Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)


Dutch pastor, theologian and politician associated with the rise of neo-Calvinism in Europe and North America. Kuyper became disillusioned with Dutch liberalism and poured his energy into promoting an alternative by establishing two newspapers, forming the Anti-Revolutionary Party, founding the Free University of Amsterdam and writing hundreds of essays and books. His most famous publication remains Lectures on Calvinism, originally delivered at Princeton in 1898 and articulating a Calvinist perspective on history, religion, politics, science and art, with an emphasis on common grace. Kuyper labored toward his social ideal, even serving for a short time as prime minister, while advocating the separation of church and state.

Charles Haddon Spurgon (1834-1892)


English Baptist preacher, pastor and author. While he never attended seminary and refused to be formally ordained, Spurgeon is still remembered today as the Prince of Preachers. He began preaching as a teenager and was called to his first church in Waterbeach before the age of twenty. He was then called to pastor New Park Street Baptist Church in London, which later became the Metropolitan Tabernacle when the New Park church was outgrown. A staunch Calvinist and supporter of Puritan theology, Spurgeon was decidedly evangelistic in his preaching. He is also remembered for founding a pastor’s college, as well as publishing numerous books and commentaries.

Robert Louis Dabney (1820-1898)


A Southern Presbyterian theologian who supported Old School theology and ardently opposed both theological and political liberalism. Dabney graduated from and later taught at Union Theological Seminary, wielding great influence on theological education as a result of his Lectures in Systematic Theology. The chief of staff to Confederate General T. J. “Stonewall” Jackson during the American Civil War, he later wrote a biography of the general. He is remembered not only for his theological work but also controversially for his support of the Old South and for elements of racism found in his writings.

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)


Professor of theology and eventually president of Princeton Seminary who helped to establish the Princeton theology prominent in nineteenth-century America. Hodge founded and edited the Princeton Review and published the three-volume Systematic Theology, both of which had widespread influence. Hodge is often remembered for claiming that a new idea never came out of Princeton Seminary, highlighting his commitment to propagating traditional Calvinism. Like other Princeton theologians of his time, he often linked personal piety with a passion for Reformed theology.

(From PDRT)

George Whitefield (1714-1770)


An English preacher who influenced the Great Awakening in colonial America. After his conversion at Oxford, Whitefield became friends with John and Charles Wesley, though he would eventually disagree with them theologically. In 1738, Whitefield was ordained and quickly gained notoriety for his animated preaching, sometimes gathering crowds as large as twenty thousand. His trip to America in 1740 advanced the Great Awakening. Although not a trained theologian, Whitefield was committed to a basic form of Calvinism while sharing with the Arminian Wesleys an emphasis on Spirit-enabled regeneration and justification by faith through Christ. He died on a preaching tour in New England in 1770.

(From PDRT)

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)


An American theologian who was a driving force behind the First Great Awakening in the 1740s and whose writings display deep sympathy with Calvinist convictions. After graduating from Yale in 1726, he became a pastor in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1750, when he was dismissed for his strict views on the Lord’s Supper. Subsequently, he moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as a missionary to the Native Americans, during which time he wrote some of his most mature works. Edwards eventually became president at the newly founded College of New Jersey (Princeton) but died soon after assuming the post. His 1741 sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was one of the opening shots of the First Great Awakening, and although its fame has distorted Edwards’s overall theology, the sinner’s enmity with God and the centrality of God’s justice reflect important themes in his work. These ideas came to fuller expression in Freedom of the Will and Original Sin, in which Edwards articulated traditional Reformed teaching on the seriousness of sin and the freeing regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Edwards’ impact has extended beyond theology to fields such as psychology and philosophy. For example, his Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, which explores the significance of emotions, experience and holy living as marks of “true religion,” significantly influenced William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience. In addition, Edwards continues to wield influence in philosophical circles for his particular expressions of theological determinism (in Freedom of the Will), idealism (especially in his earlier writings) and occasionalism (in Original Sin).

(From PDRT)

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)


English pastor, author and hymn writer, often called the father of English hymnody. Raised within the Puritan tradition, Watts became minister of an independent church in London. As a young pastor, he became ill and remained in poor health for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, he was a prolific writer on a variety of philosophical and theological topics, and best remembered for his composition of hundreds of hymns, often using extrabiblical poetry. Watts’s work wielded widespread influence on worship within the Reformed tradition and evangelicalism, especially in the practice of singing hymns together with psalms in corporate worship.

(From PDRT)