There are few more influential philosophers than John Locke on the American founding, and in particular on the distinctively American understanding of the separation of religion and government. And yet in many of Locke’s writings on religion and toleration (as well as elsewhere, as in his discussion of Christianity itself), it is clear that Locke presupposes a Christian commonwealth. Here is a new and interesting volume that is an effort in reconciliation, by Victor Nuovo and published by Oxford University Press. Here is the publisher’s description.
Early modern Europe was the birthplace of the modern secular outlook. During the seventeenth century nature and human society came to be regarded in purely naturalistic, empirical ways, and religion was made an object of critical historical study. John Locke was a central figure in all these events. This study of his philosophical thought shows that these changes did not happen smoothly or without many conflicts of belief: Locke, in the role of Christian Virtuoso, endeavoured to resolve them. He was an experimental natural philosopher, a proponent of the so-called ‘new philosophy’, a variety of atomism that emerged in early modern Europe. But he was also a practising Christian, and he professed confidence that the two vocations were not only compatible, but mutually sustaining. He aspired, without compromising his empirical stance, to unite the two vocations in a single philosophical endeavour with the aim of producing a system of Christian philosophy.