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Calvinism: A History Hardcover – July 30, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Calvinism covers its imposingly diverse subject with scholarly precision and the kind of charity and balance one hopes for in any historian. […] In Calvinism, Mr. Hart skilfully combines political and institutional history, on the one hand, and theological developments and the ‘history of ideas,’ on the other.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal
(Barton Swaim Wall Street Journal 2013-08-23)

“The great merit of this book is that it pulls so many threads together in a coherent tapestry. The writing is clear and efficient.”—James Bratt, Christian Century
(James Bratt Christian Century)

Book Description

This brisk single-volume history explores Calvinism from its origins in the sixteenth century through today, assessing political and social dynamics as the church grew and evolved. The book also raises important questions about the relation of church and state in our own times.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (July 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300148798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300148794
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D. G. Hart lives in Michigan with his wife, Ann, and their two cats, Isabelle and Cordelia, where he teaches history at Hillsdale College. Hart used to be an East-Coast snob (though he still roots for the Phillies) but while living in a small mid-western town he has learned that life exists outside the Northeast Corridor. He is currently completing a global history of Calvinism and plans to write books on H. L. Mencken and American religion, and on Roman Catholicism and American conservatism.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ERNEST MILLER on September 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Darryl does a great job interweaving the impact of political developments during the Reformation with the spiritual and ecclesiastical developments especially showing how the combination of persecution in some realms coupled with support and sponsorship in other realms greatly aided the growth and spread of the Reformed Christian denominations. A must read for those interested in understanding how Calvinism and the Reformation were born and grew to greatly influence our modern world. Toward the end of the book Darryl allows the current academy bias against European colonialism to dominate his comments, but overall the book is full of insightful commentary about Calvinism and the many forms it grew to include over the centuries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Keiser on October 5, 2013
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A good written history how thinking people acted on their knowledge of Christianity when they were able to read the bible in English, how they tried to reform the cities in which they lived, Jesus in the first century taught his followers not to involve themselves in politics and government for good reason. the catholic church created havoc on the world because of their taking over the roman empire, when the reformed church followed the same pattern similar results, Luther also. I did enjoy the historicity of the subject. thanks for your work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Fuller Review on September 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Hart-Calvinism-A-History-1017x1476To write a history on what D.G. Hart notes as an, accidental movement, would need to include the study of a broad swath of theologians from an array of countries. Hart has done a great service to the church by providing a synthesis of Reformed history and thought into a manageable number of pages for the common reader with Calvinism: A History. Hart goes beyond merely recounting a history of religion but relies on the context of political and religious circumstances which helped to open up doors for the spread of the Reformed faith across the globe.

Hart begins by introducing the reader to the theological epicenters of the Reformed faith, namely Geneva, Basel, and Zurich. He highlights moments in history which have moved lay people and clergy away from a Roman Catholic worldview into that of specifically Reformed thought As the shape of the Lutheran and Reformed church began to emerge, Huldrych Zwingli contrasted a true religion as over against the false doctrine of Rome by saying, "Faithfulness demands, first, that we learn from God in what way we can please Him, in what manner serve Him. Next, it demands that we should add nothing to what we have learned from Him, and take away nothing..The things...on which faith hinges should be brought out without delay, but the things that militate against it need to be demolished with skill, least they do harm in their downfall and bury the little that has already been built (24).

From the epicenter we see the shock waves reach westward as the Reformation came to places like France and England. In these places, Hart notes, that the spread of Calvinism under the monarchy infrastructure which these countries produced was heavily dampened by Calvinism's impact on the magistrate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MR KENNETH B KIRBY on February 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very useful history that describes the foundations of the positive integration that was necessary as individual Cantons decided to go protestant or remain Roman Catholic. Keen insights into the personality of the central figure and how he drove the transition forward. I was most amazed to learn that the schism between the forebears of modern Baptists, the Anabaptist, and the Reformed Faith was more a politically, and more particularly Taxes-driven division than it was doctrinal.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a student of typical MDiv seminary studies, my exposure to church history during and after the Reformation came in broad swaths of all varieties of important people, doctrinal developments, authors, denominations and movements, with the organizing center being a linear time-line approach. While helpful and necessary to get that massive scope of denominational and doctrinal trajectories, I've never taken a class or read anything quite like Hart's synthesis of a gigantic scope of historical and geopolitical Reformed church data into a readable work of history that also draws out some lessons to teach us about the historic development of the various strands of Reformed denominations in various countries and their failures to replicate or their successful efforts to plant Reformed movements in other countries. How much we take for granted that church is separate from state in the US, given the multiplied tragedies of 900 plus years of church-state enmeshment in Europe's war-torn history.

Hart has helped me see more clearly the American Reformed church debt to the sacrifices and gifts of particular individuals in their historical moment, how hard it was for churches to forsake cultural or political privileges when doctrine was being compromised, and more of the limitations and mistakes of various strands, and see how Hart's book indirectly points us to the need for coining a sixth sola of the Reformation: Solus Ecclesia, (he does not use this term), the church alone, in the senses that salvation is mediated through Christ's true body in earth and that the church must be free from worldly entanglements (such as with the state or with popular culture). The original Reformers wanted a total reformation of doctrine, worship AND church government.
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