Book Review: Calvin & Culture

Calvin and Culture: Exploring a Worldview

David W. Hall (Author, Editor), Marvin Padgett (Editor)

Calvin and Culture is the final volume in the Calvin 500 series put together in honor of the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth.  One of the aspects of this title that appealed to me was the fact that it dealt with so many different disciplines.  Specifically, it deals with Calvin’s impact on the disciplines of: 1) history; 2) law; 3)the arts; 4) economics; 5) Literature; 6) Philosophy; 7) Political Science; 8) Business; 9)Music; 10) Medicine; and finally 11) journalism.

The broad array of subject matters is what made this book so interesting.  In a way the primary benefit of this book is that it serves as introduction to each of the above disciplines from a reformed worldview.  Which brings me to the dirty little secret of the book, Calvin didn’t really have a direct impact on all these disciplines!  In fact, some of the chapters present quite a stretch in order to “demonstrate Calvin’s influence.”  When I finished the book I was not under the impression that Calvin was a great journalist, or even a historian.  However, I was impressed with the impact that the worldview articulated  by John Calvin has had in so many areas of life.  You see, Calvin’s influence goes beyond his day in that those who were impacted by his teaching lived out and advanced the same worldview (a biblical worldview)

That being said, I was impressed with several areas of Calvin’s direct influence that I was ignorant of before this book.  For instance, Calvin played a huge role in the economic development of his day by parting from the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant leaders and accepting loans with interest as an acceptable practice.  There were several other very interesting aspects of Calvin’s life and thought that I was introduced to through this book.  I don’t agree with all the specifics (i.e. some conclusions from individual chapter authors), however it was extremely beneficial to see how the worldview of Calvinism has impact so many different disciplines.

If you are interested in this title you can read a sample chapter HERE.