Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789

Article excerpt

Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789. By W. R. Ward. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006. Pp. vi, 220. $85.00.)

This fine work authored by W. R. Ward, the Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of Durham, represents an outstanding analysis of the broad-ranging evangelicalism of the post-Reformation era. The author spans the globe from Central Europe to the Americas in his discussions of the varied types of evangelicals with a special emphasis on pietism.

Professor Ward takes particular interest in the eighteenth century, showing that evangelical leaders were particularly adept in responding to the intellectual challenges to the faith. By the end of the century, however, the movement grew in such a diverse manner, that they could no longer speak as one. By the nineteenth century their internal feuding reached such heights that they lost their intellectual high ground.

Ward sets the stage for the development of pietism with a detailed discussion of Johann Arndt (1585-1621), whose influential Four (later Six) Books of Christianity (1605) laid the groundwork for much of the future of the movement. This work went through ninety-five editions up to 1740 in virtually every European language. Most of the major pietist leaders wrote introductions to this work showing its widespread use. Arndt drew on mystical tradition in outlining the steps toward union with God. It is particularly intriguing that Arndt explicitly pointed to Paracelsus and the Cabbala as important sources of his own work.

The author then delves into pietism proper with extensive sections on Philipp Jakob Spener and August Hermann Francke, pointing to their reliance on mystical theology. He also includes full chapters on Zinzendorf and Wesley also showing the importance of their mystic roots. A helpful chapter of the Reformed tradition in Britain and America centers mostly on important Christian leaders such as John Bunyan and Richard Baxter in England and Increase and Cotton Mather and Solomon Stoddard in New England. …

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