The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theory, and American Political Theology

Hardcover | July 20, 2011

byJohn Perry

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In the face of ongoing religious conflicts and unending culture wars, what are we to make of liberalism's promise that it alone can arbitrate between church and state? In this wide-ranging study, John Perry examines the roots of our thinking on religion and politics, placing the early-modernfounders of liberalism in conversation with today's theologians and political philosophers.From the story of Antigone to debates about homosexuality and bans on religious attire, it is clear that liberalism's promise to solve all theo-political conflict is a false hope. The philosophy connecting John Locke to John Rawls seeks a world free of tragic dilemmas, where there can be noAntigones. Perry rejects this as an illusion. Disputes like the culture wars cannot be adequately comprehended as border encroachments presided over by an impartial judge. Instead, theo-political conflict must be considered a contest of loyalties within each citizen and believer. Drawing on criticsof Rawls ranging from Michael Sandel to Stanley Hauerwas, Perry identifies what he calls a "turn to loyalty" by those who recognize the inadequacy of our usual thinking on the public place of religion. The Pretenses of Loyalty offers groundbreaking analysis of the overlooked early work of Locke,where liberalism's founder himself opposed toleration.Perry discovers that Locke made a turn to loyalty analogous to that of today's communitarian critics. Liberal toleration is thus more sophisticated, more theologically subtle, and ultimately more problematic than has been supposed. It demands not only governmental neutrality (as Rawls believed) butalso a reworked political theology. Yet this must remain under suspicion for Christians because it places religion in the service of the state. Perry concludes by suggesting where we might turn next, looking beyond our usual boundaries to possibilities obscured by the liberalism we haveinherited.

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In the face of ongoing religious conflicts and unending culture wars, what are we to make of liberalism's promise that it alone can arbitrate between church and state? In this wide-ranging study, John Perry examines the roots of our thinking on religion and politics, placing the early-modernfounders of liberalism in conversation with t...

John Perry is McDonald Fellow for Christian Ethics and Public Life at the University of Oxford. He has degrees in Theology and Political Science, including a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. He has published articles in the Journal of Religious Ethics, Scottish Journal of Theology, Journal for the Society of Christian Ethics, C...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 6.5 × 9.29 × 1.3 inPublished:July 20, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199756546

ISBN - 13:9780199756544

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Lifting the Veil of Ignorance1. Liberalism's Turn to Loyalty2. Harmonized Loyalties and Abstract Respect: Two Sides to the Tolerationist CoinPart II: John Locke's Arguments for Toleration3. Locke's Early Work: From Vizor of Religion to Veil of Ignorance4. A Letter Concerning Toleration: Locke Turns to Loyalty-and Beyond5. ''All at Once in a Bundle'': The Blurring of the Just BoundsPart III: John Locke's America6. Refusing the Turn: Jeffersonian Separatists and Lockean Natural Lawyers7. Locke and Loyalty in Contemporary Political Theology: Three Ways of Making the TurnConclusion