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Arguing for Locke's Position in his Letter Concerning Toleration

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Government is a civil interest

1. Soul is each person's responsibility
2. Faith cannot be forced
- Faith-belief
- Government has laws.
- Laws are only effective because of force.
3. Forced belief is not acceptable to God.
- Voluntarily

Can you explain me what does it mean? Please give me some example from your own life.

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The solution argues for Locke's position in his letter concerning toleration.

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It might be useful to bear in mind that Locke is writing (1689) at a time after the Reformation. As you may know, the Reformation, as the name suggests, was a religious movement aimed at reforming the Catholic Church. Certain theologians such as Luther were dissatisfied with aspects of Catholicism, and broke away, and this is indeed where the term "Protestant" comes from. Anyhow, the point is that the Reformation has resulted in a lot of division in Europe, with religious groups competing with one another, and civil wars and religious persecutions. So Locke's first letter concerning religious toleration was written at a time of considerable conflict between religious factions, and political powers, which attempted to enforce particular religious views.


The problem of religious toleration with which Locke is concerned is the problem of whether the State, or civil government, has any right to make laws governing people's religious beliefs and practices. You might think of it in terms of whether George W. Bush has any right to institute laws to forcing people to join churches, and whether he should be allowed to use state agencies such as the police to monitor people's religious activities. This might sound rather far- fetched (or perhaps not!) but bear in mind the political and religious tensions taking place in Locke's time.

Locke's basic idea that there should be a seperation between the church and the State. He says, in essence, that the State government is responsible for taking care of only a certain set of a person's interests, which, crucially, does not include a person's religious interests. So, a person's civil interests, that is, interests as a citizen of a state, does not include religious salvation, and hence the state is not to make laws regulating religious interests.


The backdrop to the question of religious toleration is the relation between civil government, and the church. In order to undestand Locke's argument, we need to look at a couple of things concerning Locke's political theory.

According to Locke, we are all concerned with our survival, both that of our species, the ...

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