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Mini-Review: Advice to a Desolate France

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Gene Fant, president of North Greenville University, recently attended Acton University as a presidential fellow. He, like many of us, has a bunch of summer reading lined up, and this includes the short treatise from the sixteenth century, Advice to a Desolate France, by Sebastian Castellio. Fant had this to say about Castellio’s argument:

Castellio was a 16th-century scholar who was writing in a time of literal cultural wars, the battles and shameful dehumanizations of the French Wars of Religion between the Catholics and the Huegenots. He could have just as easily written the book to the current conflicts between secular progressives and religious traditionalists. He is very concerned about those who would coerce the conscience of those who disagree with whomever is in the role of authority at a given time. He notes that false converts make poor disciples and often end up undermining the integrity of the dominant position; he also laments the bloody devastation that too often follows the constant “othering” of opposition positions. Once we dehumanize our opponents, we are dangerously close to slipping into a “rationale” for killing them, either figuratively or literally. Enjoyed seeing the roots of some of our current thoughts on liberty and on the need to make sure that we always remember the humanity, the imago dei, of those who differ in opinions.

Check out Advice to a Desolate France in the Acton Book Shop.


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    Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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