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Postscript and Conclusion

  • Jonathan C. P. BirchEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World book series (CTAW)

Abstract

In this final chapter, I summarise the evidence and arguments assembled already in this study in support of the theses outlined in Chapter 1: (1) The seventeenth and eighteenth century provide compelling prototypes for theological discourse centring on Jesus which persist in modern thought and culture, with the Gospels capable of furnishing both authoritarian and more liberal visions of Enlightenment. (2) The ‘religious Enlightenment’ is not simply faith’s uneasy accommodation to modernity: in a Christian context, it grows out of the resources of scholastic and post-Reformation theology, where forms of theological-moral realism are often central to the relevant discourses. (3) Different metaphysical commitments (e.g. monist or dualist) can and have been supported by and integrated with both authoritarian and more liberal visions of Enlightenment. (4) Religious heresy is a characteristic tendency of the Enlightenment and has contributed to the formation of modern thought and culture. In addition to substantiating these theses, I demonstrate the continued cultural and intellectual relevance of the kind of theological and philosophical currents which took recognisable shape in early modernity. Some of this is evident in biblically infused commentary on contemporary issues (e.g. defending or attacking the presidency of Donald J. Trump, discourse on Black Lives Matter, and the #MeToo movement). But traces of the philosophical legacy are detectable in twentieth-century discourse seemingly shorn of religious foundations (e.g. Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault’s debate on human nature, power, and justice). The story of (religious) Enlightenment presented for consideration in this book is advanced as one of many traditions which jostled for influence in this formative age of intellectual and cultural pluralism.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Critical StudiesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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