Book Notes: Two Significant Titles For Your Library

The publisher writes about this title, “Benjamin Franklin grew up in a devout Protestant family with limited prospects for wealth and fame. By hard work, limitless curiosity, native intelligence, and luck (what he called “providence”), Franklin became one of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders, a world recognized scientist, and the United States’ leading diplomat during the War for Independence. Along the way, Franklin embodied the Protestant ethics and cultural habits he learned and observed as a youth in Puritan Boston. Benjamin Franklin: Cultural Protestant follows Franklin’s remarkable career through the lens of the trends and innovations that the Protestant Reformation started (both directly and indirectly) almost two centuries earlier. His work as a printer, civic reformer, institution builder, scientist, inventer, writer, self-help dispenser, politician, and statesmen was deeply rooted in the culture and outlook that Protestantism nurtured. Through its alternatives to medieval church and society, Protestants built societies and instilled habits of character and mind that allowed figures such as Franklin to build the life that he did. Through it all, Franklin could not assent to all of Protestantism’s doctrines or observe its worship, but for most of his life he acknowledged his debt to his creator, revelled in the natural world guided by providence, and conducted himself in a way (imperfectly) to merit divine approval. In this biography, D. G. Hart recognizes Franklin as a cultural or non-observant Protestant, someone who thought of himself as a Presbyterian, ordered his life as other Protestants did, sometimes went to worship services, read his Bible, and prayed, but could not go all the way and join a church.”

There is a short list of authors for whom I stop my own work and read. D. G. Hart is one of those. I read them because I learn from them. I get a new perspective from them. In this case he is seeking to subvert the typical story about Franklin, whose importance to the founding of the American Republic can hardly be overstated. I have not yet read this as it just arrived.

You can order it here.

I have read this volume (in its pre-publication form) and I recommend it heartily. Hywel Jones is another of those on the short list. The publisher writes: “Our Bibles consistently use the noun ‘Transfiguration’ with regard to Jesus but ‘Transformation’ with regard to the Christian – and yet it is one and the same verb, transliterated ‘metamorphosed,’ that is used in those places in the original text. Why is that so? Is there an important difference between them? And why does the noun ‘metamorphosis’ which is familiar to us never occur in the New Testament? And yet is there some connection between the Transfiguration of Jesus and the Transformation of the Christian?

Hywel R. Jones presents answers to these questions in this book. In the course of doing so he shows how the divine can penetrate the human without destroying it as in the Person of Christ, and how the human can become conformed to the divine without its ceasing to be human as in the case of the Christian. That kind of metamorphosis accords and exalts the Christian gospel over against the humanism of our culture, whether secularised or spiritualised.

There is a distinction between God and Man which will never be obliterated but preserved for ever – even in the glorified Christ in whom they are joined. But communion between the God-Man and his believing people will result in each Christian being fully conformed to the perfect humanity of Christ while retaining his or her own individuality. It will not result in a faceless absorption into the divine but face to face communion with the triune God for ever.”

You can pre-order it here.


Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!

One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing about these two books. I am only now reading Hart’s “Calvinism: A History,” which I am really enjoying. I am amazed at his ability to so concisely narrate Calvinism’s history in an understandable manner without getting lost in the weeds.

    Hywel Jones’ book also looks very good. I hope I get to read it.
    The truth and promise of “metamorphosis” is terrific…yet I have so seldom thought about it.

Comments are closed.