Denuded Devotion to Christ: The Ascetic Piety of Protestant True Religion in the Reformation

By Larry D. Harwood

An insightful study of how Protestantism developed an over-conceptualised image of God, neglecting the physical aspects of Christian understanding and worship.

ISBN: 9780227174081


The Protestant Reformation of the early sixteenth century produced a religious movement in conscious opposition to formal philosophy. In spite of this, elements of Reformation thought produced a spiritualising form of Platonism in its drive to establish correct devotion. From an understandable fear of idolatry or displacement of the uniquely redemptive place of Christ, Protestant piety began to retreat from the senses and the material world.

In this volume Larry D. Harwood eloquently argues that, in the quest to restore ‘true religion’, Protestantism impugned too severely the material components of prior Christian devotion. Moreover, in that conceptual quest the Christian God increasingly resembled the conceptual god of the philosophers, and devotees themselves could be likened to rationalist philosophers.

Part of the paradoxical result of the quest was to propel the Protestant devotee toward a ‘denuded worship’ of a God who did, in fact, become flesh and exist on the material plane.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 170

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Larry D. Harwood is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Viterbo University in Wisconsin. He is the author of numerous articles and a few short stories. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and is presently at work on a book on Bertrand Russell and religion.


Foreword by Dr William L. Isley Jr
List of Abbreviations

1. The Rational Philosophical Consciousness
2. Karlstadt, Zwingli, and Calvin on True Religion
3. Protestantism and Rationalism
4. The Aesthetic in the Practice of True Religion
5. True Religion and the Philosophical Consciousness

Afterword: True Religion and Puritan Consciousness



Endorsements and Reviews

In a short space, Harwood makes all the right observations.
Julie Canlis, in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol 65, Issue 1

While reformed worship has been austere and focused largely on the heart and mind, [Denuded Devotion to Christ] has been based on a sincere desire to worship God according to Scripture.
Randall Otto, in Reviews in Religion & Theology, Vol 21, Issue 3

There is much in Harwood’s account of Hegel that is striking and valuable.
Harro M. Höpfl, in Journal of Reformed Theology, Vol 9, Issue 1