A Subversive Appeal for Religious Reform
Dr. Joseph Loconte on religious extremism
With religious extremism on the rise more than a decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the secular and Christian West is still looking for a solution. In “A Subversive Appeal for Religious Reform,” Associate Professor of History at The King’s College Dr. Joseph Loconte argues that, for extremist Christians, Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Catholic humanism is a good place to start.
Dr. Loconte writes that “His book, ‘The Praise of Folly,’ published in Paris in 1512, was a masterful critique of the arrogance and pretension that characterized the religion of his day. Half a millennium later, it still speaks powerfully as an appeal for spiritual renewal.”
Throughout his writings, Erasmus argued that Christians should turn from pride-filled legalism to a more genuine faith. He also observed that ignoring the spiritual intent of Christ’s teachings was a pathway to violence and intolerance. Dr. Loconte writes,
“The neglect of the spiritual intent of the teachings of Jesus, according to Erasmus, gave a free hand to militant religion: its obsession with doctrine, its culture of suspicion, inflammatory rhetoric, accusations of heresy, and the use of force to silence dissent. The church of the martyrs had become a violent, persecuting church. Thus Erasmus repeatedly implored his readers: ‘Let us always keep before our eyes the gentleness of Him who, although He alone was free from all error, nevertheless did not extinguish the smoking flax, nor crush the bruised reed.’”
“In our own age of religious strife and intolerance,” Dr. Loconte concludes, “it is a message that can hardly be preached too often.”
Click here to read the full article on Huffington Post.
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