geneva’s Company of Pastors decided to abandon their practice of subscription. Fifty years earlier that same body had adopted the Helvetic Consensus to stop the spread and even weed out defective theology that had grown in the wake of controversies over Arminianism and Amyrauldianism. The architect of that creed was François Turretini (1623–1724), a theologian who preserved the convictions of the early Reformed churches...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT REFORMATION REAWAKENED
    (pp. 160-181)

    Itinerant preaching was a major source of controversy and a vehicle for disseminating new ideas and practices in places like North America, where social and ecclesiastical life was unsettled. George Whitefield, the Anglican priest of Calvinistic persuasion who became the North American British colonies’ first celebrity during the contentious First Awakening (1739–43), crossed the Atlantic ocean seven times during the course of his life, and his voice, manner, and public relations contributed to his fame. Meanwhile, his methods as a preacher and self–promoter created controversy among Presbyterians in both Scotland and British North America.

    Whitefield traveled with only...

  13. CHAPTER NINE MISSIONARY ZEAL
    (pp. 182-204)

    In 1829 Alexander Duff (1806–78), considered the first foreign missionary from any of the Reformed or Presbyterian national churches, left Scotland for Bengal where he planned to establish an educational mission. A native of the Perthshire Highlands, the son of a Gaelic-speaking farm worker, Duff distinguished himself in grammar school and eventually gained admittance to St Andrews University. He studied the regular arts curriculum and divinity. While a student he came under the influence of nineteenth-century Scotland’s greatest preacher, Thomas Chalmers, who was a force for renewal within the Kirk and who taught at St Andrews during the 1820s...

  14. CHAPTER TEN KIRK RUPTURED AND CHURCH FREED
    (pp. 205-225)

    Between 1834 and 1843 Reformed churches around the world experienced upheavals that were indicative of adaptations to new social and political circumstances. The Dutch were on the front lines of these developments in 1834, with the formation of churches outside the state’s established communion as a protest against the perceived corruption of church establishment. Three years later Presbyterians in the United States participated in a split between Old and New School Presbyterians that stemmed from debates over adapting Reformed convictions to the enterprise of constructing a Christian civilization in the new nation. Finally, in 1843 the Church of Scotland witnessed...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN THE NETHERLANDS’ NEW WAY
    (pp. 226-247)

    Almost a decade before the Free Church of Scotland took leave from the Kirk, Reformed Protestants in the Netherlands were engaged in similarly disruptive efforts. The Dutch Secession of 1834, however, lacked the drama and publicity that attended the Scottish Disruption. The difference had little to do with the actual issues at stake. As in the case of Scotland, Reformed ministers in the Netherlands were upset with compromises they believed had infected the ecclesiastical establishment. Also, Dutch Reformed pastors were as interested as the Free Church leaders in recovering the golden age of their national church. Even so, the Dutch...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE AMERICAN FUNDAMENTALISTS
    (pp. 248-271)

    Presbyterians in the United States had little trouble extricating themselves from compromising entanglements with the civil magistrate. None of the British colonies in North America that were to become the United States had a Presbyterian ecclesiastical establishment. Neither did the Articles of Confederation or the United States Constitution call for church–state relationships that prevented Presbyterians from exercising their convictions regarding the institution and maintenance of a Reformed communion. Some Presbyterians, like the Covenanters, objected to the silence of United States law about the lordship of Christ and so forbade members from voting, serving in the military, or holding public...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN THE CONFESSING CHURCH
    (pp. 272-294)

    In 1918, as a devastating European war was coming to an end, Karl Barth (1880–1968) dropped his own theological bomb upon Europe’s Protestant churches, namely, the first edition of his famous commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. At the time, the author was an unknown Reformed pastor in the Swiss village of Safenwil (where he had lived since 1910), the population of which barely included 1,600 inhabitants. In fact, so marginal was Barth that he had trouble finding a publisher. “Three well-known Swiss publishers,” he confessed, “refused to have anything to do with [the Romans commentary], which was...

  18. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 295-304)

    In April of 2010, Sebastian Heck conducted the first worship service of a new Reformed congregation in the city of Heidelberg. A German native, the pastor trained for the ministry at a non-denominational seminary in Germany before pursuing doctoral studies in the United States. His work is part of a church-planting effort overseen and subsidized by a congregation in the Presbyterian Church of America (a denomination formed in 1973 from conservative opposition to liberal and ecumenical trends in the southern Presbyterian Church). In fact, Heck’s ministerial credentials come from a presbytery in the state of Georgia. After a year of...

  19. TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF CALVINISM
    (pp. 305-308)
  20. NOTES
    (pp. 309-317)
  21. FURTHER READING
    (pp. 318-322)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 323-340)