Not Peace but a Sword provides a case study in religious radicalism and revolutionary politics, as exemplified by the Puritanism of the English Revolution. Based on sermons preached to the Long Parliament and other political bodies, Stephen Baskerville demonstrates how Puritan religious and political ideas transformed the English Civil War into the world’s first great modern revolution. Avoiding the simplicities of the traditional Whig and Marxist approaches to the English Revolution, but also challenging the equally one-dimensional “revisionist” historiography, Baskerville argues for the importance and integrity of ideas (especially religious ideas), but he also places those within the context of the underlying social changes to which, as the ministers themselves testify in their own words, gave rise to Puritan radicalism. The Puritan intellectuals developed the sermon into medium that conveyed not only popular political understanding but also a sophisticated political sociology that articulated a new social and political consciousness. In the process, they challenged the traditional order and created a new order of their own by appealing to the needs and concerns of a people caught up in the problems of rapid social and economic change. The book explores the social psychology behind the rise of Puritanism, as the Puritan ministers themselves presented it, through textual exegesis of their own words, placing them in the mental context of their time, and offers a new understanding of the link between religious ideas and revolutionary politics.
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"This is a beautifully written thesis and superbly organized. Moreover it concerns a major segment of English literature of great religious and political importance. Everything in these covers is a pleasure to contemplate... I recommend it for publication without any hesitation whatever."
David Martin, London School of Economics
"...a very impressive exploration of the theology, mentality, and world-view of a powerful group of preachers in the Civil War period.... I know no study which expounds the piety of this group with comparable power and detail. ... Mr Baskerville's work will be well received by all students of Puritanism, the Civil Wars, and English History."
J.G.A. Pocock, Johns Hopkins University
Not Peace But a Sword:
The Political Theology of the English Revolution
(Expanded Edition, 2018)*