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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2022
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Book description

John Calvin lived in a divided world when past certainties were crumbling. Calvin claimed that his thought was completely based upon scripture, but he was mistaken. At several points in his thought and his ministry, he set his own foundations upon tradition. His efforts to make sense of his culture and its religious life mirror issues that modern Western cultures face, and that have contributed to our present situation. In this book, R. Ward Holder offers new insights into Calvin's successes and failures and suggests pathways for understanding some of the problems of contemporary Western culture such as the deep divergence about living in tradition, the modern capacity to agree on the foundations of thought, and even the roots of our deep political polarization.  He traces Calvin's own critical engagement with the tradition that had formed him and analyzes the inherent divisions in modern heritage that affect our ability to agree, not only religiously or politically, but also about truth. An epilogue comparing biblical interpretation with Constitutional interpretation is illustrative of contemporary issues and demonstrates how historical understanding can offer solutions to tensions in modern culture.


‘… a fascinating study of Calvin’s thought and legacy … Holder has contributed an important work that helps us better understand Calvin’s thought and his context while also offering constructive reflections for contemporary theology and public life.’

Andrew C. Stout Source: Reading Religion

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