John Calvin's American Legacy

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $91.17
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 13%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (2) from $91.17   
  • New (2) from $91.17   


Though his influence on American society has often been forgotten or misunderstood, John Calvin played a formative role in the traditions of almost every sector of American life. This wide-ranging study, comprising twelve chapters, shows for the first time the extraordinary extent to which Calvinist thoughts and practices are woven into the fabric of American society, theology, and letters, from the colonial period to the twenty-first century.

John Calvin's American Legacy examines the economics of the colonial period, Calvin's effect on American identity, and the evidence for Calvin's influence on American democracy. The book next addresses Calvin's critical role in American theology, inspecting the relationship between Jonathan Edwards's and Calvin's church practices, the diverse views on the Calvinist theological tradition in the nineteenth century, the ways in which Calvin was understood in the historiography of Williston Walker and Perry Miller, and Calvin's influence on twentieth-century theologies. Finally, the book explores Calvinism's influence on American literature, examining the work of such writers as Samson Occom, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Max Weber, Mark Twain, John Updike, and Marilynne Robinson.

This important book is the first to introduce readers to the breadth and depth of Calvin's influence along the spectrum of American thought and society, from the eighteenth century to modern times.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The authors of these provocative and insightful essays are prone neither to grandiose claims nor to cavalier dismissals. Instead, they skillfully explore ambiguities. Ranging in their scope from politics and economics to religious practice, ethics, and fiction, they reveal the persisting relevance of a sixteenth-century Genevan theologian for anyone who hopes to understand American culture. They also prove that reading about Calvin can be genuinely entertaining."
--E. Brooks Holifield, author of God's Ambassadors: A History of the Christian Clergy in America

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195390971
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/5/2010
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, and Thomas H. Lake Scholar in Religion and Philanthropy, Indiana University-Purdue University

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Contributors xi

Introduction Thomas J. Davis 3

Part I Society

1 Calvin and the Social Order in Early America: Moral Ideals and Transatlantic Empire Mark Valeri 19

2 Calvinism and American National Identity David Little 43

3 Implausible: Calvinism and American Politics D. G. Hart 65

Part II Theology

4 Practical Ecclesiology in John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards Amy Plantinga Pauw 91

5 "Falling Away from the General Faith of the Reformation"? The Contest over Calvinism in Nineteenth Century America Douglas A. Sweeney 111

6 Calvin and Calvinism within Congregational and Unitarian Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America David D. Hall 147

7 Whose Calvin, Which Calvinism? John Calvin and the Development of Twentieth-Century American Theology Stephen D. Crocco 165

Part III Letters

8 "Strange Providence": Indigenist Calvinism in the Writings of Mohegan Minister Samson Occom (1723-1792) Denise T. Askin 191

9 Geneva's Crystalline Clarity: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Max Weber on Calvinism and the American Character Peter J. Thuesen 219

10 "Jonathan Edwards, Calvin, Baxter & Co.": Mark Twain and the Comedy of Calvinism Joe B. Fulton 239

11 Cold Comforts: John Updike, Protestant Thought, and the Semantics of Paradox Kyle A. Pasewark 257

Conclusion: John Calvin at "Home" in American Culture Thomas J. Davis 267

Index 273

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)