Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy Review

Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy
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Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy ReviewPaul C. Gutjahr has rendered a great service to American religious historians, theologians, and Christians alike in his biography of Charles Hodge. Hodge was a man of giant intellect, steadfast conviction, and diverse theological engagement. In his fifty years of teaching at Princeton Seminary he propagated and defended orthodox Calvinist beliefs from the liberalizing trends that shook the protestant world in the 19th century.

It took Gutjahr ten years to complete this book, and reading through it one understands why. As a professor at Princeton, Hodge engaged in numerous and varied theological battles involving imputation, revivalism, inspiration, German idealism, Transcendentalism, higher biblical criticism, Roman Catholicism, Darwinism, slavery, and more. The level of research Gutjahr put in to portray these subjects is impressive.

Though once called "the pope of Presbyterianism," Hodge is often forgotten or cursorily mentioned in surveys of American religious history. But Gutjahr convincingly shows that Hodge was an integral part of the American religious landscape in the 19th century, and his effect influenced the shape of fundamentalism in many significant ways. Historians of this era would be wise to make use of this fantastic survey of Charles Hodge, and readers will be treated to an impressive survery 19th century thought along the way. Gutjahr does a good job of fairly analyzing Hodge's life and writings in their historical context, and is equitable in his assessment of Hodge. Christians and non Christians alike will benefit by the study of this man.

The biography is not merely intellectual and readers get a good sense of Hodge's personal life. Gutjahr details his upbringing, family life, and moments of adversity, all of which do much to help us understand Hodge. Christian will find fertile ground for inspiration as well as many lessons to learn from Hodge's theological leadership and the results of his work. There are a couple things I thought could have been better, such as a greater input of Hodge's own writings and words in the biography, but they are only minor concerns compared with the gift Paul Gutjahr has given to historians, theologians, and Christians in his great biography.Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy OverviewCharles Hodge (1797-1878) was one of nineteenth-century America's leading theologians, owing in part to a lengthy teaching career, voluminous writings, and a faculty post at one of the nation's most influential schools, Princeton Theological Seminary. Surprisingly, the only biography of this towering figure was written by his son, just two years after his death. Paul Gutjahr's book, therefore, is the first modern critical biography of a man some have called the "Pope of Presbyterianism." Hodge's legacy is especially important to American Presbyterians. His brand of theological conservatism became vital in the 1920s, as Princeton Seminary saw itself, and its denomination, split. The conservative wing held unswervingly to the Old School tradition championed by Hodge, and ultimately founded the breakaway Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The views that Hodge developed, refined, and propagated helped shape many of the central traditions of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American evangelicalism. Hodge helped establish a profound reliance on the Bible among evangelicals, and he became one of the nation's most vocal proponents of biblical inerrancy. Gutjahr's study reveals the exceptional depth, breadth, and longevity of Hodge's theological influence and illuminates the varied and complex nature of conservative American Protestantism.

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