Lucas, Sean Michael
John Williamson Nevin (1803–1886) taught at Mercersburg Seminary when he wrote The Anxious Bench (1843) and The Mystical Presence (1846), volumes dealing with revivalism and the Lord's Supper, respectively. The last ten years have seen a revival of interest in this theologian, who was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
D.G. Hart seeks to fan this revival. "Because of his critique of the revivalist-inspired Protestant mainstream, and because the circumstances he faced are still important, Nevin's ideas and arguments possessed relevance not only for his own age but also for contemporary Protestantism," writes Hart. "However offbeat Nevin's thought may sometimes appear, his assessment of popular Christianity in the United States was arguably the most astute from the perspective of historical Protestantism that any American Reformed or Presbyterian ever formulated."
D. G. Hart studied American history at the Johns Hopkins University and has served as director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College and academic dean and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary in California. He is currently visiting assistant professor of history at Hillsdale College.
"John Williamson Nevin (1803-1886) called the Protestant churches back to an older piety, believing that through word and sacrament the church itself is an agency of grace. Hart devotes much of this book to the intellectual context of Nevin’s thought and seeks to reclaim aspects of his theology for today’s church. This book is current in its scholarship, engaging in its lines of thought, and provocative in its conclusions." — Robert Benedetto
"Eschewing conventional interpretations of John W. Nevin as a ‘liberalizing’ figure, D. G. Hart’s fresh reading carefully places Nevin in the context of 19th-century American struggles to define the church. Many today are troubled by the excessive subjectivity and individualism of pietistic evangelicalism. This important book will assure them that they are not alone, and that there are rich and authentically Reformed alternatives waiting to be explored." — William B. Evans
"A well-researched and engagingly written theological biography of an often neglected figure. It is especially good in digging out Nevin’s important proposals about the church in its American setting that were published in the Mercersburg Review. Whether or not readers come away with Hart’s own conclusion that Nevin was largely correct in his prescription for reforming American Protestant practice, they will benefit from following Hart as he carefully lays out the burden of Nevin’s concerns." — Mark A. Noll