Monday, April 23, 2007

Babka Defends Rutherford:

Jim Babka emailed me this.


The system keeps telling me I have the wrong password, so I cannot reply to the Samuel Rutherford post. Here's what I would've submitted:

Now Jon, I'd be tempted to take this personal if I didn't know better. ;-)

Of course, I'm no revisionist, concurring with your general opinion of the Founders' religious beliefs. But to your point...

Yes, shame on Rutherford. But the Founders permitted slavery -- some even owned them. Shame on them too.

Rutherford's beliefs were not yet evolved. Neither were our Founders.

Thank God for evolution.

The shame of one terrible line doesn't change the influence that Rutherford had. Lex Rex was seminal and revolutionary. Someone in the 21st century finding a paragraph not to their liking it doesn't make it any less important, and, dare I say it, even any less "influential."


There was nothing personal. I wasn't really thinking of Jim who previously on these threads asserted Rutherford's influence. I was thinking more of the Christian Nationalists (here and here) who attempt to, what I think, overstate Rutherford's influence in order to credit Christianity with founding ideals.

I seriously doubt Rutherford at all influenced Locke. But his justification for the perhaps Biblical case for revolt probably impacted colonist of a Calvinist bent and made them more amenable to Revolution. On matters of religion and the rights of conscience, I think, given he apparently didn't believe in the rights of conscience at all, we can entirely discount his influence on the notion of "unalienable rights," which was 180 degrees from Jefferson's, Madison's and the Declaration's.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

We might posit that the Great Only-Semi-Washed who also signed the Constitution weren't "influenced" by anyone on the level Jefferson aped Locke.

In fact, even though I trace their received wisdom through Grotius from Suarez and Aquinas, chances are they hardly heard of any of 'em, and read only Grotius, if any. It was just sort of a vibe, the trickle-down effect of Great Ideas, pretty much how people today receive Plato or Buddha or Augustine or Kant.

If they heard Rutherford at all, it was likely only the part they wanted to hear, that the Bible says it's OK to revolt.