Early modern vs. modern definitions of religion

Leithart passes on Mack Holt’s observation that the French wars of religion make sense not as conflicts over beliefs but as conflicts over what kind of society they would have:

Religion at that time should be seen as “a body of believers rather than the more modern definition of a body of beliefs.”  Thus, to talk about religious wars it simultaneously to talk about society: “In these terms, Protestants and Catholics alike in the sixteenth century each viewed the other as pollutants of their own particular notion of the body social, as threats to their own conception of ordered society.”

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Early modern vs. modern definitions of religion

  1. Your link is broken: it has one too many “http://”.

    Good insight about religion. I wonder if, by redefining religion as a set of beliefs, we haven’t diminished its domain, and thus its significance, and thus its relevance.

    Leithart wrote: “Further evidence that modernity is a purity movement.

    What does he mean? Does he mean that the more recent definition is a more distilled and proper characterization of religion?

    1. I’m actually not sure what he meant about the “purity movement.” I imagine that Leithart may have developed that elsewhere, but I’m not sure.

      Leithart would completely agree with your thought that religion as simply beliefs diminishes its influence. Although I haven’t read much more than the last chapter of it, that is in essence the argument of his book “Against Christianity”:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=F54VD0XoqJIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=leithart,+against+christianity&ei=RRBCTKPjM4GINofm5LoF&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s