Some thoughts on A Protestant Christendom? The World the Reformation Made.

In the past several weeks The Davenant Institute has published Andre Gazal’s edited edition of George Carleton’s Jurisdiction Regal, Episcopal, Papal and a larger collection, A Protestant Christendom? The World the Reformation Made edited by Onsi Kamel. Carleston served as bishop of Chichester in the late Sixteenth and early Seventeenth Century and his work is an important defense of the Protestant episcopate and a Protestant understanding of the relationship between ecclesiology and the civil order. Gazal has made this volume accessible and it will undoubtedly be helpful for those interested in the history of the post-Elizabethan English church.

I’d like to devote this post to some comments on Kamel’s volume. I have a chapter in it; several of my Hillsdale colleagues also wrote chapters for the book. It is not, as some might assume, a defense of Christendom per se but it is a book that argues that there is indeed a Protestant civilization hewed out of political, religious, and social developments in the five centuries that followed the advent of the Reformation in 1517. Most Anglophone Christians around the world—whether they realize it or not—have inherited this sort of Protestant “Christendom.” This legacy is no longer limited to Protestants of European descent, but has been extended to Africa, Asia, and Oceania through Protestant empire and missionaries. The foundational civil liberties associated with the American republic and now found throughout the globe were Protestant inheritances; so too is the modern English language.

What Protestants did not give the world, however, was modernism, and the essays in this collection offer helpful correctives to historiographic narratives that posit a Protestant origin for liberalism, modernity, and en masse secularization in Western society. A Protestant Christendom? seeks not to narrow Protestantism’s historic vision for church and state, politics and culture, and economics and justice, but to illustrate how comprehensive it historically was, is, and will be in the future.


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