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.”



  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?

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