Predestination: The American Career of a Contentious Doctrine

Winner of the 2010 christianity today book award for history/Biography

“The great virtue of the book is that, without taking sides among the combatants, Mr. Thuesen manages to capture the significance of their enterprise. It is nothing less than an unflinching commitment to living always mindful of the eye of eternity. Ultimately Mr. Thuesen mourns the decline of mystery in modern life; Predestination pays noble tribute to that sense of awe before the divine that theology captures only through a glass darkly.”

Marc Arkin, Wall Street Journal

“Surprisingly, Thuesen makes the history of a doctrine—one riddled with arcane terminology and hair-splitting distinctions—not only accessible but also engaging. He has produced an intellectual history that puts ideas in their social context and takes seriously the lives of the men and women who thought about them.”

—Christianity Today

“Peter Thuesen has written a careful and compelling historical account of the way in which predestination has vexed and engaged the church in the United States. . . . This book is a compelling reminder of where we have been, what is entrusted to us, and how much we have forgotten.”

—Walter Brueggemann, Christian Century

“Theology still matters in American religious history, and I cannot think of a book that makes that case more effectively than Peter Thuesen’s subtle, learned account of predestination’s fate.”

—Thomas S. Kidd, Church History

“Peter Thuesen’s history of this most intractable of Christian doctrines manages—without ever taking its subject less than seriously—to be surprising, enlightening, and unexpectedly entertaining.”

—Arnold Hunt, Church Times

“This is a very fine, useful, and readable book.”


Select Commentary & Media Coverage

“One of this book’s main conclusions, and in my opinion one of the shrewdest possible reflections on the whole history of Christianity, focused on the means by which humans apprehend divine revelation. The book argues persuasively that the key theological division in Western Christian history has not been between defenders of divine sovereignty and proponents of human free will but between Christian communities keen to define the divine-human relationship and Christian communities marked more by a sacramental practice than pay precise doctrines.”

—Mark A. Noll, From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story (2014), p. 55

Discussion of Predestination in the Seminar in American Religion at the University of Notre Dame on September 18, 2010: American Catholic Studies Newsletter, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, vol. 38, no. 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 2-3.