The Biblical Origins of Freedom
Reviewer Diana Muir Applebaum writes, “We have all been taught that it was the dethroning of revealed religion that produced political modernity. Everyone knows this, knows that European political thought was not transformed and made modern by reading the Bible (let alone the Talmud); it was remade by a rejection of the Bible in favor of rationalism.” This view that freedom and religion are somehow in conflict with each other is getting long-overdue pushback. In 2011, Harvard political scientist Eric Nelson published The Hebrew Republic, making a compelling case that modern political theory’s roots lie in 17th century Bible scholarship. King’s College professor Joe Loconte has just published God, Locke & Liberty in which he “argues that the single most important defense of religious freedom in the West—John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)—was not a result of Enlightenment skepticism toward religion. Rather, Locke drew inspiration from an earlier Christian reform movement, the Christian humanist tradition of Erasmus of Rotterdam.” Nelson, who is Jewish, and Loconte, who is a Christian, are among those who are reasserting the role of Judeo-Christian thought and the Bible itself in creating free and democratic nations.
“The Dangerous Mr. Nelson,” by Diana Muir Appelbaum. Jewish Ideas Daily, February 6, 2012.
“Under Locke and Key” (interview with Joe Loconte), by David George Moore. Jesus Creed. Pathos.com, January 10, 2015.