Edward Vallance

Love Affair with God

Protestants: The Radicals Who Made the Modern World

By

William Collins 514pp £25 order from our bookshop

One problem for anyone writing about Protestantism is trying to define what the hell it is. The OED will send you in circles: Protestantism is the ‘condition of being Protestant’. Going to ‘Protestant’ in hope of enlightenment will also do you little good: the word ‘Protestant’ has been used to define both those who have conformed to a state church and those who have dissented from it. At least Alec Ryrie is prepared to stick his neck out and offer a general (if very broad) definition. He begins his sweeping global history of Protestantism with the arresting claim that Protestants are ‘lovers’: following Erasmus, Ryrie identifies the defining characteristic of the Protestant faith as the ‘love affair’ with God that lies at its heart.

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