Joshua Mauldin
Southern Methodist University

Institutional Freedom and Responsibility: A Protestant Theology of Religious Freedom

Project description:

As  modern  liberal  democracy  and  contemporary  religious  communities  have  converged  on  an  affirmation  of  religious  freedom,  there  has  been  a corresponding neglect of the question of the theological basis of this freedom. The  adoption  of  liberal  conceptions  of  religious  freedom  by  religious  communities  meant  that  the  need  for  a  theological  account  of  religious freedom did not ordinarily arise. By contrast, the experience of totalitarianism in  Germany  led  thinkers  such  as  Bonhoeffer  and  Barth  to  ask  fundamental  theological questions about religious freedom and to reconsider the role of the church  in  modern  society.  Barth  and  Bonhoeffer  help  us  to  see  that  understandings  of  religious  freedom  focused  primarily  on  the  freedom  of  the individual  are  inadequate  in  the  face  of  modern  totalitarianism.  Building  on  these insights, my project seeks to formulate a conception of religious freedom grounded  not  in  the  individual,  but  instead  in  the  autonomy  of  differentiated  realms of social life.


Joshua Mauldin completed his PhD in religious studies in 2014 at Southern Methodist University with a dissertation titled 'Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Problem of Ethics in Modernity.’ In 2014 he received a research grant from Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) for archival research on Eberhard Bethge in Berlin. Prior to his doctoral studies he received the BA in English Literature from Texas A&M University and the MDiv. degree from Southern Methodist University. His research focuses on the intersection of theology, ethics, and modern political thought.