Calvinism, conversion, and the science of the self

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Rather than laying out an unambiguous account of his experience of regeneration, or of the assurance of salvation, Calvin allowed his spare moments of self-reflection to support narratives of both lysis and crisis conversion. While these tropes had an extended pedigree, their juxtaposition in his description of conversion provided an unstable foundation for the “true and sound wisdom” that made possible the “knowledge of God,” and introduced or identified an ambiguity in the science of the self that would create acute psychological and spiritual concern for future generations of his followers about the experience of new birth and the assurance of salvation that, Calvin believed, was its normal accompaniment. As Calvin’s Institutes began to circulate within the English-speaking world, this ambiguity would resonate in the other kinds of Calvinist life writing in which they developed their understanding of conversion and the science of the self.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultures of Calvinism in early modern Europe
EditorsCrawford Gribben, Graeme Murdock
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190456313
ISBN (Print)9780190456283
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jan 2020


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