Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bratt on Hart on Calvinism

James Bratt, a Calvinist who teaches American history at Calvin College reviews Darryl Hart's Calvinism: A History at The Christian Century.  Hart is a Calvinist who teaches American history at Hillsdale College.

Here is Bratt's opening:

Some classic works on the origins of modernity gave pride of place to Calvinism. Max Weber famously made it the fount of capitalist economics; Robert K. Merton, that of experimental science; Michael Walzer, of political radicalism. In his new history of Reformed churches, D. G. Hart will have none of it. Rather than shaping modern life, he argues, Calvinism developed in reaction to it—sometimes in the negative sense of the word.

And here are some of his conclusions:

...readers should be aware of the particular interpretations structuring the book’s argument. Hart’sCalvinism is a very old-fashioned work, so old-fashioned as to be newly revealing. In contrast to the contextual analyses of religion that have dominated the professional guild for at least 40 years, Hart stays very much within the official institutions of Reformed Christianity, calling our attention to dy­na­mics and developments that the looser contextual ap­proach can overlook. The cost of this strategy is to ignore the broader connections and interactions that Calvinists made outside of formal church assemblies—in their workweek activities and in their participation in and impact on politics and education.

Read the rest here.