As Smith points out, the genealogy of liberal democracy demonstrates that liberalism is nothing less than the prodigal son of Christianity. Thus, it becomes plausible that Christianity has a continuing role to play in a liberal democracy. Smith might even be right that it is not so much common grace and natural law, but rather Christianity exclusively, on which liberal democracy is dependent. Constitutional lawyers and political scientists would indeed be well-advised to be more generous in integrating theological insights as well into their work in order to find this out for themselves.
Hans-Martien ten Napel, “Review Essay: Theological Medicine for Liberal Democracy,” Journal of Markets & Morality 22, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 169-181.*
*Review essay of James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009); Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013); Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).’
Posted onMarch 26, 2019|Comments Off on Blogpost ‘The Political Theology of Thierry Baudet’
Governments have historically relied on metaphysical sources for their legitimacy. The French Revolution intended to put an end to this. However, with the current rise of populism, among other things, we are witnessing a revival of political theology.
Posted onMarch 20, 2019|Comments Off on Forthcoming review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies
Following this year’s conference of the European Academy of Conference in Bologna, during which I co-chaired two successful panels on ‘Law and Religion: Public theology and natural law,’ I have been working on two articles on James K.A. Smith’s trilogy.
One, a revision, concerns a review essay in English, provisionally entitled ‘Theological medicine for liberal democracy.’ It is due to appear in the Journal of Markets and Morality later this spring.
The other is a piece in Dutch, on ‘Politieke theologie, natuurrecht en staatsrecht.’ As this was still a first draft which I submitted, we will have to wait and see where it goes from here.
I very much enjoyed working on both articles, however, and will continue to study and write on this topic for the next couple of months.
One reason for this is that, in order to fully grasp Smith’s trilogy, one also has to (re-)read Oliver O’ Donovan’s works The Desire of the Nations and The Ways of Judgment, Smith’s earlier book Introducing Radical Orthodoxy. Mapping a Post-secular Theology and, indeed, St. Augustine’s City of God.
Posted onNovember 24, 2018|Comments Off on Winner of the International Award for Excellence for The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 8
‘Champaign, Ill., USA – 16 November 2018 – The Religion in Society Research Network is pleased to announce the selection of “The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy,” Hans-Martien ten Napel, as the winner of the International Award for Excellence for Volume 8 of The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society. This article was selected for the award from among the highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer-review process and according to the selection criteria outlined in the peer-review guidelines.
About The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society: The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society aims to create an intellectual frame of reference for the academic study of religion and spirituality and to create an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of religion and spirituality in society. The journal addresses the need for critical discussion on religious issues—specifically as they are situated in the present-day contexts of ethics, warfare, politics, anthropology, sociology, education, leadership, artistic engagement, and the dissonance or resonance between religious tradition and modern trends.’
About the awarded article:
The main argument of my recent book Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017) is that the so-called ‘New Critics of Religious Freedom’ in fact, consciously or unconsciously, criticize liberal democracy as such. Now, it has become quite common for liberal democracy to be criticized not just outside the West, but also from within the West. My book constitutes an exception to this rule in that it is written in defense of liberal democracy and, consequently, also in defense of the so-called liberal conception of the right to religious freedom. The awarded article reflects the same argument that the book aims to make. Earlier versions of the article were presented during the XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, 23-29 August 2015; the Cardiff Festival for Law and Religion, Cardiff, Wales, 5-6 May 2017; and the Annual Conference of the International Society of Public Law, Copenhagen, Denmark, 5-7 July 2017. In its emphasis on the role of anthropology, among other things, the article also reflects the Acton University Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that I attended from 20-23 June 2017. If I remember correctly, I wrote its final draft during the flight home from that occasion. I am grateful to the two anonymous referees from whose comments on that draft the article benefited greatly. Hopefully, the publication of this article and the current award will help to open the eyes of scholars outside my discipline to what I consider to be the beauty of liberal democracy in general and the right to religious freedom in particular as it was initially conceived during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Posted onSeptember 7, 2018|Comments Off on Article on ‘The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’ in the International Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Society
The abstract of the article reads as follows:
‘Leading US scholar of constitutional interpretation Michael Paulsen has developed an interesting theory of religious freedom called “The Priority of God.” Paulsen distinguishes, first of all, a liberal conception of religious freedom, according to which it is widely assumed that religious truth exists in a society and the state is tolerant towards various faiths and other traditions. The US, however, has developed in the direction of a modern conception of religious freedom, which no longer recognizes religious truth although the state remains tolerant. Moreover, still according to Paulsen, several European countries have adopted a postmodern conception of religious freedom. This conception does not only no longer recognize religious truth, but also implies a considerably less tolerant state, as secularism becomes the established “religion.” This view paradoxically resembles the preliberal stance of religious intolerance out of the conviction that religious truth exists. In response to such developments, the current article makes a case for the classical liberal position with respect to religious freedom. A liberal religious freedom conception forms the best guarantee that societal institutions will be able to fulfill their constitutional functions of a check on the government and as “seedbeds of virtue.”’
Very grateful to Robert Joustra for taking the time to write this review of my book for the Review of Faith & International Affairs – worth the read also because of the other literature he references along the way and the difficult questions it raises:
Posted onJuly 1, 2017|Comments Off on Presenter and Discussant, ICON-S Conference ‘Courts, Power, Public Law’, University of Copenhagen, 5-7 July 2017
Looking forward to presenting next week on ‘The European Court of Human Rights’ “constitutional morality” in the religious domain’. The paper forms part of a panel on ‘Judicialisation of Human Rights Law and Policy: A Vehicle for Effective Protection of Fundamental Rights?’
The description of this panel reads as follows:
‘The panel introduces the Leiden Research Group ‘Effective Protection of Fundamental Rights in a Pluralist World’. Though judicialisation is in itself not a new phenomenon, in the context of today’s globalizing world and the increasing interaction between legal systems, judicialisation is taking on entirely new dimensions and is giving rise to new and complex issues. This is especially true in the field of fundamental rights. At first sight, this judicialisation in the area of human rights seems to be a positive development that furthers the effective protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the international regional and domestic level. However, judicialisation also raises a number of issues that need to be addressed, such as the democratic basis of law-making and separation of powers. Against this background, judicialisation as a means to further fundamental rights protection is very much in need of new and innovative research concerning its meaning workings and impact. Three elements merit particular attention during the panel: a.Conceptualization of judicialisation in the area of human rights; b.Judicialisation in relation to substantive areas of human rights; c.Potential and limitations of judicialisation for the effective protection of fundamental rights.’
My second paper presentation in Copenhagen is titled ‘In Defense of the Classical Liberal Conception Regarding Religious Freedom’, and will take place during a panel on ‘The Separation of Civil and Religious Powers’.
You can read the abstract of the paper here:
‘Leading U.S. scholar of constitutional interpretation Michael Paulsen has developed an interesting theory of religious freedom called ‘The Priority of God’. Paulsen distinguishes, first of all, a liberal conception of religious freedom, according to which it is widely assumed that religious truth exists in a society and the state is tolerant towards the various faith and other traditions. The U.S. however, has developed in the direction of a modern conception of religious freedom, which no longer recognises religious truth although the state remains tolerant. Moreover, still according to Paulsen, several European countries have adopted a postmodern conception of religious freedom. This conception does not just no longer recognise religious truth, but also implies a considerably less tolerant state as secularism becomes the established ‘religion’. This view paradoxically resembles the preliberal stance of religious intolerance out of the conviction that religious truth exists. In response to such developments and in light of the meeting’s general theme with special attention to the role of courts in achieving this, the proposed paper will make a case for the classical liberal position with respect to religious freedom. In light of the current religious diversity in society, this position still appears to be most conducive to safeguarding the position of religious minorities in public life in the increasingly secular, majoritarian contexts of Western liberal democracies.’
Finally, I will serve as discussant for Mathew John’s paper on ‘Framing Religion in Constitutional Power: A View from Indian Constitutional Law’ during the latter panel. Mathew John received his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012. Since that year he has been working as an Associate Professor at the Jindal Global Law School Sonipat. Since January 2017 Ph.D. Mathew John is Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities ‘Law as Culture’.
Posted onJune 15, 2017|Comments Off on Bernie Sanders, Tim Farron, and the regime change which has taken place within liberalism
In my new book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017), I note how partly under the influence of the social and cultural revolution of the 1960s, liberalism has arguably developed from a means of managing diversity in the direction of an ideological agenda of its own. Illustrative of this development is that for some scholars it has now become a question mark if, and to what extent, religion should be tolerated at all within a liberal democracy.
Posted onJune 3, 2017|Comments Off on Book Recommendations (I): Nicholas Wolterstorff, Understanding Liberal Democracy (2012)
About the book:
‘Understanding Liberal Democracy presents notable work by Nicholas Wolterstorff at the intersection between political philosophy and religion. Alongside his influential earlier essays, it includes nine new essays in which Wolterstorff develops original lines of argument and stakes out novel positions regarding the nature of liberal democracy, human rights, and political authority. Taken together, these positions are an attractive alternative to the so-called public reason liberalism defended by thinkers such as John Rawls. The volume will be of interest to philosophers, political theorists, and theologians, engaging a wide audience of those interested in how best to understand the nature of liberal democracy and its relation to religion.’
About the author:
‘Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University. Currently he is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, at the University of Virginia. He has been President of the American Philosophical Association, and of the Society of Christian Philosophers; he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among the lectures he has given are the Wilde Lectures at Oxford University, the Gifford Lectures at St Andrews University, and the Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary. He has published over twenty books including On Universals, Works and Worlds of Art, Art in Action, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Reason within the Bounds of Religion, Divine Discourse, John Locke and the Ethics of Belief, Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology, Educating for Shalom, Lament for a Son, Justice: Rights and Wrongs and Justice in Love.’
As I write in the introduction to my new book, Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017), I have found that some of the most worthwhile books on liberal democracy which have been published in recent years, have been authored, for example, by ethicists and philosophers. You can read part of the introduction to my book here.
As I demonstrate in the third chapter of Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human, Wolterstorff’s Understanding Liberal Democracy is a major example of such a worthwhile book.
Hans-Martien ten Napel, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he is also Research Fellow of the Leiden Law School and Affiliated Member of the Center for the Study of Political Parties and Representation. In addition, he is a Member of the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research. Before his transfer to the law faculty, he taught at a Department of Political Science and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA).
He teaches the Bachelor of Laws elective course on the Law of Democracy and a Master of Laws elective course on Comparative Constitutional Law and served as a coach on the extracurricular Leiden Leadership Programme. In addition, he is currently co-supervising three Ph.D. projects.
In 2014 he was awarded a Research Fellowship in Legal Studies at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ, which enabled him to be in full-time residence at CTI for the academic year 2014-2015. In 2017 he received a ‘seed money grant for frontier research’ from the Leiden profile area Interaction Between Legal Systems.
His work has appeared in European Constitutional Law Review, European Public Law, Journal of Interreligious Studies, Journal of Markets and Morality, Muslim World Journal of Human Rights and Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. He was also co-editor and co-author of two recent volumes, Regulating Political Parties: European Democracies in Comparative Perspective (2014) and The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers (2015).
Since 2015, he is a member of the editorial board of the Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid(Journal of Religion, Law, and Policy). In 2017, he published, as the fruit of his research fellowship, the monograph Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge).
"Angela Merkel’s #CDU will soon have to choose between competing with AfD for the hearts of law-and-order conservatives, or with the Greens for the hearts of urban liberals. Doing both may not be possible." the-american-interest.com/201… via @aminterest
‘Abstract As Smith points out, the genealogy of liberal democracy demonstrates that liberalism is nothing less than the prodigal son of Christianity. Thus, it becomes plausible that Christianity has a continuing role to play in a liberal democracy. Smith might … Continue reading →
‘In 1788 verscheen aan de overkant van de Atlantische Oceaan een artikelenreeks in 85 delen over de Amerikaanse Grondwet. Deze losse delen zijn later gebundeld en uitgebracht onder de naam The Federalist Papers. Deze artikelen tezamen gelden nog steeds als … Continue reading →
On 6-7 June 2019, I will be participating in the above conference. My presentation is entitled ‘The Codification of an Expanding Number of Human Rights and the Ideal of Self-Government.’ During the presentation, I will, among other things, discuss the … Continue reading →
Wij leven in een verwarrende tijd. Dat is misschien niet echt een heel originele uitdrukking, maar zij gaat wel zeker ook op voor onze tijd. Toen minister-president Viktor Orbán van Hongarije op 13 mei j.l. een bezoek bracht aan President … Continue reading →
Op donderdag 23 mei a.s. neem ik deel aan een eerste auteurscolloquium in het kader van een boekproject over Tocqueville. Het – besloten – colloquium vindt plaats aan de Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen in Nijmegen. De titel van … Continue reading →
UPDATE: Voor een verslag van het verkiezingsontbijt, zie: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/nieuws/2019/05/alles-over-de-eu-verkiezingen-bij-een-goed-ontbijt ‘De ochtend na de Europese Parlementsverkiezingen in Nederland komen experts van binnen en buiten de Universiteit Leiden bij elkaar om de voorlopige uitslag van de Nederlandse EP-verkiezingen (23 mei) te bespreken. In panelsetting … Continue reading →
UPDATE: ‘Naar aanleiding en ter ere van zijn promotie zal Bussey op 28 juni een lezing geven over de historische en filosofische achtergrond van vrijheid van religie, en de status van deze vrijheid vandaag de dag binnen het sociale en … Continue reading →
Looking forward to participating in the above international and interdisciplinary conference, School of Divinity, New College, Edinburgh, 2-3 September 2019. The description of the conference theme reads as follows: ‘Is populism on the rise? Across the political spectrum, populism is … Continue reading →
UPDATE: Beautiful place to give a guest talk this morning: The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Distress in Heiloo, North-Holland. The lecture was on “Natural Law, Human Rights, and Religious Freedom.” The audience consisted of a group of talented leaders … Continue reading →