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The History of Religious Liberty (Farris)

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Early American advocates of freedom did not believe in religious liberty in spite of their Christianity, but explicitly because of their individual faith in Christ, which had been molded and instructed by the Bible. The greatest evidence of their commitment to liberty can be found in their willingness to support the cause of freedom for those different from themselves.

The assertion that the Enlightenment is responsible for the American Bill of Rights may be common, but it is devoid of any meaningful connection to the actual historical account. History reveals a different story, intricately gathered from the following:

  • Influence of William Tyndale's translation work and the court intrigues of Henry VIII
  • Spread of the Reformation through the eyes of Martin Luther, John Knox, and John Calvin
  • The fight to establish a bill of rights that would guarantee every American citizen the free exercise of their religion.

James Madison played a key role in the founding of America and in the establishment of religious liberty. But the true heroes of our story are the common people whom Tyndale inspired and Madison marshaled for political victory. These individuals read the Word of God for themselves and truly understood both the liberty of the soul and the liberty of the mind.

The History of Religious Liberty is a sweeping literary work that passionately traces the epic history of religious liberty across three centuries, from the turbulent days of medieval Europe to colonial America and the birth pangs of a new nation.


Table of Contents:

Part 1: From Out of the Short Fire

1. Scripture for Ploughboys

2. The King, the Pope, and the Word

3. War of the Words

4. Tyndale’s Triumph

5. The Bible and the Boy King

6. Mary’s Five Years of Terror

7. Debating Freedom inside the King’s Bench Prison

8. Defending a Doctrine, Killing a Man

9. At the Icy Blast of the Trumpet

10. The ‘Very Wisest Fool in Christendom’

11. The Bravest Voices of Liberty

12. The English Rehoboam

13. ‘The Lord Hath Now Some Controversy with England’

14. Called Hither to Save a Nation

15. Explicit Faith and Spiritual Swords

16. A Foundation of Paradoxes

Part 2: An irrepressible Yearning

17. Enclosed Gardens of God

18. Better Hypocrites

19. A New Light in Hanover 

20. Be Ye Separate

21. ‘Very Early and Strong Impressions’

22. Free Exercise of Religion

23. The Rising Sun of Liberty

24. Battle for the Bill of Rights, Part I

25. Battle for the Bill of Rights, Part II

Epilogue: The Lessons of Liberty