This paper takes the unexpected position that early liberal thought developed in transformative events within the Anglican Church during the second half of the seventeenth century. The historical evolution of religion laid the foundation of English political and intellectual philosophy, as supported by works written by the branch of Anglican churchmen known as the Latitudinarians. I will argue that these ministers were foremost in advancing the argument for religious toleration because their religious writings held political consequence. Toleration was the principle value of liberalism in the late seventeenth century because the problem of Dissenters was so pertinent to English religious life. In contrast to the official Anglican Church policy of intolerance of anything that did not conform to the official catechism of the Church, the Latitudinarian minsters-turned-bishops encouraged toleration and accommodation of religious thought in their sermons, ideals they based on their novel understanding of individuality, rationality, and theology. While not Dissenters themselves, the sympathy of these clergymen for Dissenters was evident in their pamphlets, books, and sermons.
"The Latitudinarian Influence on Early English Liberalism,"
SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 5:
1, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholar.smu.edu/jour/vol5/iss1/6
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