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Dr. Barry Waugh Reviews 'Benjamin Franklin, Cultural Protestant' by D.G. Hart:


"Biographies of American historical personalities often prove disappointing for Christians anticipating serious consideration of the subject’s theological commitments within the religious environment of the era. For the Founding Fathers this can be particularly frustrating because the eighteenth century was decidedly religious whether Christian based, or a belief system that is a product of Enlightenment rationalism such as deism. The American colonial era extending to the end of the century proved crucial for the continued battle between God’s authoritative revelation of His will in the Bible and autonomous reason developing religious systems from natural revelation. Reason is good and necessary for understanding, but Christians must have reason captive to the Word of God. D. G. Hart shows in Benjamin Franklin, Cultural Protestant, Oxford, 2021, that in Franklin’s case the revelation based Puritan theology of his youth informed his religious commitment to personal and public good while denying the source and power thereof with Franklin adopting a philosophy Hart calls cultural Protestantism.

"The author is well qualified to write a biography of Franklin as both a general and church historian. Currently, he is Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College, but he has also taught church history in two theological seminaries. A few of his several works include: Calvinism: A History, Yale, 2013; A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, Ivan R. Dee, 2006; and John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist, P&R, 2005. When general historians write biographies about the religious commitments of their subjects they do not always grasp the nuances of their belief systems; church historians might minimalize the person’s non-religious accomplishments or in some cases not look critically at the individual and overstate piety—but these are not the case for Hart’s Franklin.


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