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Calvin and the Whigs: A Study in Historical Political Theology

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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.

194 pages, Paperback

Published June 6, 2017

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Ruben Alvarado

32 books14 followers

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Simon.
547 reviews16 followers
January 8, 2018
Very good. Alvarado joins some dots, here, which others fail to. And he writes really well. It's a reworking of an old manuscript, so the interaction with secondary sources is dated. But all in all, he makes some great points and reinvigorates the early-modern-liberal story with the inclusion of Grotius.
Profile Image for Ben House.
152 reviews20 followers
June 5, 2017
Read the book twice because it is weighty and important. This book is a course in Christian political philosophy. Here the reader confronts Augustine, Calvin, Hugo Grotius, the author of Claims Against Tyrants, John Locke, and others.
As it points out, the development of constitutional thought is not linear. Nor was it completed when the American Founders finished their project in Philadelphia. I find much in this book that calls for further thought, more reading, and a wider understanding. This is a book I am still striving to understand, and it is one worth the effort.
Profile Image for Steve.
1,441 reviews80 followers
May 3, 2017
Ruben Alvarado makes the argument that Calvinistic political theory is derived directly from the great tradition of western political thought reaching back to Saint Augustine and his "City of God." John Locke laid the foundations for modernist philosophy that discreetly removed the church from s position of social influence and distinct political power. Alvarado masterly unravels Grotius's political philosophy and it's many influences on English and European political thought.
This work is a highly stimulating discussion of political theology .
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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