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“The Republican Reformer”: John Calvin And The American Calvinists, 1830–1910

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Chapter Summary

One of the central narrative strands in the traditional historiography of American religion is the nineteenth-century Americanization and decline of Calvinism. Strangely, however, as Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike noted the precipitous decline in levels of Calvinist adherence in the later decades of the nineteenth century, the figure of John Calvin was undergoing a dramatic overhaul. After the dust settled, the renovated Calvin had claimed a new relevance to the American situation. The appropriation of the republican Calvin among American Calvinists was clearest in the celebrations of 400th anniversary of Calvin's birth in 1909. In 1907, when the Executive Commission of the Alliance of Reformed Churches (an international alliance of denominations holding to presbyterian polity) issued its call for its member churches to commemorate Calvin in 1909, its rationale echoed this emerging historiographical consensus on Calvin's importance.

Keywords: American Calvinists; John Calvin; republican reformer

10.1163/ej.9789004174245.i-394.85
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