It’s often said that it was the intolerance of Christians, from the apostle Paul to the Renaissance Popes, that led to the Enlightenment’s secular cry for “freedom of religion” – and even freedom from religion.
Religion fosters bigotry and violence toward difference. Enlightened secular thought fosters peace and pluralism. Right?
But did you know there are religious origins to religious freedom?
- This episode is sponsored by Zondervan’s new book, The Problem of Jesus by Mark Clark
- Read Robert Wilken’s latest book Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom
- More on the Edict of Milan, in which Constantine declared: “Freedom and full liberty has been granted in accordance with the peace of our times to exercise free choice in worshipping as each one has seen fit. This has been done by us so that nothing may seem to be taken away from anyone’s honour or from any religion whatsoever.”
- More on Roger Williams
- Find out more about Thomas Jefferson and religious freedom.
- Our ‘Phone a Friend’ guest this episode was Tim Wilson, an Australian Liberal MP and former Human Rights Commissioner. Watch a talk Tim gave on religious freedom to the Centre For Independent Studies here.
Meet our guest
Robert Louis Wilken is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, past president of the American Academy of Religion, the North American Patristics Society, and the Academy of Catholic Theology. He is chairman of the board of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, the publisher of First Things. Among his numerous publications are The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (2013), The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God (2003), The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (1984/2003), and Remembering the Christian Past (1995). He has taught at Fordham University, the University of Notre Dame, the Institutum Patristicum (Augustinianum) in Rome, the Gregorian University in Rome, and Providence College.