I. One set of research concerns touches on the 18th
and 19th century history of Western European theology, with a focus
on developments in Roman Catholic theology from 1650 to the beginning of the 19th
century. This is frequently referred to as the period of Roman Catholic
enlightenment theology. But for both Catholic and Protestant thought, it was a
period in which the relationship between church and society/state was changing
Political thinkers were setting the intellectual
foundations for emerging nation states which did not require religious
authorization, a process which has been called "political
enlightenment." Similarly, philosophers were trying to disentangle
philosophy from confessional religious presuppositions: this is the
"philosophical enlightenment" properly so called. Both reflected
massive changes in the dynamics of European cultures and societies.
Recent public discussion of the relationship between
religion and modernity, especially following the attacks on the World Trade
Center towers in New York, seems to imply that some religions have successfully
made the transition from a pre-modern to a modern social order, i.e.,
Christianity, while others have not, presumably Islam.
This is a controversial interpretation on two scores.
First, that Christianity’s move into the modern world has been a successful
one. Second, that Islam, at least in its more fundamental expressions, has not
been successful in this transition.
Regarding Islam, Ahmad S. Moussali's The Islamic
Quest for Democracy, Pluralism, and Human Rights (University Press of
Florida 2001) might be a place to start.