[Milton-L] De Doctrina Christiana

jonnyangel junkopardner at comcast.net
Thu Jan 8 21:39:35 EST 2009

On 1/8/09 4:01 PM, "Peter C. Herman" <herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu> wrote:

> Dear All,
> I wonder if perhaps we could try for more precise
> terminology than "Christian," since the
> definition of that term for Milton (and others)
> was very much in dispute. Catholicism, for
> example, is for Milton (and others) "popery," and
> not to be tolerated in the well-regulated
> commonwealth. And I remember that Calvin's
> Catholic antagonists called him an "atheist." To
> call PL a "Christian" poem, therefore, implies an
> ecumenicism that I do not think is warranted by
> either the times or the text itself.
> Peter C. Herman

"Christians" are simply those who believe in the religion of Christ (just
like the Catholics). I read "Areopagitica" last semester and Milton wasn't
an ecumenist by a long shot: he left the Catholics out (not to mention
supporting regicide, the two handed engine ready to smite the blind mouths,

I guess if one were to define PL as a "Christian" poem they would have
define "Christian" by Milton's views in DDC. I certainly think the text of
PL is supported by Milton's view of the religion of Christ (Christianity)
that he expressed in DDC.

I understand what you're saying in reference to calling PL a "Christian"
poem and its implication of ecumenism, but there has never been (nor will
ever be) a standard definition of what "Christian" is because it's always
changing. But the one thing Christianity (in all of its various forms) has
always shared is the belief in the religion and gospel of Christ.

For instance, C.S. Lewis was a Trinitarian, and in his brilliant work "Mere
Christianity" he tackles the complexities of the Trinity with the genius
that Milton tackled PL and Einstein tackled Relativity. And Lewis loved the
Christian theology of PL, even though there were some obvious theological
differences separating Milton and Lewis.

Whatever the differences over the centuries, make no mistake: PL "is" a
Christian poem. After all, I first read it as a child in a private Christian
elementary school that was completely Trinitarian. I have friends in the
priesthood (one still at the Vatican) and they all have read it (and
continue to read it) and absolutely love it.

Peace Shalom, 


"Some things are too hot to touch/the human mind can only stand so much..."
-Bob Dylan 

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