The Immortal Commonwealth: Covenant, Community, and Political Resistance in Early Reformed Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Joint winner, 2020 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology, University of Heidelberg

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University:

The Immortal Commonwealth is a remarkable recovery of an ignored or forgotten component in the history of early modern political thought, namely, the central role of the theological doctrine of covenant in the surprisingly radical political resistance theory of Reformed Protestant thinkers. Reading it was, for me, an eye-opener. I had accepted the standard story of the origins of modern political thought, according to which references to the theological doctrine of the covenant by these thinkers was purely incidental. Henreckson shows that it was, instead, intrinsic: theology and political theory were seamlessly interwoven. Anyone who subsequently writes about the origins of modern political thought will have to take account of what Henreckson has brought to light.”

Jeffrey Stout, author of Democracy and Tradition:

“The creaking you will hear while reading Henreckson’s book is the sound of familiar stories about the religious origins of modern politics falling apart. If you want to know how early Protestants integrated Aristotelian virtue with a politics of covenantal accountability, or why they regarded resistance to tyranny as a requirement of justice, or why there is no simple choice to be made between tradition and critique, start here.”

Luke Bretherton, Duke University:

“In this erudite and sophisticated book, Henreckson excavates early modern Protestant debates about the nature, purpose, and proper form of political order. With great acumen, he charts how conceptions of divine and human covenantal fellowship and theology in general, are central to the development of modern political thought and consociational understandings of democratic citizenship. In doing so, he makes available Protestant resistance theory as a vital resource for contemporary debates in political theology and political theory.”

Jennifer A. Herdt, Yale Divinity School:

“Countering standard narratives that trace a lineage between the purported voluntarism of Reformed theology and political absolutism, The Immortal Commonwealth uncovers the theological roots of Reformed resistance theories in understandings of God’s loving desire to enter into covenantal fellowship with humankind.  Partners to a covenant, having bound themselves together into political societies for the sake of loving relationship, have not just a right to resist unjust rule but also a duty to ensure the just character of those societies.  Henreckson’s illuminating reconstruction yields urgently-needed wisdom for democratic citizenship today.”

Paul C.H. Lim, Vanderbilt University:

“In The Immortal Commonwealth, David Henreckson navigates the oft-inordinately voluminous literature on Calvinist covenant theologies with the requisite dexterity, interpretive savvy and skills, not to mention much-needed patience to plow through these mostly forgotten and putatively esoteric treatises from an era, again, allegedly known for arid and atrophying Protestant scholastic discourses. Henreckson shows how the central theo-political idea of God as the covenanter has contributed to and ushered in the transformations of political theologies that pertain to Self, Society, and Savior in a refreshing way. It is truly worthy of the Augustinian dictum tolle lege!”