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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 76, Issue 4, Fall 2002


Michael J. Murray
Pages 623-646

Leibniz’s Proposal for Theological Reconciliation among the Protestants

Between 1701 and 1705 Leibniz focused on the task of securing theological reunion between Lutherans and Calvinists, the two major Protestant sects at the time. Doing so, he believed, required reconciliation on two key topics, namely, the doctrine of the Eucharist, and the doctrine of election. To bring unity on the second issue, Leibniz composed a lengthy treatise based on a commentary on the Thirty-nine articles of the Church of England. This treatise stakes out a position springing from Leibniz’s own views. In this essay, I examine the views Leibniz defends in this treatise. I show that Leibniz’s views are much friendlier to the Arminian perspective than to the Calvinist one. I also show that this result is surprising since Arminian views seem incompatible with views on freedom and the problem of evil standardly attributed to Leibniz. This lack of fit should compel a re-examination of these standard attributions.