Chapter Four: The Early Christian Era: Time and Community

1.        Wolin claims that, despite a common depiction of early Christianity as being above politics, it “fell to Christianity to revivify political thought.”  How did it do that?  (86-8)

2.        What did early Christians mean by “community”?  (90-1)

3.        Wolin claims the early Christian view of obligation was “truly revolutionary” compared to the classic era.  How so? (92)

4.        Why does early Christian thought emphasize political order?  (93-5)

5.        Section II (95-103) is about the ways political philosophy in the church was a part of its institutionalization, justifying authority and particular doctrines.  What were the main issues in building the new institution?

6.        What does Wolin mean when he writes (at 105) that “Apostasy is rebellion written in a theological key”?

7.        Why does a church need to encounter the question of how much force or compulsion is required?  (106-8)

8.        When an empire embraces a religion, does the church community lose something?  How did Augustine address this?  (108-11)

9.        What was the distinct Christian contribution to the idea of time?  (112)  [Note its connection to the idea of hope.]

10. In Augustine’s view of politics, what was possible?  [Another way of saying it:  In politics, what can we hope for?] (113-15)

11. On 115 you will find a reference to fortuna, which suggests why Machiavelli (chapter 7) presented such a challenge to the Church. 

12. What was the relationship of church to society?  What was the relationship between society and politics?  [This distinction is more aggressively developed in chapter 9.]  (116-18)

13. Wolin claims that we can see several dimensions of modern nationalism in the issues that faced the medieval Christian church.  What are they?  (119-121)

14. Wolin claims that one accomplishment of the Church was that it taught people to once again think politically.  Describe how.  (122-6)  [Note also that he asserts an understanding of this is important to recognizing Machiavelli’s contributions.]


Chapter Five: Luther: The Theological and the Political

1.        Wolin tells us a revolution in political thought occurred in the sixteenth century, and that Luther is a part of it.  What was Luther’s particular political project?  (128-9) 

2.        Wolin asserts (130) that it is misleading to say Luther regarded politics as alien or secondary.  What does he mean? 

3.        With regard to authority, what are the main differences between the early and the later Luther?  (131-3)

4.        In the previous chapter, Wolin tells us the early to medieval Christian church joined political and religious concepts.  Here, he tells us Luther dissolved the alliance.  How?  (134-5)

5.        On pp. 136-9, Wolin describes an egalitarian element in Luther.  What does this have to do with his political ideas? 

6.        Are political leaders necessarily outside the church?  (139-42)

7.        Wolin claims that Luther created a personalized concept of authority, and this, among other things, contributed to his thin analysis of politics.  Explain how Wolin reaches this conclusion.  (143-7)


Chapter Six: Calvin: The Political Education of Protestantism

1.        Wolin tries to draw a sharp line between Luther and Calvin.  What, according to him, was Calvin’s political task?  (150)

2.        Wolin claims (152-3) that Calvin developed an institutional understanding of power.  What does that mean?  How is that distinct from Luther, and with what consequences? 

3.        The distinctions between Luther and Calvin are further spelled out on pp. 156-7.  Can he have it both ways—a community of believers and the political authority to enforce membership? 

4.        In section three, what are the main ideas of the ‘political theory of church government’?  How are these connected to each other?  (If successful, it should provide a way to work with the dilemma suggested in question 3.)  (158-60)  These ideas are further developed on pp. 166-9. 

5.        How does Calvin explain that fallen creatures may be ready to engage in politics?  Is there something here Luther did not see?  (162-4)

6.        What can we know about politics, according to Calvin?  (165-6)

7.        According to Wolin, what were Calvin’s significant contributions to political theory?  (171-2)  Do these appear to be important for liberalism?  Wolin suggests in the next pages that this is a more significant contribution (to modern political theory) than Machiavelli and Hobbes.