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Calvin In Germany: A Marginalized Memory

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Chapter Summary

In Germany the nineteenth century was an age in which the cult of Luther tended to get out of proportion; it was a time of massive confessional competition, pervasive nationalism, and the ideological superelevation of structures of authority culminating in the state. These features of the era, either by themselves or in characteristic combination, came to shape the German remembrance of John Calvin, generally reducing him to being a marginal figure. The fact that Calvin always stood in Luther's shadow does not come as a surprise. German intellectuals are ambivalent about Calvin's contribution to their culture. Values associated with Calvin and Calvinism, such as an international outlook, intellectuality, democracy, republicanism, individualism etc., stand opposed to German mainstream ideas and categories that have gained influence since the nineteenth century: national pride and the notion of society as an exclusive social body based on organic principles.

Keywords: Calvinism; German remembrance; John Calvin



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