United States of Calvin?

July 31, 2009

The New York Times piece was in response to Damon Linker's blog in The New Republic posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009 at 11:00 PM, excerpted here...

Calvin and American Exceptionalism

"Once an idea is unleashed upon the world, there's no telling where it will lead. That is one lesson to be drawn from studying the astonishing influence of John Calvin's theology on the subsequent history of the world. Born five hundred years ago today, Calvin deepened the Protestant Reformation by building on Martin Luther's break from Rome, formulating a sternly ascetic version of Christian piety that, as Max Weber powerfully argued more than a century ago, inadvertently laid the psychological groundwork for the development of capitalism. Others have noted the surprising ways that Calvinist ideas helped to legitimize representative political institutions. Less widely acknowledged, though no less historically significant, is the profound impact of Calvinist assumptions on the formation of American patriotism -- and in particular on the country's sense of itself as an exceptional nation empowered by providence to bring democracy, liberty, and Christian redemption to the world. It is this persistent theological self-confidence (some would say over-confidence) that distinguishes American patriotism from expressions of communal feeling in any other modern nation -- and that demonstrates our nation's unexpected but nonetheless decisive debt to John Calvin..."


Go to Westminster's CALVIN 500 website.