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The Promulgation of Right Morals: John Locke on the Church and the Christian as the Salvation of Society

Jonathan S. Marko

Abstract


In this essay, I argue that John Lockes belief that Christianity is epistemologically vital to the spread and maintenance of right morals in society is demonstrated by the mutual reinforcement between Lockes argument against innate ideas that is most prominent in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and his conclusion in The Reasonableness of Christianity that a great shift in moral thinking started with Christs advent. Right moral principles are neither easily wrought nor innate but can seem to be so because we often take for granted the Christian (or Christianized) milieu in which we have been raised. As a result, the removal of Scriptures authoritative position from the public square will result in an inevitable decline in its quality and safety as society starts toward a morality of convenience. The conclusions of this article run counter to the frequent claims that Lockes advancement of the Christian faith is feigned or in some way intentionally divisive, and it establishes an important logical link between two of Lockes greatest works that scholars have failed to reconcile.

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