James Calvin Davis's On Religious Liberty: Selections from the Works of Roger PDF

By James Calvin Davis

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his refusal to comply to Puritan non secular and social criteria, Roger Williams confirmed a haven in Rhode Island for these persecuted within the identify of the non secular institution. He performed a lifelong debate over spiritual freedom with wonderful figures of the 17th century, together with Puritan minister John Cotton, Massachusetts governor John Endicott, and the English Parliament. James Calvin Davis gathers jointly vital decisions from Williams's private and non-private writings on spiritual liberty, illustrating how this renegade Puritan considerably reinterpreted Christian ethical theology and the occasions of his day in a strong argument for freedom of judgment of right and wrong and the separation of church and country. For Williams, the enforcement of non secular uniformity violated the elemental values of Calvinist Christianity and presumed upon God's authority to talk to the person judgment of right and wrong. He argued that kingdom coercion used to be not often powerful, frequently inflicting extra damage to the church and strife to the social order than did spiritual pluralism. this can be the 1st selection of Williams's writings in 40 years achieving past his significant paintings, The Bloody Tenent, to incorporate different decisions from his private and non-private writings. This rigorously annotated e-book introduces Williams to a brand new iteration of readers.

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Additional info for On Religious Liberty: Selections from the Works of Roger Williams (John Harvard Library)

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Applying the precedent of Israel to the Massachusetts experiment, Cotton insisted that “the external equity of that judicial law of Moses was of moral force and binds all Princes to express that seal and indignation, both against blasphemy . . ”18 As in ancient Israel, church and state were institutions with largely separate functions in Puritan society, but they cooperated in the shared goal of creating a holy commonwealth worthy of God’s continued blessing. 16. Richard Baxter, A Holy Commonwealth, ed.

Although Williams taught that reason could be refined by exposure to moral education, scripture, and life experience, he was confident that the law of nature by itself was a moral power common to all human beings and upon which a basic level of moral performance and coexistence could be maintained and expected. The obvious proof for his claim was in the accomplishments of the Native Americans. 28 Appeal to the authority of reason and natural law served as a complement to Williams’s biblical arguments for religious liberty.

As a separatist, Williams argued that the best thing for the church was to remove itself from the pollution of political entanglement. Biblical authority did not sanction the creation of a politically established church; in fact the use of civil power to enforce religion flew in the face of Christ’s intention for the church. As an advocate of religious liberty, Williams insisted that a collusion of church and state and the persecution of dissenters guaranteed neither ecclesial purity nor civil health.

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