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An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature

An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature

Автор(и) : Nathaniel Culverwell

Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.

Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA

Година на издаване : 2001

ISBN : 978-0-86597-327-5

Брой страници : 252

Език : английски


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An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature is a concerted effort to find a middle way between the two extremes that dominated the religious dispute of the English civil war in the seventeenth century. At one extreme end of the spectrum was the antinomian assertion that the elect were redeemed by God’s free grace and thereby free from ordinary moral obligations. At the other end of the spectrum was the Arminian rejection of predestination and assertion that Christ died for all, not just for the elect. Faced with the violence of these disputes, Nathaniel Culverwell attempted a moderate defense of reason and natural law, arguing, in the words of Robert Greene, that “reason and faith are distinct lights, yet they are not opposed; they are complementary and harmonious. Reason is the image of God in man, and to deny right reason is to deny our relation to God.”
These sermons by Nathaniel Culverwell, a significant and influential moral theologian of the seventeenth century, were delivered in 1645-46 at the chapel of Emmanuel College of Cambridge University. The sermons, which examine the relationship between reason and faith, form one of the first attempts in English Protestantism to stress the role of reason in ethics and to develop a doctrine of natural law. Culverwell represents a crucial intersection in the discussion of reason and faith. While providing a link between the Calvinist dependence on faith and grace and the Enlightenment dependence on reason and humanism, Culverwell's Discourse is a picture of the world on the brink of the Enlightenment. This Discourse was crucial to the development of a theoretical grounding for individual challenges to established authorities, both political and ecclesiastical, and thus to the development of modern theories of liberty and responsibility.

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