Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

PURITANISM AND LIBERTY REVISITED: THE CASE FOR TOLERATION IN THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

  • JOHN COFFEY (a1)
  • Published online: 01 December 1998
Abstract

In recent years historians have grown sceptical about attempts to trace connections between puritanism and liberty. Puritans, we are told, sought a godly society, not a pluralistic one. The new emphasis has been salutary, but it obscures the fact that a minority of zealous Protestants argued forcefully for the toleration of heresy, blasphemy, Catholicism, non-Christian religions, and even atheism. During the English revolution, a substantial number of Baptists, radical Independents, and Levellers insisted that the New Testament paradigm required the church to be a purely voluntary, non-coercive community in the midst of a pluralistic society governed by a ‘merely civil’ state. Although their position was not without its ambiguities, it constituted a startling break with the Constantinian assumptions of magisterial Protestantism.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
The paper on which this article is based was originally presented at the Stuart seminar in Cambridge and at the modern British history seminar at Harvard. I am most grateful for the insightful comments of both audiences. The shortcomings that remain, of course, are my own responsibility.
Footnotes
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×