Friday, September 26, 2008

More Orthodox Christians Who "Get It":

This time from the White Horse Inn. These orthodox Christians of the evangelical bent are well informed on the American Founding. They entitle the program "American Deism" and term Founders like Jefferson and J. Adams "Deists." I might disagree with them terming these Founders "Deists," but they recognize the "Christian-Deism" (as David L. Holmes terms it) of the key Founders confuses modern evangelical Christians in a way that the non-Christian Deism of Thomas Paine does not. The hard Deists like Paine wanted little if anything to do with Christianity and Jesus, so you tend not to see them saying nice things about the Christian Religion. Men like Washington, J. Adams and yes, Jefferson and Franklin, on the other hand appreciated Christianity for its moral teachings only and either bitterly rejected orthodox Trinitarian doctrines (like Jefferson and Adams did) or otherwise totally ignored them (like Washington and Madison did). So when we see these key Founders saying nice things about the Christian religion, it's always in the context of the morality that it engenders and never about the need for Christ as a personal savior or as One who makes a blood Atonement. Many evangelicals therefore mistakenly conclude these Founders were real orthodox Christians when they weren't. And figures like David Barton, Peter Marshall, the late D. James Kennedy, William Federer, and Worldview Weekend are primarily to blame for the confusion.

The program also notes, rightly so, that building a "cult" around the supposed Christianity of these Founding Fathers isn't good for the purity of the orthodox evangelical religion.

Finally the program mentions the phenomenon of moralistically therapeutic Deism which surveys show is the dominant religion among the younger folks in Christian Churches. MTD is not all that different than the theistic rationalism of America's key Founders, except the modern version doesn't have the thought out philosophical underpinnings that Jefferson and Adams attached to it. This is important to note because many conclude that the "Deism" of the Founding disappeared when it never really did. It's alive and well in the nominal Christianity of the 80% of Americans who define themselves as "Christian."

1 comment:

leany said...

Though little appreciated in his own 10th Century, Simeon the New Theologian (949–1022) is today one of only three saints of the Orthodox church to have been given the title of Theologian. St. Simeon's work has undergone a great revival in the modern era, and today he is extensively quoted by many leaders in the Church.

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