D. G. Hart, Calvinism: A HistoryThose looking for a text addressing the history of Calvinism, marked by its thoroughness but also approachability, need not look any further than D. G. Hart’s Calvinism: A History (Yale, 2013). The volume covers matters from the Reformation to almost the present day. At the same time, Hart writes in a clear and precise manner, not overburdening the reader with an onslaught of facts and events. The work provides a wonderful narrative of not only the history of Reformed theology but also the story of Calvinism.

In addition to familiar topics such as Calvin, Scotland, Kuyper (see my review of Bratt’s biography), and the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, Hart addresses a vast amount of unfamiliar Calvinistic history. His treatment of the Reformed church in Germany is quite good. The discussion of Reformed and Lutheran relations is also very interesting. Lastly, Hart discusses the Reformed church in countries not often dealt with, such as Hungary, and Reformed missions into countries such as South Africa and Korea.

The greatest strength of Calvinism is its scope and the ground it covers. At the present, there is no other work which deals with the entirety of Calvinistic history, at least not on the same level. The volume can easily become a standard text for the history of Calvinism.

There will be areas of Calvinism which readers may object to, or wish Hart had addressed in more detail. For instance, I would not have minded if Hart had fleshed out in greater detail Cocceian theology and the trajectories of Cocceian thought.

Perhaps more significantly, there is little discussion of English Baptists. Such a work, with the objective of covering a vast span of time, will naturally struggle with delimitations and deciding which matters should be discussed and which should not. However, Calvinist Baptists have a significant role in Calvinistic history and should have been included in the work.

Nonetheless, Calvinism is a great resource for the history of Calvinism. It is a detailed discussion of the historical and theological development of Calvinism, yet remains approachable to all readers. More than an account of historical events, Calvinism helps us understand the historical and theological reasons for present Reformed thought.

Share Button