Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization

Article excerpt

Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization. By Scott H. Hendrix. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004. 254 pp. $29.95 (paper).

Scott Hendrix's Rccultimting the Vineyard revolves around a simple thesis, succinctly told-and the succinctness is a part of the book's charm. Hendrix argues that the common commitment of sixteenth-century reformers to Christianization-the process of initiating all of Europe's Christian citizens into a more thorough and rigorous practice and understanding of their faith-stands as the central lens through which we should understand the variety of religious movements (whether we term them Protestant, radical, or Catholic) to which these reformers gave birth. This common commitment is in fact what makes these many reformations a Reformation. This emphasis on the common, however, is not an attempt by Hendrix to occlude the particularities of the many movements that shape the broad history of Europe's sixteenth century; rather, he wishes to orient these particularities to the common goal of Christianization. They are, in his terms, differing agendas by which this common goal was pursued.

Hendrix's concern in his text is not simply with the content of sixteenthcentury European history, but with the historiographical commitments that shape that content. He is writing against a historiography of the particular that has pushed macro-histories of the Reformation to the margin, even questioning whether one can speak of a Reformation among the century's many reformations. More specifically, he is concerned with interpretations of the Reformation that are dominated by visions of confessionalization-the tendency to read the many movements of reform through the lens of the confessions that emerge as their product. So historians will talk about the Lutheran Reformation, the Swiss Reformation, and so on, and ask how each is distinctly shaped by its confessional stance. Hendrix argues that it is more appropriate to employ the category that served as the source of these movements-Christianization-to understand both the peculiar dynamics of each movement and the broader coherence among them.

His argument, then, is not simply that there is some shared commonality in the midst of the differences that mark the religious movements in sixteenth-century Europe so profoundly. …

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