Theology, State Building, and Professional Identities: Another Look at Confessionalization in Early Modern Europe

The role of theology in the formation of confessional states derives in part from the subjective perceptions of political leaders: how these leaders understood the function of formal religious thinking during the period of the creation of modern European states. Social forces driven by religious experience, emotion, and reason often became more powerful than many of the temporal or ecclesiastical rulers who sought to control them. Confessional identities extending across the borders of these states are another important aspect of this story. The evolution of the state in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the development of national languages both influenced the dissemination of theological concepts, while these concepts themselves became reference points in the shaping of such states. Yet the process by which nation states formed around theological constructs evolved into entities largely indifferent to religious experience suggests how fragile these formerly deeply held beliefs actually were.

A public lecture hosted by The Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought.