A Critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration (Part III)

by Derek Remus

The following is the third and final part of a critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration in the light of Catholic doctrine on the relation between Church and state. Part I was an exposition of Locke’s position. Part II summarized Catholic teaching on Church and state. It a slightly revised version of Derek Remus’s thesis at Thomas Aquinas College.
– The Editors

 III. The Godless State

It is now time to return to the Letter Concerning Toleration. In light of what we have said in the preceding section, let us reexamine Locke’s arguments for the thesis that the state has no care for souls and the Church has no interest in politics.

Continue reading

A Critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration (Part II)

by Derek Remus

The following is the second part of a critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration in the light of Catholic doctrine on the relation between Church and state. Part I was an exposition of Locke’s position. It a slightly revised version of Derek Remus’s thesis at Thomas Aquinas College.
– The Editors

II. The Truth about Church and State

So much for our analysis of Locke’s position. Now we shall turn to the way things really are. It is worth pointing out that our starting-point will be very different from that of Locke. As we have seen, Locke’s doctrine concerning Church and State relations is rooted in his belief in the centrality of civil rights. The protection of civil rights is the object of the state’s jurisdiction, and the basis for religious toleration is that the practice of religion is not a threat to civil rights; in fact, the practice of religion turns out to be a civil right itself. As we shall see, Catholic doctrine concerning Church and State relations, on the other hand, is rooted in the primacy of the common good. Consequently, our defense of this doctrine will consist of the following parts: 1) an account of the nature of the common good in general and of the axiom that the common good is preferable to the private good; 2) an account of the end of the state or the political common good; 3) an account of the relation of religion to the political common good apart from revelation; 4) an account of the end of the Church established by Christ or the common good of eternal beatitude; 5) an account of how the political common good and the common good of eternal beatitude are related to each other.

Continue reading

A Critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration

by Derek Remus

The following is the first part of a critique of John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration in the light of Catholic doctrine on the relation between Church and state. It a slightly revised version of Derek Remus’s thesis at Thomas Aquinas College.
– The Editors

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come,
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee…
And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light,
And kings in the brightness of thy rising.
—Isaiah 60: 1, 3

Introduction

The first three centuries of the Catholic Church’s existence were a period of violent and bloody persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire–that is, the state. The Church persevered through this trial, however, and, instead of diminishing, increased in proportion to the persecutions she suffered, until at last she was granted freedom of worship and made the official religion of the Empire. This was the beginning of that harmonious union between Church and state which gave rise to Christendom–a union in which the state recognized that its proper good was ordered toward a higher good, namely, eternal beatitude, and the Church, to the extent that affairs of state bore upon the salvation of souls, was solicitous about those affairs.

Continue reading