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Beyond the Persecuting Society: Religious Toleration Before by John Christian Laursen, Cary J. Nederman

By John Christian Laursen, Cary J. Nederman

There is a myth—easily shattered—that Western societies because the Enlightenment were devoted to the right of defending the variations among members and teams, and another—too conveniently accepted—that sooner than the increase of secularism within the glossy interval, intolerance and persecution held sway all through Europe. In Beyond the Persecuting Society John Christian Laursen, Cary J. Nederman, and 9 different students dismantle this moment generalization.

If intolerance and spiritual persecution were on the root of a few of the best discomfort in human background, it truly is however the case that toleration used to be practiced and theorized in medieval and early glossy Europe on a scale few have discovered: Christians and Jews, the English, French, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Italians, and Spanish had their proponents of and experiments with tolerance good sooner than John Locke penned his well-known Letter relating Toleration. relocating from Abelard to Aphra Behn, from the apology for the gentiles of the fourteenth-century Talmudic student, Menahem ben Solomon Ha-MeIiri, to the rejection of intolerance within the "New Israel" of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Beyond the Persecuting Society bargains a close and decisive correction to a imaginative and prescient of the prior as any much less complicated in its include and abhorrence of range than the present.

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If one followed "the common opinion of almost everyone" that the damned were placed in the same fire, how could there be any gradation in punishment? Suffering comes about not through any common substance but from the nature of those punished (3026-61; Payer, 153-54). The discussion of the reward of the good and the punishment of the damned is followed by what the Christian admits is a most difficult task, the definition of good and evil. A good thing is something which does not have the effect of impeding the advantage of anything, something evil is the opposite (3153-56; Payer, 158).

The essence of wisdom lay in a spirit of enquiry: "The first key to wisdom is defined as persistent and frequent questioning. . By doubting we come to enquiry; by enquiry we perceive truth. "33 Abelard invoked scripture to support a principle he had already formulated in his Dialectics. "34 He cited the example of Christ himself, who sat and asked questions of the elders in the Temple at twelve years of age, even though he was the embodiment of perfect wisdom. In the Dialogus Abelard introduced his reader to a much wider range of views than those raised in the Sic et Non.

The thrust of Abelard's final discussion was to reject any notion that Christian teaching about movement or place (like the bodily ascension of Christ into the heavens at the right side of the Father, or hell itself) had a physical meaning (2767-877; Payer, 142-47). Descriptions of hell in the Old and New Testaments cannot be taken literally, as they refer to the perpetual torment souls suffered in their consciences. If one followed "the common opinion of almost everyone" that the damned were placed in the same fire, how could there be any gradation in punishment?

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