The Covenant between Reason and Theology Essay

Submitted By caseyshe
Words: 2128
Pages: 9

The concept of modernity and all of the consequences that accompany it have played an integral part in the development of the social, political, and economic theories and practices that define a very significant part of contemporary society. Beginning with the radical shifts in perspective of the 15th and 16th century, in which rationality began to triumph over religion for the first time after centuries of a holistically theocentric dominance, the secularization of government gradually progressed, and thus the modern state was born. Over the course of hundreds of years, the relationship between Church and State continuously changed as the gap between them widened, and each philosopher viewed their changing society differently. A Revenge of Liberty Against Tyrants and the theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke each present different responses to their changing world, and their proposals for political covenants and contracts reflect the challenges of the societies they lived in and reveal a gateway to the future. Though the ideas about proportions and methods vary quite a lot, the desire to create a functioning society that, at least to some degree, balances a combination between the State, the people, and the Church remains consistent throughout these works. Beginning with A Revenge of Liberty Against Tyrants, then skipping half a century later to Hobbes, and then ending with Locke, these three sources demonstrate the progression through the development of modernity towards a political system that shares much in common with contemporary ideology. Understanding the context in which these works were created is a crucial element of understanding their significance. A Revenge of Liberty Against Tyrants is one of many responses to the Protestant Reformation and the extensive conflict that followed it. Even though it was written in 1589, nearly seventy years after the Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-five theses,” widespread violence committed by both Protestants and Catholics was still existent. Though it was somewhat subdued by the Peace of St. Germaine, which ended the civil war between Protestants and Catholics in France, there was still quite a bit of tension and hostility. That eventually resulted in the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre, when the French Catholics slaughtered as many as thirty thousand French Huguenots, effectively terrifying Protestants across the continent and instilling even more dangerous prejudice. As a Huguenot text responding to this horror, A Revenge of Liberty Against Tyrants, otherwise known as Vindiciae contra tyrannos, aims to achieve its title.
This work was by no means the first ever created that foreshadowed the coming spread of modern ideals, but it was a very significant development, because it fused religious covenant and political contract together. A Revenge of Liberty Against Tyrants contradicts the previously held absolutist attitude toward the monarchy, which essentially made rulers invincible by declaring even the most ungodly of them divinely appointed, and also made subjects powerless to question them, let alone rebel against them, because they were supposedly enacting God’s will. The new system that this text proposed, however, suggests that kings are not divinely ordained, but rather nominated by God and presented to the people, who have the power to give them power if they accept them as their ruler. This also forced the monarchy to take accountability for their actions and do their duty to the people, and also places responsibility in the hands of the public if they abdicate power to the wrong leader. With God as witness and moderator, people have the right to rebel if the king defies his pact; however, they otherwise have the duty to honor their part of the covenant and give their obedience. Regardless of how the ruler came to acquire his leadership, be it through military force, inheritance, or purchase, this covenant remains true, and he