The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theory, and American Political Theology

By John Perry | Go to book overview

2
Harmonized Loyalties and
Abstract Respect
Two Sides to the Tolerationist Coin

[P]eople would find it impossible to live in peace with those
whom they regarded as damned, since to love them would be to
hate God who punishes them.

—John Rawls, A Theory of Justice

If men would suffer one another to go to heaven everyone his
own way … toleration might promote a quiet in the world, and at
last bring those glorious days that men have a great while sought
after.

—John Locke, First Tract on Government

Those who perceive liberalism’s neutrality and identity problems have made what I am calling a turn to loyalty. They have recognized that some types of attachments or allegiances oblige us in such a way that viewing ourselves apart from them is distorting. As such the theopolitical problem cannot be solved by aspiring to neutrality in public. Those who make the turn most decisively do not believe that the dilemmas faced by contemporary Antigones can be resolved by fine-tuning the principles of “justice as fairness” or similar theories. Our approach to the question needs to be reframed.

The image that has dominated for the past few centuries is that of boundaries or borders, an image captured perfectly in Locke’s statement “I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other.”1 Draw a line and place certain of our commitments on one side and the rest on the other. Whenever we have a conflict of obligations, check the

-49-

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The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theory, and American Political Theology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Lifting the Veil of Ignorance 15
  • 1 - Liberalism’s Turn to Loyalty 17
  • 2 - Harmonized Loyalties and Abstract Respect 49
  • Part II - John Locke’s Arguments for Toleration 71
  • 3 - Locke’s Early Work 73
  • 4 - A Letter concerning Toleration 103
  • 5 - "All at Once in a Bundle" 127
  • Part III - John Locke’s America 141
  • 6 - Refusing the Turn 143
  • 7 - Locke and Loyalty in Contemporary Political Theology 165
  • Conclusion 201
  • Notes 217
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 257
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