I'm looking for a job and taking some summer classes. One is on the intersection of Church and State, the history of democracy, and the like. It's a directed study so there are only a few of us doing it. You can see our class page, and read what were thinking about here. Below are some excerpts of what is being said.
My main problem with Hastings is that he assumes that democracy is a good thing, maybe it is, but he doesn't seem to address this.
I would also like to get everyone's take on the degree of truth to the idea that the Reformation, and specifically Reformed theology gave rise to democracy. Obviously that's not the narrative of the secular majority, but among Christians?
What do you guys think?
I need to do some more reading, but it seems that the free church tradition especially believes that democracy is the direct result not only of the Reformation but the correct reading of the NT after the Reformation set it free from the chains of the Roman Catholic Imperialist Church. However, a casual conversation with a political theorist that studies Western political thought will reveal that they care very little about the role of the Reformation or the churches involved in the democracizing of America.
That said, it is true that the Reformation "liberalized" Europe and allowed people the opportunity to not have to deal with the Roman Church and, thus, they were able to do anthropology separated from theology and thus produce theories regarding the capabilities of humans that would not have been possible under the Catholic Church. However, Protestantism did not always suppor these benevolent views of human nature either. There is just something about the doctrine of total depravity that is hard to reconcile with the enlightenment view that human reason can solve all problems from government to science.