Saturday, September 29, 2007

Conditions of Orthodoxy at Founding Era Colleges:

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other colleges were founded in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when America was a bunch of British Colonies and before Church and State were separated, with explicitly orthodox Christian "missions." Most realize that something changed along the way, but few understand when and how it happened. The institutional changes occurred primarily during the 19th Century. After all, during the founding era, Timothy Dwight -- a fire and brimstone fundamentalist preacher -- was President of Yale. Yet, it was during this time -- early to mid 18th Century -- that such colleges became hotbeds of infidelity, in other words, when the seeds of change were planted. And Harvard, institutionally, officially became "infidel" around the turn of the 19th Century.

"Infidelity" -- that is, non-orthodoxy, or deism, unitarianism, Arminianism, and universalism -- was a dissident movement in 18th Century America [some of these were harder forms of infidelity, some softer; my contention is America's key founders -- the first four Presidents, Ben Franklin and a few other leading lights, were soft infidels]. However, so was Whiggery a dissident movement in England. American Whigs, as such, were disproportionately imbibed in these "infidel" principles, which never captured the minds of the masses, but did capture the minds of the elite, educated men who gave America the principles upon which it declared independence and constructed the Constitution.

Bishop Meade, a founding era figure, testified on the deplorable conditions of orthodoxy in 18th Century Virginia, especially at the College of William and Mary.

The intimacy produced between infidel France and our own country, by the union of our arms against the common foe, was most baneful in its influence with our citizens generally, and on none more than those of Virginia. The grain of mustard-seed which was planted at Williamsburg, about the middle of the century, had taken root there and sprung up and spread its branches over the whole State, —the stock still enlarging and strengthening itself there, and the roots shooting deeper into the soil. At the end of the century the College of William and Mary was regarded as the hotbed of infidelity and of the wild politics of France. Strong as the Virginia feeling was in favour of the Alma Mater of their parents, the Northern Colleges were filled with the sons of Virginia's best men.


Likewise Timothy Dwight had problems with "infidelity" at Yale. As this book notes:

We are now entering upon a very interesting period in the life of Dr. Dwight. Owing to a variety of causes which it is not necessary to enumerate, the state of Yale College at the time of his accession to the office of President, was in many respects unhappy. Destitute in a great degree of public or private patronage, its numbers were reduced, its discipline was relaxed, a looseness of moral and religious sentiment had become fashionable, and its reputation had been for some time on the decline through the community. One of the greatest evils under which it suffered, was an extensive prevalence of infidelity among the students. This pernicious spirit had been derived from the circumstances of the country at the close of the preceding war. As was natural, it found easy access to the minds of a collection of youths, who were fascinated with ideas of mental as well as political independence, and who were easily induced to shake off what they considered the shackles of habit and superstition. The degree to which it prevailed may be conjectured from the following fact. A considerable proportion of the class which he first taught, had assumed the names of the principal English and French infidels, and were more familiarly known by them than by their own. Under circumstances like these, he entered upon the duties of his office as PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.


Or as a more modern source (and one sympathetic to Dwight's creed) puts it:

When Dwight arrived at Yale, the moral and scholarly atmosphere of the school was, to say the least, in a valley. Membership in the college church hovered near, well, near zero. Most undergraduates avowed themselves skeptics. One of the students of that day later wrote, ``intemperance, profanity, and gambling were common; yea, and also licentiousness.'' Some of the students had taken to calling each other not by their given names, but rather by the names of Voltaire, D'Alembert, Diderot, and of other French and English infidels. The campus supported not one but two societies dedicated to the reading and distribution of literature by deist Tom Paine. One might think that in such an atmosphere of "reason" and of worship of the exalted human nature order and self-discipline might have also been prominent on campus. As with the French revolution, however, such talk in its practical application degenerated into pleasure seeking, and gratification of the true nature of humanity. Once, near the end of his term, when the previous president of Yale had brought a visitor to the chapel for an assembly, he, being late, found the students yelling, whooping, carousing, and generally out of control. The president forced his way to the podium and wore himself out shouting and pounding on the stage with his cane until the cane splintered. It was some time before order was restored.


One reason Yale may have been so sympathetic to infidelity prior to Dwight's Presidency was the previous President (Dwight became President in 1795) was Ezra Stiles. Now, Stiles too was an orthodox Christian. He was also a patriot preacher (preached pro-revolutionary sermons from the pulpit), a fervent Whig, and himself imbibed in enlightenment dogma. He was precisely the type of "Christian" susceptible to the theistic rationalism that captured the minds of Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, and many others, though he never (as far as I know) became one. Stiles did, however, support the French Revolution.

Dwight, because of his talent, apparently succeeded in quelling the infidel temptation at Yale. But at Harvard, infidelity triumphed. George Whitfield, of Great Awakening fame, observed, in 1740, how infidelity infiltrated Harvard. As Samuel Morison put it in a study of Harvard:

Harvard College and the Congregational Church were broadening down from primitive Calvinism to eighteenth-century theism or Unitarianism. This peaceful process was rudely interrupted by an evangelical revival known as the Great Awakening. The preliminary rumblings of that movement in the Connecticut Valley did not disturb Cambridge; but in September, 1740, the whirlwind revivalist George Whitefield arrived in Boston, addressed fifteen thousand people on Boston Common, and on the twenty-fourth preached to students and townspeople in Cambridge meetinghouse. Harvard men were divided in opinion as to the wisdom and value of this first of modern revivals…. Conservatives who deplored the liberal tendencies of the age were delighted at the straight hell-and damnation Calvinism that Whitefield preached…. Whitefield was entertained by President Holyoke, and listened to with eager attention by the students; but he found little to praise at Harvard, where…the state of “piety and true godliness” was not much better than at Oxford and Cambridge. “Tutors neglect to pray with, and examine the hearts of, their pupils,” who read “bad books” such as the works of Tillotson and Clarke. Whitefield observed that “Many Scholars appeared to be in great concern as to their souls.”24


As Josiah Quincy recounts the incident:

The controversy with Whitefield was the last of a tic theological character in which the governors of the New England College directly engaged. As doctrinal disputes grew more intense and critical, they stood aloof, realizing the wisdom of conducting the seminary exclusively as a literary, rather than as a theological institution. At this period the high Calvinistic doctrines prevailed throughout New England, but chiefly predominated in the interior of Massachusetts, and in the Colony of Connecticut. In Boston and its vicinity, and along the seaboard of Massachusetts, clergymen of great talent and religious zeal openly avowed doctrines which were variously denounced by the Calvinistic party as Arminianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Socinianism, and Deism. The most eminent of these clergymen were alumni of Harvard, active friends and advocates of the institution, and in habits of intimacy and professional intercourse with its governors. Their religious views indeed received no public countenance from the College; but circumstances gave color for reports which were assiduously circulated throughout New England, that the influences of the institution were not unfavorable to the extension of such doctrines. The College became, in consequence, an object of severe scrutiny and some reproach, not the less severe from the fact that one or more members of the Corporation were among the most zealous of the Calvinistic sect. The attack made by Whitefield on the College was in coincidence with these reports.


These men, Harvard alum preaching "Arminianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Socinianism, and Deism" from the pulpit, disproportionately were patriot Whig preachers arguing on behalf of Revolution -- notable among them, Jonathan Mayhew, Charles Chauncy, Simeon Howard, and Samuel West. The orthodox failed to root out infidelity from Harvard. In 1747, they unsuccessfully attempted to boycott unitarian Jonathan Mayhew's ordination. And by 1805 Unitarian Henry Ware was elected to head Harvard's Divinity studies. Starting with John Thornton Kirkland, "[f]rom 1810 until 1933 all of the presidents of Harvard University were Unitarians."

Many of the men studying in the founding era seminaries and preaching pro-revolutionary sermons from the pulpit, though they quoted the Bible, intermixed it with a-biblical enlightenment rationalism and elevated reason and natural theology over revelation. Leading lights like Mayhew, Chauncy, West, Howard, and many others including America's key founding fathers, as theological unitarians and universalists arguably weren't "Christians" (at least not as evangelicals or Catholics understand the term). Keep that in mind next time proponents of the Christian America thesis note the involvement of ministers or figures with "seminary" degrees who played key roles in America's founding.

15 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

So why would Madison, Washington, Hamilton, G. Morris and a few others constantly speak, publicly, about God in a generic sense, and leave no evidence in their private letters of orthodox Trinitarian faith?>>

The Born Again Christian framers used the same language, nullifying this viewpoint. Hamilton affirmed the Gospel in 1794; supporting his belief in the Trinitarianism.

"It is not among the least perplexing phenomena of the present times, that a people like that of the U[nited] states—exemplary for humanity and moderation surpassed by no other in the love of order and a knowledge of the true principles of liberty, distinguished for purity of morals and a just reverence for Religion should so long persevere in partiality for a state of things the most cruel sanguinary and violent that ever stained the annals of mankind, a state of things which annihilates the foundations of social order and true liberty, confounds all moral distinctions and substitutes to the mild and beneficent religion of the Gospel a gloomy persecuting and desolating atheism."
Memorandum on the French Revolution 1794

Jonathan said...

I don't see one thing in that passage affirming Trinitarianism. Also, your religion and parts of the Bible are anything but "mild" and "beneficent." Nor does the Bible or fire-breathing Calvinist Christians of the day claim to be "mild." Those are Enlightenment codewords which signify liberal theology.

Our Founding Truth said...

I don't see one thing in that passage affirming Trinitarianism.>>

Jon, The Gospel is Trinitarianism, orthodoxy, etc.

Also, your religion and parts of the Bible are anything but "mild" and "beneficent.">>

The Gospel is the most Glorious, magnificent thing there is, for as Jesus said:

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:29

What a great rest He is.

You may have a problem with the Holy, Righteous Judgment of God in the Old Covenant, I do not.

Nor does the Bible or fire-breathing Calvinist Christians of the day claim to be "mild.">.

I disagree with all five points of Calvinism, which is contrary to the correct interpretation of the Law of Nature. I'm sure most of the framers disagreed with it as well.

Those are Enlightenment codewords which signify liberal theology.>>

Jon, it's so simple, all it is, is generic language which Christians used since Aquinas. You want generic language from born again Christians, read Jay, Boudinot, Mason, Hancock, S. Adams, King, Madison, etc.

By the way, on Madison, I'm almost convinced he threw away his salvation. I've been thinking about those words "best and purest religion" in 1833.

There isn't a microscopic speck of purity in any other religion but orthodox Christianity.
Jesus said He was God, "Before Abraham was I AM" Jesus used the same Hebrew word Moses did at the burning bush, claiming He was the one that appeared to Moses.

The word "I AM" is actually "Creator" How could unitarians distort that? Their folly.

I think the enlightenment angle is way off as well. All the framers were for execution of homosexuals, and capital criminals(stiff justice). If the enlightenment was liberal in nature, then it's proponents were Hume, Rousseau, and Kant, not Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone, or the framers.

Jonathan said...

I think the enlightenment angle is way off as well. All the framers were for execution of homosexuals, and capital criminals(stiff justice).

I'd like to see you find one founding father stating homosexuals should be executed.

Jonathan said...

On Madison's "best an purest religion," I'm with James H. Hutson who is one of most notable pro-religious conservative scholars of the founding:

http://www.loc.gov/loc/madison/hutson-paper.html

[I]n 1833...the aged ex-president lauded Christianity as the "best & purest religion." This last assertion, however, sounds very much like the deistical maxim, frequently indulged by Jefferson, that the "pure" religion of Jesus had been unconscionably corrupted by the apostle Paul and the early church fathers.

Our Founding Truth said...

I'd like to see you find one founding father stating homosexuals should be executed.>>

"The crime not to be named [sodomy], I pass in a total silence."
James Wilson, The Works of James Wilson (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967), Vol. II, p. 656, from lectures given in 1790 and 1791.

Wilson affirmed state sovereignty on sodomy, affirming the penalty from the people.

America's first law book, authored by founding jurist Zephaniah Swift, communicated the popular view concerning sodomy:


"This crime, tho repugnant to every sentiment of decency and delicacy, is very prevalent in corrupt and debauched countries where the low pleasures of sensuality and luxury have depraved the mind and degraded the appetite below the brutal creation. Our modest ancestors, it seems by the diction of the law, had no idea that a man would commit this crime [anal intercourse with either sex]. . . . [H]ere, by force of common law, [it is] punished with death. . . . [because of] the disgust and horror with which we treat of this abominable crime."
Zephaniah Swift, A System of Laws of the State of Connecticut (Windham: John Byrne, 1796), Vol. II, pp. 310-311

That the detestable and abominable vice of buggery [sodomy] . . . shall be from henceforth adjudged felony . . . and that every person being thereof convicted by verdict, confession, or outlawry [unlawful flight to avoid prosecution], shall be hanged by the neck until he or she shall be dead. NEW YORK
Laws of the State of New-York . . . Since the Revolution (New York: Thomas Greenleaf, 1798), Vol. I, p. 336.

That if any man shall lie with mankind as he lieth with womankind, both of them have committed abomination; they both shall be put to death. CONNECTICUT
The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), Book I, p. 295

That if any man lieth with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they both shall suffer death. VERMONT
Statutes of the State of Vermont (Bennington, 1791), p. 74

[T]he detestable and abominable vice of buggery [sodomy] . . . be from henceforth adjudged felony . . . and that the offenders being hereof convicted by verdict, confession, or outlawry [unlawful flight to avoid prosecution], shall suffer such pains of death and losses and penalties of their goods. SOUTH CAROLINA
Alphabetical Digest of the Public Statute Laws of South-Carolina (Charleston: John Hoff, 1814), Vol. I, p. 99.

The men in these legislatures were framers; the ones who ratified the Constitution.

Jonathan said...

So all you have is James Wilson keeping his mouth shut and not saying anything. And other than that, state laws which criminalized sodomy laws.

Like I said, you couldn't offer one notable Founder saying he believes in execution for sodomy.

Jonathan said...

The men during the Founding era, btw, believed in lots of bizzare and immoral things, like for instance that blacks were fit to be enslaved. I likewise view those sodomy laws as similarly unjustifiable "prejudices," from that era. Thank God pro-slavery, anti-sodomy prejudices have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Jonathan said...

Btw,

Much research has shown that many state sodomy statutes only applied to non-consensual acts or sodomic rape.

I double checked the Wilson citation and it appears that's exactly what he was talking about. He groups that "unnamed" act with a bunch of other crimes, each of which involves a non-consensual violation of personal safety and titles the entire section:

"OF CRIMES AGAINST THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL SAFETY."

Scroll down to Chapter 4:

http://www.constitution.org/jwilson/jwilson3.htm

Our Founding Truth said...

So all you have is James Wilson keeping his mouth shut and not saying anything. And other than that, state laws which criminalized sodomy laws.>>

No, Wilson affirms Pennsylvania's laws on morality.

Like I said, you couldn't offer one notable Founder saying he believes in execution for sodomy.>

The word notable is irrelevant.
America's first law book, authored by founding jurist Zephaniah Swift is the notable on law.

The men during the Founding era, btw, believed in lots of bizzare and immoral things, like for instance that blacks were fit to be enslaved.>>

Not the Christians; most likely infidels like Wythe, and Jefferson.

I likewise view those sodomy laws as similarly unjustifiable "prejudices," from that era.>>

They aren't unjustifiable, they are harmonious with the Bible, Divine Law, Law of Nature, etc. The people(states) enforced this, the states, being the final say so in matters of morality.

Much research has shown that many state sodomy statutes only applied to non-consensual acts or sodomic rape.>

That's not what the state constitutions say.

I double checked the Wilson citation and it appears that's exactly what he was talking about. He groups that "unnamed" act with a bunch of other crimes, each of which involves a non-consensual violation of personal safety and titles the entire section:
"OF CRIMES AGAINST THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL SAFETY."

Scroll down to Chapter 4:

http://www.constitution.org/jwilson/jwilson3.htm

They aren't grouped at all, he separates the crimes and affirms the death penalty for rape, but leaves homosexuality, so despecable, not to even comment on it, which is exactly what everyone in the nation thought, especially the legislatures.

A rape is an irreparable and a most atrocious aggression on the right of personal safety. Besides the thousand excruciating, but nameless circumstances by which it is aggravated, some may be mentioned with propriety. It is a crime committed not only against the citizen, but against the woman; not only against the common rights of society, but against the peculiar rights of the sex: it is committed by one from whom, on every virtuous and manly principle, her sex is entitled to inviolable protection, and her honour to the most sacred regard. This crime is one of the selected few, which, by the laws of the Saxons, were punished with death. The same punishment1195 it still undergoes in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.1196 On this subject, for an obvious reason, particular observations will not be expected from a lecture in the hall: they are fit for the book and the closet only: for even the book and the closest they are fit, only because they are necessary.




The crime not to be named, I pass in a total silence.

The crime isn't fit to be mentioned, just leave it in the closet.

Jonathan said...

Of course Christians of the Founding era said blacks were fit to be enslaved, and they could quote their Bibles which in parts explicitly commands believers to take slaves and never abolishes the institution. The Christian sect the "Southern Baptists" formed as an explicit biblical defense of chattel slavery and it was the Infidel Unitarians who lead the fight to abolish slavery.

If you don't accept this, you are living in another world and not worth talking to.

Sodomy violates the law of nature in the same way contraception does. If you and your wife practice that then you are a sodomite too.

And you didn't refute a thing I said about Wilson. The bottom line is he groups that not fit to be named crime in with every other non consensual crimes under the broad rubric "OF CRIMES AGAINST THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL SAFETY." If it's consensual no one's right to personal safety is violated.

Our Founding Truth said...

Of course Christians of the Founding era said blacks were fit to be enslaved,>>

Which Christian framers?

and they could quote their Bibles which in parts explicitly commands believers to take slaves and never abolishes the institution.>>

The letters are to Christian slaves and how they were to act. Slavery is contrary to the Law of Nature and the Bible. The New Testament comments many times on respect for persons.

The bible says to overthrow wicked govt, as the Old Testament does. Only good govt. is ordained, any other, should be overthrown when the opportunity arises like the Revolution.

The Christian sect the "Southern Baptists" formed as an explicit biblical defense of chattel slavery and it was the Infidel Unitarians who lead the fight to abolish slavery.>>

What were the framers' names? I'm not talking about the public, the southerners believed that, and they were wrong. The southern framers knew it was wrong. The northern framers aren't included in this.

Sodomy violates the law of nature in the same way contraception does. If you and your wife practice that then you are a sodomite too.>>

You won't find this in the Bible.

And you didn't refute a thing I said about Wilson. The bottom line is he groups that not fit to be named crime in with every other non consensual crimes under the broad rubric "OF CRIMES AGAINST THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL SAFETY." If it's consensual no one's right to personal safety is violated.>>

That's just the heading, the crimes are separate, and he makes a distinction.

Jonathan said...

"You won't find this in the Bible."

It doesn't matter because the law of nature is defined as what man discovers from reason unassisted by revelation. This is what Aquinas and Aristotle believed. And their theory of the law of nature holds all non-procreative sex acts -- including masturbation and contraception -- are unnatural "sodomy." Again, if you don't understand this, it's not worth proceeding with you because you are just making things up as you go along to suit your feelings.

"I'm not talking about the public, the southerners believed that, and they were wrong. The southern framers knew it was wrong. The northern framers aren't included in this."

If the Southern Christian Framers knew slavery was wrong then why would they refuse to ratify the Constitution (which they threatened to do) unless it guaranteed their states' right to hold slaves?

"The bible says to overthrow wicked govt, as the Old Testament does. Only good govt. is ordained, any other, should be overthrown when the opportunity arises like the Revolution."

Spoken like a true cafeteria Christian who reads things into the Bible that aren't there and explains away things that are. The government Paul told believers to obey was the pagan psychopaths Nero's. To suggest that the Christian King George flunked a standard of "good government" that the pagan psychopath Nero could pass defies credulity.

"That's just the heading, the crimes are separate, and he makes a distinction."

And every single crime he lists under that heading violates "THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO PERSONAL SAFETY." If the unspoken crime referred to non-consensual sodomy, it would likewise fit. If it referred to consensual sodomy, it would stick out like a sore thumb in that section.

Our Founding Truth said...

It doesn't matter because the law of nature is defined as what man discovers from reason unassisted by revelation.>

Jon, it does matter, because the framers didn't believe that. The framers believed the Law of Nature was Revelation, Divine Law, Reason, Law of Nations, etc.

And their theory of the law of nature holds all non-procreative sex acts -- including masturbation and contraception -- are unnatural "sodomy." Again, if you don't understand this, it's not worth proceeding with you because you are just making things up as you go along to suit your feelings.>>

Like I said, it doesn't matter what Aristotle said, Aquinas, and the framers believed the Bible was superior over all.

If the Southern Christian Framers knew slavery was wrong then why would they refuse to ratify the Constitution (which they threatened to do) unless it guaranteed their states' right to hold slaves?>>

Because that's not what they believed. Mason, Rutledge, Pinckney, denounced slavery, states rights then, did not encompass slavery.

The government Paul told believers to obey was the pagan psychopaths Nero's.>>

You won't find this in the text.
Rom 13
4For he is the minister of God to thee for good.

Rome was not a minister of God; to thee for good. No where in the Bible does God, or Paul ordain wicked government. You can believe the contrary, but I am on firm ground on this point. The entire Bible condemns wicked government, with Abraham destroying several govts. himself.

The people(states), not certain framers are sovereign in morality, so any one person's opinion is irrelevant.

The people, and most, if not all the framers believed the Bible is superior to reason. As I've shown before on Positive Liberty, Wilson believed reason only superior over revelation, if it wasn't specifically enumerated, and Blackstone supports me on this, because he believed the same thing. Wilson would be going against the beliefs of all the philosophers, and framers by believing reason superior over revelation.

Again, take a poll, I'm on solid ground.

James

Jonathan said...

If we took a poll I seriously doubt you'd do too well. The historial academy laughs at assertions such as yours (they are to the left of me).

The law of nature is what man discovers from reason (even if ultimately, the rules are revealed by God). This is definitional; if you don't accept it I can't proceed with you because you are arguing black is white and up is down.

"To him who believes in the Existence and Attributes physical and moral of a God, there can be no obscurity or perplexity in defining the Law of Nature to be his wise benign and all powerful Will, discovered by Reason."

-- John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, March 19, 1794. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 377, Library of Congress. Seen in James H. Hutson's, "The Founders on Religion," p. 132.

Adams wasn't just giving his opinion, but summing up founding era doctrine. Likewise Locke defines the law of nature with reason.

“The State of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason...is that law....”

Most Founders may have believed in both reason and revelation. And they may have differed in what takes priority over what. But when it came time to write the Founding documents, they didn't quote the Bible in those documents, but appealed to the law of nature or what man discovers from reason. That's why the US's organic higher law is reason not revelation.

Re: Sodomy, every single natural law philosopher following Aquinas argued that homosexual sex violates the natural law in the same sense that contracepted sex does. Thus, according to the Bible, you may not be a Sodomite if you and your wife practice contraception (but you may be because the Bible never authorizes contraception either; Aquinas would never forbid something the Bible authorizes), but according to the natural law understanding of the concept, you are. The only alternative is to conclude, as I do, that traditional natural lawyers begin with a flawed premise in asserting procreation is the teleology of sex. If rather, sex is for pleasure and pairbonding, then contraception, heterosexual oral and anal sex, homosexual sex, masturbation are ALL natural forms of sex.

This will be the final word on this thread. You may respond on other threads or on your website.