In Hobbes’s attempt to reconcile Christian doctrine with civic philosophy, he expresses both his theories of power and human nature and his unique brand of Christian faith. Hobbes’s view of human nature informs his belief that men will become hopelessly confused when confronted with “two masters”—the civil sovereign and God. The “double vision” Hobbes discusses here results from men dividing their loyalties between these two sources of power, simultaneously believed to be kings of the world.
Although he bases his critique of this state of affairs in his political philosophy, he seeks to prove his argument by the citation of scripture. He selectively quotes Jesus to show that the Kingdom of God is not truly present until the end of the world. Accordingly, a person (like Hobbes) may believe in the ultimate sovereignty of God but recognize that his kingdom will not exist on the earth until the end of the world. As such, that person must obey the civil sovereign in the present. Although this maneuver conveniently adapts Christianity and his materialist worldview, it shocked and alienated once and for all the seventeenth-century Church establishment. The last book of Leviathan, which is not read or studied nearly so much today as the first two books, raises Hobbes’s antichurch rhetoric to new heights. Despite his repeated denunciation of atheists, his radical assertion that God is not present in the current day guaranteed that he would always be a marginal figure among his contemporaries.