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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.46 no.1 Pretoria  2020 



Calvinism and the Making of the European Mind, by Gijsbert van den Brink and Harro M. Höpfl



Reviewed by Tobias Masuku

University of South Africa



Brill. 2014. Boston. pp. 266. No price quoted ISSN 1571-4799

In order to look at the way Calvinism transformed the modern European culture, this volume is divided into two parts, entitled, Calvinism's Transformative Spirituality (p.25) and Calvinism and the Rise of the Modern Culture (p.100) respectively. There is an introduction at the beginning of the volume which is entitled, Calvin, the Reformed Tradition and Modern Culture (p.3). The conclusion at the end is entitled, Calvinism and the European Mind: Pitfalls and Prospects in Contemporary Research (p.210). The entire volume is made up out of nine contributors in both parts. The first part has four and the second part five contributors. The book is published as volume 27 in the series of Studies in Reformed Theology.

The thread that runs at the centre of this volume is a scholarly demonstration of the impact of Calvinism in European cultural history. This impact succeeded to penetrate and influence European mental make-up over the years, despite the many challenges and transformation the European cultural history went through. The contributors seek to argue that Calvinism shaped the story of Europe over the years and it will do the same going into the future.

Calvinist ethos could be traced in Europe in the midst of secularisation and fragmentation it went through over the years. Thus, the relationship between Calvinism and the cultural history of Europe is re-looked and re-investigated to see the light they can shed in the modern history of Europe and going forward to the future. The impact of the Reformed tradition (Calvinism) has been addressed in many sectors in the makeup of the European history, for instance economy, the development of sciences, religious tolerance, or European polities. The question that could be asked is: What role did Calvinism play in the transformative agenda of Europe? This publication is a collection of scholarly work that wrangles with this question.

This volume is very useful not only for European consumption, but for the international scene as well, especially in South Africa where Calvinism had strong injection from 1948 to 1994 during the rule of the Dutch Reformed Church-Calvinist-inspired Nationalist Party. Bookshops, publishers, institutes and universities, will truly find it an all-in-one guide to the role of Calvinism in shaping the modern European culture which bears influence in other parts of the world.

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