Ten Myths about Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition

Ten Myths about Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition

Stewart, Kenneth J


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Listen to Dr. Ken Stewart discuss his book Ten Myths About Calvinism. (Covenant College)

Publisher's Description

Historian of Christianity Ken Stewart is intent on setting the record straight about Reformed theology. He identifies ten myths held by either or both Calvinists and non-Calvinists and shows how they are gross mischaracterizations of that theological stream. Certain of these persistent stereotypes that defy historical research often present a truncated view of the depth and breadth of the Reformed tradition. Others, although erroneous, are nevertheless used to dismiss outright this rich body of biblical theological teaching.

Some key questions Stewart explores in this provocative, informative and thoroughly researched book:

  • Is the role reserved for John Calvin possibly exaggerated?
  • Are there improper, as well as proper uses of the doctrine of predestination?
  • To what extent is the popular acronym, T.U.L.I.P. a helpful device, and to what extent is it detrimental in encapsulating key doctrines?
  • Should the Calvinist position towards movements of spiritual renewal be one of support, or one of suspicion?
  • Didn't Calvinism more or less 'bring up the rear' in advancing the cause of world mission?
  • Doesn't the Calvinist approach to Christianity encourage the belief that the redeemed will be saved irrespective of their conduct?
  • Doesn't the Calvinist track-record show an at-best mixed legacy on critical issues such as race and gender relations?
  • Hasn't the Calvinist concept of the church's role vis-A-vis the state tended toward theocracy?
  • Isn't it true that Calvinistic expressions of Christianity have been a damper on the creative arts, whether the theater or painting or sculpture?

This thoroughly researched book is sure to enrich both promoters and detractors, students and scholars.

About the Author

Ken Stewart is professor of theological studies and former chair of the department of biblical and theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He holds an M.Phil. in early modern European history from the University of Waterloo and a PhD in nineteenth-century Christianity from the University of Edinburgh. Stewart is especially interested in historical theology, particularly Calvin and the transmission of the Reformed tradition in the history of evangelicalism. He has written extensively on issues surrounding the Reformed faith and is the author of Restoring the Reformation in Paternoster's series Studies in Evangelical History and Thought. He also served as co-editor for The Emergence of Evangelicalism. Additionally he has been a contributor to reference works such as the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, The Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, and the Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith.

Book Details

301 Pages
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: March, 2011
ISBN 10: 0830838988
ISBN 13: 9780830838981

"While some may find even the word 'Calvinism' to be unhelpful, it is a standard term used by both its friends and enemies. Thus, Kenneth Stewart has done us all a service by writing a book which highlights and refutes many of the misconceptions about Calvinism propagated by both its adherents and its opponents. This book will provoke healthy and thoughtful discussions both among Reformed people and between the Reformed and Christians who belong to other traditions."
- Carl R. Trueman, vice president and professor of historical theology and church history, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

"Perhaps no movement in Christian history has suffered more from both its detractors and its admirers than Calvinism. In this book, Kenneth Stewart shatters ten persistent stereotypes about the Calvinist way of being a Christian and helps us to see why the Reformed faith continues to attract so many believers to the God of John Calvin."
- Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture

"This work is insightful, illuminating, informative and fascinating. The breadth and depth of Stewart’s historical research is impressive. The study aims to help Calvinists primarily, but it will be helpful to detractors wishing to be just in their criticisms. Four of the erroneous ideas Stewart identifies as myths are widely held by Calvinists themselves, and six of them are common among non-Calvinists. This well-informed exposition of controversial aspects of the history of Reformed theology and practice should foster profitable discussions among evangelicals of diverse traditions."
- Terrance Tiessen, emeritus professor of systematic theology and ethics, Providence Theological Seminary

"With the growing resurgence of interest in Calvinism, Ken Stewart's deft discussion of the myths promoted by and against Calvinists is timely indeed. Sympathetic to this school of thought, though also deeply desirous of historical accuracy, this book will inform--and challenge--both friend and foe of the Calvinist vision."
- Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Calvinism--in various strains--has been one of the most powerful forces shaping Protestant Christianity. And despite being repeatedly consigned to the dustbin of history, it just keeps bouncing back. Yet it is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented by friend and foe alike. In this richly detailed study, Ken Stewart harvests a wealth of historical research in order to bust some popular myths and reveal the dynamism and diversity of the Reformed tradition. Given the contemporary resurgence of Calvinism, this book is recommended reading for Christians who call themselves Calvinists, but also for those of us who don't."
- John Coffey, University of Leicester, coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism

"Ken Stewart's book appears at a timely moment, when Calvinism is again in vogue. Drawing on both theological and historical evidence, Ken Stewart shows that Calvinism was not the narrow, exclusive preserve of a bunch of cranks but an outward-looking, mission-orientated, vibrant and this-worldly faith. May it do its part to clear away many of the misconceptions that have bedeviled Calvinism over the years!"
- Dr. David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University, Wales

"This book is not only a marvelous overview of Calvinism as a many-faceted movement, it is also an excellent refresher course for those of us who consider ourselves card-carrying Calvinists. In fact, I learned many new things from reading this book--indeed, Ken Stewart even made me see that I had to change my mind about some old things!"
- Richard J. Mouw, president, Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Uncommon Decency