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.