A Letter Concerning Toleration
Author: John Locke
Place of Publication: London
Date Published: 1689
Number of Editions: 21
"A Letter Concerning Toleration" is a famous Letter written by English philosopher and physician John Locke to Philipp van Limborch in 1689. The letter is a defense of religious toleration, arguing for the separation of church and state, and the protection of individual freedom of conscience. It was written during a time of intense religious conflicts and persecution throughout Europe.
In the "Letter Concerning Toleration," Locke addresses the proper relationship between the state and religion. He argues that the government should not have the power to impose any particular religious belief or practice on its citizens. According to Locke, religious beliefs are matters of individual conscience and cannot be compelled by external forces. He asserts that true religious faith requires genuine belief, which cannot be achieved through coercion or force.
Locke emphasizes the importance of religious toleration in maintaining social peace and harmony, seeing it as a Christian virtue. He argues that religious diversity should be embraced and protected, as long as individuals do not infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. He suggests that the state should not concern itself with religious matters but should focus on securing the natural rights of its citizens, such as life, liberty, and property.
Locke's "Letter Concerning Toleration" had a profound influence on political and philosophical thought, focusing on the individual. It helped lay the groundwork for religious freedom and the separation of church and state, which later became fundamental principles of liberal democratic societies.