Princeton Bound

I’m headed out to attend the Witherspoon Institute’s seminar on Religion and Liberty in the Founding Era in Princeton, NJ the week of July 27. It’s going to be an incredibly helpful seminar, and I’m very much looking forward to it. The seminar faculty will include Thomas Kidd from Baylor University, Daniel Dreisbach from American University, and Gerald McDermott from Roanoke College. For me, it’s really one of most unique educational and professional opportunities I’ve ever had.

To prepare for the seminar, the participants are reading The Sacred Rites of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American F0unding, edited by Dreisbach and Mark David Hall. Here are the readings we are going to be discussing on the morning of the first day:

  • Martin Luther, Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed
  • Schleitheim Confession of Faith
  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion
  • Act of Supremacy; Act of Uniformity; Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England
  • Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity
  • The First London Baptist Confession of Faith
  • Westminster Confession of Faith
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
  • William Penn, The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience
  • John Locke, “A Letter on Toleration,” The Second Treatise
  • “Cato” [John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon], Cato’s Letters, Letter 66, “Arbitrary Government proved incompatible with true Religion, whether Natural or Revealed”
  • Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws
  • William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England
  • Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

We’ll be working our way through all that week until the afternoon of August 1 to our last reading, which is from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

Here is the description for the seminar–

This five-day seminar will examine the relationship between religion and politics in the period of the American Revolution, founding, and early republic. Open to untenured faculty and post-doctoral scholars in history, political theory, law, and religion, the seminar will explore primary sources at the intersection of church and state—charters, constitutions, and legal texts, as well as sermons, pamphlets, essays, speeches, debates, and religious texts. Topics will range from the colonial era and the First Great Awakening, through the revolution, constitution-making, and founding debates over religious liberty, to the dawn of the Second Great Awakening, with a view of politics from a religious perspective, and a view of religion from a political perspective. From Edwards to Emmons, from Mather to Madison, from Whitefield to Washington, major figures of this pivotal era in American religious and political history will be considered in their own historical settings. The seminar faculty will be leading scholars of American history, law and politics, and theology.

I’ll have to take a week off from my writing, but it’ll be all right–I’ve budgeted my writing time this summer around my seminar prep time as well as the week away. When I leave on the 27th, I’ll have 7 of my 9 chapters completed. Closing in on finishing up, and very excited to have the exceptionalism book done.


One response to “Princeton Bound

  1. Tucker Dorsey

    Thanks for not asking me to attend. I’m proud of you!

    Tucker Dorsey


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