Calvin and the Whigs: A Study in Historical Political Theology

Pantocrator Press
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 The relationship between Calvinist political theory and John Locke’s Two Treatises on Civil Government has been debated for some time, and the consensus is that Locke’s theory constitutes the further development of Calvinist theory. But upon closer analysis, that conclusion proves entirely flawed. Calvinism proves to be worlds apart from the political philosophy of John Locke. It proves to be the mature fruit of the medieval “two swords” form of government, in which church and state share public power, rather than an early stage on the road to the dissociation of church and state, a road which Locke put us firmly upon with his own formulation of political power. Indeed, upon closer inspection Calvinism proves to be the product of a thousand-year tradition of Western political thought commencing with Augustine and moving through the Carolingian Renaissance and the Papal Revolution. That history is rediscovered and outlined in this book, as the preliminary means for recovering the true meaning of political Calvinism and its utter discontinuity with the modernism that commenced with Locke’s paradigm. It also helps disabuse us of the notion that history is linear, and that progress is straightforward. Rather, it helps us to understand the deformational period of history in which we live, and the need for a return to a confess­ional under­stand­ing of law, the state, and constitutionalism.
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About the author

 Ruben Alvarado is an expat American author, translator, and publisher, living in the Arnhem area of the Netherlands. He is married and has three children.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Pantocrator Press
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Published on
Jun 6, 2017
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Pages
194
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ISBN
9789076660479
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Constitutions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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 At the dawn of the modern age a debate took place which would determine the further course of Western and thus world civilization. This debate did not take place in any assembly or debating chamber. It took place in the hearts and minds of the trend-setting intelligentsia of the day.

Two figures engaged in this debate, acting as signposts at the crossroads which materialized in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when a decision loomed and a path had not yet irrevocably been embarked upon. They functioned at the time and place destined to be the stage upon which this decision would become apparent: in and around the Dutch Republic in its struggle for freedom from the Spanish monarchy. They shared the same inheritance, constraints, and influences; the one fashioned it in a way that proved a resounding success which would be received as orthodoxy, the framework of right-thinking people for centuries to come; the other in a way that, although offering a coherent and constructive alternative, languished in obscurity, only in our day receiving renewed interest from the scattered flock of academics and churchmen (and women) who either make the knowledge of such things their business, or share a wistfulness for and inkling of this world we have lost.

The one is Hugo Grotius, world renowned, the so-called “Father of International Law.” Although the appropriateness of such an appellation has been drawn into well-deserved doubt in our time, what should not be in doubt is the paradigmatic role his work played in the course of our civilization. Grotius fashioned the synthesis of the socio-political-legal-constitutional materials, the harvest of centuries of scholarship, into the familiar modern shape, which this book will explore in extenso. It is his path that was chosen, his seed which has now reached harvest time.

The other is Johannes Althusius, forgotten by the Enlightenment but restored to honor in the 19th century by the German “revivalist” of associationalism Otto von Gierke. Althusius drew on the same source materials as Grotius to fashion his own synthesis of political, legal, and constitutional thought, a synthesis which then fell into abeyance as its competitor synthesis triumphed, but which in our day has enjoyed a renaissance that promises a theoretical renewal of our understanding of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

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American conservatism is in need of a rethink. What else could explain its ongoing weakness in the face of the rather lame if not incredulous critiques of capitalism and liberty put forward by the Left? There is in fact a congenital defect in conservatism, derived from its "Whiggish" origins. For in its formative period, it imbibed the heady elixir of natural rights as a neutral alternative to a confessional Christian basis for law and government. That is a choice that has dogged conservatism ever since. It explains the incapacity to dislodge the Left from its occupation of the moral high ground in public debate and policy. Conservatism must re-examine its foundations and rediscover the idea of liberty as inheritance, or it will remain the plaything of progressive-leaning elites. Common-Law Conservatism provides just such an examination. It is a critique from the bottom up, examining the spheres of politics, economics, and religion by means of a cutting-edge paradigm integrating historical and theoretical elements in a universal common-law unity. For the common law, the inheritance of Western liberty, provides the materials to move beyond the dead end of rights philosophies that are destroying liberty - destroying national sovereignty - nullifying attempts to establish law and order domestically and peace through strength abroad - upending the moral order upon which civilization rests - demanding the establishment of all-powerful energy management regimes - indeed, incessantly pushing for an all-powerful world government based on the concept of universal jurisdiction, which is an ethical necessity for the Left, as it is the only means to realizing what in reality is an unfulfillable promise: the satiation of the entitlement mentality, which the rights philosophies have bequeathed to us. Common-Law Conservatism is not an easy read, nor is it meant to be. It is no rehash of conservative talking points. It is a fundamental, root-and-branch rethink. Which is, at bottom, the crying need of our time.
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