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Christianity and Freedom


  • 1 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 426 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.69 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107124585)

In Volume 1 of Christianity and Freedom, leading historians uncover the unappreciated role of Christianity in the development of basic human rights and freedoms from antiquity through today. These include radical notions of dignity and equality, religious freedom, liberty of conscience, limited government, consent of the governed, economic liberty, autonomous civil society, and church-state separation, as well as more recent advances in democracy, human rights, and human development. Acknowledging that the record is mixed, scholars document how the seeds of freedom in Christianity antedate and ultimately undermine later Christian justifications and practices of persecution. Drawing from history, political science, and sociology, this volume will become a standard reference work for historians, political scientists, theologians, students, journalists, business leaders, opinion shapers, and policymakers.

• Gathers top scholarship on Christianity and human rights • Demonstrates the outsized role of contemporary Christian minorities and transnational networks in promoting human flourishing • Shows how a profound theological idea propelled innovations in human history


Introduction. Christianity and freedom: ancient roots and historical innovations Timothy Samuel Shah; 1. God and freedom: biblical roots of the Western idea of liberty Rémi Brague; 2. Theological and secular arguments for religious freedom in early Christian thought Timothy Samuel Shah; 3. The Christian roots of religious freedom Robert Louis Wilken; 4. Lactantius on religious liberty and his influence on Constantine Elizabeth DePalma Digeser; 5. Augustine and religious freedom John Rist; 6. Christianity and the roots of human dignity in late antiquity Kyle Harper; 7. Liberty of conscience and freedom of religion in the medieval canonists and theologians Ian Christopher Levy; 8. Faith, liberty, and the defense of the poor: Bishop Las Casas in the history of human rights David M. Lantigua; 9. Calvinist contributions to freedom in early modern Europe John Witte, Jr; 10. Constitutional protection of the freedom of conscience in colonial America: the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania experiments David Little; 11. Christianity and freedom in the American founding Matthew J. Franck; 12. Vibrant Christian pluralism and the evolution and defense of religious liberty in America Judge Kenneth Winston Starr; 13. Orthodox Christian contributions to freedom: historical foundations, contemporary problematics Elizabeth H. Prodromou; 14. Christianity: a straggler on the road to liberty? Daniel Philpott; 15. Protestant missionaries and the centrality of conversion attempts for the spread of education, printing, colonial reform, and political democracy Robert D. Woodberry.


'… A fine collection of essays. It makes a strong case both implicitly and explicitly that freedom owes far more to Christianity than secular accounts recognize. The volume is essential reading for those interested in the history of freedom.' Glenn Sunshine, Journal of Church and State

'Most parts of the long story told by the essays in Volume 1, Historical Perspectives, have been told previously, often by contributors to this volume. But I know of no previous volume in which that long story is told in its entirety.' Nicholas Wolterstorff, Comment

'A particular strength of this collection of essays is that none of the authors denies that Christians and Christian institutions have on many occasions violated the rightful freedoms of others. This frank acknowledgment, however, is accompanied by an argument that permeates many of the papers: that it was, for the most part, Christianity that provided the moral, theological, and cultural principles upon which Christians and others have drawn to condemn unjust coercion.' Samuel Samuel Gregg, The Public Discourse


Timothy Samuel Shah, Rémi Brague, Robert Louis Wilken, Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, John Rist, Kyle Harper, Ian Christopher Levy, David M. Lantigua, John Witte, Jr, David Little, Matthew J. Franck, Judge Kenneth Winston Starr, Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Daniel Philpott, Robert D. Woodberry

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