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God, Locke, and Liberty

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A `Secret Stream' of Toleration: Christian Humanism and the Crisis of the West Chapter 1: A Thing Called Liberty: The Great Debate over Freedom of Conscience Chapter 2: Bright Enough for All Our Purposes: Locke and the English Reformers Chapter 3: The Heirs of Erasmus: Locke and the Dutch Reformers Chapter 4: The Captain of Our Salvation: Toleration and the Politics of Jesus Conclusion: Let Us Not Devour Each Other: The Lockean Vision of a Just Society Bibliography

About the Author

Joseph Loconte is associate professor of history at The King's College in New York City. He is the author of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt and the editor of The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler's Gathering Storm.


In God, Locke, and Liberty: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the West, Joseph Loconte, associate professor of history at The King's College in New York CIty, has made an invaluable contribution to our understanding of where religious freedom came from and how we can help renew it. God, Locke, and Liberty traces the history of religious freedom's emergence in the early modern period. Loconte deftly combines intellectual, religious, and political history to weave a story that will keep you reading. ... This is a wonderful book that laypeople and scholars alike will benefit from reading. At a time when the foundations of our freedom strain under the weight of both religious and secular forms of fanaticism, Loconte points us back to the simple yet powerful idea that Locke expressed so eloquently: 'The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it.' Monstrous as it may seem, religious and irreligious people are once again growing blind to the rights of their neighbors. This book will help reopen eyes. * The Gospel Coalition * In recovering Locke's religious views, Loconte refuses to be sidetracked, as are many observes, by Locke's doctrinal peculiarities. . . .Rather, the relatively 'unexamined' Christian elements that helped shape Locke's moral imagination - and the subsequent manner in which this imagination modeled his understanding of religious toleration, his social-political vision, and his accent on preserving the common good - are in need of thorough examination. . . .Loconte's broader conclusion is richly suggestive. * Touchstone: A Journal Of Mere Christianity * Religious freedom is the key to the whole modern world, the foundation stone upon which all other forms of freedom rest. Yet most of us no longer think that religious freedom is the central organizing principle of a humane social order, as our forefathers did. One reason for this myopia is that the real story of religious freedom's origins and first purposes is almost completely unknown beyond a few academic specialists. Joe Loconte draws upon an extensive array of historical scholarship to weave the story for us, and show why the modern world so desperately needs to remember it. He treats the evidence with conscientious care, uncovering Locke's connections to an ancient tradition of Christian humanism neglected by most scholars. But he also keeps the story flowing and the reader engaged; this is one of those rare books that scholars and ordinary lovers of history alike will profit from. And it comes not a moment too soon. In a world where the foundations of freedom are buckling under the weight of both religious and secular fanaticisms, this book cannot find too wide a readership. -- Greg Forster, Kern Family Foundation John Locke considered toleration `to be the chief characteristic mark of the true church.' This book helps us to see Locke as he saw himself-a religious reformer in the tradition of Erasmus, calling his fellow believers to stop persecuting and start imitating `the perfect example of the Prince of Peace.' There is much more to be said about Locke and toleration, but Loconte shows how the ethos of Christian humanism was used to tame post-Reformation religion, paving the way for the ameliorated Christianity of the Enlightenment. -- John Coffey, University of Leicester Many have written about Erasmus and religion. This book is as good a statement as we are likely to get for Erasmus as the great inspiration of Locke's thinking about religious liberty. -- Ian C. Harris, University of Leicester Loconte reconstructs the meaning of Locke's ideas on religious toleration with exceptional clarity, erudition, and a dynamic, engaging style. He has the rare ability to make seventeenth-century writings seem urgently relevant, without ever wrenching them out of their specific historical contexts. -- Ian McBride, King's College London

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