From Augustine to Locke and Spinoza: Answering the Christian Case Against Religious Liberty

  • Edwin Curley
Part of the Boston Studies in Philosophy, Religion and Public Life book series (BSPR, volume 6)


Critics of Christianity have sometimes accused it of having been, “for most of its existence… the most intolerant of world faiths, doing its best to eliminate all competitors,” using force if necessary. This is a paradox, since much Christian teaching condemns the use of force for any purpose, and the earliest Christians, fighting to be tolerated in the Roman Empire, often argued vigorously for religious liberty. This paper will contend that there are Christian teachings which can be used to justify religious intolerance, and consider what the best response to those teachings is. I claim that moderate responses, like Locke’s, are inadequate, and that what is needed is a more radical critique, of the kind to be found in Spinoza.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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