front cover of God Owes Us Nothing
God Owes Us Nothing
A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism
Leszek Kolakowski
University of Chicago Press, 1995
God Owes Us Nothing reflects on the centuries-long debate in Christianity: how do we reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the goodness of an omnipotent God, and how does God's omnipotence relate to people's responsibility for their own salvation or damnation. Leszek Kolakowski approaches this paradox as both an exercise in theology and in revisionist Christian history based on philosophical analysis. Kolakowski's unorthodox interpretation of the history of modern Christianity provokes renewed discussion about the historical, intellectual, and cultural omnipotence of neo-Augustinianism.

"Several books a year wrestle with that hoary conundrum, but few so dazzlingly as the Polish philosopher's latest."—Carlin Romano, Washington Post Book World

"Kolakowski's fascinating book and its debatable thesis raise intriguing historical and theological questions well worth pursuing."—Stephen J. Duffy, Theological Studies

"Kolakowski's elegant meditation is a masterpiece of cultural and religious criticism."—Henry Carrigan, Cleveland Plain Dealer

front cover of The Predestination of Humans
The Predestination of Humans
Augustinus, Tome III, Book IX
Cornelius Jansen
Catholic University of America Press, 2022
No other theological text polarized the early modern Catholic world as much as Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus. In it the erudite bishop not only reconstructed St. Augustine's teaching on grace and free will, but also boldly claimed that his views were in line with the Council of Trent and the Society of Jesus. For Jansen the latter had marginalized the Church Father's doctrine on divine predestination by overemphasizing human free will. Published after his death in 1640, Jansen's work drew a large crowd of followers and inspired an Augustinian reform movement. Its papal condemnation unintentionally spread this theology, but stifled an impassionate, academic engagement with the Augustinus. This first-ever translation of some of its central chapters enables historians, philosophers and theologians to finally engage with the founding text of Jansenism.

front cover of A Rule for Children and Other Writings
A Rule for Children and Other Writings
Jacqueline Pascal
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Jacqueline Pascal (1625-1661) was the sister of Blaise Pascal and a nun at the Jansenist Port-Royal convent in France. She was also a prolific writer who argued for the spiritual rights of women and the right of conscientious objection to royal, ecclesiastic, and family authority.

This book presents selections from the whole of Pascal's career as a writer, including her witty adolescent poetry and her pioneering treatise on the education of women, A Rule for Children, which drew on her experiences as schoolmistress at Port-Royal. Readers will also find Pascal's devotional treatise, which matched each moment in Christ's Passion with a corresponding virtue that his female disciples should cultivate; a transcript of her interrogation by church authorities, in which she defended the controversial theological doctrines taught at Port-Royal; a biographical sketch of her abbess, which presented Pascal's conception of the ideal nun; and a selection of letters offering spirited defenses of Pascal's right to practice her vocation, regardless of patriarchal objections.

front cover of Theology and the Cartesian Doctrine of Freedom
Theology and the Cartesian Doctrine of Freedom
Etienne Gilson
St. Augustine's Press, 2015

front cover of Tocqueville, Jansenism, and the Necessity of the Political in a Democratic Age
Tocqueville, Jansenism, and the Necessity of the Political in a Democratic Age
Building a Republic for the Moderns
David Selby
Amsterdam University Press, 2015
Before being declared heretical in 1713, Jansenism was a Catholic movement focused on such central issues as original sin and predestination. In this engaging book, David Selby explores how the Jansenist tradition shaped Alexis de Tocqueville’s life and works and argues that once that connection is understood, we can apply Tocqueville’s political thought in new and surprising ways. Moving from the historical sociology of Jansenism in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France to contemporary debates over the human right to education, the role of religion in democracy, and the nature of political freedom, Selby brings Tocqueville out of the past and makes him relevant to the present, revealing that there is still much to learn from this great theorist of democracy.

logo for Harvard University Press
The Travails of Conscience
The Arnauld Family and the Ancien Régime
Alexander Sedgwick
Harvard University Press, 1998

Like the Bouthilliers, the Colberts, the Fouquets, and the Letelliers, the Arnauld family rose to prominence at the end of the sixteenth century by attaching themselves to the king. Their power and influence depended upon absolute loyalty and obedience to the sovereign whose own power they sought to enhance. Dictates of conscience, however, brought all that to an end and put them in conflict with both king and pope. As a result of the religious conversion of Angélique Arnauld early in the seventeenth century, the family eventually adopted a set of religious principles that appeared Calvinist to some ecclesiastical authorities. These "Jansenist" principles were condemned by the papacy and Louis XIV.

The travails of conscience experienced by the Arnauld family, and the resulting religious schism that separated different branches, divided husbands from wives and parents from children. However, neither the historic achievements of individual family members nor the differences of opinion between them could obscure the sense of family solidarity.

The dramatic appeal of this book is underscored by a tumultuous period in French history which coincides with and punctuates the Arnauld family's struggle with the world. We see how this extraordinary family reacted to momentous political and religious developments, as well as the ways in which individual members, by means of their own convictions, helped shape the history of their time.


front cover of Writings of Resistance
Writings of Resistance
Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly
Iter Press, 2015

An erudite abbess of Port-Royal, Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d’Andilly (1624 – 1684) resisted the demands of church and state to condemn the Jansenist theological doctrines which the convent had long upheld. In her autobiographical Report on Captivity, Angélique de Saint-Jean recounts her personal methods of spiritual resistance as she and her fellow nuns underwent waves of persecution resulting in exile, house arrest, interdict, and excommunication. Her voluminous theological writings present the theoretical basis for this resistance, limiting the claims of political and ecclesiastical authorities over the conscience of the individual. In particular, she defends the right of women to refuse to surrender their convictions due to specious appeals to obedience and humility.


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter