For Law and for Liberty

Essays on the Trans-Atlantic Legacy of Protestant Political Thought

Edited by W. Bradford Littlejohn
About this book

Proceedings of the second annual Convivium Irenicum

There are few areas where the church today falls so far short of our Protestant forefathers as the field of political thought. For the Reformers, their 17th-century successors, and indeed thoughtful Protestants right up through the last century, the vocations of minister and magistrate may have been strictly separate, but the accomplished theologian was usually a master of jurisprudence and political philosophy as well. Many wrote classic treatments in both the fields of theology and law, with a keen sense of both the distinctions of these disciplines and their unity. Today’s Protestants are rarely so fortunate, with most evangelical engagements with political theology betraying a painful naiveté and a profound historical myopia.

Together, the essays in this volume challenge us to recognize the breadth and depth of our heritage of Protestant political wisdom, and the complexity and contingency of civic life to which its principles must be artfully applied, which rules out any attempt to inscribe any particular instance of Christian politics as a model for all time. May they also provoke renewed reflection on how to faithfully apply our Protestant principles to the challenges facing our polities today.

Paperback | 192 pages | 6×9 | Published May 1, 2016 | ISBN 978-0692703151

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Bradford Littlejohn and Peter Escalante

I: Divine Law, Naturally: Lex Naturae and the Decalogue in Two Works of Niels Hemmingsen
Dr. E.J. Hutchinson

II: Reformed Natural Law Theory and the American Founding: A Critique of Recent Scholarship
Stephen Wolfe

III: Searching for a Christian America
Dr. Glenn Moots

IV: Views from 19th-Century Europe: How the Separation of Church and State was Seen from Abroad
Rev. Steven Wedgeworth

V: “No Bar to Christian Communion”: Slavery and the Rise of Elite Presbyterianism in South Carolina, 1800-1860
Dr. Miles Smith

VI: The Kuyper Option: Kuyper’s Concept of the Church in the Context of Strategic Christian Action
Ruben Alvarado

About the Contributors

Bradford Littlejohn is President of the Davenant Institute and Fellow in Evangelicals in Civic Life at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His research interests include Christian ethics, church history, and political theology. He is the author of The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed (Davenant Press, 2017), The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017), and Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work (Cascade Books, 2015).

Dr. E. J. Hutchinson is Associate Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College, where he also directs the Collegiate Scholars Program. His research focuses on the intersection of Christianity and classical civilization in late antiquity and early modernity. He is the editor and translator of Niels Hemmingsen, On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method (CLP Academic, 2018).

Stephen Wolfe is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. His research interests include the American founding, modernity, aesthetics and politics, and meaningful work. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Dr. Glenn A. Moots is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Northwood University and also serves as a Research Fellow at the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship there. He is the author of Politics Reformed: The Anglo-American Legacy of Covenant Theology (University of Missouri Press, 2010, 2022 paperback), and he coedited, with Phillip Hamilton, Justifying Revolution: Law, Virtue, and Violence in the American Revolution (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018).

Steven Wedgeworth is the rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He has written for Desiring God Ministries, the Gospel Coalition, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Mere Orthodoxy, and served as a founding board member of the Davenant Institute.

Miles Smith is Lecturer in History at Hillsdale College, where he has taught since 2014. His research interests focus on the American South and Atlantic World in the Nineteenth Century. He is a native of Salisbury, North Carolina.

Ruben Alvarado is a translator, author, and publisher. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in forestry and wildlife management, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in extension forestry. He also has experience in financial services. He resides in the Netherlands and is married with three children.


The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. Below are some of the works we’ve published towards that end.

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