Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

The Spiritual Foundation of Civil Society in Milton's Religio-Political Thought

Author: ZHANG Sheng, Lecturer, School of Political Education, Sichuan Normal University



The 17th century was a vital period for the development of civil society into its modern form. Extant research on the formation of civil society is mostly centered on the perspective of relations of production rather than the puritan spirit behind the formation of modern British and American civil society. By studying John Milton, a significant puritan poet and thinker of the era, we find all sorts of ideas in his works comprising the modern meaning of “civil society”: secularism, religious tolerance, freedom of expression, democracy and constitutionalism. In the context of 17thcentury Britain, Milton’s thought represents the puritan spirit in such ideas as “liberty of conscience” and “covenant,” which laid the foundation for civil society in the 17thcentury English Revolution and subsequently the American Revolution.



Civil Society, Spirit Foundation, Puritanism, Milton


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