Sunday, January 17, 2010

Revelations, Revolutions, and Reconciliations

Just a dashed-off post to offload some excess ideation that is taking up space in my melon....

As I mentioned the other day, if a religion doesn't meet man where he is, it's not going to be particularly effective. In other words, if I have to pretend I'm someone else in order to fit into a particular religious view of the world, then something is wrong.

Now, this is not to say that when there is a conflict between the way I would like for things to be vs. the way revelation says they are, that I should reject the latter. I'm talking about much more fundamental issues. In particular, I'm thinking of two things: personal identity and modernity, both of which I am rather attached to. I don't want to go back to neolithic, or ancient, or premodern times.

Hell, I don't even want to go back to the 20th century. Or to 2009. I like it here. Unlike the traditionalists, I don't think that any period of history is intrinsically privileged over any other, because they're all insane. For one thing, man is man, both everywhere and everywhen. If you find yourself idealizing some previous period of history, it's likely that you're just projecting paradise -- which is interior, archetypal, and vertical -- somewhere else. But at the very least, wherever you go, you have to go there too, which exiles you from paradise all over again.

For example, as much as I revere the Founders, it's amazing how quickly the wheels came off their revolutionary idealism after the war for independence was won and it came time to actually put their ideals into practice. In reading Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, it's been quite instructive for me to learn more about the ruptures and divisions, the personal hatreds and paranoia, that erupted after 1783.

It seems that passions were temporarily dampened with the adoption of the Constitution in 1787, but so intense were the conflicts thereafter, that it is something of a miracle that such a man as George Washington existed at that time, because he, and only he, had sufficient stature to serve as the living source of unity in the country.

Rather fascinatingly, as sophisticated as these men were, it wasn't just abstract respect for the rule of law or reverence for the Constitution that got them through, but the concrete love of a man who was the living embodiment of the ideals they cherished -- honor, virtue, courage, selflessness, and disinterested wisdom.

I think you can see the same forces at play in figures as diverse as Lincoln, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Reagan, all of whom became much more than their ideas. I hate to make such an odious comparison, but it really is the inverse of the "Führerprinzip." Obviously, something so powerful can have a dark side, so the same principle that explains how a person can become an embodiment of the good explains how they can become an embodiment of evil. Indeed, demagogues and cult leaders from Jim Jones to Obama cynically rely upon this collective human longing for a living messiah.

Not sure how I ended up here. I had wanted to continue with our discussion of the medieval Raccoon Petrarch, who attempted to forge a Christian humanism that steered a middle course between the Catholic establishment and the Protestant revolutionaries. But again, once the battle started, positions immediately polarized and hardened, to such an extent that the middle was eliminated. You were either on one side or the other. For the Raccoon, it was something like a choice between Crips, Bloods, or Dead.

For just as in the case of the Founders, their abstract ideals were not sufficient to shield them from their all-too-human tendencies. I mean, so intense were the hatreds and rivalries of some of the Founders, that Alexander Hamilton tried to bait President Adams into a duel! The President! No, he didn't want to assassinate him outright. That would be dishonorable in the extreme, hardly befitting a gentleman. Rather, he wanted to kill him in a fair fight.

Just so, all the Christian love in the world was unable to prevent the bloody religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. Or, to put it another way, if we stipulate that both sides were equally fervent in their love of God, then something wasn't right.

In the little transhistorical space that briefly opened up before things turned ugly, Petrarch had the idea that "individual human beings and their goals matter, that they have an inherent dignity and worth. This assertion was revolutionary and stood in stark opposition to the regnant doctrine of original sin and the Fall, which denied that individuals had either an intrinsic value or a capacity for self-perfection" (Gillespie).

Fortunately, these ideals eventually triumphed in some places -- most notably, in the American Revolution -- but it was still a struggle to demonstrate in practice how democracy, individualism, and self-interest were concretely linked to religious ideals.

For one of the central conflicts that opened up immediately after Washington's inauguration was the question of whether human beings really are qualified to rule themselves in the absence of a more "evolved," learned, and dispassionate aristocracy. The bitter hatred between Jefferson, who was the most passionate (to the point of irrational utopianism) advocate for the former, and the Federalist Hamilton, who stood for the latter, could hardly have been more intense and personal (it makes me think that Hamilton knew about Jefferson's baby mama situation).

But here again, you see the same archetypal pattern that split the Christian world, which really came down to hierarchy vs. radical democracy, verticality vs. horizontality, One vs. many, Father vs. Son. However, the Raccoon takes neither side in this false dispute, since he realizes that this is an irreducible complementarity, and that to insist that only one side of a complementarity is true, is to internalize the Cosmic Divorce.

45 Comments:

Blogger Northern Bandit said...

if a religion doesn't meet man where he is, it's not going to be particularly effective

My first reaction to this -- before reading a bit further and getting the real point -- was "hey, something moved me personally over the past 15 or so years over a vast distance. Religion in general not only didn't meet me where I was, we weren't even on the same continent."

Yesterday one of the anons complained about the treatment of leftists here. Well that is largely a result of leftists themselves having intentionally muddied the waters. Leftism is to the typical Democrat voter what the closet KKK member is to the Republican voter. The primary difference is that leftist ideas are in full flourish whereas few people admit a fondness for the KKK.

Or do they? Another thing that bugs me is the idea that if you're a Raccoon you're somehow a brother under the pelt with anyone who votes Republican. Now, I really like lucianne.com and she personally is a great woman. However that site and numerous other right-wing sites is hardly chock-a-block with raccoons or fellow travelers. There are plenty of decent commenters there, but there are a hell of a lot of really despicable people on the right. The Haiti thing in particular tended to bring out the extreme meanness and outright racism in these cold-hearted, cruel people.

In short, there are millions of wonderful people who vote Democrat, millions of real racist haters who vote Republican, and vice versa (racism on the far Left is of course, Legion).

Could I imagine a Democrat-voting 'coon? Sure. Does the person on lucianne.com who last night advocated letting "nature take it's course with this herd of wounded animals" in Haiti have anything in common with a real 'coon? Don't bet your pelt on it.

I for one won't let up on leftism for a moment. However I also don't assume that everyone who voted for Obama is automatically an idiot or just plain bad (though I strongly disagree with them about his fitness for the presidency, given that he is an actual leftist and not just "liberal").

I know several hard-core, committed Christians who actually go out there and physically help the poor here and abroad, year after year, often at real risk to their own safety. Both of them vote Democrat for what turns out to be somewhat naive thinking about the nature and role of government. However that's all it is: naivete. When I explain my raccoon-flavored views -- including the politically conservative parts -- neither man objected or launched into a spittle-flecked tirade the way many of our trolls here do. The brute fact is that most people do not have the depth of knowledge nor keen interest in politics that we do, and so they are prone to innocent mistakes.

Anons at OC? If they're leftist saboteurs or vandals: have at 'em with the rhetorical sawed-off shotgun. Otherwise I for one will cut 'em some Slack.

1/17/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Gotta love the whole "16th century Raccoon" theme. We need Petrarch T-shirts to counter the Che Guevara crowd.

1/17/2010 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Hmm... not quite as hip as old Che I guess. Then again, Petrarch does have to racoonmend him the fact that he unlike Che never executed a 14 year-old boy at point blank range.

1/17/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"...the Raccoon takes neither side in this false dispute, since he realizes ... an irreducible complementarity..."

Yes, I coonfess that, in my inborn greediness, I want the Whole Existentialada: how it was made, Who made it and why, all the ingredients -- and, I want to consume it. In the best interests of all concerned, of course!

Thanks for a Sunday's post!

1/17/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

"Unlike the traditionalists, I don't think that any period of history is intrinsically privileged over any other, because they're all insane. For one thing, man is man, both everywhere and everywhen.... " ~ Gagdad

The majority of the Framers also believed that man is not basically good.

Here's an item of possible interest which seeks to explain their religious worldview:

"...Marci Hamilton ... [is] a nationally recognized expert on constitutional and copyright law. ....

Her forthcoming book, Copyright and the Constitution, examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of copyright law and asserts that the American "copyright regime" is grounded in Calvinism, resulting in a philosophy that favors the product over the producer.

What Hamilton found was that a "deep and abiding distrust of human motives that permeates Calvinist theology also permeates the Constitution." Her investigation of that issue has led to another forthcoming book, tentatively titled The Reformed Constitution: What the Framers Meant by Representation.

That our country's form of government is a republic instead of a pure democracy is no accident, according to Hamilton. The constitutional framers "expressly rejected direct democracy. Instead, the Constitution constructs a representative system of government that places all ruling power in the hands of elected officials."

And the people? Their power is limited to the voting booth and communication with their elected representatives, she said.

"The Constitution is not built on faith in the people, but rather on distrust of all social entities, including the people." ...

..Two of the most important framers, James Wilson and James Madison, were steeped in Presbyterian precepts.

It is Calvinism, Hamilton argued, that "more than any other Protestant theology, brings together the seeming paradox that man's will is corrupt by nature but also capable of doing good."

In other words, Calvinism holds that "we can hope for the best but expect the worst from each other and from the social institutions humans devise."

"Neither Calvin nor the framers stop at distrust, however," Hamilton said. "They also embrace an extraordinary theology of hope. The framers, like Calvin, were reformers."

~ Elaine Justice Emory Report 11/29/99 Vol.52. No. 13 --Excerpted

1/17/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

Yours is a great encapsulation of the difficulty in bringing abstract ideas deep into the fabric of custom without its embodiment in great leaders, and all the regression which that may engender.

Tocqueville wrote that we were extremely fortunate to have the Founders, for they and their party were unsuited to popular government, but much of what they understood took root before their disintegration after twelve years of rule.

1/17/2010 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cooncur.

1/17/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ironies abound, as well -- for example, the fact that the party of Jefferson is now the repository of elitism, statism, an elastic constitution, and contempt for the individual. And since it is a secular elitism, it is devoid of wisdom.

1/17/2010 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NB: Agree with your take on the distribution of evil on each side of the red and blue divide.

Naivete is an operant factor in politics; you bet. This is an astute observation.

To go up the middle is also not an option.

The canny people will transcend politics by surveying the cultural battlefield from a prominent overlook, then founding and building a town where such enmity has no foothold.

After the town is settled, then real life begins.

Walt: thank you for the "sycamore tree" comment of yesterday. I found it very valuable; in fact, just the thing I was looking for.

I opt to start a new political reality (not a party). I call it "Sycamore."

It has deep roots and survives amidst the shifting sands of American politics and bears fruit at least three times a year.

Starting now. This is year "0"

I nominate Gagdad Bob as candidate for Team Leader (that will be the equivalent of President).

I will run for treasurer, as I have considerable treasure.

Any other nominations?

1/17/2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nice eulogy of Stanley Jaki. I didn't know he died last year. Great thinker.

1/17/2010 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Sorry to keep harping on this, but I really must.

Gillespie: "individual human beings... have an inherent dignity and worth. This assertion was revolutionary and stood in stark opposition to the regnant doctrine of original sin and the Fall, which denied that individuals had... an intrinsic value"

Who is this guy, anyway? Does he claim to have any understanding of Christian theology? I hope not, because his statements here are just plain wrong. The doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin do not in any way impute the intrinsic worth of the individual person. I mean, I think I get the point Gillespie is trying to make, but he's using such extreme language here that it crosses over into outright error.

It was Christ Himself and His Church that brought the true revolution over the valuation of the individual human being into the world. It's not too much to say that it was Christianity which invented the very concept of an individual human being of intrinsic worth who therefore had inviolable rights and dignity. The pre-Christian pagan world knew absolutely nothing of this and regarded it as madness. The post-Christian pagan world claims to have invented the idea itself, while gleefully carrying on with the abortion holocaust, the destruction of marriage and the family, the sexualization of children, the devaluation (and eventually the murder) of the aged, the crippled, the retarded.

The belief in the intrinsic worth of every single human being is the reason why Christ came into the world; why He went to the cross; why the martyrs went to the arena; why the Church banned common practices like abortion, infanticide, and divorce; why the Church spent centuries founding hospitals, orphanages, leper asylums, almshouses. The intrinsic worth of every single human being is the central, foundational idea - the very heart and essence - of Christendom. And it has been so from the first Christmas. It was hardly invented by a few proto-Coons in the 16th century or whatever.

And none of this is to deny that Christianity has gone through corrupt phases where this central truth seemed to be largely forgotten or covered over. It has, of course. And so Christendom has often stood in need of reformers, to remind it of what it has always believed. The Church always stands in need of being born again in the Spirit. But this is not what Gillespie seems to be saying. I hear him saying that it was only in relatively recent times that the idea of the intrinsic worth of the individual person was invented, and this is a damnable lie.

Of all the self-congratulatory lullabies the modern world sings to itself - of all the countless lies about Christ and His Church the modern world tells - this one, I think, is the most terrible, the most hateful. It is a dagger aimed directly at the heart of Christ.

There is probably nobody in the modern Western world who has completely escaped the effects of this lie. As a partial antidote, I would recommend David Bentley Hart's outstanding book "Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies". Or just about anything by Lewis or Chesterton.

1/17/2010 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm sure Gillespie is talking about de facto, not de jure. I mean, there's nothing in Christian theology about torturing heretics either, but it happened.

1/17/2010 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Otherwise, you put yourself in the position of Muslims who say that Islamic terror is impossible because the Koran says that murdering a single person is like murdering all of mankind.

1/17/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And our Jewish readers might want to chime in about how their intrinsic worth was respected down through church history...

1/17/2010 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"It seems that passions were temporarily dampened with the adoption of the Constitution in 1787, but so intense were the conflicts thereafter, that it is something of a miracle that such a man as George Washington existed at that time, because he, and only he, had sufficient stature to serve as the living source of unity in the country. "

I get a kick out of people who say 'our political process is so poisonous, not like the Founder's day'... if you read some of the things the press printed in those days, at the behest of one Founder against another... Good Gravy! Vicious doesn't begin to describe some of it.

They were people, with all the virtues, vices and errors that goes along with being one... but I think what they did have that was an advantage over our time, is a better understanding of what they had to work with - concepts and people - but more importantly, they had a different range of ideals as to what a person should be like... and, they had someone who focused more diligently on embodying those ideals, and succeeding more visibly so, than anyone else, in George Washington... he really was the indispensible Man.

"... the concrete love of a man who was the living embodiment of the ideals they cherished -- honor, virtue, courage, selflessness, and disinterested wisdom."

He wasn't the smartest, or the most well read, wasn't the richest, wasn't even the best general or politician, but he was be best Man, as you put it, 'the living embodiment of the ideals they cherished' and in the person of someone who they did love and cherish.

I tried to explain this to someone the other day who didn't get why Washington was talked about as such a big deal, and I don't think I succeeded... there is too much that comes together in him to sum up quickly... but you sure did a better job than I did.

At any rate, the more you read about the period, the more you realize, that it really wouldn't have succeeded without him and what he contributed to the time. The "Father of our Country" in more ways than one.

1/17/2010 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Well said, Warren.

1/17/2010 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van--

Yes, some even say that it was providential that Washington didn't have children, so strong was the urge to make him a monarch. The absence of biological children indeed makes him the father of us all.

1/17/2010 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

NB said "Both of them vote Democrat for what turns out to be somewhat naive thinking about the nature and role of government. However that's all it is: naivete. When I explain my raccoon-flavored views -- including the politically conservative parts -- neither man objected or launched into a spittle-flecked tirade the way many of our trolls here do. The brute fact is that most people do not have the depth of knowledge nor keen interest in politics that we do, and so they are prone to innocent mistakes."

Agreed, which is why I harp so much on Education (capitalized to disassociate if from modern Dewey indoctrinational aping of it)... no long term (or much of a short term) improvement will be won at the ballot box, without there being a reawakening of interest and understanding, of what the Founders created, and why.

And of course, here's a great place to begin lessons from.

1/17/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lynn, I think attributing the Founder's views to Calvinism is... a stretch... to say the least, and excludes the much wider knowledge of history and philosophy which they had, but the main point you made,

"..."expressly rejected direct democracy. Instead, the Constitution constructs a representative system of government that places all ruling power in the hands of elected officials."

, I heartily agree with... as long as it is remembered that not all elected officials were to be elected by the people. They went out of their way to ensure that we would NOT become a Democracy. The people, as you said, had a direct vote only in their Representatives, all else went through a hierarchy of representatives... Senators elected by state legislators, Judges appointed by the President 'with advice and consent' of the Senate, President elected through the Electoral College - all of which has been under attack from the get go.

Madison mentioned in his notes, that "when Edmund Randolph told his fellow delegates behind closed doors that the chief purpose of their assembling was to check "the turbulence and follies of democracy," there was no dissent." and that is no exaggeration.

It's also a fact that the proregressives main target has been to turn us into as much of a direct democracy as possible... which is the wet dream of demagogues everywhere.

1/17/2010 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, combined with the judicial tyranny of a "living constitution" just in case the mob gets it wrong!

1/17/2010 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> I'm sure Gillespie is talking about de facto, not de jure.

If so, then I have done him an injustice. I haven't read him.

1/17/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Aside - forgive me, but this example of "human nature" just struck me as ironic:

Can't We Just All Get Along?

"The Islamic Solidarity Games, designed to strengthen ties among Muslim nations, have been cancelled after a dispute between Arab countries and Iran over the name of the waterway dividing them."

1/17/2010 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> Otherwise, you put yourself in the position of Muslims who say that Islamic terror is impossible because the Koran says that murdering a single person is like murdering all of mankind.

Did you actually read my post?

1/17/2010 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Warren:

I detected no religious animus or bias in Gillespie whatsoever. Indeed, his is a very academically incorrect thesis, in that he is tying the pathologies of secularism to a kind of metaphysically mad theology rooted in nominalism.

1/17/2010 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Warren:

Yes, I read your comment. I was referencing your statement that "The doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin do not in any way impute the intrinsic worth of the individual person," vis-a-vis the dreadful manner in which most people were treated in medieval Europe, as if the former prevented the latter.

1/17/2010 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> the dreadful manner in which most people were treated in medieval Europe, as if the former prevented the latter.

Gotcha. No, of course it didn't prevent it. Even I'm not mad enough to imply such a thing.

1/17/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> And our Jewish readers might want to chime in about how their intrinsic worth was respected down through church history...

Absolutely. Maybe Mrs. G. would like to give her comments on that subject.

1/17/2010 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Perhaps a good analogy would be our reverence for the Constitution, which does not deny the reality of slavery. However, the Constitution was ultimately "self-correcting," as is true of Christian theology.

The same can by no means said of Islam, since the Islamists are the ones who follow the letter of the law and can quote you Koran-and-sura in support of jihad. Nothing Christ ever said or did can support any nasty thing that was ever done in his name.

1/17/2010 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mrs. G. is an interesting case, isn't she, coming from a Jewish family and converting to Catholicism? Especially because the only thing her father hates more than Judaism is Christianity.

1/17/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Van said... "Lynn, I think attributing the Founder's views to Calvinism is... a stretch... to say the least, and excludes the much wider knowledge of history and philosophy which they had..."

I would say that the Framers held to a biblical world-view and basically employed biblical principles in forging our founding documents. In no way would this undermine GB's "middle course" argument (Petrarch).

I'm not arguing for or against any particular denominational persuasion, but I do know that the Framers lived in a day when most people were well informed on doctrinal differences. Back then one's choice of church membership really meant something and was a clear indication of one's world-view. * (See my next post for a list I found of the 55 Framers and their church affiliation).

Item:

"....Calvinism was revolutionary. It taught the natural equality of men, and its essential tendency was to destroy all distinctions of rank and all claims to superiority which rested upon wealth or vested privilege. The liberty-loving soul of the Calvinist has made him a crusader against those artificial distinctions which raise some men above others.

Politically, Calvinism has been the chief source of modern republican government. Calvinism and republicanism are related to each other as cause and effect; and where a people are possessed of the former, the latter will soon be developed. .....Buckle, in his History of Civilization says, "Calvinism is essentially democratic," (I, 669). And de Tocqueville, an able political writer, calls it "& democratic and republican religion."

The system not only imbued its converts with the spirit of liberty, but it gave them practical training in the rights and duties as freemen. Each congregation was left to elect its own officers and to conduct its own affairs. Fiske pronounces it, "one of the most effective schools that has ever existed for training men in local serf-government." Spiritual freedom is the source and strength of all other freedom, and it need cause no surprise when we are told that the principles which governed them in ecclesiastical affairs gave shape to their political views. Instinctively they preferred a representative government and.stubbornly resisted all unjust rulers. After religious despotism is overthrown, civil despotism cannot long continue.

We may say that the spiritual republic which was founded by Calvin rests upon four basic principles. These have been summed up by an eminent English statesman and jurist, Sir .lames Stephen, as follows: "These principles were, firstly that the will of the people was the one legitimate source of the power of the rulers; secondly, that the power was most properly delegated by the people, to their rulers, by means of elections, in which every adult man might exercise the right of suffrage; thirdly, that in ecclesiastical government, the clergy and laity were entitled to an equal and co-ordinate authority; and fourthly that between the Church and State, no alliance, or mutual dependence, or other definite relation, necessarily or properly existed."

[.......]

Says McFetridge, "Arminianism is unfavorable to civil liberty, and Calvinism is unfavorable to despotism. The despotic rulers of former days were not slow to observe the correctness of these propositions, and, claiming the divine right of kings, feared Calvinism as republicanism itself." Excerpted from: http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/calvinism-history/8.htm

1/17/2010 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

For Van:

* The 55 Framers (from North to South):

John Langdon, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
Nicholas Gilman, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
Elbridge Gerry, Episcoplian (Calvinist)
Rufus King, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Caleb Strong, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
Nathaniel Gorham, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
Roger Sherman, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
William Samuel Johnson, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Oliver Ellsworth, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
Alexander Hamilton, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
John Lansing, Dutch Reformed (Calvinist)
Robert Yates, Dutch Reformed (Calvinist)
William Patterson, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
William Livingston, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Jonathan Dayton, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
David Brearly, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
William Churchill Houston, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Benjamin Franklin, Christian in his youth, Deist in later years, then back to his Puritan background in his old age (his June 28, 1787 prayer at the Constitutional Convention was from no "Deist")
Robert Morris, Episcopalian, (Calvinist)
James Wilson, probably a Deist
Gouverneur Morris, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Thomas Mifflin, Lutheran (Calvinist-lite)
George Clymer, Quaker turned Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Thomas FitzSimmons, Roman Catholic
Jared Ingersoll, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
John Dickinson, Quaker turned Episcopalian (Calvinist)
George Read, Episcopalian, (Calvinist)
Richard Bassett, Methodist
Gunning Bedford, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Jacob Broom, Lutheran
Luther Martin, Episcopalian, (Calvinist)
Daniel Carroll, Roman Catholic
John Francis Mercer, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
James McHenry, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Daniel of St Thomas Jennifer, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
George Washington, Episcopalian (Calvinist; no, he was not a deist)
James Madison, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
George Mason, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Edmund Jennings Randolph, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
James Blair, Jr., Episcopalian (Calvinist)
James McClung, ?
George Wythe, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
William Richardson Davie, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Hugh Williamson, Presbyterian, possibly later became a Deist
William Blount, Presbyterian (Calvinist)
Alexander Martin, Presbyterian/Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., Episcopalian (Calvinist)
John Rutledge, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, III, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
Abraham Baldwin, Congregationalist (Calvinist)
William Leigh Pierce, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
William Houstoun, Episcopalian (Calvinist)
William Few, Methodist

"Calvinism prevailed in England since it was the theology behind the Thirty-Nine Articles (1563) of the Church of England" (Paul Enns, *Moody Handbook of Theology*. Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), p. 476.

The Episcopalians held as their subordinate standards the 39 Articles of Religion. This confession is Calvinistic in emphasis.

Historic Protestant, Episcopalian doctrine is Reformed and Calvinistic. The Episcopalian church that adheres to its historic doctrine is still Reformed in the United States.

During that historic period, not only the 39 Articles of Religion ("Episcopalians"), but whenever you read of the Waldensians, the Bohemian Brethren (in Poland), the Huguenots, you're reading of churches that were Calvinistic

1/17/2010 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> the Constitution was ultimately "self-correcting," as is true of Christian theology... The same can by no means said of Islam

Yup. I was going to make a similar point, but you beat me to it.

1/17/2010 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

I can sympathize with Mrs. G's situation. I come from a whole family of atheists and pagans, except for my father, who was a Christian but also very, very anti-Catholic.

1/17/2010 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

The imago Dei precedes the Fall...and as all things that are founded in the created order, testifies to the *goodness* of God and of every gift that comes from His hand.. "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." Very! Thus, Warren's well-stated point...that a sinful nature does not eradicate the goodness inherent in God's creation, particularly we who are made in his image and likeness.

1/17/2010 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous calvin said...

Dude!

1/17/2010 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Really, I think it's just a matter of emphasis. In my experience, some denominations really emphasize man's sinful nature, but it wasn't until I encountered Orthodoxy that I saw more of an emphasis on theosis. Just speaking for myself, of course...

1/17/2010 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lynn said "I would say that the Framers held to a biblical world-view and basically employed biblical principles in forging our founding documents."

Other than substitution 'mindful of' for 'employed', I'm not disagreeing with that at all.

I once held the opposite position, but was refuted and disabused of the notion by the most unforgiving, insufferable and arrogant of opponents... er... me. Amazing what you find when you stop mouthing what you thought you knew to be true, and actually investigate the matter for yourself (I'm not directing that towards you at all... but always towards myself).

;- )

However, again, while religion, habits and practices were very influential in the Founders lives, the religion of a man does not dictate their philosophical ideas, and if that were the case, they could just as easily spun off in Rousseauian enthusiasms... which gives plenty of place to statements of 'freedom' and 'democracy' and 'republic', but philosophically undermines the foundations of liberty and ensures tyranny.

The Founders, and not just the names we know, but their generation and the one which gave rise to them, were very much aware of their own religious beliefs and of others as well, but also of classical history, English history and the philosophy and history of both. The education, and emphasis of it - entirely different in structure and purpose from the 'modern' education which followed in the wake of Rousseau - can be seen in an excerpt from “Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic” by James J. Walsh, 1933,
"At the time of his graduation from William and Mary, Jefferson was eighteen. During the two preceding impressionable years he had been under the tutelage of Professor Small and had been well grounded in the ethics, commonly taught at the colleges in those days. We have no theses from William and Mary because of the fire but the ethical theses that are available from the four colleges, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown, are all sufficiently alike to make it clear that they represent the moral philosophy teaching of the time. Under ethics or politics at most of the colleges they defended the proposition that authority for government devolved originally on the people, and was by them transferred to the ruler. If he did not rule for the benefit of his people they had a right to remove him and substitute another. This is the teaching that was in many minds at that time as the result of their college theses and it was this that was incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, the source of whose theory of government must be found in this ethical philosophy that was the common teaching of all the colonial colleges, and had for centuries been the teaching of the universities generally unless they were under royal influence.”

Which gives examples of debates and lesson plans form the colonial colleges of their day - fascinating stuff. They absolutely held religious ideas, and were influenced by them, but their political and philosophical arguments had well established foundations in philosophy and the history of politics and political thought.

1/17/2010 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> it wasn't until I encountered Orthodoxy that I saw more of an emphasis on theosis.

Agree - it's a matter of emphasis. Of course, if one finds an emphasis on theosis to be much more comfortable, it's quite possible that an emphasis on our sinful nature is what's actually needed more - and vice-versa. As the Chinese put it, "If it tastes bad, it must be good medicine."

(Not referring to you specifically, Doc, just making a general statement. ;-)

1/17/2010 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Complementarity, baby.

1/17/2010 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Gagdad Bob said: "Really, I think it's just a matter of emphasis. In my experience, some denominations really emphasize man's sinful nature, but it wasn't until I encountered Orthodoxy that I saw more of an emphasis on theosis. Just speaking for myself, of course..."

Theosis has recently been experiencing a ‘rediscovery’ of sorts by many within the Protestant tradition, who find it to be a neglected yet significant means of understanding the salvation we have in Christ. Norris correctly notes that "Because significant Western theologians confess this deep sense of sharing in the divine nature and others like John Calvin and Bernard of Clairvaux speak of the beautific vision and mystical union with God, deification should be viewed by Protestants not as an oddity of Orthodox theology but as an ecumenical consensus, a catholic [universal] teaching of the Church, best preserved and developed by the Orthodox"

HERE

1/18/2010 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Van said: "...I once held the opposite position, but was refuted and disabused of the notion by the most unforgiving, insufferable and arrogant of opponents... er... me. Amazing what you find when you stop mouthing what you thought you knew to be true, and actually investigate the matter for yourself (I'm not directing that towards you at all... but always towards myself). ;- )"

I could not agree more. In my more 'know-it-all' days, I could defend BS ( that I really thought was 'truth' ) with the best of them. I was much too lazy to do my own homework and instead relied on the opinions and research of favored 'gurus'. Never again. Now, if I'm going to be wrong, I'm going to be wrong on my own. :) I don't fear being wrong because I already know I'm going to be wrong more often than right, but I'm never going to give up the search for 'Truth'. When I think I've found it, I will definitely have the courage of my convictions until, like you, I prove myself wrong. :)

1/18/2010 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Van said: "They [The Founders] absolutely held religious ideas, and were influenced by them, but their political and philosophical arguments had well established foundations in philosophy and the history of politics and political thought."

I don't disagree with that at all. But I contend that this is the bottom line:

".....the SPIRITUAL republic which was founded by Calvin rests upon four basic principles. These have been summed up by an eminent English statesman and jurist, Sir .lames Stephen, as follows: "These principles were, firstly that the will of the people was the one legitimate source of the power of the rulers; secondly, that the power was most properly delegated by the people, to their rulers, by means of elections, in which every adult man might exercise the right of suffrage; thirdly, that in ecclesiastical government, the clergy and laity were entitled to an equal and co-ordinate authority; and fourthly that between the Church and State, no alliance, or mutual dependence, or other definite relation, necessarily or properly existed." [.......] Says McFetridge, "Arminianism [top-down government] is unfavorable to civil liberty, and Calvinism is unfavorable to despotism. The despotic rulers of former days were not slow to observe the correctness of these propositions, and, claiming the divine right of kings, feared Calvinism as republicanism itself." Excerpted from HERE

I think that bottom line is backed up here:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.--We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ["equally free and independent"/ "with equal authority"] , that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--..."[snip] ~ Declaration of Independence
HERE

1/18/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Van, here's another consideration:



The import of New Testament Scriptures like these were apparently not lost on the Framers of our founding documents:

Paul, Barnabus and Titus are shown as installing the elders that were chosen by the congregations [Acts 6:3-6; 14:23, Titus 1:5, etc.].

Paul says to the whole church congregation: "Pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom whom we may appoint to this duty." (of servant aka deacon)

The Reformers and most of the Framers also believed that the apostles had the *unique authority* to found and govern the early church, and they could speak and write the words of God. Many of their written words became the NT Scripture. In order to qualify as an apostle someone had to have seen Christ with his own eyes after he rose from the dead and had to have been specifically installed/appointed by Christ as an apostle.

In place of living apostles present in the church to teach and govern it, we have instead the writings of the apostles in the books of the NT. Those New Testament Scriptures fulfill for the church today the absolute authoritative teaching and governing functions which were fulfilled by the apostles themselves during the early years of the church.

Because of that, there is no need for any direct "succession" or "physical descent" from the apostles.


"History is eloquent in declaring that on a people's religion ever depends their freedom or their bondage."

1/18/2010 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Lynn,

With all due respect, Jefferson's lines in the Declaration of Independence had far more to do with Locke, Shaftesbury, Coke, Cicero and Aristotle, than Calvin.

If you're trying to tie the political ideas of the Founders to Calvin as a source, IMHO, that's a tissue at best, correlative rather than causal... that Calvin arrived at a sense of the same truths, speaks more of the Truths in question, than of Calvin.

1/18/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lynn said "The import of New Testament Scriptures like these were apparently not lost on the Framers of our founding documents..."

I'm not questioning the influence of either the New or Old Testament on the Founders, and I've no dog in the Catholic/Protestant debate. There's an abundance of evidence of their religions being important to their personal philosophy, not to mention that the Rev. Thomas Hooker set up the Charter of Connecticut (the first constitution in the Colonies, I think - and in reaction to the existing communities that were trying to weave church & state), using much of the same language, sixty years before Locke's essays became the rage.

My only point, is that politically speaking, and as the foundation that is open for debate (philosophical, rather than as items of faith), they drew their ideas and discussion from history and philosophy, rather than in direct reference to any religous authority.

1/18/2010 01:47:00 PM  

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