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Republican TheologyThe Civil Religion of American Evangelicals$
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Benjamin T. Lynerd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199363551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199363551.001.0001

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Republican Theology

Republican Theology

(p.35) 2 Republican Theology
Republican Theology

Benjamin T. Lynerd

Oxford University Press

Republican theology—the doctrine behind the civil religion of American evangelicals—is a specimen of political theology, the practice of extrapolating political values from religious beliefs. Republican theology, a tradition among evangelical Protestants in America, weds the gospel of individual conversion to the Lockean social contract, yielding a spiritual rationale for limited government and the free market. Republican theology asserts the mutual dependence of individual liberty, moral virtue, and Christian faith to support a civil religion that values all three. This logic, however, gets tangled in several points of ambiguity, including the tension between the imperatives of moral reform and of personal liberty, the discrepancy with the evangelical conception of sin, and the biblical ambivalence on the Lockean rights—to life, liberty, and property—as the cornerstone of justice.

Keywords:   civil religion, political theology, Lockean social contract, republican theology

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