By Benjamin J. Kaplan
As spiritual violence flares all over the world, we're faced with an acute drawback: Can humans coexist in peace while their easy ideals are irreconcilable? Benjamin Kaplan responds by means of taking us again to early sleek Europe, whilst the problem of spiritual toleration used to be no much less urgent than it truly is at the present time. Divided by way of religion starts within the wake of the Protestant Reformation, whilst the team spirit of western Christendom used to be shattered, and takes us on a breathtaking journey of Europe's spiritual landscape--and its deep fault lines--over the following 3 centuries. Kaplan's grand canvas finds the styles of clash and toleration between Christians, Jews, and Muslims around the continent, from the British Isles to Poland. It lays naked the complicated realities of day by day interactions and calls into query the got knowledge that toleration underwent an evolutionary upward push as Europe grew extra "enlightened." we're given vibrant examples of the improvised preparations that made peaceable coexistence attainable, and proven how universal folks contributed to toleration as considerably as did intellectuals and rulers. Bloodshed used to be avoided no longer by means of the excessive beliefs of tolerance and person rights upheld at the present time, yet via the pragmatism, charity, and social ties that endured to bind humans divided through religion. Divided by way of religion is either historical past from the ground up and a much-needed problem to our trust within the triumph of cause over religion. This compelling tale finds that toleration has taken many guises long ago and means that it could actually do an identical sooner or later. (20071124)
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Extra resources for Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe
Part of the answer lies in an irreducible dogmatism—a belief that there was something called truth, revealed to us by God and clearly identiﬁable, and that every other belief was plain wrong. It is also crucial to realize that Christian tradition conceived of the conscience not as an independent judge of right and wrong, as we think of it today, but as a slate upon which God wrote his law. One could not violate that law, it held, without violating one’s own conscience. True, people might misunderstand a church teaching or be ignorant of it.
At its core, it was disputational, raising questions, drawing distinctions, asserting propositions, offering proofs and rebuttals. Deﬁning orthodoxy in negative as well as positive terms, it enabled theologians to develop entire systems of dogma. It was ideally suited to the kind of debate used to instruct students in theology (hence its name) and to defending dogmas against confessional adversaries. Competition and common needs made scholastic theology the dominant genre among Protestant and Catholic theologians alike from the late sixteenth to the end of the seventeenth century.
Luther wanted to liberate Christians from human ordinances, clerical tyranny, fear, and, above all, from the requirement that they perform works to achieve salvation. Such was “Christian freedom,” as Luther deﬁned it. Luther’s idea has often been misunderstood. In the modern era, the temptation has been to impose on it our own belief in progress. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many people in Britain and America celebrated “Christian freedom” as a great leap forward in the rise of liberty.
Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe by Benjamin J. Kaplan