Erasmus between Christianity and Islam
The desire to transform or “save” the enemy is fundamental to Erasmus’s understanding of peace, and he twins it with the desire to reform oneself. This chapter argues that theorists who look to Erasmus’s writings for his alleged (and allegedly secular) pacifism misunderstand his political theology of peace. The structures of Erasmus’s “universal peace” revolve around the distinction between Christianity and the Ottoman Empire (“the Turk”) and the providential primacy of Christians. He calls for peace, unity, and love; these additives overtake peace, and he defines each in opposition to the Turk. Erasmus privileges the Christian as the true subject of peace, and Christian speech and dialogue as an enactment of God’s Word. In this political theology, peace is necessary, but necessity also authorizes either Christian war or the conversion of the non-Christian.
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