Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Milton's Project

Milton's project is to take the Independent Calvinist worldview and from it render a secular anthropological and political understanding. This worldview is "modern" in the sense that religion and the power of the church are mitigated (first) by knowledge and scientific skepticism and (second) by constitutional policy that denies magisterial power to churches. Magisterial power is reserved exclusively to the state--this is the substance of Locke's Letter on Toleration and Jefferson's Virginia Act of Religious Freedom. In this particular and others, Milton laid the groundwork for Locke and Jefferson, who carried Milton's project forward, refining the modern worldview by defining and designing institutions--education, balance of powers, property and labor rights, natural rights, the obligations of governments and the duties of citizens, a free press, the fair and equitable distribution of wealth, and so on--that would establish and maintain the processes of an open, free and liberal society.

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