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The Subversive Puritan: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience (Roberts)

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Evangelical Press

How shall we live together in the light of our very deep differences? Christian author Os Guinness has said this is the greatest problem facing the United States today and the same could be said for ‘the West’ as a whole. Can a seventeenth-century Calvinist contribute anything? In recent years a number of authors, popular and academic, Christian and secular, have found inspiration in Roger Williams, the rebel Puritan exiled from Massachusetts who founded Rhode Island. He made the new little state a haven for those ‘oppressed for conscience’ and wrenched church and state further apart than was anywhere known at that time. Its Charter was the first in the world to protect liberty of conscience. Williams is rewarded with a statue at the Reformation Wall in Geneva, yet he remains strangely unknown today, even by those who stand broadly in his religious heritage. At the level of biography, history, theology, political philosophy or the human rights debate, this book will inform, stimulate, provoke and possibly irritate—but Roger Williams is well worth introducing to the discussion as we face changing times in church and society.



Mostyn Roberts is the minister of Welwyn Evangelical Church in Hertfordshire, UK, and the author of a biography of Francis Schaeffer in EP’s Bitesize Biography series.



…the story of Williams and his trials is itself fascinating and well- told: what an extraordinary challenge these people faced as they sought to construct societies from scratch on the other side of the world!

- Gary Williams, Director, The Pastors’ Academy, London

This new biography of the key Puritan thinker Roger Williams is most welcome. … Drawing upon the latest research on the Puritan author, Roberts outlines the contours of his life with special focus on his thought about religious liberty and why it is so important today. An excellent and truly thoughtful volume.

- Michael A G Haykin, FRHistS, Chair and Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

Mostyn Roberts has filled a real gap by providing us with this clear and comprehensive account of Williams’ life and thought. Helpfully, he does not gloss over Williams’ undoubted oddities and eccentricities, but through it all the essential courage and conviction of a great man shines out.

- Dr Sharon James, author, speaker, social policy analyst for The Christian Institute