The Egalitarian Spirit of Christianity: The Sacred Roots of American and British Government
By: Stephen Strehle (author)Hardback
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Religion no longer serves a dominant role in the everyday consciousness of modern Western society. Most people view life as a practical set of problems and look to secular and rational resources for answers, yet fail to recognize the underlying role of religious beliefs and practices in forming their way of thinking. Strehle shows the significance and ongoing influence of religion in contemporary views of life by revealing the sacred roots of modern political ideas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Unlike many other authors, he goes beyond the typical emphasis upon English literature in discussing the role of the church in government, probing into the sources of democratic, federal, and egalitarian ideas on the continent of Europe during the Reformation.The separation of church and state in America and the diminished power of the Church of England represent the culmination of secular forces evolving in society since the Enlightenment. This secular view of life represents the basic mentality of the culture and the government in general; yet there is much to contradict it.
The last half of the twentieth century witnessed a surge of grass roots movements from all sides of the political/religious spectrum, including the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the Moral Majority of the 1980s, which provided an effective challenge to a simple division between the two realms.Strehle explores some of the most cherished political ideals of modern society, including equality and democracy, liberty and natural rights, progress and capitalism, federalism and mixed government. He has no illusions about forging an exhaustive study that includes all possible forces - inside or outside the religious community. He does not dismiss the vital contribution of other possible sources of inspiration from the world of religion or undermine the well-established place of "secular" sources. Instead Strehle demonstrates that certain ideas associated with the religious community were entangled within the overall process and have left an indelible mark upon significant aspects of the emerging American landscape.
Stephen Strehle is an associate professor of philosophy and religion at Christopher Newport University. He is the author of The Separation of Church and State; Calvinism, Federalism, and Scholasticism; and The Catholic Roots of the Protestant Gospel.
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- ID: 9781412808163
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