Home Page
Fiction and Poetry
Essays and Reviews
Art and Style
World and Politics





By Curtis Freeman


The Montréal Review, August 2017


By Curtis Freeman
Baylor University Press, 2017. 259 pp.


Windmill-Holland (oil on canvas) by Leonid Afremov


The church now is the primitive church and the church on judgment day; the obedience and liberty of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth is our liberty, our obedience, till time’s end.1

Cotton Mather began the final book of his Magnalia Christi Americana, published in 1702, by telling the story of a windmill in the Netherlands that turned so wildly during a violent storm its grinding stone became overheated, causing the mill to catch fire and setting the entire town ablaze. Mather went on to claim that the whole country of America was once set on fire by a man with the rapid motion of a windmill in his head. This man with an overheated brain was Roger Williams, whom Mather described as having “zeal, but not according to knowledge,” with “less light than fire in him.”2 Mather’s negative view of Williams is not surprising, given that his maternal grandfather, John Cotton, was Williams’ chief antagonist. When he arrived in New England in 1631, Williams declined an invitation by the congregation in Boston to serve as their minister, explaining later, “I durst not officiate to an unseparated people.”3 He spent the next several years with the more separated churches of Plymouth and Salem. When John Cotton came to New England two years later, he was appointed teacher of the Boston church. The two men engaged in a public exchange of letters that grew from a doctrinal disagreement into a theological controversy, with Williams writing The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, John Cotton replying with The Bloudy Tenent, Washed, and Made White in the Bloud of the Lambe, and a rejoinder by Williams entitled The Bloody Tenent Yet More Bloody.4

Had Williams’ disagreements been limited to theological disputes with church leaders, he might have continued his work unimpeded by his opponents, but he quickly ran into difficulty with the magistrates of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In a letter to Governor John Winthrop, Williams disputed the colony’s claim to the land. He argued that the patent issued by England was invalid and that they had no right to settle there unless they compensated the Indian people. When the letter came to the attention of authorities in Boston, they examined it and condemned its author. On October 9, 1635, the General Court banished Williams for having “broached and divulged diverse new and dangerous opinions.”5 John Cotton defended the practice of banishment, contending that society must be protected from the contamination of undomesticated dissenters like Williams whose “Errors be Fundamentall, or seditiously and turbulently promoted.”6 Williams responded that compelling the conscience of those who differ amounts to “soul-­rape,”7 and he declared that any religion “which needs such instruments of violence to uphold it” cannot be true.8 After being exiled from Massachusetts, Williams set out to establish a colony at Providence as “a shelter for persons distressed of conscience.”9 He acquired land by customary law, agreeing to a fair purchase price with the tribal leaders. The Royal Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, finally obtained from England in 1663, ensured religious liberty for all its residents—­it proclaimed,

Noe person within the sayd colonye, at any tyme hereafter, shall bee anywise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for any differences in opinione in matters of religion and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of our sayd colony; but that all and everye person and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter, freelye and fullye have and enjoye his and theire owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments.10

The charter echoed the earlier declaration by Charles II to allow “liberty to tender consciences” and to respect “differences of opinion in matter of religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.”11

The experience of Roger Williams stands in sharp contrast to Thomas Weld, who immigrated to America in 1632 and served as the minister in the congregation in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Writing to members in his former church, who were concerned about the state of affairs in New England, Weld did not merely assure them of his safety. He went on to celebrate the freedom he and other English colonists were experiencing: freedom from oppression and influence of the wicked and freedom for righteousness and religion. He exclaimed,

Mine eyes blessed be God do see such administration of justice in civil government. All things so righteously so religiously and impartially carried. . . . And I profess if I might have my wish in what part of the world to dwell, I know no other place on the whole globe of the earth where I would be rather than here. . . . Here are none of the men of Gibea the sons of Belial knocking at our doors disturbing our sweet peace or threatening violence. Here, blessed be the Lord God forever, our ears are not beaten nor the air filled with oaths, swearers nor railers, nor our eyes and ears vexed with the unclean conversation of the wicked.12

Given the story of dissent from Bunyan to Blake, the treatment of Roger Williams might not be surprising, except that Weld and John Cotton were also Protestant dissenters, though not yet formally separated from the Church of England, which would soon enough separate from them.13 They were committed, as was Williams, to the further reformation of Christianity, having embarked on a mission of building the New Jerusalem in the New World.14 Yet their social vision of a new heaven in a new earth, unlike that of the founders of Rhode Island, had little if any room for dissent. There was simply no place in their social world for undomesticated dissenters like Roger Williams.

Forgotten Errand—­Lively Experiment

Puritans who came to the new world expected a great coming apocalypse that was just on the horizon. In the opening chapter of his Magnalia, Mather expressed the conviction that, when Christ returned to reign on earth with the saints for a thousand years, New England would be the New Jerusalem of his millennial kingdom.15 It was this hope that drew John Winthrop, members of the Massachusetts Bay Company, and a company of saints across the Atlantic to build before the watching eye of the world a community that would be “a Citty upon a Hill.” Yet Winthrop reminded his companions that they would succeed in their mission not by harrying out sinners and smiting evildoers but by upholding “a familiar commerce together in all meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality,” and delighting “in eache other.” He urged them to make the condition of one another their own, to “rejoice together, mourne together, labour and suffer together,” and always to remember their “commission and community in the worke, as members of the same body.” By loving and caring for one another, Winthrop explained, they would “keepe the unitie of the spirit in the bond of peace.” And, in so doing, the Lord would be their God and delight to dwell among them, as God’s own people, and would command a blessing upon them in all their ways.16 The warrant for this hope was more than the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company. What grounded their commission was the conviction that they were a people joined in covenant with God and one another for this work.17

Believing the great migration of the 1630s to be a new exodus of the saints and New England to be a New Israel, the Massachusetts Bay Christians regarded the Ten Commandments as a summary statement of their national covenant, which they understood to be composed of two tables. The first four commandments prescribed the right worship of God. The last six pertained to civil matters. Both tables were regarded to be binding on all people. One of the “dangerous opinions” of Roger Williams cited by the General Court was that he insisted “the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the First Table.”18 Williams argued forcefully in The Bloudy Tenent that civil magistrates were restricted to affairs of “law” named in the second table,19 and that they had no “power over the Soules or Conscience of their Subjects, in the matters of God,” stipulated in the first table.20 The Massachusetts Bay authorities justified the application of both tables by arguing that the magistrate fulfilled the kingly office in God’s covenant with Israel, so that foremost among the terms of the covenant was the preservation and protection of true religion.21 Officers of government, who exercised this enforcing role, were regarded as agents of God. Against this theocratic understanding of government, Williams argued that Israel was a type of Christ’s church, not the puritan commonwealth or any other civil government, thus obliterating the basis for any union of church and state based on the Old Testament.22 For Williams, soul liberty was forever established by the divine kingship of Jesus Christ, making government interference in matters of faith disobedience to Christ.23

New England theocrats were unpersuaded by alternative biblical interpretations, and they continued to pursue their social vision through a policy of forced uniformity. Their intolerance toward dissenters and schismatics, especially Baptists, did not escape the notice of fellow Independents in England, who sent a letter to the Massachusetts Bay General Court urging them “to suspend all corporall punishment or restraint on persons that Doe Dissent from you and practice the principall of their Dissent without Danger or Disturbance to the Civill peace.”24 Henry Jessey, one the most leading Independent ministers in London and long a friend of Winthrop, also wrote the officers of the churches in New England, criticizing their “smiting of fellow servants and Persecution for Conscience sake.”25 The New Englanders, however, ignored appeals for tolerance. In their Standing Order, the Congregational churches instructed civil authorities to restrain and punish “idolatry, blasphemy, heresy, venting corrupt and pernicious opinions that destroy the foundation, open contempt of the word preached, profanation of the Lord’s day, disturbing the peaceable administration and exercise of the worship and holy things of God, and the like.” They also advised magistrates to apply coercive power “as the matter shall require” to control schismatical churches that “walk incorrigibly or obstinately in any corrupt way of their own.”26 New England Congregationalists had no interest in fostering religious liberty. They were “deliberately, vigorously, and consistently intolerant” of any and all whose views on church or state differed from theirs.27 Roger Williams was not the last to be punished by the Massachusetts General Court. Anne Hutchinson was banished two years later for her role in the Antinomian controversy, and Mary Dyer was hanged for her Quaker beliefs in 1660. It took a royal directive in 1661 to stop the execution of dissenters, and it required the revocation of the old charter and the issuing of a new one to put an end to the theocracy in Massachusetts.

But, in reality, this policy of state-­sponsored religious uniformity was doomed from the outset given that in other colonies like Rhode Island “justice did at greatest offenders wink.”28 It was simply impossible to discipline everyone judged to be in violation of the national covenant.29 The failure to achieve the goal of a holy commonwealth, however, did give rise to the important American rhetorical tradition of the jeremiad, sermons that lamented unfaithfulness to the covenant and warned of coming judgment.30 In his election-­day message, delivered forty years after the landing of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, Samuel Danforth asked his audience to consider whether they had not forgotten their errand into the wilderness.31 He urged them to strengthen their resolve and pursue their original mission with renewed commitment so that God’s blessings might continue to be on them. Danforth framed his reconsideration of their commission with the words that Jesus directed to the crowds about John the Baptist: “What went ye out into the Wilderness to see?” (Matt 11:7). In his sermon, the “wilderness” was transformed into a type addressed to descendants of the founders, and the “errand” became a trope for their collective calling. Considering their mission in this figural sense raised anew the subjects of conversion and covenant as it forced future generations to ask how they might make this story their own and pressed them to imagine what it might look like to build a good and just society in the American wilderness.

Yet alongside the narrative of remembering the errand stands the story of Roger Williams and the charge “to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.”32 Both images flow from the same tradition shared by religious dissenters in England like Bunyan, Defoe, and Blake, but on the American landscape the errand and the experiment thrived together as never before. Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony provided America with the sense of a national vocation aimed at creating a good society held together by bonds of trust, and the conviction of respect for the sacred space of conscience and the corollary virtue of religious liberty championed by Williams gave rise to the receptive generosity that became a fundamental feature of American democracy.33 In the lively experiment of Rhode Island, these basic liberties extended not just to Baptists, Quakers, and other Christians but to Jews, Muslims, and adherents of no religion equally. Williams rejected the colonial ideology that regarded the indigenous people as “savages” without rights or property.34 Instead, he obtained land from the Indians by customary law and treated them not only as human beings with basic rights but as mutual partners in the experiment of radical democracy. Challenging the racially biased stereotypes upon which colonial Christianity depended, Williams described the Indians as “remarkably free and courteous.” He portrayed them as a generous and hospitable people who “invite all Strangers in; and if any come to them upon any occasion they request them to come in, if they come not in themselves.”35 Williams experienced this kindness firsthand, for, without the generosity of the Narragansett during the “sorrowful Winters flight” after his banishment, he might well have perished.36

The revolutionary vision of an all-­inclusive society was voiced by Thomas Jefferson and the founders in the declaration “that all men are created equal.” These words, however, struck Hannah Lee Corbin as insufficiently representative, given that the self-­evident truth of human equality did not extend to women. The Lees were a prominent Virginia family of the planter aristocracy and members of the established Episcopal Church. When her husband died, Hannah, as a widow, was legally prohibited from inheriting her husband’s estate. She received no sympathy or support from her sister Alice, who apparently had “a mean opinion of the Babtist [sic] religion,” to which Hannah had converted.37 Her appeal was met with a more receptive hearing from her brother, Richard Henry Lee, a delegate of the Second Continental Congress and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Hannah made her case for the rights of widows, even arguing in favor of women’s suffrage.38 The call of fidelity to the vision of a good society combined with openness to a widening in the scope of participation has created a constant tension and struggle. The hopes of this lively experiment found expression in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which acclaimed that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”39 It made space in America for both church and dissent, communal goods and individual differences.

There is no evidence that Thomas Jefferson or James Madison drew from the writings of Williams or the Rhode Island experiment in producing the basic documents of American democracy.40 But when Jefferson and Madison introduced state and federal legislation protecting religious liberty for all, they had strong support from the Baptists, Presbyterians, and other dissenters, who thrived without state support.41 As this Jeffersonian-­Madisonian doctrine got parsed out, individuals were free to make up their own minds about religion. Civil magistrates could not compel worship or require support for churches. Everyone was entitled to an opinion about religion, and the right to this opinion was held to be “unalienable,” entitling each individual to follow the dictates of conscience. Churches, or “voluntary societies” as Jefferson (following Locke) called them, were free to determine the criteria for membership and fellowship, but these requirements were binding on members only. Every person had a constitutionally protected right to hold private religious ideas and beliefs, but public expression of those ideas and beliefs, particularly when expressed in association with others, was limited and subject to regulation. Yet Jefferson was deeply suspicious of the apocalyptic imagination of dissenters, describing the visions of the book of Revelation as “merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”42 Like his hero Locke and the English Whigs, Jefferson sought to draw support from religious dissenters while at the same time seeking to domesticate their enthusiasm. The upshot of his account was to authorize the government to restrict public but not private religion.

With the passing of the Bill of Rights, Americans saw the world as they knew it come to an end and a new world come into being. They were no less the children of John Winthrop, who imagined his covenanted community as “a city upon a hill,” than they were the spiritual offspring of Roger Williams, who favored religious liberty for all people including “Papists, Protestants, Jews, and Turks.”43 But as the experiment has grown livelier over the years, the sense of a shared errand seems ever more distant and the perception of religious experience increasingly individualistic. Yet this new account, though incorporating protections of liberty, did not come without a price. What earlier generations of English nonconformists understood as a common matter shared by all “experienced Christians” became a private matter increasingly enigmatic to others.44 This view of religion as a private experience of individuals in their solitude is no longer a contested concept. It is an unquestioned presupposition.45 Membership in voluntary associations (once thought to be crucial to the flourishing of robust communities of virtue, what Tocqueville called “habits of the heart”) is on decline, leading to the erosion of civic life and social disengagement.46 It is a loss with roots in the decline of the Winthropian vision of the common good combined with the Jeffersonian stress on individual religion. As a result of this emphasis on privacy, Americans have lost touch with the value of their interdependence on one another.47 With such emphasis on privacy and so little consciousness of common goods, the notion of dissent would seem to be tenuous if not incoherent, for, if all experience is unique, every personal experience might reasonably be understood as dissent, or at least the grounds of dissent, from the experiences of others. And with so little sense of a common life, the basic practices of democracy that undergirded the American experiment would now seem to be in question.

Beloved Community—­Kingdom of God

Mather’s Magnalia registered bewilderment, confusion, and chagrin that the mission to establish a city on a hill before a watching world was yet unrealized, but there was no surrender in its summons.48 Its narrative laments the gradual declension from the godliness that he believed marked the founders, and thus it tells the story of a failed errand. Yet like the jeremiad tradition upon which he drew, Mather invited his audience not only to engage in the cathartic purge of their many failings but to ponder the history of America and behold in it the wondrous works of God. His chronicle attends to the blessing that rested on the first generation who journeyed across the Atlantic to settle in a wilderness land, but its focus is on the continued wonders of providence, which he thought signified that the blessing did not depart from subsequent generations despite their unfaithfulness to God’s promise. The pages of its “history” are crowded with accounts of “remarkables” that testify to God’s unfailing presence and call for subsequent generations of Americans to declare that they have come thus far by the Lord’s help. Mather’s Magnalia might well be described as an Ebenezer (1 Sam 7:12), raised as a memorial to American civil religion.49 Yet his calls for greater reformation went largely unheeded, and, as his hope of ongoing reform was unrealized, Mather’s focus became increasingly otherworldly. Still, his vision was grounded in the conviction that the greatest challenges ahead lay not in the wilderness itself but within the collective soul of its people, thus linking the question of national identity with the pursuit of national mission. The upshot of such self-­reflection over time was that the pressing question became less a determination about why the American errand failed and more a matter of asking how it might be fulfilled anew.

Popular perceptions of the puritan errand stem less from Mather’s tendentious narrative than from the domesticated myth proliferated in Felicia Dorothea Hemans’ highly anthologized poem “The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers,” which was commonly read and recited in American classrooms and churches through the mid-­twentieth century. Hemans’ romanticized elegy praises the New England colonists for seeking not “the wealth of seas” or “the spoils of war” but “faith’s pure shrine.” It concludes with these lines:

They have left unstain’d what there they found—­

Freedom to worship God.50

Such an astounding assertion would no doubt have come as a surprise to Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, or Mary Dyer, who suffered for their religious convictions at the hands of those very Christians that sought a more pure faith, not to mention the indigenous people, whose blood stained the soil claimed by the colonies. Contrary to this idealized account, the legacy of the puritan founders was not the gift of religious liberty but a prophetic vision of the kingdom of God that stood above and sometimes against the American dream.51 Yet Mather’s vision of a new world, even though fixed on seeking the kingdom of God in history, was too restrictive to include those who differed. Subsequent voices of American civil religion like Jefferson and Madison questioned the failure to create a good society implicit in the founding mission and to imagine a new world with liberty for all. Their account expanded the lively experiment of Rhode Island envisioned by Roger Williams and other dissenters, creating space for soul freedom on a national scale. But even their version of the American dream, despite its more inclusive scope, still fell short, failing to make room for all.

In his oration delivered on December 22, 1820, at the Plymouth bicentennial, Daniel Webster, an influential statesman and an eloquent rhetorician, drew from the jeremiad tradition to reexamine the national mission. His speech, like those in a long line before it, suggested that America was chosen as a heavenly instrument for a historic purpose. Near the conclusion, Webster declared,

We are bound to maintain public liberty, and, by example of our own systems, to convince the world that order and law, religion and morality, the rights of conscience, the rights of persons, the rights of property, may all be preserved and secured, in the most perfect manner, by a government purely elective.52

Failure, he argued, would support the argument that government can rest only on power and control. Webster’s vision reached back to earlier voices like Winthrop, Williams, and Jefferson, but he also looked forward, pointing to a larger problem that had to be addressed—­the African slave trade. Describing the slave trader as “a pirate and a felon” and “an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt,” Webster called on Americans to cooperate with the laws of humanity and the justice of heaven to abolish this abominable practice.53 His appeal rose to a crescendo, urging that the land of the pilgrims could bear this shame no longer. He drew his listeners to hear the sounds of the hammer and the smoke of the furnaces that forge the manacles and fetters for human limbs. He exclaimed that he could see the faces of those who “by stealth and at midnight labor in this work of hell, foul and dark, as may become the artifices of such instruments of misery and torture.”54 And he urged them to purify this spot and to “let it be put out of the circle of human sympathies and human regards, and let civilized [hu]man[ity] have no communion with it.”55 It was a powerful and persuasive petition. Yet Webster himself grew weary in the mission, later turning his back on abolitionists as extremists and radicals.56

Fulfilling the errand so that the covenant extended to all people regardless of race led to “a great civil war.” The call “to finish the work” and “to bind up the nation’s wounds” after its apocalyptic struggle issued from the mouth of an odd sort of prophet, the unchurched son of a hardshell Baptist layman named Abraham Lincoln.57 Like others before him, he was a voice crying to prepare a way in the wilderness. Yet the way was not prepared, nor the work finished, and almost a century passed before another prophet suddenly appeared like a root out of dry ground from the American South. He continued the call to fulfill the errand and bring about a new reformation for civil rights, which began not by nailing ninety-­five theses on the great door of a grand castle church but by addressing an overflow crowd at a commodious sanctuary in a run-­down section of town. On the evening of December 5, 1955, when at the unlikely age of twenty-­six Martin Luther King Jr. stepped onto pulpit of the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, he gave voice to a movement of tired and weary souls “reaching out for the daybreak of freedom and justice and equality.” It was the end of the world, and the beginning of a new one. King began by addressing the assembly as “American citizens” who have a “love for democracy,” but he reminded them that “the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.” Even those who knew him were amazed at his prophetic transformation that evening. Yet he did not stand alone. He stood with Rosa Parks and all the folks who were “tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.” But he also stood in a long line of dissenters like John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Blake, and the unnamed and unremembered who also knew what it meant to be “tired of going through the long night of captivity.”58

One of the enduring images King infused into the American consciousness was “the beloved community,” a lovely phrase he borrowed from the philosopher Josiah Royce.59 It was a vision of a new world to come after the passing of the old one. In King’s imagination, the beloved community was a reality that would emerge as a result of nonviolent action. Its means is love, and its end is reconciliation and redemption.60 But the weapons aimed at defeating the evil forces of segregation and creating the conditions for the coming of the beloved community were human, not divine. King began to question such an idealistic outlook, which failed to grasp the human tendency and capacity for evil. In his chastened imagination, the beloved community was replaced by the kingdom of God, which envisioned God’s transformational activity that lies hidden behind the veil of history.61 One of the most powerful moments of this prophetic vision came in his address before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington, where he told about his dream of a new age. There he stood with Danforth and Lincoln, calling America to finish the errand, “to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”62 But on other occasions he stood with Bunyan and Blake, where his vision of the New Jerusalem was preceded by a glimpse of Beulah land, in which, like the prophet Moses, he ascended to the mountaintop, looked over, and saw the promised land of freedom, knowing that he might not get there but that God’s people would enter that place of rest.63 King’s apocalyptically illumined consciousness became the source of his prophetically awakened conscience. It was this eschatological imagination, so prominent in the tradition of dissenting Christians, that refreshed the religious cup of meaning that had been slowly draining away for generations. Yet not all apocalyptically guided imaginations have inspired such a transformational social vision.

There seems to be something about the tradition of dissent that is easily drawn to the extremist features of eschatology. And there is good reason to worry that this apocalyptic vision can run amok as it misled those militant Anabaptists in 1534 to insist that Münster was the New Jerusalem, or the Fifth Monarchy movement to believe that their revolt in 1661 would hasten the return of King Jesus, or Nat Turner’s visions of the apocalypse that resulted in the 1831 slave revolt in Southampton, Virginia, or William Miller’s disappointing predictions of the cleansing of the earth in 1843, or J. N. Darby’s dispensational scheme and inventive rapture teaching that propagated the great premillennial myth and spawned exuberant apocalyptic speculation. All of these attempts to project the eschatological timetable have one thing in common: they were wrong. Yet there is a bigger problem: their millennial schemes are full of apocalyptic content, but they lack an ethical mandate. Everything in the apocalyptic vision gets pushed into the future to the end of history. This diminished sense of the ethical may be one reason why so many of these apocalyptic visions are imminently squeezed into the present. For millennialists, eschatology is all about the things that come last, but it has nothing to say about the things that last in the here and now. It was the anarchic expression of the eschatological imagination that Bunyan sought to transform by turning inward to the struggle of the soul. But this evangelical move has too often produced an ethically domesticated dissent that is socially indifferent, doing nothing to lift the prophetic gaze to the masses of the poor, the marginalized, and the disinherited with whom Jesus identified.64

As a Baptist preacher, King was deeply influenced by evangelical conversion theology that grew out of the Bunyan tradition, but he recognized that a religion based on individual salvation had too few resources to resist evil or to struggle for justice. He was initially drawn to the social gospel, which called for the present social order “to transform human society into the kingdom of God by regenerating all human relations and reconstituting them in accordance with the will of God.”65 The social gospel was particularly critical of millennialism, which applied the kingdom of God exclusively to the future and not to the present.66 Its theological outlook stressed that the kingdom of God is the highest ideal for human life and looked to modern democracy as offering the best mechanisms and institutions to Christianize the social order.67 But the social gospel was also biased against the apocalyptic vision, which was regarded as “unreal, unhistorical, and mechanical,” and even dangerous.68 The eschatology of the social gospel did enable Christians to grapple with the eternal realities that last, though it was little concerned about the things that come last. Bigger still, social gospelers, no less than millennial evangelicals, seemed to have things neatly figured out, identifying the kingdom of God with democracy. Yet, as King observed, these progressive dreams could not deal with the human capacity to inflict brutality and violence, especially against the sons and daughters of earth who came out of Africa.69

But when it comes to the vision of the future, the eschatological outlook of both millennialism and the social gospel proved to be inversely inadequate. What one lacks in ethical content, it makes up in apocalyptic realism, and what is absent in the other with respect to apocalyptic fullness is offset in ethical richness.70 Despite these shortcomings, millennialists and social gospelers glimpsed something of lasting significance in their vision of the future, even if both failed to grasp the nature of what and how they were seeing. King perceived these deficiencies and desired an eschatological vision that was both apocalyptically full and ethically rich.71 An example of the sort of synthetic vision King described was tested out by Clarence Jordan, an obscure Baptist farmer-­preacher, who in 1942 established an interracial community in southwest Georgia called Koinonia Farm as “a demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God.”72 The Koinonia community sought to make a life together following the postapocalyptic pattern of the early church in the book of Acts where all things were held in common, distribution was according to need, and there was complete equality and freedom regardless of race. Rather than the traditional language of the “Kingdom of God,” Jordan typically referred to “the God Movement,” which he understood as a radical transcending and transforming work of God in the world, and he looked to the Sermon on the Mount as the manifesto of the movement.73 Jordan maintained that being part of the God Movement was not simply a matter of “getting saved” or engaging in “social action.” He considered the religion of do-­good liberals as deficient as the faith of feel-­good evangelicals. What the gospel demands, Jordan declaimed, is to become “participants in the faith, not merely spectators.”74 Participating in the God Movement requires joining up in a process that is already ongoing, bearing in mind that the kingdom of God is always at hand but never fully in hand.75

Jordan produced a colloquial translation of the New Testament with a Southern accent, which he appropriately called The Cotton Patch Version. He gave his rendering of the book of Ephesians the title The Letter to the Christians in Birmingham, an allusion to King’s well-­known “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”76 Jordan’s lesser-known Letter addressed black Christians in Birmingham, where four young girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church had been killed by a white supremacist. He reminded them that though they had been denied their rights by supposed believers (like Bull Connor, the local commissioner of public safety) and treated as if the gospel did not apply to them, God had changed the world in Christ. Jordan exclaimed that God had integrated humanity “and abolished the segregation patterns which caused so much hostility” (Eph 2:16). The “secret” that God revealed in Christ, Jordan continued, “is that the Negroes are fellow partners and equal members, co-­sharers in the privileges of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:6).77 The hermeneutical vision Jordan deployed is dipolar, holding together two vectors of sight, past and future, in one field: “this is that,” a sense that those participating in the God Movement are an apostolic community in which the commands of Jesus are addressed to contemporary believers; and “then is now,” a conviction that the God Movement is an end-­time people, a new humanity anticipating the consummation of the blessed hope.78

For Jordan, as for King, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ marked the end beyond the ends of history. Ages come and go, but there is an end toward which all things move. And, in seeing the world from the end, they were able to envision the present age that was passing away (1 Cor 7:31) and the new creation that would endure (Gal 6:15). This was good news. It meant that God had delivered the world from the destructive forces that otherwise would have determined humanity for ruin, that the human race was not fated to live in bondage to the forces of racial prejudice, because humanity has been freed from the powers to live freely and fully in the world made new through Jesus Christ, though the struggle continues against the forces that resist the coming of the new creation. The glittering images of this vision cannot be plotted out on millennial charts or reduced to universal moral principles. It can be lived out only through incarnate faithfulness. It is an old lesson that has sustained the faithful for millennia, but it must be relearned and renewed. When the Goths sacked Rome on August 24, 410, it anticipated the ending of the age of Roman Christianity, but, in the prophetic imagination of Christians like Augustine of Hippo, it was neither a sign of the coming apocalypse nor the end of the Christian era. For, beyond the temporal age, they saw the New Jerusalem and the hand of providence bringing history to its appointed end.79 Living faithfully in this earthly pilgrimage requires the sense of an ending full enough to disclose what endures beyond the fall of empires and the passing of ages. It demands attending to what lasts by seeing what comes last.80 For only a vision that perceives the end of history in resurrection light can imagine a world beyond the end.

Conviction, Conscience, Community

The narrative of this book has traversed the globe, following the message of dissent as it spread through the life and literature it produced. The story now returns where it began, at Bunhill Fields in London, where Bunyan, Defoe, and Blake lie together in memoriam with the cloud of witnesses that surround them. Yet they are also linked with the many in other places where the vision of dissent inspired the hopes and dreams of those who have struggled for liberty and against tyranny. These three are not simply creative authors of important literary works whose roots can be traced to earlier dissenters. They are themselves voices of the basic beliefs and convictions of a historic tradition and are, indeed, significant agents of its transmission and dissemination. The story told here is not narrowly about the reception of Bunyan, Defoe, and Blake. Rather, it shows how the message of dissent was welcomed in societies around the world, especially where the bloody tenet of persecution was supported by state and church. But it was particularly suited for the emergent democracy of America. There, the convictions of dissent gave expression to the founding vision and continued to exert influence on its development throughout history, calling for the inclusion of all to share in its liberties and privileges. Some would even argue that dissent in America has fueled the engines of progress.81 Yet apocalypticism is not only the origin of democracy. As the powers that be rightly worried, it is also a source of anarchy. The lingering question that remains is whether the voices of dissent still have valuable contributions to make to the completion of the errand and the extension of the experiment.

The heirs of historic communities of dissent seeking to further the ongoing reception of their tradition would do well to focus on telling the Christian story from the standpoint of their identifying convictions of dissent.82 In particular they might begin by recovering a rich and textured account of what it has meant for dissenting Christians to confess Jesus as Lord. For generations of dissenters, this confession had radically political implications that forced them to determine the obligations of their loyalty to Christ and the limits of their allegiance to king, unlike Christians in established churches for whom such clarification was not a pressing matter. In telling the Christian story, dissenters learned to see their lives in continuity with the lives of the apostles and martyrs for whom the baptismal confession that “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9-­10) was rooted in the conviction that Jesus, not Caesar, is king.83 They identified with stories, like the apostle John confronting Emperor Domitian at the imperial court with the declaration that Christ would return in judgment to reign as the true king over all the people of the earth. And they were challenged by the faithfulness of John, who survived a cauldron of boiling oil, a cup of deadly poison, and exile on the island of Patmos.84 Such stories served as models to those who confess Jesus as Lord of what it might mean to be faithful even unto death.85

The importance of learning to tell the Christian story in this way gave Christian leaders like Martin Luther King and Clarence Jordan strength and insight to resist the powers of segregation. But it also inspired fifteen-­year-­old Carolyn McKinstry and thousands of other young people like her to march down the front steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and across the street to Kelly Ingram Park on May 2, 1963, where they were met by Bull Connor ordering them to “Go home!” Even when they were blasted with water cannons, beaten with batons, and attacked with dogs, they stood their ground, singing over and over:

Oh, freedom!

Oh, freedom!

Oh, freedom over me!

And before I’d be a slave

I’ll be buried in my grave

And go home to my Lord and be free.

Though some might wonder what gave them strength to stand up to tanks, dogs, and cannons, it is no mystery. It was just the natural thing to do. They were simply following Jesus as they had learned in telling the story. It was their shared conviction.86

Yet something significant has changed that makes the retrieval of the dissenting tradition more pressing. From Cotton Mather to Martin Luther King, the prevailing assumption has been that completing the errand would somehow further the christianization of America. Even dissenters from Roger Williams to John Leland believed that extending the lively experiment would foster the thriving of religious communities that had been suppressed. It is now clear that the cultural establishment of Christianity in America, which held sway for so long, is now weakening as the number of Christians continues to decline and the ranks of the nonreligious grow.87 But this development is not an isolated phenomenon. It is part of the wider process of secularization that has settled over the cultures in the global North, resulting not simply in the legal separation of church and state or even the cultural decline of Christianity but in a reality where faith is simply “one human possibility among others.”88 Secularization is bringing an end to a world where Christianity, though legally disestablished, is still culturally dominant. This emerging secular age will not be void of religion, but it will be a time when faith is a radical optional. In such a context, the church will be a minority presence. Yet, even in a secular age, it is conceivable that the faith can flourish through vital communities of believers. In this way, the habits of dissent could become an important ecumenical strategy, not merely a sectarian tactic. Retelling the story of dissent, then, is a reminder that followers of Christ must learn to live in a perpetual state of tension with the status quo, regardless of what it is.89 Stripped of privileged standing and majority status, Christians perhaps may again become the salt of the earth.90

Becoming spiritual savor for the world, however, will demand more than retrieving basic convictions of dissent. It will also require fostering the formation of conscience that informs prophetic awareness. It is reasonable to ask what Christians that seek to put dissent into practice are actually supposed to do and how specifically they are to do it. Those looking for a book of procedures or a set of propositions or a list of principles will be disappointed, for no one can determine what faithful dissent might look like in any given context. There are no norms, no ideals, no principles to appeal to. There are only concrete settings in which faithfulness must be discerned.91 The word often used by Christian dissenters to describe such reflection is “conscience,” which denotes the habits of practical judgment (Rom 12:15).92 Dissenters have regarded conscience not as an infallible guide, for it may err, but as an inviolable sanctuary, which must not be bound or coerced. The weak conscience, and even the faulty conscience, demands to be respected and must never be compelled by powers and authorities, civil or religious.93 Indeed, to force anyone to act contrary to conscience is sin (1 Cor 8:12; Rom 14:23). And though conscience is present in a natural state, and thus possessed by all human beings, Christian conscience must be formed by faith through baptism and participation in the new humanity that has come in Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:21; Gal 3:27; Eph 2:15). Through such formation, judgments of conscience become not a source of private opinion but an expression of the church’s witness and advocacy.94 To put it simply, conscience is a way of talking about how Christians in communion with one another exercise the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5). But for conscience to be aroused, consciousness must be awakened. Spiritual formation, then, must attend to the renewal of the mind so that Christians learn to resist conforming to the fragile contingencies of the present age that will not endure and learn to begin imagining the world as it could be if it were shaped toward God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will (Rom 12:1-­2).

Stated differently, dissent is simply another word for the stance of resisting accommodation to the way things are. Christian dissenters serve the whole church and the wider society as a check against the tyranny of the majority and the domination of the powerful.95 Christian dissent, however, is not simply a matter of adopting a contrarian outlook toward what most people think.96 The Christian dissenter is not merely a maverick who resists conventional wisdom but rather a prophet who tells the truth. Yet the powers that be are never comfortable with allowing dissenters free exercise of conscience. They seek to domesticate them, while dissenters look for ways to resist domestication. This struggle is poignantly illustrated in the life of Bill Moyers, who served as special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. Moyers was an ordained Baptist minister with a conscience that had been formed by firm commitments to peace and a deep conviction to tell the truth. He became Johnson’s closest advisor, a prophet who guided the president in imagining the new world that was to become the Great Society. But when Moyers expressed reservations about the president’s intention to escalate the Vietnam War, their relationship was irreparably strained. Johnson allowed him to remain in his position as a “domesticated dissenter” as long as he agreed not to voice his concerns to outsiders and to keep his criticism within the bounds of acceptable deviation. Johnson reminded Moyers of his changed status by typically greeting him with these words: “Well, here comes Mr. Stop-­the-­Bombing.”97 Eventually, the burden on his conscience became too much to bear, leading Moyers to resign and return to his calling in journalism, where he could tell the truth without the domesticating constraints of power.98

For the heirs of dissenting Christianity to contribute to the building of a just and good society in the world today, it will demand fostering conscience and recovering convictions, but it will also depend on cultivating communities of resistance. Such communities grasp that seeing the world apocalyptically is not about predicting the future but about living in the light of a revelation that causes the world they inhabit to appear in an entirely new way.99 They promote the habits of an imagination that equips members with the capacity to see the world through the lens of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.100 They read history backward, seeing their own lives retrospectively in continuity with the story of Israel’s God and God’s servant Jesus.101 They understand God’s disruptive action in Christ not as a future event but as a reality that is always present and ever new.102 They do not withdraw into sectarian enclaves of homogeneity or accommodate to institutional structures of secularity but seek a life together that participates in the new creation and exemplifies what God in Christ intends for all humanity.103 They recognize that they do not bring God’s reign in history but reach out to meet the new world that is on its way.104 They do not simply mirror the secular politics of left or right but seek to practice the politics of Jesus through forgiveness and friendship.105 They refuse to regard distinctions of race, class, gender, or sexuality as determinative of standing in society but see only one new humanity in Christ.106 They seek the peace of the earthly city, telling the truth about what they see and advocating for the healing of its brokenness, but they recognize that their citizenship is in heaven.107 They see themselves as pilgrims in this secular age, answerable to the law of another city toward which they journey by faith on the wings of the love of God and neighbor.108

Cultivating communities of resistance shaped by the reality of the new that has come in Christ has been instrumental in nurturing dissenting voices in the past. In the fall of 1964, as the United States was escalating its military presence in Vietnam, Thomas Merton hosted a three-­day retreat at his hermitage in the Gethsemani Abbey, in search of spiritual roots to nurture an authentic Christian witness against violence. Among the participants were Daniel and Philip Berrigan (Catholic priests and peace activists), Jim Forest (editor of the Catholic Worker), John Howard Yoder (a young Mennonite theologian), A. J. Muste (an established leader of the Fellowship of Reconciliation), and Merton. In prayer, study, and conversation, they gathered spiritual seeds of dissent from the Catholic, Protestant, and Free Church traditions. Over the years, they planted and cultivated communities of resistance that yielded an amazing harvest of prophetic protest and Christ-­imitating discipleship that showed the world an alternative to the way of violence and war.109 Together they fostered a Christian witness that was capable of resisting the domesticating powers of what Philip Berrigan called “American empire.”110 If the current heirs of religious dissent seem to have little to say that is truthful for the wider culture or fail to exemplify a way of life that is threatening to the powers that be, perhaps it is because their dissent has become domesticated.

Yet it is unlikely that even the most domesticated dissenter who has learned to reside comfortably in the shadow of American empire will remain comfortable for long. The growing specter of secularization and the decline of Christian culture present new challenges that call for changes. Some will be tempted to return to the more secluded spaces of their own fellowship and refrain from engaging the wider church and culture. As they retreat into the fortresses of familiarity in their own separated communities, the boundaries between their sectarian gatherings and the world will become less permeable, the pathways of cooperation with other Christians will be more limited, and their relevance to the culture will be further reduced. Others may choose a path driven by the aspiration to reverse their diminishing influence by transferring the energy of the Christian vision into the service of political processes and market forces. Yet it is not clear that such an approach can sustain a free and faithful Christian witness without being overwhelmed by social and economic influences that do not share its transcendent goal. Neither of these alternatives offers a strategy adequate to resist the forces of domestication. A third approach is needed, one that does not desire the privilege of social influence or demand the security of fixed boundaries, but one that cultivates communities of resistance by building cathedrals of hope founded on the confession of faith in a God who is made visible through the windows of love. The nature of the emerging world order is too challenging for anything short of such a radical strategy.

The world that contemporary Christianity inhabits is dominated by empire. It is not the old empire of colonialism or even sovereign nation-­states pitting East against West. The age of old empires has passed. The empire that dominates the lives of people today and exerts sovereignty over its domain uses more subtle powers of influence. This new empire is supranational and global. It has no boundaries, neither territorial nor temporal, for this empire sees itself at the end of history. It does not possess a central apparatus of rule, but it exercises authority through market forces and imposes its policy with police action. Yet its greatest power of control is not by external force but through internal regulation. Its influence stretches far and wide in web-­like fashion, controlling by connecting. Like Leviathan in John’s Apocalypse, it has many heads and crowns, yet it is one, for it is animated by ideas and values shared by each and all. This beast is no totalitarian tyrant, though it uses its seductive charm to ventriloquize its surrogates and manipulate its puppets. It does not rely on the power of spectacle to display its sovereignty but exercises control through a vast network of surveillance. Its subjects willingly submit to its rule. It uses the force of law and democracy to exercise its influence and domesticate its subjects. This global empire with such enormous powers and control is not a vast right-­wing or left-­wing conspiracy. It transcends even these boundaries. And, though it may seem more sympathetic than sinister, it does not serve God or the Lamb, and it punishes those who do.111

It is understandable that after the conviction of religious liberty was preserved in the U.S. Constitution and the rights of conscience were protected by the force of law, many Christians found it tempting to think about the institutions of democratic society more as instruments of God’s justice than as beasts from the abyss. Yet, as communities of resistance seek ways of witnessing to the new creation in the age of emergent empire, it will require a capacity to see the world in Christ not only as redeemed but as a new social reality in which all that is Antichrist will be vanquished.112 A moral imagination suited for a vocation of dissent in this new context will likely be found not by exploring the established patterns of Romans 13 but by seeing the world through the subversive imagery of Revelation 13.113 Though both accounts represent opposing tendencies of sociopolitical reality, envisioning history through the aperture of John’s Apocalypse may prove especially useful, not only for clarifying what is, but for imagining what can be.114

The freedom of the new creation is not merely the freedom of choice or even the political freedom to live without the coercive domination of others. It is freedom to be a new humanity reconciled in Christ, who liberates all the sons and daughters of earth from the powers that would determine their lives and who opens up the space in which it is possible to live as free people.115 The most determinative act for a witness of dissent may then simply be to listen to the voice that calls out from the heavens—­“See, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5)—­and then to imagine the world through this vision as it can become when fully reconciled and renewed. For the new age is ultimately beyond the reach of human effort. It breaks into history as God’s gift. Prophetic imagination can envision it descending and call fellow pilgrims to journey toward it. Seeing what comes last in light of the new in Christ opens blind eyes to enduring realities that outlast the fragile contingencies that will not endure the ends of history. Only such a transformed vision can imagine the building of a world that gestures to the life beyond.

* “From Undomesticated Dissent by Curtis Freeman. Copyright © 2017 by Baylor University Press. Reprinted by arrangement with Baylor University Press. All rights reserved.


Curtis W. Freeman is Research Professor of Theology and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. 


1 James Wm. McClendon Jr., Ethics: Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012), 30; emphasis in original.

2 Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: The Ecclesiastical History of New England, VII.II.7 (London: Thomas Parkhurst, 1702), 7.

3 Roger Williams, Letter to John Cotton, of Plymouth, March 25, 1671, in The Complete Writings of Roger Williams (New York: Russell and Russell, 1963; repr., Paris, Ark.: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005), 6:356.

4 Cotton, A Letter of Mr. John Cotton; Williams, Mr. Cotton’s Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered; Cotton, John Cotton’s Answer to Roger Williams; Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution; Williams, The Bloody Tenent Yet More Bloody, in Williams, Complete Writings, vols. 1–­4.

5 Nathaniel E. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England (Boston: William White, 1853), 1:160–­61. No mention was made of his question about the patent, nor is it referred to in the final sentence of banishment.

6 John Cotton, The Bloudy Tenent, Washed, and Made White in the Bloud of the Lambe (London: Matthew Symmons, 1647), 2.3.

7 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, in Complete Writings, 3:182, 219.

8 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, in Complete Writings, 3:139.

9 “Confirmatory Deed of Roger Williams and his wife, of the lands transferred by him to his associates in the year 1638,” in Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Providence, R.I.: A. Crawford Greene & Brother, 1856–­1865), 1:22–­25.

10 The Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, in Benjamin Perley Poore, Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1878), 2:1596–­1597. Full charter 2:1594–­1603.

11 Charles R., The Declaration of Breda (April 4, 1660), in The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution 1628–­1660, ed. Samuel Rawson Gardiner (Oxford: Clarendon, 1889), 351–­52.

12 Thomas Weld, Letter to his former parishioners at Terling, Essex, 1632, in Letters from New England: The Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1629–­1638, ed. Everett Emerson (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976), 97.

13 The term “dissenter” is a flexible term and is difficult to apply in the 1630s. From the time of his arrival in Boston, Williams was a separatist in his ecclesiology, whereas many of the New England ministers like John Cotton still affirmed their connection to the Church of England. By the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Congregationalists in America were regarded as nonconformists and dissenters along with Presbyterians, Baptists, and Quakers.

14 Francis J. Bremer, Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 167–­80. Theodore Dwight Bozeman maintains—­against the predominant outlook among scholars who attribute a future-­oriented outlook to puritanism—­that millennial thinking was not a puritan obsession. He contends that their larger theological agenda was more about a restoration of the past than about the anticipation of a new eschatological world. And to the extent that puritans were interested in millennial ideas, they were tied to the primitivist priorities. Bozeman, To Live Ancient Lives: The Primitivist Dimension in Puritanism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 18.

15 Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, I.I.1, 4.

16 John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity,” in The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, ed. Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson (New York: Harper, 1963), 1:198–­99.

17 Winthrop, “Model of Christian Charity,” Miller and Johnson, Puritans, 1:198–­99; Francis J. Bremer, John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 174–­84; and Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958). Bozeman argues that Winthrop’s sermon pertains, not as an thesis for an eschatological mission as Miller and others aver, but rather as a successful model of continuing reformation. Bozeman, To Live Ancient Lives, 90–­93.

18 Winthrop, July 8, 1635, Journal of John Winthrop 1630–­39, ed. Richard S. Dunn and Laetitia Yeandle, abridged ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1996), 82. When the General Court considered Williams’ case, Winthrop, who was on friendly terms with Williams and considered him to be a “godly minister,” was no longer governor and could not guide the process to a peaceful resolution. Bremer, John Winthrop, 249–­52.

19 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, 46–­47, in Complete Writings, 3:150–­55.

20 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, 7, in Complete Writings, 3:76.

21 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, 109, in Complete Writings, 3:312; and Cotton, Bloudy Tenent, Washed, and Made White, 35.76.

22 Perry Miller, Roger Williams: His Contribution to the American Tradition (Indianapolis: Bobbs-­Merrill, 1953), 33–­38.

23 Williams, Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, 119, in Complete Writings, 3:346–­47. On Williams’ use of typology, see James P. Byrd Jr., The Challenges of Roger Williams: Religious Liberty, Violent Persecution, and the Bible (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2002), 31–­52.

24 Thomas Goodwin and others, “To the Massachusetts General Court,” in Winthrop Papers, by John Winthrop, 5 vols. (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1929–­1947), 5:23–­25. Thirteen of the most prominent Independent ministers in England signed the letter, including Thomas Goodwin, John Owen, George Cokayn, Anthony Palmer, George Griffiths, John Bowe, John Lodiwick, John Collins, John Carey, Simon Moore, Cornelius Thelens, and Thomas Blake.

25 Philip J. Anderson, “Letters of Henry Jessey and John Thombes to the Churches of New England,” Baptist Quarterly 28, no. 1 (1979): 30–­39. Jessey wrote his letter on June 22, 1645, seven days prior to his (re)baptism and conversion to the Baptists.

26 The Cambridge Platform of Church Discipline, 17.8–­9 (Cambridge, Mass.: Synod of Congregational Churches, 1648), 85.

27 Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1956), 5.

28 Benjamin Thompson, “New Englands Crisis,” in Miller and Johnson, Puritans, 2:639.

29 Sidney E. Mead, Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America (New York: Harper, 1963), 27.

30 Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1953), 1:27–­39; Miller, Errand Into the Wilderness, 1–­15; and Sacvan Berecovitch, The American Jeremiad (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 3–­30.

31 Samuel Danforth, A Brief Recognition of New-­Englands Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge, Mass.: S. G. and M. J., 1671), 9.

32 The Constitution of Rhode Island, in Poore, Federal and State Constitutions, 2:1604.

33 This tension between independence and interdependence in American culture was the subject of Robert N. Bellah et al., eds., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, updated ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); and Bellah et al., The Good Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1992). Bellah initially attributed this tension to John Winthrop, but he later proposed that a stronger candidate for “the first Puritan who contained our whole destiny . . . is Roger Williams.” Bellah, “Religion and the Shape of National Culture,” America, July 31–­August 2, 1999, 11; and Bellah, “Is There a Common American Culture?” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66, no. 3 (1998): 613–­25.

34 John Winthrop, Letter to John Endecott, in Winthrop Papers, 3:149; and Winthrop, “General Considerations for the Plantations in New England, with an Answer to Several Objections,” in Winthrop Papers, 2:120.

35 Williams, A Key into the Language of America, in Complete Writings, 1:96.

36 Williams, Mr. Cotton’s Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered, in Complete Writings, 1:315.

37 Hannah Lee to Her Sister Alice, in Stratford Hall: The Great House of the Lees, ed. Ethel Armes (Richmond, Va.: Garrett & Massie, 1936), 205.

38 Richard Henry Lee, Letter to Hannah Lee Corbin (March 17, 1778), in The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, ed. James Curtis Ballagh, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1911–­1914), 1:392–­93. Lee replied that he saw no reason to prohibit widows that owned property from voting, even though there was no precedent in England or America.

39 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment 1. The application of the First Amendment to the states has a complicated and contested history, which was settled somewhat in the mid-­twentieth century. See T. Jeremy Gunn, “The Separation of Church and State versus Religion in the Public Square: The Contested History of the Establishment Clause,” in No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty, ed. T. Jeremy Gunn and John Witte Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 15–­44.

40 Perry Miller, “Roger Williams: An Essay in Interpretation,” in Williams, Complete Writings, 7:10; and William G. McLoughlin, New England Dissent, 1630–­1833, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), 1:8.

41 Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, published in 1777 but not approved by the Virginia legislature until 1786, in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 2, 1777 to June 18, 1779, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1950), 545–­47; and James Madison, The Bill of Rights, Amendments 1–­10 of the U. S. Constitution, ratified in 1791. For Madison’s thinking on religious liberty, see “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessment” (June 20, 1785), in The Papers of James Madison, vol. 8, March 10, 1784 to March 28, 1786, ed. Robert E. Rutland and William M. E. Rachal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 295–­306.

42 Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Alexander Smyth (January 17, 1825), in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury, 1854), 7:395. Jefferson expressed no confidence or interest in the religion or literature of the Apocalypse: “I cannot so far respect them as to consider them as an allegorical narrative of events, past or subsequent. There is not coherence enough in them to countenance any suite of rational ideas. You will judge, therefore, from this how impossible I think it that either your exploration, or that of any man in ‘the heavens above, or on the earth beneath,’ can be a correct one. What has no meaning admits no explanation; and pardon me if I say, with the candor of friendship, that I think your time too valuable, and your understanding of too high an order, to be wasted on these paralogisms.”

43 Roger Williams, “Ship of State Letter, to the Town of Providence” (January 1654/55), in The Correspondence of Roger Williams, ed. Glenn W. LaFantasie (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1988), 2:423–­24.

44 See “The Experience of Grace” in chap. 2, pp. 55–62.

45 William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Collins, 1960), 50.

46 Tocqueville coined the phrase “the habits of the heart” to describe “the whole moral and intellectual condition of a people.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Phillips Bradley (New York: Vintage, 1945), 310. Robert Putnam famously suggested that the erosion of civic life and social disengagement is nowhere more evident than in the fact that, from 1980 to 1993, the total number of people bowling in the United States increased by 10 percent, but the number of people involved in league bowling decreased by 40 percent. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy 6, no. 1 (1995): 65–­78.

47 Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart, 142–­63; Bellah et al., Good Society; and Barry Alan Shain, The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 10–­11.

48 Miller, Errand into the Wilderness, 15.

49 John Higginson, Attestation, in Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, A2. The reference to “civil religion” is deliberate and follows the basic definition of Bellah as a religion of ethical principles that transcends the nation and is differentiated from the religion of churches, synagogues, and mosques. Robert N. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” in Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-­traditionalist World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 168.

50 Felicia Dorothea Hemans, “The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England,” in The Poetical Works of Mrs. Hemans (London: Frederick Warne, n.d.), 491. Though this idealized account of the American story has been shown to be more hagiography than history, it has been propagated in this immensely popular book by Peter Marshall and David Manuel: The Light and the Glory (Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1977). Marshall and Manuel offer their jeremiad based on a revisionist account, arguing that America was founded as a Christian nation with a special calling from God to be a light to the world. They contend that though it has fallen away and forgotten its mission, America can return to God and embrace God’s plan. More recently, Eric Metaxas perpetuates the myth of a Christian America when he states that “since the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, religious freedom and religious tolerance have been the single most important principle of American life.” Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (New York: Viking, 2016), 70.

51 H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1937; repr., Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1988), 10.

52 Webster, “First Settlement of New England,” in The Works of Daniel Webster, 6 vols. (Boston: Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1851), 1:44–­45. See also Craig R. Smith, Daniel Webster and the Oratory of Civil Religion (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005), 57–­63.

53 Webster, Works of Daniel Webster, 1:45.

54 Webster, Works of Daniel Webster, 1:46.

55 Webster, Works of Daniel Webster, 1:46.

56 Webster, “The Constitution and the Union,” Speech to Congress, Washington, D.C. (March 7, 1850), in Works of Daniel Webster, 5:331–­32.

57 Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865), in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basle (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 8:332–33; Mark A. Noll, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 427–­28.

58 Martin Luther King Jr., MIA Mass Meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church Montgomery, Ala. (December 5, 1955), in King Online Encyclopedia, http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/mia_mass_meeting
(accessed June 22, 2016); and Richard Lischer, The Preacher King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Word That Moved America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 85–­89.

59 Josiah Royce, The Problem of Christianity, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1913), 1:xxv, 172–­73, 183, 278, 299, 344–­45, 347, 350, 351–­52, 356, 359–­60, 400, 406–­7, 410. See also Gary Herstein, “The Roycean Roots of the Beloved Community,” Pluralist 4, no. 2 (2009): 91–­107.

60 See King, “The Power of Nonviolence” and “An Experiment of Love,” in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1986), 12, 18.

61 Martin Luther King Jr., “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” in Testament of Hope, 35–­40; and Lischer, Preacher King, 234.

62 Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream,” in Testament of Hope, 219. David L. Chappell takes this eschatological image to capture the outlook and philosophy of the civil rights movement. Chappell, Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 1.

63 Martin Luther King Jr., “I See the Promised Land,” in Testament of Hope, 286.

64 Social gospel theologians commonly criticized dispensationalism as socially pessimistic. Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism, 1875–­1925 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 65–­66. Southern Presbyterians were critical of dispensationalism, characterizing it as socially irresponsible, particularly on the issue of racial segregation. R. Todd Mangum, The Dispensational-­Covenantal Rift: The Fissuring of American Evangelical Theology from 1936 to 1944 (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2007), 104. Feminist theologian Catherine Keller makes similar observations about the social implications of dispensationalism. Keller, Apocalypse Now and Then (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 63. Tony Campolo put the matter sharply: “The implication of dispensationalism is that there is no point to working toward peace, social justice, the end of poverty, and the like, on the basis that such projects are ultimately futile. John Nelson Darby, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins all emphasize that the church should not engage in such tasks. The church, they say, should concentrate all of its efforts on one thing—­getting people ‘saved.’ Converting people so that they are ready for the rapture is all that matters to them. They argue that preachers who call the church to work for justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed are, at best, wasting their time and, at worst, leading people into erroneous secular humanism. They argue that social-­gospel preachers can be accused, whether they realize it or not, of being agents of the anti-­Christ.” Campolo, Letters to a Young Evangelical (Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2006), 112.

65 Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis (New York: Macmillan, 1907), xxxvii.

66 Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel (New York: Macmillan, 1917), 211.

67 Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianizing the Social Order (New York: Macmillan, 1913), 83.

68 Rauschenbusch, Theology for the Social Gospel, 216.

69 King, “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” in Testament of Hope, 37.

70 I have adapted this schematic of apocalyptic fullness and ethical richness from Cyril O’Regan, Theology and the Spaces of Apocalyptic (Milwauke, Wis.: Marquette University Press, 2009).

71 King expressed that his preferred outlook would be a synthesis between neoorthodoxy and liberalism. Though he never moved in this direction, he surely knew that theologians at Yale Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary were already gesturing toward a “new and chastened liberalism.” Robert L. Calhoun, “A Liberal Bandaged but Unbowed,” Christian Century, May 31, 1939, 701–­4; and William Hordern, “Young Theologians Rebel,” Christian Century, March 12, 1952, 306–­7.

72 Andrew S. Chancey, “ ‘A Demonstration Plot for the Kingdom of God’: The Establishment and Early Years of Koinonia Farm,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 75, no. 2 (1991): 321–­53; and Dallas Lee, The Cotton Patch Evidence (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 19–­34. Koinonia Farm was an intentional Christian community committed to living faithfully to the radical reality of God’s economy. In 1968 a new plan led to the expansion that was named Koinonia Partners. Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Koinonia partners Millard and Linda Fuller, who applied the economic principles of the God Movement to the alleviation of poverty housing, beginning in Sumter, County Georgia. Millard Fuller, No More Shacks (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1986). The vision of life together at Koinonia Farm differed significantly from the brief utopic community of Brook Farm, founded by George Ripley in 1841 just outside of Boston. The Brook Farm experiment was brief, collapsing in 1847, in large measure because it failed to enact a sense of life shared by all members that was present in Koinonia. Sterling Delano, Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009).

73 Clarence Jordan, “The God Movement,” in The Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Sermons, ed. Dallas Lee (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2005), 57–­99.

74 Clarence Jordan, introduction to The Cotton Patch Version of Paul’s Epistles (New York: Association Press, 1968), 7.

75 Christopher Morse, The Difference Heaven Makes: Rehearing the Gospel as News (London: T&T Clark, 2010), 6.

76 Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963), in Testament of Hope, 289–­302.

77 Jordan, Cotton Patch Version of Paul’s Epistles, 107–­8.

78 McClendon, Ethics, 30; and James Wm. McClendon Jr., Doctrine: Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012), 45–­46. McClendon treated Jordan as an exemplar of this hermeneutical theory he would later call “the baptist vision,” deliberately utilizing the lower case “b” to denote its application to the wide range of baptistic groups in the Free Church Protestant tradition, which in this study have been called Protestant dissenters or nonconformists. McClendon, Biography as Theology: How Life Stories Can Remake Today’s Theology (Nashville: Abingdon, 1974), 112–­39.

79 Augustine, City of God, 15.20, trans. Henry Bettenson (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), 630.

80 McClendon, Doctrine, 75.

81 Ralph Young, Dissent: The History of an American Idea (New York: New York University Press, 2015), 522. Young’s claim that dissent has fueled social progress in America seems more about the social value of contrarian points of view, whatever those may be, than the tradition of religious dissent traced out in these chapters.

82 Here, I am using the term “conviction” in a technical way, as “a persistent belief such that if X (a person or community) has a conviction, it will not easily be relinquished and it cannot be relinquished without making X a significantly different person (or community) than before.” James Wm. McClendon Jr. and James M. Smith, Convictions: Defusing Religious Relativism, rev. ed. (Valley Forge, Penn.: Trinity International, 1994). 5; and McClendon, Ethics, 22–­23.

83 In the tradition of English dissent, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was widely read and conveyed this narrative. For the connection of the confession of “Jesus as Lord” and Christian baptism, see Gregory Dix and Henry Chadwick, eds., The Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, 2nd ed. (London: Alban, 1992), xxi.12–­18; 36–­37; and John Norman Davidson Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 3rd ed. (New York: Longman, 1972), 113–­19.

84 James A. Kelhoffer, Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 459–­65. It is an amazing story of resisting the powers—­maybe even a little too amazing, given that the fourth-­to-­fifth century account from the Acts of John in Rome contains echoes of the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark about drinking deadly poison and healing the sick as miraculous signs of the apostolic preaching (Mark 16:18). But, in a more basic sense, the story fits the warning that Jesus had given the apostles: that they would “be dragged before governors and kings” because of him, “as a testimony to them and the Gentiles” (Matt 10:18). Yet the story of John appearing before Domitian rings true to other accounts like the apostle Paul’s trial before Herod Agrippa II as told in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 26). That John first survived being boiled in oil before drinking poison is told by John Foxe, in The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe: A New and Complete Edition, ed. Stephen Reed Cattley, 7 vols. (London: Seeley & Burnside, 1837–­1841), 1:104–­5.

85 Karl Barth, The Christian Life, Church Dogmatics, IV/4, Lecture Fragments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), §78.

86 Carolyn McKinstry, While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2011), 130–­45.

87 “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center (May 12, 2015), http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/ (accessed July 12, 2013). For a thick account on the changing social arrangements of Christianity in America, see Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988).

88 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 2007), 1–­3. The secular age is not characterized by unbelief. Rather, it is a world where a shared belief structure is no longer the default position of the whole society. All beliefs are contested and contestable. For a constructive engagement with Taylor’s account of the secular age, see James K. A. Smith, How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014). Harvey Cox, a Baptist dissenter, much earlier came to terms with Taylor’s first two stages of secularization. Drawing from Bonhoeffer’s vision of a “religionless Christianity” in a “world come of age,” Cox predicted that secularization would eventually marginalize religion, but he suggested that Christians must learn to love the secular age “in its unremitting secularity.” Cox, The Secular City (New York: Mcmillan, 1965), 3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, rev. ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 279–­81, 324–­28, passim. Cox’s endorsement of secularization should be distinguished from the celebration of secularity in “the death of God” theology as represented by Thomas J. J. Altizer and William Hamilton, in Radical Theology and the Death of God (Indianapolis: Bobbs-­Merrill, 1966). When Cox revisited the theme twenty years later in Religion in the Secular City, he discovered that religion sometimes proves amazingly resistant to secularity. Cox, Religion in the Secular City (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), 11–­26. As it turns out, Christianity has not proven to be as resilient as Cox imagined.

89 Rowan Williams, On Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 227–­38. At the time he wrote the essay “Incarnation and the Renewal of Community,” which offered a nuanced and qualified approval of church establishment, Williams was the Lady Margaret professor of Divinity at Oxford University. Nevertheless, it is significant to note that the future Archbishop of Canterbury, who was baptized a Presbyterian dissenter before becoming Anglican, shockingly declaimed that the church’s existence is angular to the natural forms of human association. Thus, he argued, the church’s collaboration with the state, the nation, or the family must always be seen as tentative and conditional on whether these existing patterns of belonging can collaborate with the transformed patterns of God’s new creation.

90 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997), 222.

91 William Stringfellow, Conscience and Obedience: The Politics of Romans 13 and Revelation 13 in Light of the Second Coming (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1977), 24–­25.

92 E.g., William Perkins, A Discourse of Conscience, in The Workes of That Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the Universitie of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins, 3 vols. (London: John Legatt, 1626), 1:515–­54. Conscience played an important role in early pre-­Protestant Wyclifites and Lollards. Conscience serves as the guide for Wille in William Langland’s poem Piers Plowman, though, for Langland, Christian conscience must be informed by faith. Derek Pearsall, Piers Plowman: A New Annotated Edition of the C-text (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2008), XX.9ff.; and David Aers, Beyond Reformation? An Essay on William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the End of Constantinian Christianity (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015), 5. Langland described the conscience as the “constable” of the church, which enables ordinary people to exercise moral discernment. Pearsall, Piers Plowman, XXII.214; and Norman Doe, Fundamental Authority in Late Medieval English Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), chap. “Conscience and the Common Law,” 132–­54.

93 Thus, Thomas Helwys asserted that “the king has no more power over their consciences than over ours, and that is none at all.” He argued that the judgments of conscience must be respected regardless of whether they are “heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.” Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1611/1612), ed. Richard Groves (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1998), 53. Roger Williams made a similar claim; see above, p. 201.

94 Stringfellow, Conscience and Obedience, 101–­2.

95 My account of dissent here is indebted to the excellent essay by Cass Sunstein: Why Societies Need Dissent (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013).

96 Wendell Berry’s poem “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer” suggests that contrariness as a strategy of dissent can be more than a reflex reaction to take the opposite point of view. Berry, The Mad Farmer Poems (New York: Counterpoint, 2008), 4.

97 Irving L. Janis, Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), 114–­17. Janis describes Moyers as a “domesticated dissenter.”

98 Moyers has for the most part resisted talking about his break with Johnson. In a recent interview he opened up, saying, “Lyndon B. Johnson . . . had a passion for power but suffered violent dissent in the ranks of his own personality. He could absolutely do the right thing at the right time—­the reassuring grace, if you will, when he was thrust into the White House after Kennedy’s assassination; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But when he did the wrong thing—­escalating the Vietnam War—­the damage was irreparable.” “Bill Moyers on Saving Our Democracy, ‘Selma’ and LBJ,” Interview with Karin Kamp, in Moyers and Company (January 14, 2015), http://billmoyers.com/2015/01/14/whats-bills-mind/ (accessed July 18, 2016).

99 Christopher Rowland, The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (New York: Crossroad, 1982), 2; Joshua B. Davis and Douglas Harink, Apocalyptic and the Future of Theology (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2012), 1–­45; and J. Lewis Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997), 89–­110.

100 Richard B. Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 1–­24.

101 Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2016), 358–­59.

102 J. Lewis Martyn, Galatians (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 104. David W. Congdon, “Eschatologizing Apocalyptic: An Assessment of the Present Conversation on Pauline Apocalyptic,” in Harink and Davis, Apocalyptic and the Future of Theology, 131–­36. See also Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, eds., Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016).

103 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958), IV/2§67.4, 719; Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 6th ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1977), 5:12–­21; J. Lewis Martyn, “The Gospel Invades Philosophy,” 13–­33, in Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision, ed. Douglas Harink (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2010), 28–­33; Martyn, Galatians, 97–­106.

104 John Howard Yoder, Stone and Morgan Lectures; cited in James Wm. McClendon Jr., Witness: Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012), 15–­16.

105 John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972); and McClendon, Ethics, 222–­32.

106 John Howard Yoder, “The New Humanity as Pulpit and Paradigm,” in For the Nations (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 37–­50.

107 Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989), 69–­92; see also Tertullian, Against Marcion, 3.25, in The Ante-­Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 3:342.

108 Augustine, Sermons on the Psalms, 149.3, in Nicene and Post-­Nicene Fathers, 1st ser. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 8:678; and Rowan Williams, “Resident Aliens: The Identity of the Early Church,” in Why Study the Past? The Quest for the Historical Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 32–­59.

109 Gordon Oyer, Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2014).

110 Philip Berrigan, foreword to The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, by Francis A. Boyle (Atlanta: Clarity, 2002), 12.

111 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), xi–­41.

112 Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, VI, in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 255.

113 Stringfellow, Conscience and Obedience, 9–­20. John Paul Lederach describes the concept of “moral imagination” as the capacity to recognize turning points and decisive opportunities to venture down uncertain paths and generate possibilities that do not yet exist. Lederach, The Moral Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 3–­30.

114 McClendon describes this sort of perception as “picture-­thinking” (Doctrine, 75–­77). Both John Howard Yoder and Karl Barth see Rom 13 and Rev 13 as providing two opposite tendencies in political realities. Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State (Scottdale, Penn.: Herald, 1964), 76–­77; and Barth, The Knowledge of God and the Service of God according to the Teaching of the Reformation, 4th ed. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1960), 226.

115 Martyn, Galatians, 97–­106.


Copyright © The Montreal Review. All rights reserved. ISSN 1920-2911

about us | contact us