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Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, The Complete Writings of Roger Williams were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, The Complete Writings of Roger Williams were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to readers in their original orthography. The theme of religious liberty is dominant in these volumes, running through Williams's correspondence with John Cotton and on through his famous pair of works on The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. All of the extant shorter writings and letters of Roger Williams are included in this set, along with two significant works resulting from his engagement with Native Americans: his seminal Key into the Language of America and Christenings Make Not Christians. ""Roger Williams was one of those rare individuals who took the accepted ideas of his time and followed them to conclusions that challenged his contemporaries and still challenge us. To have his complete writings once again available is a great service to all who would understand American religion and political institutions at the deepest level."" Edmund S. Morgan Sterling Professor of History Emeritus Yale University ""It has been America's great good fortune that Roger Williams's career stood at the beginning of its history. Just as some experience in the youth of a person is ever afterward a determinant of his personality, so the American character has inevitably been molded by the fact that in the first years of colonization there arose this prophet of religious liberty. Later generations could not forget him or deny him. The image of him in conflict with the founders of New England could not be obliterated; all later righteous men would be tormented by it until they learned to accept his basic thesis, that freedom is a condition of the spirit."" Perry Miller (1963) Roger Williams (1603-1683) grew up in Puritan circles in London, sailed to Massachusetts in 1630, and, having been banished for his controversial views on the separation of church and state, founded Rhode Island on the basis of his new principles of religious liberty.


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Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, The Complete Writings of Roger Williams were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, The Complete Writings of Roger Williams were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to readers in their original orthography. The theme of religious liberty is dominant in these volumes, running through Williams's correspondence with John Cotton and on through his famous pair of works on The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. All of the extant shorter writings and letters of Roger Williams are included in this set, along with two significant works resulting from his engagement with Native Americans: his seminal Key into the Language of America and Christenings Make Not Christians. ""Roger Williams was one of those rare individuals who took the accepted ideas of his time and followed them to conclusions that challenged his contemporaries and still challenge us. To have his complete writings once again available is a great service to all who would understand American religion and political institutions at the deepest level."" Edmund S. Morgan Sterling Professor of History Emeritus Yale University ""It has been America's great good fortune that Roger Williams's career stood at the beginning of its history. Just as some experience in the youth of a person is ever afterward a determinant of his personality, so the American character has inevitably been molded by the fact that in the first years of colonization there arose this prophet of religious liberty. Later generations could not forget him or deny him. The image of him in conflict with the founders of New England could not be obliterated; all later righteous men would be tormented by it until they learned to accept his basic thesis, that freedom is a condition of the spirit."" Perry Miller (1963) Roger Williams (1603-1683) grew up in Puritan circles in London, sailed to Massachusetts in 1630, and, having been banished for his controversial views on the separation of church and state, founded Rhode Island on the basis of his new principles of religious liberty.

33 review for The Complete Writings of Roger Williams - Volume 3: Bloudy Tenent of Persecution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

    Religious freedom has always been a touchy subject that continues to be debated to this day, and it was no different 400 years ago. Many if not most in the Western world would agree that people should be free to believe and practice whatever faith they choose in both the home and public assembly (such as a church, ect) as long as they aren't violating the rights of others. You would think that would be simple enough to accept, but such was not the case in the early American colonies, nor through Religious freedom has always been a touchy subject that continues to be debated to this day, and it was no different 400 years ago. Many if not most in the Western world would agree that people should be free to believe and practice whatever faith they choose in both the home and public assembly (such as a church, ect) as long as they aren't violating the rights of others. You would think that would be simple enough to accept, but such was not the case in the early American colonies, nor throughout most of the history of Christianity for that matter. Enter Roger Williams, an iconic figure who is hailed as an early American hero for religious liberty. And indeed he was. Banished from Massachusetts Bay colony in 1635 for protesting against the oppressive theocratic rule of the Puritans as well as their unfair acquisition of Indian land, he wrote The Bloudy Tenant roughly a decade later while he was in England fighting to secure a charter for his newly founded colony in Rhode Island. I have to say, it was a very challenging read and honestly I had to skim through a few parts of it. It's written in the language that was common back then, and on top of that difficulty the entire argument is structured as a conversation between two allegorical figures named 'Truth' and 'Peace' in response to a letter from John Cotton, a Puritan leader who wrote letters arguing as to why their government should continue to persecute, arrest and even kill those of different beliefs. The arguments offered by Williams against Cotton were very interesting, especially when you consider that his ideas of liberty were revolutionary for that time. My main dislike about this particular edition is that the introduction gives the false impression that Williams was a Baptist, and that this had a major impact on his views of religious freedom. The fact is that he was a Reformed Protestant at the time of his banishment and held to many of the views of John Calvin, most notably infant baptism. His later adoption of some Anabaptist views and his involvement in founding the First Baptist Church of Rhode Island had little if anything to do with his stand for religious liberty. In fact, he even had a falling out with the Baptists later in life, but this doesn't stop many today from touting Williams as one of their own. I guess this should not be surprising seeing as this edition was published by Mercer, a Baptist university. As with many famous historical figures, many try to tailor them to a particular agenda. But that's what I enjoyed most about The Bloudy Tenent; reading Williams' writing for myself, it's pretty clear he was neither a Theonomist nor an early Libertarian Anarchist - Instead he argued for the elimination of a national church, freedom of religious practice including non-Christian while holding to a necessary collectivism under some level of civil law which he calls the "sword of civil justice" per Romans 13 (Ch. L). Contrary to many humanists, Williams was not a secularist as he based all of his arguments on the Bible. Nor was he an arms-wide-open "non-denominational" theologian as some contemporary preachers like to call him; he argues for many of the same strict Puritanical religious beliefs as those who banished him, the only main difference being he didn't see it as the job of the government to enforce most of them. This becomes abundantly clear when he argues against things like kneeling during communion or celebrating Christmas, denouncing them as Satanic, "Popish" traditions (Ch. XIX). No, Williams was a character all his own, deeply talented, resilient and influential. And if you can get through the difficulty of his writing, it's a very educating read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    The edition I am reading is not the above. It was one that created using "optical recognition software" which is supposedly 99% accurate. I think they overestimate its accuracy. With the errors and the fact that it is written in mid 17th century English and the fact that Roger Williams does not have a fluid prose style, this was basically unreadable. Fortunately by buying the book I was able to download a clean version of this book. and that one is much more interesting. I have already mentioned The edition I am reading is not the above. It was one that created using "optical recognition software" which is supposedly 99% accurate. I think they overestimate its accuracy. With the errors and the fact that it is written in mid 17th century English and the fact that Roger Williams does not have a fluid prose style, this was basically unreadable. Fortunately by buying the book I was able to download a clean version of this book. and that one is much more interesting. I have already mentioned Williams prose style, but the content is fascinating. Roger Williams was the man who brought the Baptist Church to America, founded Rhode Island, treated the Indians fairly by negotiating and paying them a fair price for land, was the first in America to push for abolition, and also the first anywhere to create a secular government. This book was one long argument for the necessity of keeping the state and the church totally and absolutely separate. In fact his phrase was "Wall of separation" in describing the proper relationship between the two. He also argued against using the word toleration since that implies one religion occupies a greater position than another and thus tolerates that religion. To his mind, quite properly so I think, all religions are to be treated equally by the state with all of its citizens having the same rights, regardless of whether they are Muslims, Jews, or anti-Christians. What is really fun about this though is that he bases his arguments on the Bible. I can only wish that more of today's Baptists still remembered Roger Williams and his arguments. A note: I have just changed the rating from two stars to four. Th initial rating was based more on the lousy and error ridden edition I first tried to read. However reading a clear copy made what Rev Willaims was saying mucch clearer - and what he said and did was important, and the fact that he was a Baptist only gives these arguments more force.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alan Johnson

    This is a 2005 reprint by the Baptist Standard Bearer of volume 3 of the 1963 edition (Russell & Russell) of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams . The entire volume is dedicated to Williams's masterwork, The Bloudy Tenent, of Persecution, for cause of Conscience, discussed, in A Conference betweene Truth and Peace . . . (originally published in 1644). This reprint denotes the pagination of the 1644 original in brackets within the text. Although not a facsimile of the original, it reproduces t This is a 2005 reprint by the Baptist Standard Bearer of volume 3 of the 1963 edition (Russell & Russell) of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams . The entire volume is dedicated to Williams's masterwork, The Bloudy Tenent, of Persecution, for cause of Conscience, discussed, in A Conference betweene Truth and Peace . . . (originally published in 1644). This reprint denotes the pagination of the 1644 original in brackets within the text. Although not a facsimile of the original, it reproduces the orthography and other features of the original. Accordingly, the 1963 edition (or a reprint of same) is frequently cited in the scholarly literature. The original of this work is now also available on Early English Books Online (EEBO). The nineteenth-century editing of this volume by Samuel L. Caldwell is generally fine. Williams's Bloudy Tenent sets forth in detail his religious and secular arguments for complete liberty of conscience and total separation of church and state, both for Europe and for America. My book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience contains an extended discussion of this work as well as Williams's corresponding historical actions and related writings. (Originally posted 3/29/2014; revised 8/21/2015)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This book was really hard to get through for some reason, I think it was just that the writing style was kind of sloppy and a bit hard to follow at times. That said, the content is super intriguing as the arguments the author makes were absolutely groundbreaking when they were first published. He basically was the first to ever successfully biblically argue against the use of force in dealing with theological disagreement in a Christian-dominate society. And the North American Puritans hated him This book was really hard to get through for some reason, I think it was just that the writing style was kind of sloppy and a bit hard to follow at times. That said, the content is super intriguing as the arguments the author makes were absolutely groundbreaking when they were first published. He basically was the first to ever successfully biblically argue against the use of force in dealing with theological disagreement in a Christian-dominate society. And the North American Puritans hated him for it since it directly undercut their supposed biblical basis for their "city on a hill" society in Massachusetts. He not only argued for the freedom of worship, again based solely on biblical arguments, not only for fellow Christians but for "Jews, Turks, and atheists." That's pushing the limits for even many modern American Christians. The writing is sloppy, as I said, and the arguments can seem uninteresting if you don't realize that he was literally the first to come up with most of them. But if you understand the culture and times he was writing in the book takes on huge significance. Well worth the read for anyone interested in the development of religion in society and specifically in early America.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alan Johnson

    This is a somewhat modernized, albeit accessible, edition of Roger Williams's famous work. I have posted a review of another (unmodernized) edition here. I discuss both of these editions, as well as a PDF of the original 1644 edition (which can be located on Early English Books Online (EEBO)), in my book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience. My main problem with the presently reviewed edition is that it does not reproduce Roger Williams's printed marginalia. Will This is a somewhat modernized, albeit accessible, edition of Roger Williams's famous work. I have posted a review of another (unmodernized) edition here. I discuss both of these editions, as well as a PDF of the original 1644 edition (which can be located on Early English Books Online (EEBO)), in my book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience. My main problem with the presently reviewed edition is that it does not reproduce Roger Williams's printed marginalia. Williams composed his own printed marginalia, and this was a common seventeenth-century practice. The marginalia sometimes differed from the text and sometimes added information that Williams learned after writing the text. Williams may have added some or all of the marginalia at the time he was reviewing page proofs. Apart from this omission, this edition is serviceable for the general reader. (Revised 8/23/2015)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I read excerpts from this for my American Novel course, and it was excellent.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Ellis

  9. 4 out of 5

    Poetry Train

  10. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Hall

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  14. 4 out of 5

    Austin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Blackbeard

  16. 4 out of 5

    Fred Villa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Gregg

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky Garrison

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wolfgang F.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adriel Barbosa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Puckett

  27. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Ann

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisamarie Skelton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anton Komarov

  31. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Nounennady

  32. 5 out of 5

    C

  33. 5 out of 5

    heavenbound

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