The introduction will outline the position of religion in the Dutch Republic after the Reformation and the Dutch Revolt‚ and the seventeenth-century controversies about the identity of religion and the relation of the state and ‘its’ church.
After this, the concept of the circle of Spinoza will be introduced. The theories that its members—Jelles, Meyer and Koerbagh—had about the relationship of religion and state will be presented in separate sections. Where Jelles argued for a full identity between “reformed” Christianity and Spinoza’s philosophy, Meyer identifies Cartesian philosophy with proper theology and considers traditional religion only to be of social relevance, hence the church should be totally dependent on the state. Koerbagh sees the Bible as only of a temporary use in morally reforming people.
Finally, Spinoza’s basic ideas on religion, some of which were strikingly similar to the ideas of these less well-known thinkers, will be presented. The conclusion will suggest that the works of each: Jelles, Koerbagh, Meyer, and Spinoza be read as political interventions in the public debate during the “Era of True Freedom,” a period in which the Dutch Republic was without a stadtholder.

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The original version of the book was revised: Acknowledgements have been changed as footnotes. The erratum to the book is available at

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Krop, H.A. (2017). The secularism of Spinoza and his circle. In Tomaszewska A., Hämäläinen H. (eds) The Sources of Secularism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham (pp. 73–99). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-65394-5_5