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Reason And Religion In The English Revolution: ...


In chapter seven, Mortimer briefly and subtly recasts the toleration debate of the 1640s and early 1650s in order to demonstrate why Socinianism became such an important polemic concept in later years. Thus, she investigates the discussions surrounding liberty of conscience, and the problems faced in drawing a line that would divide those doctrines which were included from those that were not. Here she suggests that Independent ministers in particular sought to define heresy in a reaction against Presbyterian moves to condemn heterodoxy, which often assumed that this was a self-evident concept. Thus, they were faced with the challenge of sketching the fundamentals of Christianity and asserting the right of the authority of the civil magistrate in matters of religion. Such a project, which was to be underpinned by scripture, faced challenges from antitrinitarianism, which continued to prove hard to adequately discredit on the basis of biblical reading. For this reason, Independents such as John Owen turned to Socinianism as a convenient polemical target. Mortimer suggests that by pursuing an unpopular group whose held numerous beliefs he wished to oppose in the early 1650s, Owen hoped to promote his view of a trinitarian settlement, whilst also condemning certain problematic heresies. Although met with mixed success, it was a tactic that would gain some momentum in subsequent years.




Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: ...


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We cannot look at and discuss colonial America without acknowledging its diverse religious identities that populated the continent in the eighteenth century. From the outside looking in, we may conclude that Christianity dominated the colonial world. And this would be partially true. Colonists who were literate and who could write often learned to read from the English Bible, the most widely read book in the colonies. But within the communities were numerous divisions that formed their own churches, and interpreted Scripture in their own ways. Much of this came from the original Puritan reason for leaving England in the early seventeenth century. Fearing persecution for not confiding to the Church of England and the influences of the Catholic Church, many of the first generations of colonists established communities that could freely worship their religious views. Puritans dominated much of New England while Quakers established communities in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Protestantism was widespread throughout much of the colonies, which in time saw individual sects break off and start their own congregations. Anglican, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodist, Moravians, Episcopalian, and Southern Baptist churches all sprung up in new communities. But it would be wrong to conclude that European Christianity and its dominations were the only forms of religious practice in the colonies. Native Americans, who worshipped different spirits depending on the tribe, were prevalent on the western fringes of society. African slaves brought their religious beliefs with them to the New World. Many found solace in practicing their faith from their homeland as a way of keeping their African identity. Others were converted to Christianity and combined many elements from both religions. Jews and Muslims were also present in colonial America. Both were minorities, while South Carolina had one of the first successful Jewish communities. Deism was also popular, particularly among the educated and followers of the Enlightenment. Deists believed in the existence of God, but that the laws of nature dictated events in life. As we can see, the free practice of religion was very important to the colonists, and one of the primary reasons why its protection was included by James Madison in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in 1791.


Although Italian historians were dealing with "heretics" who had pushed their break with Rome to its furthest it is remarkable that there is no rebuttal of a moral or religious nature in their work. They intensely criticised the Calvinists because they were rebels and mob mongers, not because they were supporters of predestination. The hypothesis of their sympathy with Arminianism is also weakened by their unanimous refutation of Charles I's religious policy. If the main cause of the crisis was religious, the judgement of the Italian historians was still political. They mostly deemed religion a pretext for programmes of other natures, and stressed that it was an instrumentum regni: for this reason the country's religion had not to be changed. Charles's most evident error was the idea of introducing "novelties" in it, which were all the more dangerous because they clearly enraged his subjects. The theoretical origin of this position can easily be found in Machiavelli's excerpt: "Princes and republics who wish to maintain themselves free from corruption must above all things preserve the purity of all religious observances, and treat them with proper reverence"[7]. These were ideas also supported by Campanella.


We have great satisfaction to find by 35, and since by M. Zulestein, that your Highness is so ready and willing to give us such assistances as they have related to us. We have great reason to believe that we shall be every day in a worse condition than we are and less able to defend ourselves, and therefore we do earnestly wish we might be so happy as to find a remedy before it be too late for us to contribute to our own deliverance; but although these be our wishes yet we will by no means put your Highness into any expectations which may misguide your own counsels in this matter, so that the best advice we can give is to inform your Highness truly both of the state of things here at this time and of the difficulties which appear to us. As to the first, the people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the Government in relation to their religion, liberties, and properties (all which have been greatly invaded), and they are in such expectation of their prospects being daily worse that your Highness may be assured there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the Kingdom who are desirous of a change;


However, whilst religion clearly played a decisive role for some, it was not as important for others. It was not religious sensibilities which made most miners side for the king, only the fact that they got their livelihood from royal charters. The larger part of the peers and gentry, especially those of more ancient pedigree, sided for the king to maintain the social fabric of hierarchy and order. Parliament on the other hand could rely on members of the lesser gentry and middling classes who had more to gain by uprooting the old order and less to lose in attempting it. Furthermore, Parliament's setting up of itself as the party of the English sat well with many in England but helped press the vast majority of Welsh and Cornish into fighting for the King. However, despite all these irreligious reasons for side-taking religion could easily cut across these and mingle with various factors, so when Charles I organised to use Irish troops in England people could fear the tyrannical use of a foreign army as well as it's Catholic composition. Therefore religion was a decisive factor in side-taking because of it's centrality to most people's lives, be them High Anglican or Puritan, and , often in combination with other factors, it decided many people's allegiance in the Civil War.


Liberalism has shaped religion in the West in two interrelated senses. As a political philosophy, liberalism considers religion to be a matter of personal conscience and free association, and advocates broad (if always imperfectly applied) religious freedoms. The religion clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution represent the quintessential legal forms of liberalism regarding religion. Liberalism has also greatly shaped religious thought and practice, especially among European and North American Protestants. Religious liberals have sought to apply reason, modern scientific and scholarly advances, and notions of minority rights and freedom of conscience to theology and ethics. Religious liberalism has shaped mainline Protestantism and related religious movements such as Unitarianism and Quakerism most especially, but also laid the groundwork for the growth of post-Protestant and post-Christian forms of spirituality. Given the historic dominance of Protestantism in the United States, Protestant liberalism has determined the nature of American secularism and thereby required theological and political adaptation from religious minorities, most notably Roman Catholics and Jews. 041b061a72


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