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John Calvin's American Legacy$
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Thomas Davis

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390971.001.0001

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Calvin and Calvinism within Congregational and Unitarian Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America

Calvin and Calvinism within Congregational and Unitarian Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America

Chapter:
(p.147) 6 Calvin and Calvinism within Congregational and Unitarian Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America
Source:
John Calvin's American Legacy
Author(s):

David D. Hall

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390971.003.0006

At the end of the first-ever National Council of Congregational Churches (1865), Congregationalists were reluctant to embrace either the figure of John Calvin or the words that descend from him (Calvinistic, Calvinism). Why? This question animates the chapter. The story starts with the Unitarian controversy of the 1820s and 1830s when newly self-identified "Unitarians" disputed the legitimacy of Calvinism with their orthodox opponents. Thereafter, the chapter turns to the debates at the National Council and, at the end of the century, a New England Congregationalist’s (Williston Walker) study of Calvin. It concludes with the problem of Calvin and Calvinism within American Puritan studies as refracted through the writings of the most significant American student of Puritanism, Perry Miller. The more that nineteenth-century liberal Protestants distanced themselves from the Reformation, the more they caricatured Calvin and Calvinism. Some of the ironies and contradictions of that process will be noted.

Keywords:   National Council of Congregational Churches (1865), John Calvin, Calvinism, Unitarians, Congregationalists, Williston Walker, Puritanism, Perry Miller

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