On the extraordinary Roger Williams

Miroslav Volf describes an early (Christian) experiment in political pluralism.



Miroslav Volf describes an early (Christian) experiment in political pluralism.


Roger Williams was one of those extraordinary guys, extraordinary Christians. He was as zealous as zealous can be – and that also in a very zealous age. But just for the sake of, on account of or just inspired by his faith zealously embraced, he was also [a] fierce advocate of the equal rights of all, whether they’re pagans or Jews or Muslims, to respect by the state, and equal freedom for all.

In fact, he was the first, to my knowledge, who has not just advocated this idea, but who has set up a political order in order to embody that idea. I lived in the United States, in a small state by the name of Connecticut. I am very proud that our neighbouring state up north is Rhode Island. This is the state which Roger Williams has founded, and founded on Christian principle as an experiment in political pluralism. That’s extraordinary. And I think he’s gotten the reading of the Christian faith much better than his friend John Winter, who has established Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was rather fiercely controlling and the unity between religion and the state was powerfully enacted. That’s what Roger Williams rebelled against – in the name of Christian faith, not in the name of some abstract freedom.