Toleration and the Protestant Tradition

Manfred Svensson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The division of Europe along confessional lines plays an important part in the history of toleration, shaping both standard narratives about the past and the apparent tension between strong confessional commitments and the possibility of toleration today. The present chapter offers a survey of this debate in the post- Reformation period, including the tradition running from Castellio to Locke. After considering the problems that can be found both in confessional Protestantism and in this parallel humanist tradition, the chapter turns to several nineteenth-century thinkers (Vinet, Kierkegaard, and Kuyper), who reflect reception of and resistance to certain modern transformations of the concept. While nothing like a uniquely Protestant framework for toleration emerges from this survey, the chapter points to sources that are significant both for understanding this ambivalent historical trajectory and for furthering contemporary reflection.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Toleration
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783030421212
ISBN (Print)9783030421205
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022.


  • Abraham Kuyper
  • Alexandre Vinet
  • John Calvin
  • John Locke
  • Protestantism
  • Reformation
  • Sebastian Castellio
  • Søren Kierkegaard
  • Tolerance
  • Toleration


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