How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West

How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West

Editorial: Princeton

Páginas: 371

Año: 2003

EAN: 9780691092706

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Religious intolerance, so terrible and deadly in its recent manifestations, is nothing new. In fact, until after the 18th century, Christianity was perhaps the most intolerant of all the great world religions. How Christian Europe and the West went from this extreme to their present universal belief in religious toleration is the story told in this volume.Perez Zagorin takes readers to a time when both the Catholic Church and the main new Protestant denominations embraced a policy of endorsing religious persecution, coercing unity, and, with the state´s help, mercilessly crushing dissent and heresy. This position had its roots in certain intellectual and religious traditions, which Zagorin traces before showing how out of the same traditions came the beginnings of pluralism in the West. Here we see how 16th- and 17th-century thinkers - writing from religious, theological and philosophical perspectives - contributed far more than did political expediency or the growth of religious skepticism to advance the cause of toleration. Reading these thinkers - from Erasmus and Sir Thomas More to John Milton and John Locke, among others - Zagorin brings light a common, if unexpected, thread: concern for the spiritual welfare of religion itself weighed more in the defense of toleration than did any secular or pragmatic arguments. His book - which ranges from England through the Netherlands, the post-1685 Huguenot Diaspora, and the American Colonies - also exposes a close connection between toleration and religious freedom.