John Calvin's American Legacy explores the ways Calvin and the Calvinist tradition have influenced American life. Though there are books that trace the role Calvin and Calvinism have played in the national narrative, they tend to focus, as books, on particular topics and time periods. This work, divided into three sections, is the first to present studies that, taken together, represent the breadth of Calvinism's impact in the United States. In addition, each section moves chronologically, ranging from colonial times to the twenty-first century. After a brief introduction focused on the life of Calvin and some of the problems involved in how he is viewed and studied, the volume moves into the first section - "Calvin, Calvinism, and American Society " - which looks at the economics of the Colonial period, Calvin and the American identity, and the evidence for Calvin's influence on American democracy.
The book's second section examines theology, addressing the relationship between Jonathan Edwards's church practice and Calvin's, the Calvinist theological tradition in the nineteenth century, how Calvin came to be understood in the historiography of Williston Walker and Perry Miller, and Calvin's influence on some of the theologies of the twentieth century. The third section, "John Calvin, Calvinism, and American Letters,looks at Calvinism's influence on such writers as Samson Occom, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Max Weber, Mark Twain, and John Updike. Altogether, this volume demonstrates the wide-ranging impact of Calvin's thinking throughout American history and society.
Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, and Thomas H. Lake Scholar in Religion and Philanthropy, Indiana University-Purdue University