The Genevan Reformation and the American Founding

The Genevan Reformation and the American Founding

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In this provocative study, David W. Hall argues that the American founders were more greatly influenced by Calvinism than contemporary scholars, and perhaps even the founders themselves, have understood. Calvinism's insistence on human rulers' tendency to err played a significant role in the founders' prescription of limited government and fed the distinctly American philosophy in which political freedom for citizens is held as the highest value. Hall's timely work countervails many scholars' doubt in the intellectual efficacy of religion by showing that religious teachings have led to such progressive ideals as American democracy and freedom.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 508 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 44mm | 1,061.41g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0739106392
  • 9780739106396

About David W. Hall

David W. Hall is an author, pastor, conference speaker, and political commentator. He is the founder and Senior Fellow of the Kuyper Institute, a political think tank in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.show more

Review quote

In this learned and illuminating study, David W. Hall argues compellingly that to understand the political thought and culture of the American founding one must first understand John Calvin and his Geneva. This thoroughly researched and thoughtful volume is sure to challenge and change conventional thinking on the intellectual origins of the American republic. -- Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University David Hall has done a superb job not only of tracing the development of Calvinist political thought but also of demonstrating its profound influence on the theory and practice of America's founding fathers. -- E. Calvin Beisner, Knox Theological Seminary David Hall goes behind the stage sets of the "Enlightenment" from which most historians begin the story of the founding, and tells of earlier actions that set the drama in motion. For instance, the shocking idea, "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God," which Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson proposed as the motto for the new United States, sprang from the reflections of John Knox in 1558. So also, John Calvin's insistence on limited government, human sinfulness and unreliability, and liberty as God's great gift shaped the thinking of the great majority of Americans prior to 1787, even those who (like Jefferson) were not Calvinists. These great brakes on Enlightenment enthusiasm spared America the agonies of France and much of Europe for the next two hundred years. -- Michael Novak, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, 1994 Templeton laureate His book makes a serious contribution. It is based on wide reading and is packed with informative detail. Themelios This volume needs to be in the possession of history and political science students, as well as all who are interested in the theological foundations that formed America. Chalcedonshow more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Rebellion To Tyrants is Obedience to God Chapter 3 From Medieval Birthpangs to Geneva's Fare: Contra Tyrannos ("Against Tyranny") Chapter 4 Calvin's Political Thought and Impact: Confoederus ("Covenant Together" Chapter 5 Post-Calvinistic Advances on the Continent: Nemo posse Dare ("One cannot give what he does not possess") Chapter 6 Calvin's Ideas Emigrate to Scotland and Great Britain: Lex Rex ("Law is King") Chapter 7 Colonial Calvinism in Church and State, 1607-1700: Puritans and Pilgrims Pro Libertas ("On Behalf of Liberty") Chapter 8 Before the Revolution, 1700-1776: Non potest civitas abscondi supra montem posita ("A city on a hill cannot hide its light") Chapter 9 Evidences of Calvin's Themes in the American Founding: Post Tenebras Lux ("Light after darkness")show more

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