"Our Saviour found mankind under a corruption of manners and principles, which ages after ages had prevailed, and must be confessed was not in a way or tendency to be mended. The rules of morality were, in different countries and sects, different. And natural reason no where had, nor was like to cure the defects and errors in them. Those just measures of right and wrong, which necessity had any where introduced, the civil laws prescribed, or philosophy recommended, stood not on their true foundations. They were looked on as bonds of society, and conveniences of common life, and laudable practices. But where was it that their obligation was thoroughly known and allowed, and the received as precepts of a law, of the highest law, the law of nature? That could not be, without a clear knowledge and acknowledgment of the law-maker, and the great rewards and punishments, for those that would or would not obey him."
John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity, par.243
Some of Locke's comments in Reasonableness of Christianity sound surprisingly familiar to someone working in a general framework of "ecclesial" theology or ethics. There is frequent critique of the abilities of "natural" (secular?) reason. Here he discusses the coming of the Messiah as an ethical reconfiguration according to "true foundations", claiming precedence even over juridical or philosophical orders that have at least got something right in what they state. There is also a typical emphasis on universality, which is presumably necessary to establish an ecclesial vision that is not simply one more sectarian polis.
The Reasonableness of Christianity is our first reading for Kathryn Tanner's winter course in the history of Christian thought sequence, so I imagine I'll be posting more from this period (we're reading Locke, Hume, Pascal, Spinoza, Lessing, and Kant) just as I had a succession of quotes and comments on the 19th century this past autumn semester. This post is scheduled for publication on Thursday, so as you read I am very likely battling -27°F windchill on my way to Tanner's lecture and more good commentary to relate at clavi non defixi.