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Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition [Kindle Edition]

Kenneth J. Stewart
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Historian of Christianity Ken Stewart is intent on setting the record straight about Reformed theology. He identifies ten myths held by either or both Calvinists and non-Calvinists and shows how they are gross mischaracterizations of that theological stream. Certain of these persistent stereotypes that defy historical research often present a truncated view of the depth and breadth of the Reformed tradition. Others, although erroneous, are nevertheless used to dismiss outright this rich body of biblical theological teaching.

Some key questions Stewart explores in this provocative, informative and thoroughly researched book:

  • Is the role reserved for John Calvin possibly exaggerated?
  • Are there improper, as well as proper uses of the doctrine of predestination?
  • To what extent is the popular acronym, T.U.L.I.P. a helpful device, and to what extent is it detrimental in encapsulating key doctrines?
  • Should the Calvinist position towards movements of spiritual renewal be one of support, or one of suspicion?
  • Didn't Calvinism more or less 'bring up the rear' in advancing the cause of world mission?
  • Doesn't the Calvinist approach to Christianity encourage the belief that the redeemed will be saved irrespective of their conduct?
  • Doesn't the Calvinist track-record show an at-best mixed legacy on critical issues such as race and gender relations?
  • Hasn't the Calvinist concept of the church's role vis-à-vis the state tended toward theocracy?
  • Isn't it true that Calvinistic expressions of Christianity have been a damper on the creative arts, whether the theater or painting or sculpture?
Ten Myths About Calvinism is sure to enrich both promoters and detractors, students and scholars.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a book for which everyone interested in reformed theology, whether for it, against it, or simply thinking about it, would greatly benefit from reading." (Robin Weekes, Churchman, Summer 2013)

"A helpful overview of Calvinism, a reader is sure to absorb many historical tidbits and facts. Recommended." (Christine Farenhorst, Christian Renewal, June 13, 2012)

"Stewart's book is a real help in recovering the fullness of what Calvinism means, encouraging us to have less of a party spirit and instead to pursue greater unity and forbearance." (Alan D. Stranger, Mid-America Journal of Theology, Vol. 22, 2011)

"Stewart's complex retelling of the history of the Reformed movement exposes the diversity of its theology. He provides a more comprehensive understanding the very tradition that has both promoted and disproved these misinterpretations. The result of the author's careful research is a reference tool that Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike can use to prove what the Reformed tradition is, isn't, and might be. .. the dense text offers necessary perspective and self-criticism." (Publishers Weekly, January 10, 2011)

"Kenneth Stewart has written a book that should be in the hands of every Reformed pastor and teacher, especially those identifying themselves as Calvinists. This is a very important and timely book." (Charles Dunahoo, Coordinator for Christian Education, Presbyterian Church in America)

"Kenneth J. Stewart demonstrates that confusion and misapprehension reign among adherents as much, if not more, than among outsiders and opponents. . . . I find Stewart's approach refreshing; it gives me hope that both sides can be self-critical and fair as they discuss their differences." (Roger E. Olson, Christianity Today, May 2011)

"Ken Stewart's book appears at a timely moment, when Calvinism is again in vogue. Drawing on both theological and historical evidence, Ken Stewart shows that Calvinism was not the narrow, exclusive preserve of a bunch of cranks but an outward-looking, mission-orientated, vibrant and this-worldly faith. May it do its part to clear away many of the misconceptions that have bedeviled Calvinism over the years!" (Dr. David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University, Wales)

"Calvinism--in various strains--has been one of the most powerful forces shaping Protestant Christianity. And despite being repeatedly consigned to the dustbin of history, it just keeps bouncing back. Yet it is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented by friend and foe alike. In this richly detailed study, Ken Stewart harvests a wealth of historical research in order to bust some popular myths and reveal the dynamism and diversity of the Reformed tradition. Given the contemporary resurgence of Calvinism, this book is recommended reading for Christians who call themselves Calvinists, but also for those of us who don't." (John Coffey, University of Leicester, coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism)

"While some may find even the word 'Calvinism' to be unhelpful, it is a standard term used by both its friends and enemies. Thus, Kenneth Stewart has done us all a service by writing a book which highlights and refutes many of the misconceptions about Calvinism propagated by both its adherents and its opponents. This book will provoke healthy and thoughtful discussions both among Reformed people and between the Reformed and Christians who belong to other traditions." (Carl R. Trueman, vice president and professor of historical theology and church history, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia)

"This book is not only a marvelous overview of Calvinism as a many-faceted movement, it is also an excellent refresher course for those of us who consider ourselves card-carrying Calvinists. In fact, I learned many new things from reading this book--indeed, Ken Stewart even made me see that I had to change my mind about some old things!" (Richard J. Mouw, president, Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Uncommon Decency)

"With the growing resurgence of interest in Calvinism, Ken Stewart's deft discussion of the myths promoted by and against Calvinists is timely indeed. Sympathetic to this school of thought, though also deeply desirous of historical accuracy, this book will inform--and challenge--both friend and foe of the Calvinist vision." (Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

"This work is insightful, illuminating, informative and fascinating. The breadth and depth of Stewart’s historical research is impressive. The study aims to help Calvinists primarily, but it will be helpful to detractors wishing to be just in their criticisms. Four of the erroneous ideas Stewart identifies as myths are widely held by Calvinists themselves, and six of them are common among non-Calvinists. This well-informed exposition of controversial aspects of the history of Reformed theology and practice should foster profitable discussions among evangelicals of diverse traditions." (Terrance Tiessen, emeritus professor of systematic theology and ethics, Providence Theological Seminary)

"Perhaps no movement in Christian history has suffered more from both its detractors and its admirers than Calvinism. In this book, Kenneth Stewart shatters ten persistent stereotypes about the Calvinist way of being a Christian and helps us to see why the Reformed faith continues to attract so many believers to the God of John Calvin." (Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture)

About the Author

Intent on setting the record straight about Reformed theology, church historian Ken Stewart identifies ten myths held by either or both Calvinists and non-Calvinists and shows how they are gross mischaracterizations of this theological stream.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2347 KB
  • Print Length: 301 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (January 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LVODAC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,631 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Grace Diverse March 4, 2011
Format:Paperback
I've just finished Ken Stewart's Ten Myths. It has worked in me much humility, and much enthusiasm for the future of the Reformed faith. The humility comes from recognizing how much he has read that I've never heard of, and how well he has grasped it. I am so glad he reminds us that Calvinism is about the kind grace of God, which has been expressed in many ways. It is everything but a narrow sect, but has been and is being joyfully received by people everywhere who take the biblical gospel seriously, and have come thereby to (diverse) Calvinistic conclusions.
I am especially grateful for his work on American (and global) revival. Who could believe that God could yet awaken in his indifferent and bored people a new appreciation for his gospel, except those who are convinced that the Lord has much more in his sovereign plan than has yet been known? Do you `pray down' or `work up' revival? As with similar questions, the answer must be: both. Of course Finney was much too sure he had it all mapped out, and people on the other end of the spectrum were too much into watchful waiting. I am so glad that Stewart identified the forerunners of revival as Calvinists, especially pointing out that the first professor at Prlnceton TS, Archibald Alexander, in his Log College book was vehement that Princeton inherited the Log College direction. (I would add, very glad that I can add something, that Alexander was opposing Charles Hodge, his young colleague, who had written in his Constitutional History that both Old and New Sides were about equal in value to the church).
Stewart pleads for breadth in the grand tradition of Amazing Grace, against the dark heresy of Worthy Me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stewart's Volume is Accurate and Excellent March 14, 2011
By J. West
Format:Paperback
In this volume Stewart discusses, in two parts, myths about Calvinism which should cease being repeated. In part one he covers four myths Calvinists themselves circulate, and in the second part he discusses six myths non-Calvinists disseminate. These ten myths are, in order

Part One-
One Man and One City are Determinative
Calvin's View of Predestination Must be Ours
TULIP is the Yardstick of the Truly Reformed
Calvinists Take a Dim View of Revival and Awakening

Part Two-
Calvinism is Largely Antimissionary
Calvinism Promotes Antinomianism
Calvinism Leads to Theocracy
Calvinism Undermines the Creative Arts
Calvinism Resists Gender Equality
Calvinism Has Fostered Racial Inequality

Stewart concludes his treatment with a chapter titled `Recovering our Bearings: Calvinism in the Twenty-First Century'. Then follows an Appendix and the usual indices.

This volume is essentially a plea to understand Calvinism as something more than a simple monolith. If I may, the overarching impression this reader took away from reading the volume is that there are numerous ways to take one's `Calvinism' . Indeed, Stewart himself hints at this when he writes

Calvinist and Calvinism are not ideal terms to describe an approach to Christian faith and theology descending from multiple centers that knew few boundaries and had a high degree of fraternal cooperation within Swiss-South German Protestantism (p. 40).

Stewart prefers the term `Reformed' for these Swiss-German and French movements.

As Stewart corrects the misunderstandings which arise when Calvinism is misrepresented, he keeps the reader engaged and interested. He has a very easy style of writing and he's quite clear and precise.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in ecclesiastical Chiropractic March 15, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David Hackett Fischer once wrote: "History is, in short, a problem-solving discipline. A historian is someone (anyone) who asks an open-ended question about past events and answers it with selected facts which are arranged in the form of an explanatory paradigm." Such an endeavor unfolds in a very wonderful way in this book.

For lack of a better term - this book is an exercise in ecclesiastical, historical chiropractic. It serves to realign some very critical, misaligned historical conceptions that for some (I have not a doubt in the world) have been producing undiagnosed pains, discomforts and perhaps even tears. It is a healing book. And I am profoundly grateful for it.

Dr. Stewart's bona fides as standing solidly mid-stream in the Reformed and Calvinistic school is without question. A Th. M from Westminster Seminary; Ph. D from the University of Edinburgh and his 14 year tenure on the faculty of Covenant College (Lookout Mountain GA - PCA) speak for themselves. His bio on Covenant's website reads in part: "Dr. Stewart is a specialist in the history of Christianity from the Reformation to the present with special interest in the development of the evangelical Protestant tradition." But it is his thorough research, irenic spirit, and his obvious commitment to and fearless pursuit of - historical Reformation truth as demonstrated in this book that makes me so desirous that this fine work attain a broad reading.

I will confess that on first gloss, not all of the chapter titles intrigued me.

The first 4 chapter are devoted to "Four Myths Calvinists Should Not Be Circulating (But Are) - and were what garnered my immediate attention.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
For those new to the reformed tradition this is an excellent resource to dispel The current myths floating out there by non-reformed Christians and the misinformed Reformed folk. Read more
Published 5 months ago by tsewell
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
Great book. Dispelling confusion about the centrality of Calvin, resistance to revival, and other false impressions about reformed faith.
Published 6 months ago by Joel Hoskinson II
5.0 out of 5 stars warts and all
I really appreciated this text on a number of levels. First, it raised several important things for Calvinists to be cautious of, namely the over reliance on Calvin or using his... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Elizabeth Harper
4.0 out of 5 stars Calvinist critique of some versions of Calvinism
In Ten Myths about Calvinism, Professor Stewart seeks to demythologize Calvinism by debunking claims made by recent critics of Calvinism as well as myths held tenaciously by some... Read more
Published on November 1, 2012 by Crazy Horse
5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Stewart's Ten Myths About Calvinism
I have thoroughly enjoyed Ken Stewart's Ten Myths About Calvinism. As a Church History professor in a predominantly non-Calvinist context, I have encountered many of these myths... Read more
Published on October 6, 2011 by Robert Caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Complexifies Simplistic (Mis)interpretations of Calvinism
In Ten Myths About Calvinism, Kenneth J. Stewart skillfully dissects misinformation--sometimes, frankly, disinformation--commonly circulated about Calvinist theology and culture. Read more
Published on July 18, 2011 by George P. Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommendation of Ken Stewart's "Ten Myths of Calvinism"
The title of Ken Stewart's new book, "Ten Myths of Calvinism", may not turn the head of the average evangelical, but the subtitle, "Rediscovering the Breadth of the Reformed... Read more
Published on April 9, 2011 by Roy Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars A pastor's viewpoint
I read all the other reviews up to this point, and I believe they all have some merit, even the one more negative. We often learn most from those who find fault with us. Read more
Published on March 29, 2011 by M. Stjohn
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful correctives
This work is insightful, illuminating, informative and fascinating.

The breadth and depth of Stewart's historical research is impressive. Read more
Published on March 21, 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Breadth" is a breath of fresh air
"Ten Myths About Calvinism" is timely, accurate and needed. If you're a Baptist and love the reformed faith read this book, especially the first four chapters! Read more
Published on March 16, 2011 by R. Weems
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More About the Author

Dr. Ken Stewart is Canadian by birth and now a naturalized U.S. citizen.

He graduated from U.B.C., Vancouver with a degree in Psychology, and after a year at Regent College, Vancouver, completed theological studies at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia (M.Div.,Th.M.). He gained the M.Phil. in Early Modern European History at the University of Waterloo, Ontario and the Ph.D. in modern church history at New College, University of Edinburgh.

Stewart is a specialist in the history of Christianity from the Reformation to the present with special emphasis on the development of the evangelical Protestant tradition. At the same time, he has a growing interest in early Christianity and the transmission of doctrine from the early church forward to our time.

He has taught at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, since 1997. Previously he taught 3 years at Prairie Bible College, Three Hills, AB. Canada. Earlier still, he served Presbyterian, Evangelical Free, and Christian Reformed congregations in three provinces of Canada. Now, he has ministerial standing in the Presbyterian Church in America.

At Covenant College, he teaches a two-semester theology sequence, a two-semester sequence in the history of Christianity, and a variety of elective courses in the fields of Early Modern European history and the History of Christianity since 1500.

He is married to Jane and has four grown children. He enjoys vegetable gardening and canoeing.


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