Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

Religious Studies


Unlike their Roman Catholic counterparts, early Protestants insisted that individual Christians could be certain that they personally enjoyed God’s favor and would be saved. Their faith in Christ’s redeeming work would give them “assurance of salvation,” and their ministers insisted that every Christian ought to feel that assurance. This article argues that Protestant assurance did not – and could not – banish believers’ anxiety that God’s saving promises had never been meant for them. “Behind” the God who promised salvation lurked a “hidden God” who had decided the ultimate fate of every individual before the beginning of time. Even the strongest believers – Martin Luther and the first-generation New England minister Thomas Hooker are offered as examples – dreaded the wrath of a terrifying God who might at any moment dash their comfort to pieces.



Required Publisher's Statement

Original version is available from the publisher, Cambridge University Press.