Monday, June 04, 2007

Roger Williams Biography

I began a new book the other day. It is entitled Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America and is authored by Edwin S. Gaustad. I have read through the first chapter (Exile from England) and it provided me with a great overview/refresher of the religious background of the time in which Roger Williams was born and lived (as if there was another background at that time - everything was motivated by religion during the Reformation). From Luther, Calvin and Loyola, to Henry VIII wives and their constant flopping of national religion, to the Baptist movement and their leaders, Smyth, Hewlys, and Murton. And this was all in the first chapter. So far, it is very interesting.

In short, Williams found himself friends with a group of Puritans on a boat to America. I am looking forward to reading through this biography. He is an important figure in my tradition (Baptist) as well in the formation of America. In fact,

We may recall that it was Roger Williams rather than Thomas Jefferson who first used the image of a hedge or wall of separation between church and state. (p. ix)
If any history books talk about Roger Williams, they will most likely emphasize his political importance in colonial America, specifically, as founder of Rhode Island. However, they will probably leave out his impact on religious life in America.

It should be a fun read.