Reformed Christian Vs Early Modern Bodies Politic

Compare the Reformed Christian and Early Modern Bodies Politic. Where were they healthy and where were they sick? Be sure to mention Luther, Calvin, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, and give an account of how the movement of religion to the private sphere changed the political forms and institutions of medieval political theory. 

Comparison of Reformed Christian and Early Modern Bodies Politic

The Reformed Christian Bodies Politic

Luther and Calvin were the first reformers to skillfully leverage the power of the printing press to relay their ideas to a wide audience in their efforts to advocate for religious and political redistribution of power. Whereas there had been previous reformers who had attacked the corruption in the life of the church, Luther distinguished himself from them in that he sought to address the theological root of the problem. Luther claimed that the root of the underlying problem was the pervasion of the church’s doctrine of redemption and grace (Ryan, 2012). In his Ninety-five Theses, Luther attacked the indulgence system characterizing the church arguing that the pope had no jurisdiction over purgatory and that the doctrine of the merits of the saints was unfounded in the gospel. These arguments established Luther’s ideas regarding justification by faith and rejection of the church’s doctrine of transubstantiation, which laid the foundation for a new understanding of body politic (Moots, 2010). 

            Regarding Calvin’s ideas, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin agreed with Luther’s teaching about justification by Faith. However, Calvin furthered the idea by founding a more positive place for the law within the Christian community. Calvin advocated for a disciplined community. The postulation was based on scriptures such as Hebrews 12:11, which states “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Calvin also emphasized the doctrine of predestination and interpreted the partaking of the Holy Communion, as a spiritual event that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ (Baylor & Klosko, 2011). Thus, the reformation was the first blow in the fight against church involvement in politics as it questioned its authority as a system of doctrine.

The Early Modern Secular Bodies Politic

            The reformation paved the way for secular authority in politics. From the 17th century, European philosophers started debating the question of who should govern nations. Enlightenment philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau argued for different forms of democracy (Ryan, 2012). In The Leviathan, Thomas describes a nation where all individuals are naturally equal. In such a state, every person suffers from the fear and danger of violence since people are free to do whatever they need to survive. Thomas argues that the only way out of such a situation is for individuals to create a form of supreme power to impose peace. The sovereign body would make and enforce laws to ensure a peaceful society, allow people to enjoy their liberties, and render ownership of property possible (Laskar, 2013). Hence Hobbes advocated for a king’s government in which the church should not have involvement.

            Unlike Hobbes, philosophers Locke and Rousseau advocated for governments characterized by some or all the people participating in governance. Locke agreed with Hobbes that a social contract was necessary to assure peace. However, unlike Hobbes, Locke argued that the contract should be between the people and the king and not just between the people. As such, the king could not hold absolute power since the natural rights of the people limited his power. Locke advocated for freedom of thought, speech, and religion but believed that freedom of property is the most important natural right (Laskar, 2013). As for Rousseau, he agreed with Locke that people should never give up their natural rights to a king. In his work titled The Social Contract, he emphasized that there is a need to find a way to protect an individual’s life, liberty, and property, while every person remains free. Rousseau argued that the solution to this problem is for people to enter into a social contract whereby they would give up their rights to the whole community as opposed to a king. Regarding religion, Rousseau believed that it weakened the state (Lively & Reeve, 2013). Thus, the early modern secular politics stressed the need for the creation of separation between government and religion and the need for governments to uphold individual natural rights.

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