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The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes$
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Jeffrey R. Collins

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237647.001.0001

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Thomas Hobbes and the Uses of Christianity

Thomas Hobbes and the Uses of Christianity

(p.11) 1 Thomas Hobbes and the Uses of Christianity
The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes


Oxford University Press

This chapter offers an interpretive reading of Thomas Hobbes's religious views. It argues that Erastianism – the theory of the church strictly subordinating its power to the jurisdiction and purposes of the state – was central to his political thought. Hobbes's Erastianism operated in two contrasting traditions: a Protestant ecclesiological tradition, and a humanist tradition of civil religion. Hobbes used the rhetoric of the former tradition to veil the anti-Christian implications of his own religious views and account of the church. The chapter fixes Hobbes's religious views within these two contexts, and argues that the tensions between them did much to both define his own political project as it evolved, and to govern the reception of his work among contemporaries.

Keywords:   Erastianism, ecclesiology, civil religion, humanism, dualism, heresy, esotericism, Machiavelli

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