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Slaying Leviathan: Limited Government and Resistance in the Christian Tradition

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Christians first expressed these political truths under Caesars, kings, popes, and emperors. We need them in the age of presidents. Leviathan is rising again, and the first weapon we must recover is the storied Christian tradition of resisting governmental overreach. Our bloated bureaucratic state would have been unrecognizable to the Founders, and our acquiescence to its e Christians first expressed these political truths under Caesars, kings, popes, and emperors. We need them in the age of presidents. Leviathan is rising again, and the first weapon we must recover is the storied Christian tradition of resisting governmental overreach. Our bloated bureaucratic state would have been unrecognizable to the Founders, and our acquiescence to its encroachments on liberty would have infuriated them. But here is the point: our Leviathan would not have surprised them. They were well acquainted with the tendency of governments to turn tyrannical: “Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.” In Slaying Leviathan, historian Glenn S. Sunshine surveys some of the stories and key elements of Christian political thought from Augustine to the Declaration of Independence. Specifically, the book introduces theories that were synthesized into a coherent political philosophy by John Locke, who influenced the American founders and was, like us, fighting against the spirit of Leviathan in his day.


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Christians first expressed these political truths under Caesars, kings, popes, and emperors. We need them in the age of presidents. Leviathan is rising again, and the first weapon we must recover is the storied Christian tradition of resisting governmental overreach. Our bloated bureaucratic state would have been unrecognizable to the Founders, and our acquiescence to its e Christians first expressed these political truths under Caesars, kings, popes, and emperors. We need them in the age of presidents. Leviathan is rising again, and the first weapon we must recover is the storied Christian tradition of resisting governmental overreach. Our bloated bureaucratic state would have been unrecognizable to the Founders, and our acquiescence to its encroachments on liberty would have infuriated them. But here is the point: our Leviathan would not have surprised them. They were well acquainted with the tendency of governments to turn tyrannical: “Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.” In Slaying Leviathan, historian Glenn S. Sunshine surveys some of the stories and key elements of Christian political thought from Augustine to the Declaration of Independence. Specifically, the book introduces theories that were synthesized into a coherent political philosophy by John Locke, who influenced the American founders and was, like us, fighting against the spirit of Leviathan in his day.

30 review for Slaying Leviathan: Limited Government and Resistance in the Christian Tradition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    Super helpful. History is in itself an argument against tyranny. Recommended to all who want to learn more about us, Romans 13, and tyrants.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Kyriosity

    Excellent. Very clear explanation of how we got here and where exactly we are. Lots of new information for me on the history of political theory. It's certainly not my first subject of choice, but Sunshine managed to keep me engaged so that when we got to conclusions and applications, I was tracking. Made me appreciate how remarkable the U.S. founding documents are in the context of Western political thought through history and how tragic it is that we have virtually shredded them. Excellent. Very clear explanation of how we got here and where exactly we are. Lots of new information for me on the history of political theory. It's certainly not my first subject of choice, but Sunshine managed to keep me engaged so that when we got to conclusions and applications, I was tracking. Made me appreciate how remarkable the U.S. founding documents are in the context of Western political thought through history and how tragic it is that we have virtually shredded them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    A helpful historical review of Protestant resistance theory. Knowing this history is the first step (though not the last) in slaying Leviathan: the great bloated federal government that now bosses us around. This book is largely descriptive instead of prescriptive. For instance, Sunshine notes that some thinkers allowed the civilian to take up arms against tyrants, while others insisted that resistance ought to be made only by the lesser magistrate. Well, I want to know, which principle, if eith A helpful historical review of Protestant resistance theory. Knowing this history is the first step (though not the last) in slaying Leviathan: the great bloated federal government that now bosses us around. This book is largely descriptive instead of prescriptive. For instance, Sunshine notes that some thinkers allowed the civilian to take up arms against tyrants, while others insisted that resistance ought to be made only by the lesser magistrate. Well, I want to know, which principle, if either, is biblical? Don't just tell us how various opinions developed over the centuries, tell us whether, how, and why these opinions are rooted in Scripture, and how we can apply them today. This book primarily made me eager to find one that discusses where the rubber actually meets the road.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    Slaying Leviathan is an introduction to the Christian political tradition. Glenn Sunshine surveys the history of Christian political thought, from the early church to the Constitution of the United States. It is a broad survey, so he rarely goes deep, but he goes wide enough that there are probably some new things that most readers haven’t encountered—at least that was true in my case. He makes the case that limited government is a fruit of Protestant theology, and came to full flower in the Unit Slaying Leviathan is an introduction to the Christian political tradition. Glenn Sunshine surveys the history of Christian political thought, from the early church to the Constitution of the United States. It is a broad survey, so he rarely goes deep, but he goes wide enough that there are probably some new things that most readers haven’t encountered—at least that was true in my case. He makes the case that limited government is a fruit of Protestant theology, and came to full flower in the United States Constitution. We’ve sadly not flexed these political muscles enough in America, and they have atrophied. We have largely lost the understanding of this heritage in the American church, so we do not realize that resistance to tyranny is actually a fruit of the Christian political tradition. Christians have been defying tyrants for millennia, but we’ve been leaning on Romans 13 in America, in ways that were easy to understand and do when the civil magistrate is largely obedient and just. So our default response to a just magistrate has been easy deference. But now that we’re awakening to the unrighteousness of many of our civil magistrates, we’re unprepared for any other response than deference and compliance. This book is a well-timed reminder, that there is more to the Christian tradition than what too many today, has turned into servility.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jake Litwin

    Leviathan shut down the church in the name of public health this year and the church seems to be scattered and divided, not knowing what to do. “...churches were prohibited from meeting in direct violation of the First Amendment while Black Lives Matter protests were permitted. In other words, freedom of peaceable assembly applied only to groups promoting approved messages.” - from the Epilogue, page 174. Glenn Sunshine gives a well written overview of the history of Christian political thought. Leviathan shut down the church in the name of public health this year and the church seems to be scattered and divided, not knowing what to do. “...churches were prohibited from meeting in direct violation of the First Amendment while Black Lives Matter protests were permitted. In other words, freedom of peaceable assembly applied only to groups promoting approved messages.” - from the Epilogue, page 174. Glenn Sunshine gives a well written overview of the history of Christian political thought. The author is very engaging and does a difficult task, taking a huge amount of detailed history and compiling it into a survey under 200 pages. Outside of the influential thinkers he traces including Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Hobbes, Rutherford, and Locke, Sunshine covers unalienable rights, resistance, liberty, problematic Two Kingdom Theology and how Protestants responded to threats of Leviathan rising over other spheres in history. My only minor critique would be wishing there was more direct quotes from these thinkers but Sunshine basically makes up for it by providing an extensive appendix for further reading of all the original sources he was pulling from. A much needed book in understanding the times we are in today.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mwansa

    I was expecting this book to the end of the conversation but found out it is only the beginning of it. And that is a good thing! Glenn Sunshine does a brilliant job addressing the history of government and how resistance to it has happened throughout the ages. In doing so he opens the door for one to think through the reality of Jesus as Lord of all things, including the realm of the governments, civil and family.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Interesting food for thought and introduction into the practices of believers and basic reasoning on this subject. I would have liked to seen more detail on how these folks developed their traditions from Scripture. There’s no question that we have certain unalienable rights given to us by God. The greater question is to what extent Christians should seek to fight for those rights for themselves, particularly when our Savior forfeited them to reconcile us to God.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Parkison

    Most Christians I meet are governmental absolutists in their political convictions and don't even know it. This book is very good and the historical context set here is necessary for Christians to make judicial decisions about how they are going to conceptualize the Church-State relationship moving forward. It's unfortunate that the reputation Canon Press has garnered for having bare-knuckled brawlers for authors will render this little book beyond consideration for some (though, granted, that re Most Christians I meet are governmental absolutists in their political convictions and don't even know it. This book is very good and the historical context set here is necessary for Christians to make judicial decisions about how they are going to conceptualize the Church-State relationship moving forward. It's unfortunate that the reputation Canon Press has garnered for having bare-knuckled brawlers for authors will render this little book beyond consideration for some (though, granted, that reputation is warranted. I dare say the folks in Moscow, ID would wear the description like a badge of honor, God bless them). They'll read the title and subtitle, see the publisher, and conclude that this is merely fuel for the fire of ungracious hot-heads who are looking for any excuse to justify their absence of the fruit of the Spirit. Folks that leach off of others, building platforms by dunking on other people for their platform-building, etc. etc. Of course, it's not hard to find real life examples of these types, and more than a few of them will quickly reveal great affection for Canon Press. But I'm going to be so bold as to say that few of those examples will cite *this* book as their favorite Canon Press book. Why? Because it's *too boring.* It doesn't readily present itself to the fire-breathing types. We can forgive them for assuming it would, given the title and publisher. But what readers will find in this book is a cool-headed, flat-footed, learned historical treatment. Virtually none of the characteristically Canon Press zingers--those sharp rhetorical quotes with which to pummel liberals. Sunshine practices enough restraint on editorializing that Christians from a wide spectrum of political impulses can read the book without feeling ostracized. He's not shy about what he thinks, but he's careful to distinguish his recommendations from the historical survey he develops in each chapter, to the end that any Christian can read it and not feel like the target of a polemical attack.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    A great overview of historical instances of Christian resistance to governmental tyranny and their implications and applications to today's society. A great overview of historical instances of Christian resistance to governmental tyranny and their implications and applications to today's society.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Grindberg

    An extremely helpful primer, highly recommend

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mason Bruza

    This was a good survey of Christian Political thought. I was pleased to see that Dr. Sunshine largely avoids oversimplifying the issues at stake, an all too common pitfall for Christian advocates of liberalism. Still, I think Dr. Sunshine overlooks a few key principles (e.g. the relationship between private property and the Universal Destination of Goods), and by treating Lockean liberalism as the only consistent version of Christian political thought; he ends up mischaracterizing earlier Christ This was a good survey of Christian Political thought. I was pleased to see that Dr. Sunshine largely avoids oversimplifying the issues at stake, an all too common pitfall for Christian advocates of liberalism. Still, I think Dr. Sunshine overlooks a few key principles (e.g. the relationship between private property and the Universal Destination of Goods), and by treating Lockean liberalism as the only consistent version of Christian political thought; he ends up mischaracterizing earlier Christian thinkers. For example, in his discussion of religious liberty and state churches, instead of showing how Luther and Calvin viewed state churches as a good and necessary consequence of the magistrate's duties and consistent with their view of Christian liberty; Dr. Sunshine just assumes that they were ignorant of the tension and moves on. On the more positive side, I found his definition of "ordered liberty" one of the stronger points and one that's extremely helpful for our time: "And yet, the laws of nature and nature's God also impose on us obligations to act for the good of our neighbors. Thus, we cannot take a radically individualistic view of our rights. Instead, the law of love suggests that we balance individual freedom with public order and concern for the common good... Exactly where to draw the lines between order and liberty is not always clear, and governments frequently get the lines wrong, allowing freedom where it is harmful and restricting liberty where it is not... Liberty thus may be an unalienable right, but it is not an absolute right." This is a helpful antidote to the libertarian tendencies in fusionist conservativism which often veer towards license and an absolutist notion of liberty. Modern conservatives would likely be appalled to find out that their theological heroes used to support such things as sumptuary laws, public hospitals, and guild-based price and labor controls; none of which were seen as threats to liberty, but rather were seen to promote ordered liberty in those circumstances. Overall, the book is to be commended for its ad fontes approach and encouraging modern Christians to begin thinking about politics at a deeper level than what we get from social media.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ian Clary

    This was a helpful book in many respects. It is written with a very clear and easy style that helped me read through it rather quickly. Sunshine gives a decent overview of the history of Christian political theology leading up to the American Founding. I appreciated this very introductory survey that put a lot of the big swathes of history together into a coherent manner. Because Sunshine's area of expertise is French Reformed history, those sections were more satisfactory (especially the St. Ba This was a helpful book in many respects. It is written with a very clear and easy style that helped me read through it rather quickly. Sunshine gives a decent overview of the history of Christian political theology leading up to the American Founding. I appreciated this very introductory survey that put a lot of the big swathes of history together into a coherent manner. Because Sunshine's area of expertise is French Reformed history, those sections were more satisfactory (especially the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and the French view of the doctrine of the "lesser magistrate") than his description of the early and medieval church. I was especially thankful for his broad engagement with the two kingdoms views of Reformers like Luther and Calvin and argued that those early Protestants would not necessarily endorse some later Protestant views, especially those of the radical Puritans in Britain, or the resistance theory that would impact that the US. I was surprised by a number of omissions in Sunshine's survey. Probably the most significant figure that had absolutely no discussion was Thomas Aquinas. This is a major detraction from the quality of this book. I'm also surprised that he did not discuss the views of Thomas Erastus, from which Erastianism gets its name. He was a Heidelberg Reformer and his thought had very important impact on some European states, especially Britain. There's not really much in the way of a discussion of the English Reformation, the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity by Richard Hooker, or the distinctions between Geneva and Zurich. Of the latter, he does speak of the rise of Protestant covenantalism in Zurich's Zwingli, but he doesn't mention the important role that Heinrich Bullinger played both in Zurich and in England with his high view of the magistrate. There was barely any mention of Peter Martyr Vermigli and I don't recall seeing Martin Bucer's name in the book. Sunshine argues that the best political philosophy that will help us slay the reborn Leviathan is John Locke's notions of toleration and government. He makes a regular point to note that, in spite of Locke's Enlightenment secularisation of politics, his view is the best crystallization of Christian political thought. I don't agree with this at all and find it odd to argue in light of the publisher, Canon Press's, more theonomic views. Sunshine therefore gives some credence to the Christian founding of America, because Locke was so influential on the Founders, and he was essentially Christian. I was also perplexed by his argument that the traditional two kingdoms position only works in a monarchy and not a republic like the US (why not discuss the UK or Canada?). He didn't prove his point at all. He made an appeal to the Transformationalism of more modern thinkers like Abraham Kuyper and Reinhold Niebuhr as a potential way forward for Christian political thought today. But I'm not sure why Transformationalism is any more a likely candidate, over the traditional two kingdoms approach. He didn't make his case, and if anything, he reaffirmed that the two kingdoms view is not only of a venerable tradition in church history, but it provides a helpful roadmap for the future. What was frustrating about his discussion of two kingdoms doctrine was that he seemed to conflate the traditional view with the more radical approach by some thinkers connected to Westminster Seminary in California. It's strange, though, because he'd just described Calvin's views on this matter and did so accurately. Then he turned to critique the radical view. I'll finish with two more minor critiques, the first deals with the relationship between the American Founders and the Deists. He argues that someone like Jefferson was not properly speaking a Deist. He was rather a "Unitarian rationalist" and believed that God did intervene at some points in history. Studies of Deism, however, show a range of moderate and extreme versions of Deism. Sometimes these differences could be seen in the thought of one figure, like Benjamin Franklin, over the course of his life. So I'm not convinced that Jefferson wasn't a Deist. The second critique is that Sunshine would make many assertions without much in the way of footnoting. There were a couple of points that he made where I wished I could have chased it up in a source. He did provide a bibliography, but I was less than satisfied with some of his recommendations -- especially Eric Metaxas' hagiography of the Founders. Why include this historically dubious book, but not include scholars like Oliver O'Donovan! So all in all, I'm glad I read this book, and could broadly recommend it to those interested in the question of Protestant resistance to government. But I'd want to supplement it with some more reliable sources like Bradford Littlejohn's book on the two kingdoms.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Knowlton Murphy

    (Typed on a phone late at night...please excuse any typos!) I really enjoyed this book. It provides a quick introduction to the history of Protestant resistance theory. I loved the idea of sphere sovereignty--that different spheres (government, education, labor, etc.) exist as sovereign realms. When a sphere's efficiency is somehow compromised, it's tempting for a separate sphere--usually government--to step up to replace that defunct sphere. So education fails, government provide education. Two (Typed on a phone late at night...please excuse any typos!) I really enjoyed this book. It provides a quick introduction to the history of Protestant resistance theory. I loved the idea of sphere sovereignty--that different spheres (government, education, labor, etc.) exist as sovereign realms. When a sphere's efficiency is somehow compromised, it's tempting for a separate sphere--usually government--to step up to replace that defunct sphere. So education fails, government provide education. Two problems here are that government isn't well equipped for assuming the added role, and that as it's sphere sovereignty increases, you find a petty form of tyrany with a limitless trajectory--what starts as nothing more than a nose eventually becomes a whole camel in your tent. I was struck by what seems to be an odd relationship--Hobbes' vision of a sovereign ruler is for all practical purposes the same as an absolute monarch with divine rights. The king hypothetically faces God for judgment one day--an unimaginable circumstance in Hobbes' mechanical philosophy--but whether by God or by social contract, they both have carte blanche to do whatever they want. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how modern everything felt. Hobbes just sounds like anyone I might talk with today, and that makes sense, but even the medieval thinkers and the Scottish Covenanters struck me as remarkably accessible. All in all, this was a great thought provoking intro to a history I am convinced most of my peers are ignorant of. I don't say that arrogantly or anything--I just don't think many of my fellow 21st century American evangelical friends are aware of this. They typically oversimplify obedience to governing officials without taking into account our rich philosophical and theological heritage, the demonstrable governmental trends in world history, or the fact that our modern obedience to governing officials necessarily looks different from 1st-3rd century Christianity because we are citizens of a democratic republic. Good stuff.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zak Schmoll

    This short book provides an overview of the development of the relationship between church and state in the Christian tradition. Glenn Sunshine provides a historical overview of from the early church to the American founding, and in each chapter where he talks about a different stage of that development, he adds a concluding section subtitled Implications where he discusses how this principle is still relevant today. I was actually most interested in the chapters where he discusses Christian resi This short book provides an overview of the development of the relationship between church and state in the Christian tradition. Glenn Sunshine provides a historical overview of from the early church to the American founding, and in each chapter where he talks about a different stage of that development, he adds a concluding section subtitled Implications where he discusses how this principle is still relevant today. I was actually most interested in the chapters where he discusses Christian resistance. Obviously it is a significant chapter in church history, but I had not read much about it, so I appreciated that. As you can tell from the title, this book will obviously appeal to those of us who favor smaller government and a high degree of religious liberty. However, even if you disagree with those beliefs, I think you will probably appreciate Sunshine's journey through the different ways that Christian thinkers have gone back-and-forth on how the church and state ought to interact.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luke Deacon

    The vast majority of Christians have a debilitating disease: ignorance of their forebears' response to government overreach. This book provides some important medication for treating that sickness, and I'm thankful for it. 2 main critiques: 1) Lots more direct quotes needed. E.g. Calvin's covenant/contract theory - where does that come from? (A few people I know are also wondering this, as a thorough search of Calvin's works turns up nothing on this.) 2) What is Biblical in our current day? Know The vast majority of Christians have a debilitating disease: ignorance of their forebears' response to government overreach. This book provides some important medication for treating that sickness, and I'm thankful for it. 2 main critiques: 1) Lots more direct quotes needed. E.g. Calvin's covenant/contract theory - where does that come from? (A few people I know are also wondering this, as a thorough search of Calvin's works turns up nothing on this.) 2) What is Biblical in our current day? Knowing what other Christians before us have done in their circumstances is helpful, but I wanted Dr. S to go on and give some Biblical pointers for what the principles of Christian resistance theory look like today, in our current situation. Should only the lesser magistrate disobey the ruler, or can individuals also?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    An educated, well-written, and robust survey of Christian political philosophy through the centuries. The focus is on what constitutes legitimate authority and what limits does that authority have placed on it by nature and divine law. The result is a very readable and engaging history of limited government and the need for checks and balances. The author clearly understands philosophy in general, and political philosophy in particular. He also, as an added bonus, really gets right the two kingd An educated, well-written, and robust survey of Christian political philosophy through the centuries. The focus is on what constitutes legitimate authority and what limits does that authority have placed on it by nature and divine law. The result is a very readable and engaging history of limited government and the need for checks and balances. The author clearly understands philosophy in general, and political philosophy in particular. He also, as an added bonus, really gets right the two kingdom theology of Luther and the early Reformers, even while he seems to favor some form of sphere sovereignty. In particular he sees how the older two kingdom teaching was not opposed to transformationalism as modern R2K guys do with their odd modern version. Loved it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    A superb and eminently readable overview of the history of Christianity's thinking about, and relationship to, the state and the the state's relationship to Christianity in under 200 pages, with a worthwhile epilogue offering suggestions on applying what was discussed. Anyone contemplating the relationship of church and state should probably read this book. I very seldom, on principle, give five stars to a book. But, I would have given five stars to this book save one grievous shortcoming—it has A superb and eminently readable overview of the history of Christianity's thinking about, and relationship to, the state and the the state's relationship to Christianity in under 200 pages, with a worthwhile epilogue offering suggestions on applying what was discussed. Anyone contemplating the relationship of church and state should probably read this book. I very seldom, on principle, give five stars to a book. But, I would have given five stars to this book save one grievous shortcoming—it has no index. Why anyone would write a book of this nature, with so much information packed into it, with so many names, ideas, and movements discussed, without including an index baffles me. I may need to buy the Kindle version simply to be able to find things I want to look at again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    P.J. Mills

    Outstanding This was an extremely helpful book in examining both history and also causes for many of the problems we face today in the West as regards our eroding freedoms. I highly recommend this book. It is informative, accessible, and well thought out in both its information and argumentation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Schwisow

    A concise and easy to understand historical summary of Christian views of government and civil resistance. Excellent tract for the times.

  20. 4 out of 5

    William Schrecengost

    Very good history of Christian political thought. Traces political theology and resistance theory from the Apostles to the American founders.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miles Foltermann

    Outstanding. I only wish it were about 50 pages longer, with more space to explore practical ways to counteract the resurgent Leviathan.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Hansen

    Mic drop. Sunshine is a legend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Fantastic overview. Read this as the starting point for any study of this topic, as it provides a historical and theoretical framework to hang everything else on.

  24. 5 out of 5

    emma niemi

    Glenn has a clear and concise way of explaining a complex (and very important!) topic. An extremely insightful and crucial read now more than ever.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Decker

    Simple yet informative.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    The cry “Liberty, equality, fraternity or death!” was much in vogue during the Revolution. Liberty ended by covering France in prisons, equality by multiplying titles and decorations, and fraternity by dividing us. Death alone prevailed. - Louis de Bonald

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

    It's a fine broad survey of Christian thinking about the relationship of the church to the state. Not a lot of practical take aways about how to actually slay Leviathan. It's a fine broad survey of Christian thinking about the relationship of the church to the state. Not a lot of practical take aways about how to actually slay Leviathan.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Powers

    A succinct and helpful summary of Christian political thought throughout church history, aimed on aiding us in understanding just exactly how, where, and when the wheels came off.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sean Wilson

    A very easy read, almost conversational in its style. And given the space constraints, I thought this was a good overview of the major developments in Christian political thinking, as well as tracing those influences down to their secularised descendants. He covers a lot of ground in a reasonably short book. Sunshine is trying to defend the thesis that Christians have, from the beginning although not consistently, thought in terms of separation of church and state and supported religious freedom A very easy read, almost conversational in its style. And given the space constraints, I thought this was a good overview of the major developments in Christian political thinking, as well as tracing those influences down to their secularised descendants. He covers a lot of ground in a reasonably short book. Sunshine is trying to defend the thesis that Christians have, from the beginning although not consistently, thought in terms of separation of church and state and supported religious freedom in the civil sphere. Thus, Augustine’s support of the civil magistrate forcing heretics to recant during the Donatist controversy, or the fact that the magisterial reformers were generally comfortable with state churches are cast as falling away from this purer vision: “Christianity is the only major world religion to begin and spread without government support” (12). However, Sunshine gets himself into a bit of a knot with the claim that “religion and government in Christianity are separate institutions with different spheres of authority and with distinct responsibilities” (10). If he means that the institutional church is and ought to be distinct from the civil government, that’s one kind of claim; it is another kind of claim to say that Religion occupies a sphere hermetically sealed from Government. Sunshine describes a tug-of-war between Church and State over the last several centuries. If we don’t want a Leviathan, then who is the referee in this game? The ascended Lord Jesus seems like a good candidate in my view. The most value in this book comes from its high level overview of the history of thought on this topic, but I think the thesis to which he’s driving is, at best, underdeveloped.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The behaviour of our governments during the last year have given rise to questions around just how far governments can go to restrict the activities of its people - particularly Christians in their worship of the One True, Triune God revealed in the Bible. My context is Australia, where restrictions on meeting numbers were in play and then singing and then the mask wearing, all being guided by the same global pseudoscience. Glenn Sunshine’s book helps to understand the Christian view of governme The behaviour of our governments during the last year have given rise to questions around just how far governments can go to restrict the activities of its people - particularly Christians in their worship of the One True, Triune God revealed in the Bible. My context is Australia, where restrictions on meeting numbers were in play and then singing and then the mask wearing, all being guided by the same global pseudoscience. Glenn Sunshine’s book helps to understand the Christian view of government and its historical development, although more specifically to the US context, but there is still enough to be gleaned for Australians that seek to honour their government but honour Christ above all. One thing I was really pleased about was Sunshine’s explanation of Hobbes’ Leviathan being a secularised, bastardised Calvinistic vision - as it confirmed my suspicions. In my philosophy undergrad I observed this to my tutor, who hadn’t realised it before. That’s because they often teach/taught philosophy with no real context. (Of course, it would mean contending with Christianity which is no-no for them). Highly recommended!

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