"My conscience is captive to the Word of God," declared Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521. The Protestant Reformation transformed not just the theology of much of the Church but also heavily influenced the thought of civil and religious liberty. Today about 670 million Protestants span the globe. We are approaching the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, kicked off by Luther's posting of his 95 theses in 1517.
Herman Selderhuis is the director of Refo500, the organization that wishes to draw attention to the Reformation and its continuing relevance. In the interview, Selderhuis revisits Reformation history and the myriad ways it has had a lasting impact on social structures, government, the Church, and Europe's future.
Also marking a memorable moment in time, this year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Witness by Whittaker Chambers. Richard Reinsch, a program officer at Liberty Fund and author of Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary, contributes a piece on the enduring significance of his witness. "From his conversion, Chambers grasped that revolutionary ideology lied about the nature of man and the source of his being," says Reinsch.
James Franko contributes an essay on "A Case for Limiting Caesar." Written from a classically liberal perspective, he admonishes "compassionate conservative" thinking as well as contemporary progressive liberalism.
I've contributed a review of Mark Tooley's new book covering a century of Methodist political pronouncements. Tooley offers very little editorial views of his own and allows Methodism's social action to speak for itself. What emerges is a story of a denomination that bleeds membership. Their influence begins to wane in part because of a saturated voice and the partisanship of their pronouncements.
The "In the Liberal Tradition" figure is Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Francis Hutcheson. Hutcheson and other thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment were instrumental in influencing the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence. Many of the American Founders studied under Scottish tutors that directly shaped their thinking from a young age.
Under Rev. Robert Sirico's usual column, we have added a little bit of space to run an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. The book will be available from Regnery in May of 2012.
Please check out our executive director's "Frequently Asked Questions" at the end of this issue. There are many exciting things happening at Acton, including a new building purchase. Kris Mauren addresses that and its long-term benefits for Acton.