Archive - October 11, 2016

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Contra Modern Wisdom, Christianity Incubated Freedom

Contra Modern Wisdom, Christianity Incubated Freedom

A reigning view in modern liberal philosophy — and Western elite culture at large — is that the rise of freedom in the modern world required the decline of Christianity, or at least its marginalization from public life.  John Rawls and Mark Lilla make the argument and laud this marginalization; philosophers like Pierre Manent make the argument and lament it.

A new pair of volumes from Cambridge University Press assembles a host of blue-chip scholars to argue that the thesis is wrong.  (I am the author of one of the chapters but it is not I but the likes of Robert Wilken, John Rist, and Remi Brague who are the blue-chippers.) Historically, and around the world today, Christianity has been an incubator and driver of freedom.  Not always, of course: Christianity has inflicted its share of unfreedom.  But if the collective claim of the volume is right, then many of our present free institutions have Christianity to thank for their origins. And in authoritarian settings around the world, Christians are fighting for freedom.

An excellent entree to these works is this review by Samuel Gregg.  To see the volumes, go to Christianity and Freedom: Historical Perspectives.

 

 

 

© Daniel Philpott The views expressed in this forum are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent those of Daniel Philpott, CCHR, or the University of Notre Dame.