Protestant perspectives on pluralism in political theology are predictably plural. While prevalent narratives of modern decline bemoan Protestant pluralism and its ostensive side-effects, others celebrate pluralism as a good in its own right. One aim of this essay is to display the diverse perspectives in Protestant political theology regarding political theology itself, pluralism, secularism, and democracy, while clarifying and refining these terms. I do so by considering each theme in turn. Finally, I consider the ways that religious dissenters of the 1790s defy prominent depictions of Protestantism, even as they exemplify the plurality at its core. The dissenters wed an ancient legacy of reflection on theological virtues such as charity to appeals for human and women’s rights, and suggest that love of country, neighbor, alien and God is central to protestant political theology. Given the plurality inherent in Protestantism, Christianity, and modern democratic societies alike, we have good reasons, I argue, to turn from a politics of refusal to one of tending and organizing for goods shared in common.
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