The natural kingdom of God in Hobbes’s political thought

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In Leviathan, Hobbes outlines the concept of the ‘Kingdome of God by Nature’ or ‘Naturall Kingdome of God’, terms rarely found in English texts at the time. This article traces the concept back to the Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), which sets forth a threefold understanding of God’s kingdom–the kingdoms of nature, grace, and glory–none of which refer to civil commonwealths on earth. Hobbes abandons this Catholic typology and transforms the concept of the natural kingdom of God to advance a claim often missed by his interpreters: Leviathan-states are the manifestation of a real, not metaphorical, kingdom of God. This argument plays a key role in Leviathan, which identifies the kingdom of God as the Christian doctrine most subject to abuse. Hobbes harshly criticizes Catholic and Presbyterian clergy for claiming to represent God’s kingdom. This claim, he argues, comes with the subversive implication that the church possesses spiritual and temporal authority, and caused great turmoil during the English Civil War. As an alternative, Hobbes points to civil commonwealths as the manifestation of God’s natural kingdom, which is the only form his kingdom currently takes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)436-453
    Number of pages18
    JournalHistory of European Ideas
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2019

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology and Political Science


    Dive into the research topics of 'The natural kingdom of God in Hobbes’s political thought'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this