John Calvin's American Legacy

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Overview

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 essays, 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 introduces readers to the breadth and depth of Calvin's influence along the spectrum of American thought and society, from the 18th century to modern times.

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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
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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

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Table of Contents

Introduction, by Thomas J. Davis

Section I John Calvin, Calvinism, and American Society
Chapter 1 Calvin and the Social Order in Early America: Moral Ideals and Transatlantic Empire, by Mark Valeri
Chapter 2 Calvinism and American National Identity, by David Little
Chapter 3 Implausible: Calvinism and American Politics, by D. G. Hart

Section II John Calvin, Calvinism, and American Theology
Chapter 4 Practical Ecclesiology in John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, by Amy Plantinga Pauw
Chapter 5 "Falling Away from the General Faith of the Reformation"? The Contest over Calvinism in Nineteenth-Century America, by Douglas A. Sweeney
Chapter 6 Calvin and Calvinism within Congregational and Unitarian Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America, by David D. Hall
Chapter 7 Whose Calvin, Which Calvinism? John Calvin and the Development of Twentieth-Century American Theology, by Stephen D. Crocco

Section III John Calvin, Calvinism, and American Letters
Chapter 8 "Strange Providence": Indigenist Calvinism in the Writings of Mohegan Minister Samson Occom (1723-1792), by Denise T. Askin
Chapter 9 Geneva's Crystalline Clarity: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Max Weber on Calvinism and the American Character, by Peter J. Thuesen
Chapter 10 "Jonathan Edwards, Calvin, Baxter & Co.": Mark Twain and the Comedy of Calvinism, by Joe B. Fulton
Chapter 11 Cold Comforts: John Updike, Protestant Thought and the Semantics of Paradox, by Kyle A. Pasewark

Conclusion John Calvin at "Home" in American Culture

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