(with all that mind of Christ) Why Don't Christians See This?

Some people think that faith makes people more discerning, more willing to subject contemporary life to a higher norm. A while back, Ross Douthat picked up on this and Rod Dreher extended the conversation in reference to Charles Taylor’s account of secularity. In essence, Douthat was arguing that a secular outlook was more limiting and narrower than faith or religious experiences because it cut off certain perceptions and simply reinforced its own preferences.

That may be, but the question that Douthat and Dreher failed to address is the problem of civil religion. When the Bible tells Christians to put no hope in princes, why have Christians been some of the most gullible in seeing divine significance in political movements, and why have they been willing to overlook huge enormities in specific politicians in order to believe that said rulers are doing the Lord’s work?

Consider these comments by Gary Scott Smith in a review of a book on presidents and religion:

Presidents, like other politicians, use religion to further their own purposes—to gain the approval of various groups, enhance their popularity, win elections, fortify their claim to be virtuous and honest, and increase support for their policies. They employ religious and moral rhetoric to defend their own policies, programs, and actions and to criticize those of their opponents. Religious and moral appeals connect particular policies with transcendent principles, elevating them above mundane, pragmatic concerns and sometimes helping strengthen citizens’ commitment to them.

O’Connell maintains that presidents in earlier periods of American history probably used religious rhetoric more frequently and successfully. And, as noted, he focuses only on presidents’ use of religious and moral language to achieve their policy aims. My research indicates, however, that most post-World War II presidents regularly and effectively employed religious and moral rhetoric to help justify their policies. Examples abound, including Harry Truman’s approach to the Cold War and decision to recognize Israel, Nixon’s campaign to further world peace, Carter’s quest to advance human rights around the globe, Reagan’s endeavors to pass a school prayer amendment, secure tuition tax credits, and oppose communism, George H. W. Bush’s effort to gain support for Operation Desert Storm, Clinton’s promotion of religious liberty and attempt to reform welfare and resolve international conflicts, George W. Bush’s backing for faith-based initiatives and opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and the use of new embryonic stem-cells in research, and Barack Obama’s policies on poverty and homosexual civil rights.

Why don’t Christians find such a utilitarian approach to Christianity objectionable? Why no cries of blasphemy, taking God’s name in vain?

Conversely, why are Christians incapable of thinking about George Washington the way that H.L. Mencken did:

If George Washington were alive today, what a shining mark he would be for the whole camorra of uplifters, forward-lookers and professional patriots! He was the Rockefeller of his time, the richest man in the United States, a promoter of stock companies, a land-grabber, an exploiter of mines and timber. He was a bitter opponent of foreign entanglements, and denounces their evils in harsh, specific terms. He had a liking for forthright and pugnacious men, and a contempt for lawyers, schoolmasters and all other such obscurantists. He was not pious. He drank whiskey whenever he felt chilly, and kept a jug of it handy. He knew far more profanity than Scripture, and used and enjoyed it more. He had no belief in the infallible wisdom of the common people, but regarded them as inflammatory dolts, and tried to save the Republic from them. He advocated no sure cure for all the sorrows of the world, and doubted that such a panacea existed. He took no interest in the private morals of his neighbors.

Why does faith make Christians (some anyway) dumber?

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40 thoughts on “(with all that mind of Christ) Why Don't Christians See This?

  1. Those needing to pray the Serenity Prayer constantly aren’t just for cases of struggling with toxic substances.

    It extents to living in the real world and doing what you can without hoping some magic man comes and sweeps in and tailors a nation of 300,000,000 to do exactly what you want if you vote for him

    it’s bad enough with them expecting Jesus to return and cater to all their wishes…

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  2. Washington helped kill the Articles of Confederation, and he helped to bring us the system of government that we have today. His good ideas (anti-intervention) have been long forgotten and everything bad has been etched in stone. Perhaps people want to make Washington a Christian so that they can blame Christianity for the mess the Constitution made. Okay, that’s wishful thinking.

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  3. Dr. D.G. Hart,

    Mr. George Washington doesn’t sound so bad … or maybe he does, and he’s simply a sinful human being like the rest of us. It would be nice if conservatives, so hell bent in a “conservation of the Founders & the Constitution,” would learn to conserve Washington’s inspired antipathy to foriegn conflicts. Maybe that’s too much, considering the neo-right’s proclivity toward bible thumping and grandstanding about America’s messianic mission to free the world and “almost” everyone in it.

    Hmmm. The real Washington sounds much better to me!

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  4. Ahh yes, got a nice whiff of good ol’ civil religion this morning when I dropped the kids off for school, when the morning announcements were started with a call to join in the Pledge of Allegiance. I have never been much of a fan, and have wondered if it would be worth the trouble to encourage my boys to either stand respectfully in silence when it is said, or to not participate at all. As it is, I refuse to repeat (even back when I was a high school student), “One nation under God…” when the pledge is said, even when I volunteer in my kids classrooms.

    The pledge is a fairly new exercise right? It seems fitting for an authoritarian state not a constitutional republic – something more appropriate to a Soviet or a Nazi than an American citizen. This isn’t to say I am against appropriate oaths amongst either citizens, or public servants, just to say that the Pledge in particular seems to be more of a brainwashing tool to ilicit mindless obedience than it is to inculcate genuine and healthy loyalty to the Republic.

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  5. “Presidents, like other politicians, use religion to further their own purposes”

    at least the new mind knows it can’ t do a job reserved by the Lord, for the Lord God’s job 1 Cor 4:5

    “He was not pious. He drank whiskey whenever he felt chilly, and kept a jug of it handy.”

    The ‘pious’ don’t drink whiskey?

    Nate: Also, can we re-elect Washington?
    DG: Most of the earnest believers believe in the resurrection, right?

    As I understand it, there won’t be voting then-the king appoints Luke 19:17; Isa 32:1

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  6. A little piece I put together in 2004 about George Washington’s “Christian Faith” :

    ” George Washington seems to be one high profile subject of this characterization, so a concise overview of his activities is in order. Did Christianity play a significant part in his public service? We must recall that Washington was a member of the Church of England, served as a vestryman in Truro Parish, and in this capacity played a key part in the construction of Pohick Church He also maintained a family pew (no. 16) in the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg along with Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, John Marshall and others. (Source: The Rewriting of America’s History, Catherine Millard.pp 72. 291). Bruton parish church is active today, and regularly hosts the public in its scheduled events, so you have the opportunity to sit in the same pew which they once owned.
    Washington participated in the Lord’s Supper with other churches, which occurred during the winter encampment at Morristown. NJ. 1776- 77, after asking for permission from the Presbyterian minister there. As General, he also issued the order for all officers and soldiers to attend divine services when not engaged on actual duty, the purpose for which he wrote: “To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” (Source: The Story of New Jersey Vol. II, William Starr Myers. Phd. pp.299). We must note that to hold office in the vestry, and to be admitted to a Presbyterian Lord’s Supper would require a credible public profession of one’s faith as a Christian.”

    As far as Mencken’s heavily innuendo laden quip that “He advocated no sure cure for all the sorrows of the world, and doubted that such a panacea existed.” apparently, Mencken omitted Washington’s theological “Panacea” from his Farewell Address:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”

    Seems quite a strong “cure-all” after all… .
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

    And, earlier theological vignettes from Washington can be found in his First Inaugural Address… .
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/wash1.asp

    …”since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

    There is one more rather pointed observation he binds upon the Nation at the end, I’ll leave it to the reader to “click the link”.

    Any thoughts on what modern political theory excels that of our esteemed and illustrious Washington?

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  7. Jed-


    Just checked that bastion of accuracy Wikipedia, which says the pledge was drafted in 1945, and the “under God” clause was added in 1954.

    To the extent it promotes Americanism, the pledge is bad; to the extent patriotism good. I don’t think it need be the former by any means.

    It may give you some measure of relief to know that “under God” was added at the behest of Catholics (the Knights of Columbus in particular).

    I hope you relay that to your children as well.

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  8. Russell
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
    A little piece I put together in 2004 about George Washington’s “Christian Faith” :

    And, earlier theological vignettes from Washington can be found in his First Inaugural Address… .
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/wash1.asp

    …”since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

    There is one more rather pointed observation he binds upon the Nation at the end, I’ll leave it to the reader to “click the link”.

    Any thoughts on what modern political theory excels that of our esteemed and illustrious Washington?

    Very well done, sir.

    I meself have doubts about GWash’s acceptance of Christian doctrine, even Trintarianism, but I do believe he was sincere when he wrote to the Jews of Savannah

    May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors, planted them in a promised land, whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation, still continue to water them with the dews of heaven and make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.

    G. Washington.

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  9. Jed, it’s worse than you think:

    It is easy to forget that it was a Progressive ambition to orient the devotion of the American public to the nation and away from their localities. The “Pledge of Allegiance”—now cherished by conservatives as a traditional civil prayer—was written in 1892 and advocated by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist, cousin of socialist utopian Edward Bellamy. Such advocates of nationalism saw particular and mediating allegiances—especially those of immigrant groups like the Irish and Italians—as a danger to liberal democracy and instead advanced efforts to instill fealty to the idea of the nation. Thus, American history increasingly became focused on learning about the Declaration and the Constitution rather than particular people of achievement such as Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, and Nathan Hale (people with strong local affiliations, to boot).

    Nationalism was understood to be a necessary step in liberating individuals from local cultures that put limits upon the full expression of a more universal self-understanding, as well as the goals of personal autonomy and upward mobility. Thinkers such as Herbert Croly and John Dewey, writing for the appropriately titled New Republic, called for a new religiously-tinted devotion to the nation as the source of individual liberation and national greatness. President McKinley—having defeated the populist William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election—set the country on an imperialistic course, one later approved by Progressives (irrespective of party). Conservatives such as, arguably, Bryan himself at this point tended to defend the particularities of their states, defended the idea of a modest Republic based in self-sufficient family-farming or small-scale ownership of business, and were deeply wary of the nationalizing and imperialistic proclivities of the elite coastal classes. Conservatism, even if imperfectly, was less a program than a disposition and set of varied local practices that eschewed a monolithic and ideological orientation.

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  10. People like the pledge because it suggest we be civic minded and says the nation stands under God. All the history, etc… It might matter if liberals were trying to make us say the pledge as an AneriCorps prayer, but that hardly seems a danger right now. As for GW, I think I’d like him even if he needed converting.

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  11. Joem,

    Seriously… There was one nation under God, but that ended in 586 BC. I don’t have to say a jingoistic mantra to be a good citizen or to appreciate this great nation… Sheesh

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  12. DG,

    America makes it through the last day and Washington becomes president again? We truly are a city on a hill

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  13. Nate,

    DG, America makes it through the last day and Washington becomes president again? We truly are a city on a hill

    ~
    Well, it flows logically from Washington’s Apotheosis (I assume you’re familiar with the mural in the Capitol). He didn’t need give us his word- it is hallowed by the actions of Congress acting in communion with Washington’s successors and the Judges of the SC in the the holy city Washington established.

    It is true we haven’t always heeded his deposit of faith – e.g., in his Farewell Address, or Sermon-before-retiring-to-the-Mount (Vernon).

    […] the dangers of foreign nations who will seek to influence the American people and government.

    He makes a point to say that he believes both nations who may be considered friendly as well as nations considered enemies will try to influence the government to do their will and it will only be “real patriots” who ignore popular opinion and resist the influence of friendly nations to seek what is best for their own country.

    [I see much to like here, actually]

    But the good news is that we are undeniably making progress – most of the doctrines of the only faith we have reason to believe he subscribed to without reservation have become part & parcel of how we Americans think on a daily basis. So his return may be any election cycle now.

    Analysts who have studied Washington’s papers held by the Library of Congress say that his correspondence with Masonic Lodges is filled with references to the “Great Architect of the Universe.”

    ~

    I respect the man for the good he did, just think we need to be aware of his faults – e.g., betraying his vow to serve the King (is it not a sin to break vows?).

    Let me go on record saying, following Charles Coulombe, that if you were to imagine hypothetically the actions of the most devious and skilled Masonic plotter – and compare them with the actions of a typical American going about his daily business – you’d probably not notice much of a difference. I.e., what used to be called distinctly Masonic is now simply American.

    I am pleased to see the OPC took a stand on this sometime back: “This finally resulted in the ninth assembly’s declaration that membership in the Masonic order is inconsistent with Christianity.”

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  14. DGH “Russell, keep faith in America (not God) alive”

    Actually, I’m working towards both, to understanding the Supreme King of the Universe, and to what His prophetic purpose was for America. Since most money and missionary laborers came from America, it is reasonable to conclude that the fulfillment of Matt. 24:14, which needed both funds and workers, has , in the main been sourced by the liberty of the American churches to do so under a Constitution originally designed to support such activities. No other nation fits the description… .
    Therefore, America has had a most profound prophetic fulfillment….

    Note to Kevin in Newark, you will like this one.

    Here are some proofs to my thesis:

    AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE Philoclean and Peithessophian Societies,
    OF RUTGERS COLLEGE.

    BY THEODORE FRELINGHUYSEN. 1831.

    About the Author…Theodore Frelinghuysen, A.M., LL.D. b.1787 -d.1861.

    Captain, U.S. Vols. War of 1812;
    Attorney General, New Jersey 1817-29;
    U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 1829-35;
    Director, Princeton Seminary 1829-35;
    Trustee, Princeton Seminary 1829;
    Mayor, Newark, N.J. 1837-38;
    Chancellor, Univ. City of New York 1839-50;
    President, Rutgers 1859-61;
    A.B, Princeton 1804, A.M. 1807; LL.D. Princeton 1833, also Rutgers 1841.
    President, American Bible Society, 1845-62.
    —Princeton University General Catalog, 1746-1906

    “The American Revolution, brought into action the soundest principles of political liberty; and their triumphant establishment has given an impulse to this cause, that now awakens deep concern in every crowned head of the old world—that has shaken all its thrones and struck dismay into all its high places. The great truth developed in our contest was, that government was only so far rightful, as it sought the welfare of the whole: that it was to be maintained not for the advancement of the few, over the neglected rights of the many, but to secure and preserve to all the people, the sacred rights of life, liberty and property.

    But passing by this fruitful theme, I desire to make the prominent subject of our present contemplation, the interesting truth, that the pure spirit of the Bible, has powerfully aided, and fostered the interests of civil liberty. That spirit which recognizes every man as a brother; which enjoins the like regard for his welfare, that is felt for our own; must from its nature have elevated the tone of feeling, and the standard of right.”

    “Let it be noted, with grateful emotions, that the period during which the benefits of free government, have been most studied and best understood, and in which it has made the greatest advancement, has been the very time in which the religious enterprises of benevolence have sprung into existence, and been actively engaged in spreading through the earth, the hallowed influences of the Bible.” Pg. 7.
    Ref: Google search of Speeches of Theodore Frelinghusen

    And just one more :

    AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE LITERARY SOCIETIES

    OF RUTGERS COLLEGE, BY REV. GEORGE JUNKIN, D. D., L.L.D.

    JULY 1st, 1856.

    About the Author… George Junkin, D. D., L.L.D. b. 1790 -d. 1868

    Graduate, Jefferson College, 1813. Later he graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Associate Reformed Church. D.D., Jefferson, 1833. LL.D., Rutgers, 1856. Presbyterian Clergyman.

    He served as President of:
    Lafayette College, 1832-41, and 1844-48.
    Miami Univ., OH 1841-44.
    Washington College, VA 1848-61.

    “A farther consequence of this freedom in religion, is our missionary character. Having long experienced the blessedness of a free Bible and a free mind; having full knowledge of their effect in consolidating the foundations of all our institutions—civil, political, literary, scientific, social,

    all—we have been awaked to a sense of their importance to other nations, and a desire to disseminate the tidings over all the earth.

    Our position relatively to them is one of thrilling interest in this behalf; and we have begun to feel our obligations.” Pp.20-21

    https://ia600404.us.archive.org/35/items/addressdelivered01junk/addressdelivered01junk.pdf

    DHG “why have Christians been some of the most gullible in seeing divine significance in political movements, and why have they been willing to overlook huge enormities in specific politicians in order to believe that said rulers are doing the Lord’s work?”

    Looks to me that American politicians did very important Lord’s work… .

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  15. DGH: “Russell, It’s 2015. Hello”

    Yep, I most certainly do know it’s 2015. And does that negate the value of what I have presented as the intentional design for the United States, by its churches, to become a major contributor to the fulfillment of the Great Commission ? Princeton Seminary from its founding and onward for a century was the central missions school to that illustrious end. And it was the missions issue that resulted in the OPC. And should be today for like minded people.

    By the way, I studied quite a while under one OPC Secretary of Foreign Missions, who, incidentally, led me to study the original source authors I liberally quote here.

    So, to finish my mini-dissertation, I’ll appeal again to another Rutgers man, who cites the value of many books (no doubt containing the Reformer’s works typical of what I found on WTS’s shelves).

    And he commends that to…”the perpetual instruction of all succeeding generations.” That would be…you and me. Just as Luther, Calvin & c. would have wanted regarding their contributions.

    AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE Philoclean and Peithessophian Societies, OF RUTGERS COLLEGE. ON THE LITERARY CHARACTER OF THE SCRIPTURES,
    DELIVERED AND PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE PEITHESSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

    BY ALEXANDER H. EVERETT.

    MDCCCXXXVIII.

    “Will the steady patriot,—the dauntless champion,—the successful leader of the people understand the mysteries of political science ? Will he be able to arrange, with all the necessary checks and balances, the complicated machinery of a new constitution?

    Fear not for him, man of many books! He possesses a source of information more certain than any of your theories, richer than all the pigeon-holes of all the constitution-makers. He is inspired by the fear and love of God which are the end as well as the beginning of wisdom. He builds his political structure on the Rock of Ages: the gates of Hell cannot and will not prevail against it. Then was revealed to the world, for the first time, the beautiful spectacle of a political constitution founded in truth, justice, and equal rights.

    It was revealed for the perpetual instruction of all succeeding generations.

    Amid the changing forms of national existence, it survives, and will survive for ever, the substantial basis of the legislation of Christendom.”

    http://commons.ptsem.edu/id/addressdelivered06ever

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  16. D. G. Hart
    Posted August 15, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink
    Russell, It’s 2015. Hello.

    Russell
    Posted August 15, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
    DGH: “Russell, It’s 2015. Hello”

    Yep, I most certainly do know it’s 2015. And does that negate the value of what I have presented as the intentional design for the United States, by its churches, to become a major contributor to the fulfillment of the Great Commission ? Princeton Seminary from its founding and onward for a century was the central missions school to that illustrious end. And it was the missions issue that resulted in the OPC. And should be today for like minded people.

    By the way, I studied quite a while under one OPC Secretary of Foreign Missions, who, incidentally, led me to study the original source authors I liberally quote here.

    Don’t make him jealous. It takes so little to turn Dr. Hart into a snotty 10-yr-old. Or a denizen of the Harvard faculty lounge.

    Kevin in Newark
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Analysts who have studied Washington’s papers held by the Library of Congress say that his correspondence with Masonic Lodges is filled with references to the “Great Architect of the Universe.”

    FTR, that phrase originates with…wait for it…

    John Calvin.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/comment3/comm_vol08/htm/xxv.i.htm

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  17. Russell-

    Many thanks for the quotes. These were some very serious men- religion, education, politics. However did they lose political control?

    Their legacy is nil as far as I can tell as a Rutgers alumnus who worked for years at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, used the PTS library (including a term paper based on the library administration and collections), and audited classes at Princeton. PTS may well retain something of it, I suppose. Not Rutgers, or state or the Newark gov.

    I doubt they would have cared much for the RCC, alas, but I’d prefer their rule to the current cast of characters. Perhaps they overstated America’s role in as an instrument of the divine- we are one country amongst many, and I think monarchies tend to work better on the whole (no great 2015 examples, unfortunately). But I’m impressed, so thanks.

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  18. Tom-

    At least Calvin was a Trinitarian, but very interesting.

    Do you know the history of P&R participation with the Masons? I like that the OPC forbade membership in the 1930s. But I would expect significant involvement from the 18th to early 20th centuries.

    I’d love to get our resident historian – moderator’s opinion, as well as anyone else’s. Is this true of the PCA and other NAPARC churches?

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  19. TVD, Ah, great reminder of who originated that phrase “Great Architect of The Universe”.
    I also have a plethora of old Harvard guys to quote if needed… .

    Kevin In Newark, your observations are well appreciated… .
    What I have tried to do is set up “Benchmarks” with which we may compare the present day institutions with that of the intended design, and you just fulfilled that. Just what those old guys would have done. And, gives us some hint as to what we need to do.

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  20. Kevin in Newark
    Posted August 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
    Tom-

    At least Calvin was a Trinitarian, but very interesting.

    Do you know the history of P&R participation with the Masons? I like that the OPC forbade membership in the 1930s. But I would expect significant involvement from the 18th to early 20th centuries.

    I’d love to get our resident historian – moderator’s opinion, as well as anyone else’s. Is this true of the PCA and other NAPARC churches?

    Dr. Calvinism: A History is of precious litle help when it comes to history that doesn’t suit his particular brand of political theology. Look elsewhere:

    http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2009/janfeb/17.28.html

    John Witte’s new book, The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism, will therefore come as an eye-opener to many. According to Witte, Reformed Protestants developed a biblically based theory of social contract (or “covenant”), together with ideas of popular sovereignty, fundamental rights, and the legitimacy of revolution, more than 100 years before Locke. Witte offers the essential scholarly caveats—Calvinism was not the only source of ideas of political freedom; when Calvinists were in power they did not always extend the benefits of freedom to others—but fundamentally, he presents the claim that Reformed Protestantism was the “seedbed” of American constitutionalism: “American religious, ecclesiastical, associational, and political liberty were grounded in fundamental Puritan ideas of conscience, confession, community, and commonwealth.”

    In fact, as he points out, “every one of the guarantees in the 1791 Bill of Rights had already been formulated in the prior two centuries,” along with “a number of the core ideas of American constitutionalism—popular sovereignty, federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, church and state, and more” by “Calvinist theologians and jurists.”

    More important, Witte addresses the questions of why and how. Why did Calvinists in Geneva, Holland, Britain, and New England develop a political theology conducive to republican government and political liberty? How did Reformed Protestantism develop a set of ideas that would inspire later generations first to rebel against the King and then to institute a government of ordered liberty? Witte has written not a political history but an internal and deeply theological account of the evolution of ideas and beliefs, which will be illuminating to intellectual historians and constitutionalists, but also accessible to educated readers with an interest in the relation of religious thought to ideas of freedom.

    The story begins with John Calvin…

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  21. Russell-

    A worthy project indeed.

    Just my experience, but the humanities at Rutgers are lost in relativism, which in the case of the English department has degenerated into complete, undeniable, and shameful silliness, one prof excluded.

    The philosophy department is possibly the best in the country, but irredemably atheist and uninterested in history or (in any serious way) contemporary affairs. Econ is ok, can’t speak to history. Sciences are strong.

    The music department is great (sense of the relatedness of disciplines, historically oriented, not hostile to religion), but recent hirings haven’t always been the best- a sign perhaps of upper administrative pressure, which is more interested in mass marketing and sports- with a huge effect on admissions (e.g., they let me in). A frat-oriented culture has become dominant. It is an embarrassment for one of the few colonial-era universities, and a good marker of the decline of American culture.

    Princeton is a great university in many ways of course, but the visiting (especially foreign) profs are the best (in my limited experience). American students tend to be atheists (in philosophy, some aggressively so, as one would expect) and lacking in accurate history. Smart, of course, for what that’s worth on its own. Relativism is common, but more sophisticated than at Rutgers. I’ve seen similar at Columbia and CUNY.

    Not sure how far our visions overlap, but I think the situation is in the mid-term hopeless, at least until good humanistic homeschooling develops into the establishment of new schools (I know 3 schools in NY-NJ under trad-oriented Catholic auspices- run by hardworking, dedicated, intelligent individuals, examples of the only real hope I see).

    I hope to send my baby to Italy or Brazil in 2033, even if things start to improve here by then (possible I guess). Good excuse for a vacation home (2 family, with a rental unit).

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  22. Not sure how far our visions overlap, but I think the situation is in the mid-term hopeless, at least until good humanistic homeschooling develops into the establishment of new schools (I know 3 schools in NY-NJ under trad-oriented Catholic auspices- run by hardworking, dedicated, intelligent individuals, examples of the only real hope I see).

    In the Too Little Too Late Dept.–Just as the reliably center-left Atlantic took 10 years to write “Dan Quayle Was Right,” exonerating him from all the abuse and derision he took for condemning Murphy Brown having a baby without a father in the picture, The Atlantic‘s latest issue has

    The Coddling of the American Mind

    In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

    The rag is pretty useless, but BTW, you can get it here for 4 bucks a year. I guess it’s good to keep an eye on these people.

    http://www.magazinepricesearch.com/detail/atlantic.html

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  23. “Great nation?” “Good citizen?” Hard to know whether to take you seriously or not. All I can, is that if you were so disdainful of the American experience that you think all countries are equal, I leave you to your coffee shop mentality and self-righteousness. The fact you think your child send the pledges coercive are dangerous Just speaks to the fact that you live in a world of thinking too hard. at least that’s my perspective. Seriously, if you use Mac products, as an example they’re all made by Chinese people living in sweatshops not quite the same world we live in. Whatever I could go on but your overwrought consideration strikes me is laughable . If you’re over 50 I apologize but you seem like a painfully obvious 20 or 30 something.

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  24. TVD : John Calvin.http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/comment3/comm_vol08/htm/xxv.i.htm

    Love that psalm TVD … including v5

    It appears to me very likely that the Holy Ghost in these expressions which he most immediately uses about the rising of the sun, has an eye to the rising of the Sun of Righteousness from the grave, and that the expressions that the Holy Ghost here uses are conformed to such a view. The times of the Old Testament are times of night in comparison of the gospel day, and are so represented in Scripture, and therefore the approach of the day of the New Testament dispensation in the birth of Christ, is called the day spring from on high visiting the earth (Lu 1:78), “Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us; “and the commencing of the gospel dispensation as it was introduced by Christ, is called the Sun of Righteousness rising. Malachi 4:2.
    But this gospel dispensation commences with the resurrection of Christ. Therein the Sun of Righteousness rises from under the earth, as the sun appears to do in the morning, and comes forth as a bridegroom. He rose as the joyful, glorious bridegroom of his church; for Christ, especially as risen again, is the proper bridegroom, or husband, of his church, as the apostle teaches (Romans 7:4), “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
    He that was covered with contempt, and overwhelmed in a deluge of sorrow, has purchased and won his spouse, for he loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself; now he comes forth as a bridegroom to bring home his purchased spouse to him in spiritual marriage, as he soon after did in the conversion of such multitudes, making his people willing in the day of his power, and hath also done many times since, and will do in a yet more glorious degree. Jonathan Edwards

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