Locke and Hobbes
I was reading in philosophical hermeneutics this past month for something I was writing. I came across an excellent essay by Anthony Thiselton on "New Testament Interpretation in Historical Perspective." What jumped out at me was how much time political philosophers like Locke and Hobbes spent interpreting the bible to promote their own rationalist aims. Mark Lilla makes a similar point in his recent The Stillborn God. Whereas some secularists avoid theology for the sake of the political order, Lilla contends that the key to a healthy secular society is a certain degree of sophistication in political theology. He cites Hobbes in particular as a master at using political theology towards secularising ends. In any case, whether religious or not, theological literacy is valuable to thinking and engaging the claims of religion in public.
This March 21, Russell Blackford will be giving a Religion in Political Life seminar at the University of Newcastle's Cultural Collections. He'll discuss his new Blackwells Press book, Freedom of Religion and the Secular State, where he explicitly discusses Locke's proposal. In any case, here's how Thiselton puts it: