Southern Methodist University
Institutional Freedom and Responsibility: A Protestant Theology of Religious Freedom
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.