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5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant - a tour de force, 28 April 2014
Siedentop's grasp of his subject and of the whole sweep of the history of ideas in western culture, as well as the clarity of his writing, makes this book a delight to read and a powerful antidote to the obscurantist denial of the key role that Christianity has played in the shaping of the Western democratic tradition of political life and thought. From his brilliantly sustained argument, it is clear that while the institutional Church has clearly at times sought to exercise authoritarian control over political life, the underlying dynamic unleashed by the radical inclusivity of the gospel and its development by Paul, Augustine and others has contributed immeasurably to the fundamental principles of equality and liberty which underpin the liberal democratic vision. His message is a vital one for a generation that has lost touch with its historical roots and is in danger of falling prey to profoundly illiberal trends, whether from fundamentalist religion or arrogant and intolerant atheism.