Martin Luther and John Calvin were the principal 'magistral' Reformers of the sixteenth-century: they sought to enlist the cooperation of rulers in the work of reforming the Church. However, neither regarded the relationship between Reformed Christians and the secular authorities as comfortable or unproblematic. The two pieces translated here, Luther's On Secular Authority and Calvin's On Civil Government, constitute their most sustained attempts to find the proper balance between these two commitments. Despite their mutual respect, there were wide divergences between them. Luther's On Secular Authority would later be cited en bloc in favour of religious toleration, whereas Calvin envisaged secular authority as an agency for the compulsory establishment of the external conditions of Christian virtue and the suppression of dissent. The introduction, glossary, chronology and bibliography contained in this volume locate the texts in the broader context of the theology and political thinking of their authors.
The two texts translated here constitute a sustained attempt to find the proper balance between church and state, demanding a consideration of the nature of justice, the justification and scope of civil authority, the liberty of Christian subjects, and the place of the Church in the world.
Author: David S. Gutterman
Publisher: Cornell University Press
"In an era of military conflict and economic hardship, religious and political leaders adamantly speak in the language of crisis. Whether one attributes this public religious fervor to a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, millennial hopes and fears, a sense of moral decay (generally based on either growing economic inequality or the 'breakdown of the American family'), or a sign of the normal progression of the stages of history, the discourse of religious revival is increasingly prominent. And, as is amply evident in the United States and throughout the world, devout declarations of religious belief in the public sphere can bring intractable passions to politics."—from Chapter 1 What are the relationships among religion, politics, and narratives? What makes prophetic political narratives congenial or hostile to democratic political life? David S. Gutterman explores the prophetic politics of four twentieth- and twenty-first-century American Christian social movements: the Reverend Billy Sunday and his vision of "muscular Christianity"; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement; the conservative Christian male organization Promise Keepers; and the progressive antipoverty organization Call to Renewal. Gutterman develops a theory based on the work of Hannah Arendt and others and employs this framework to analyze expressions of the prophetic impulse in the political narrative of the United States. In the process, he examines timely issues about the tense and intricate relationship between religion and politics. Even prior to George W. Bush's faith-based initiative, debates about abortion, family values, welfare reform, and environmental degradation were informed by religious language and ideas. In an interdisciplinary and accessible manner, Gutterman translates the narratives employed by American Christian social movements to define both the crises in the land and the path to resolving these crises. The book also explores the engagement of these prophetic social movements in contentious political issues concerned with sex, gender, sexuality, race, and class, as well as broader questions of American identity.
Contemporary treatments of Calvin's political views often imply that he embraced a theocratic civil polity and that he was committed to holy war doctrine. On the basis of the primary sources, the first half of this volume argues that neither position is correct. Calvin, in his political thought, maintained the superiority of a republic as a civil polity. In addition, he placed himself firmly within the medieval just war tradition that was established by Augustine of Hippo and later reaffirmed by Thomas Aquinas. In terms of his commitment to classical just war teaching, Calvin stood in continuity with Martin Luther, even while he distanced himself from the holy war perspective of the Zurich Reformers Henry Bullinger and Peter Martyr Vermigli. In the thinking of Calvin, a war could only be authorized by the state, not the church. War had to be prosecuted with humanity and restraint, and not in the tradition of the medieval crusade. The second half of the book sets forth what Calvin actually believed on the matter of government and war. Here we examine his teaching on parliamentary resistance to monarchical tyranny and the full dimensions of his commitment to justice of war categories. Unlike Luther and Bullinger, Calvin provided a parliamentary remedy for the perennial evil of tyranny. With Vermigli and Theodore Beza siding with Calvin on this right, a body of Reformed doctrine was established to which succeeding generations could appeal for teaching, direction, and justification for taking up arms. It is clear that Calvin's political legacy is profoundly evident in the American Revolutionary War and in the constitutional determination for a republic in the United States of America. Calvin's ecclesiastical republicanism, as it came to fruition in Presbyterian church government, was a powerful impetus toward the creation of republican institutions in civil government.
Is knowledge of right and wrong written on the human heart? Do people know God from the world around them? Does natural knowledge contribute to Christian doctrine? While these questions of natural theology and natural law have historically been part of theological reflection, the radical reliance of twentieth-century Protestant theologians on revelation has eclipsed this historic connection. Stephen Grabill attempts the treacherous task of reintegrating Reformed Protestant theology with natural law by appealing to Reformation-era theologians such as John Calvin, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Johannes Althusius, and Francis Turretin, who carried over and refined the traditional understanding of this key doctrine. Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics calls Christian ethicists, theologians, and laypersons to take another look at this vital element in the history of Christian ethical thought.
Author: Carl J. Rasmussen
Publisher: Lexington Books
This book provides a counterargument to the American religious right’s interpretation of John Calvin’s doctrine. The author demonstrates that an ethics of individual conscience and virtue is incommensurate with Calvin’s doctrine and shows that for Calvin, Christians are bound in conscience to obey secular government. He further argues that a shared understanding of Calvin and a broader ecumenism could be a path out of culture war.
The conflict between politics and antipolitics has replayed throughout Western history and philosophical thought. From the beginning, Plato's quest for absolute certainty led him to denounce democracy, an anti-political position challenged by Aristotle. In his wide-ranging narrative, Dick Howard puts this dilemma into fresh perspective, proving our contemporary political problems are not as unique as we think. Howard begins with democracy in ancient Greece and the rise and fall of republican politics in Rome. In the wake of Rome's collapse, political thought searched for a new medium, and the conflict between politics and antipolitics reemerged through the contrasting theories of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas. During the Renaissance and Reformation, the emergence of the modern individual again transformed the terrain of the political. Even so, politics vs. antipolitics dominated the period, frustrating even Machiavelli, who sought to reconceptualize the nature of political thought. Hobbes and Locke, theorists of the social contract, then reenacted the conflict, which Rousseau sought (in vain) to overcome. Adam Smith and the growth of modern economic liberalism, the radicalism of the French revolution, and the conservative reaction of Edmund Burke subsequently marked the triumph of antipolitics, while the American Revolution momentarily offered the potential for a renewal of politics. Taken together, these historical examples, viewed through the prism of philosophy, reveal the roots of today's political climate and the trajectory of battles yet to come.
A two-volume study of political thought from the late thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the decisive period of transition from medieval to modern political theory. The work is intended to be both an introduction to the period for students, and a presentation and justification of a particular approach to the interpretation of historical texts. Quentin Skinner gives an outline account of all the principal texts of the period, discussing in turn the chief political writings of Dante, Marsiglio, Bartolus, Machiavelli, Erasmus and more, Luther and Calvin, Bodin and the Calvinist revolutionaries. But he also examines a very large number of lesser writers in order to explain the general social and intellectual context in which these leading theorists worked. He thus presents the history not as a procession of 'classic texts' but are more readily intelligible. He traces by this means the gradual emergence of the vocabulary of modern political thought, and in particular the crucial concept of the State. We are given an insight into the actual processes of the formation of ideologies and into some of the linkages between political theory and practice. Professor Skinner has been awarded the Balzan Prize Life Time Achievement Award for Political Thought, History and Theory. Full details of this award can be found at http://www.balzan.it/News_eng.aspx?ID=2474
Hobbes: On the Citizen
Author: Thomas Hobbes, Richard Tuck, Michael Silverthorne
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
De Cive (On the Citizen) is the first full exposition of the political thought of Thomas Hobbes, the greatest English political philosopher of all time. Professors Tuck and Silverthorne have undertaken the first complete translation since 1651, a rendition long thought (in error) to be at least sanctioned by Hobbes himself. On the Citizen is written in a clear, straightforward, expository style, offering students a more digestible account of Hobbes's political thought than even the Leviathan itself. This new translation is itself a very significant scholarly event.
Bodin: On Sovereignty
Author: Jean Bodin, Julian H. Franklin
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
This volume contains the essential points of Jean Bodin's theory of sovereignty, a landmark in legal theory and royalist ideology. The four chapters presented form the core of Bodin's classic work, Six Livres de la Republique. Bodin was primarily responsible for introducing the seductive but erroneous notion that sovereignty is indivisible, that the entire power of the state had to be vested in a single individual or group. This thesis, combined with the prevailing crisis of authority during the French religious wars, led Bodin to a systematically absolutist interpretation of the French and other European monarchies. This is the first complete translation of this material into English since 1606, and is accompanied by a lucid introduction, chronology, and bibliography.
The West and the Rest
Author: Roger Scruton
Publisher: Open Road Media
Scruton shows how the different religious and philosophical roots of Western and Islamic societies have resulted in those societies’ profoundly divergent beliefs about the nature of political order. For one thing, the idea of the social contract, crucial to the self-conception of Western nations, is entirely absent in Islamic societies. Similarly, Scruton explains why the notions of territorial jurisdiction, citizenship, and the independent legitimacy of secular authority and law are both specifically Western and fundamentally antipathetic to Islamic thought. And yet, says Scruton, for its adherents Islam provides amply for one of the most fundamental of human needs: the need for membership. In contrast, the decay of the West’s own political vision, and its concomitant preoccupation with individual choice, has finally led to a “culture of repudiation” in which that need goes increasingly unfulfilled, principally because the sources of its fulfillment—patriotism, religious belief, traditional ways of life—are routinely mocked. Globalization has made these facts an explosive mixture. Migration, modern communications, and the media have inexorably brought the formerly remote inhabitants of Islamic nations into constant contact with the images, products, and peoples of secular, liberal democracies. Scruton warns that in light of this new reality, certain Western assumptions—about consumption and prosperity, about borders and travel, about free trade and multinational corporations, and about multiculturalism—need to be thoroughly re-evaluated. The West and the Rest is a major contribution to the West’s public discourse about terrorism, civil society, and liberal democracy.
Author: Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.), E. Margaret Atkins, Robert Dodaro
In Calvin's Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church, Matthew J. Tuininga explores a little appreciated dimension of John Calvin's political thought, his two kingdoms theology, as a model for constructive Christian participation in liberal society. Widely misunderstood as a proto-political culture warrior, due in part to his often misinterpreted role in controversies over predestination and the heretic Servetus, Calvin articulated a thoughtful approach to public life rooted in his understanding of the gospel and its teaching concerning the kingdom of God. He staked his ministry in Geneva on his commitment to keeping the church distinct from the state, abandoning simplistic approaches that placed one above the other, while rejecting the temptations of sectarianism or separatism. This revealing analysis of Calvin's vision offers timely guidance for Christians seeking a mode of faithful, respectful public engagement in democratic, pluralistic communities today.
Author: Carl Schmitt
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Written in the intense political and intellectual tumult of the early years of the Weimar Republic, Political Theology develops the distinctive theory of sovereignty that made Carl Schmitt one of the most significant and controversial political theorists of the twentieth century. Focusing on the relationships among political leadership, the norms of the legal order, and the state of political emergency, Schmitt argues in Political Theology that legal order ultimately rests upon the decisions of the sovereign. According to Schmitt, only the sovereign can meet the needs of an "exceptional" time and transcend legal order so that order can then be reestablished. Convinced that the state is governed by the ever-present possibility of conflict, Schmitt theorizes that the state exists only to maintain its integrity in order to ensure order and stability. Suggesting that all concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts, Schmitt concludes Political Theology with a critique of liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought by avoiding fundamental political decisions.