Calvinist resources for contemporary american political life: A critique of Michael Walzer's revolution of the saints

Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (3):473-493 (2009)
Inheriting the religious prejudices of the Enlightenment, many supporters of liberal democracy consider John Calvin's theology contrary to the norms and virtues necessary for productive public discourse in a religiously and culturally diverse society. In Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics , Michael Walzer makes a similar assumption, arguing that, despite its contribution to political modernization, the inherent fideism, absolutism, and intolerance of Calvinism constitutes a threat to public discourse in liberal society. In this paper, I contend that the prevailing understanding of Calvin's theology is incorrect. In actuality he is a nuanced natural law thinker, whose complex understanding of human nature and the state encourages the subtle balance of virtues that contemporary political life requires
Keywords liberal democracy  faith and politics  Calvin  natural law  Calvinism  political ethics  American political life
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