The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures Summary

John Locke

Summary

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures, John Locke begins by examining the significance of the Fall and its relation to the teachings of Christ as they are given in the New Testament. Quoting biblical text, he concludes that in Eden, Adam and Eve were in a state of righteousness and immortality. The Fall brought death into the world to all of humanity, but Christ restored all humanity to life, potentially. To gain salvation, one must believe that Jesus was the Messiah and obey God’s commandments.

Locke notes that numerous instances in the Bible support the idea that Christ was the Son of God. Ancient prophecies had spoken of the coming of a great prophet who would work miracles. Jesus was believed to be that prophet because of the miracles he performed and his teachings. He preached that the kingdom of God had come and that the way to heaven was through repentance and baptism and obedience to God’s commandments. He did not immediately declare himself to be the Messiah, however; he left his miracles to speak for his divinity. His trial and crucifixion further proved that Jesus was recognized as the Son of God. Jesus commanded his eleven disciples to go forth after his death and preach that he was the Messiah. Locke concludes that it is therefore reasonable to believe that Jesus was the son of God.

Locke’s primary intent is to establish that Jesus was the Messiah, gleaning copious evidence from the Scriptures and quoting the Greek text along with the English version to support his readings. He traces Jesus’ every move to explain why Jesus did not proclaim himself the Messiah until just before his crucifixion and why Jesus did and said what he did every step of the way to the cross and after the Resurrection. Locke reasons that Jesus had to die when he did to make way for the Holy Ghost, who could not appear until his death and whose duty was to assist the disciples in their preaching and performing miracles. The Holy Ghost is further proof that Jesus was the Messiah.

The meaning of the law of faith is central to Locke’s explanation of Jesus’ role and nature, and he explains...

(The entire section is 882 words.)

Bibliography

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Colman, John. John Locke’s Moral Philosophy. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1983. Locke’s ideas on morality in general are shown to be consistent with his views of morality in The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures.

Higgins-Biddle, John C. Introduction to The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures. New York: Clarendon Press, 1999. Examines Locke’s text and the controversy it created, together with a scholarly study of variant manuscripts of the work and a lengthy bibliography.

Marshall, John. “Locke, Socinianism, ’Socinianism,’ and Unitarianism.” In English Philosophy in the Age of Locke. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 2000. Using The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures as evidence, defends Locke against the claims that he was Unitarian and Socinian in his thinking.

Nuovo, Victor, ed. John Locke and Christianity: Contemporary Responses to “The Reasonableness of Christianity.” Bristol, England: Thoemmes Press, 1997. A collection of original texts that show the extent to which Locke’s work stirred much heated debate. The introduction explains the relevance of each excerpt to The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures.

Nuovo, Victor. “Locke’s Theology, 1694-1704.” In English Philosophy in the Age of Locke. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 2000. Discusses the relation of The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures to Locke’s theology as a whole.