Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Frazer Responds to "Our Founding Truth":

Dr. Frazer emailed me this response to "Our Founding Truth's" criticism of his remarks:

To "Our Founding Truth":

Once again, you're attacking claims that I did NOT make. I did not say that theistic rationalism was "formed" as the "religion" of the states or the nation. I said it was the political theology UNDERGIRDING the Founding. A political theology is like a philosophy -- it's not voted on or ratified, it is the collection of beliefs and ideas behind actions taken.

Christianity cannot be seen in many more key Founders. It can be seen in some Founders -- and I've never denied that, but not the key Founders and not in many. If you'd actually read my work, you'd see evidence that many of the patriotic preachers who supported the Revolution were theistic rationalists, too. If you knew the history of Yale University, for example, you'd know that it was started because of complaints that the preachers coming out of Harvard were not Christians. Yale followed Harvard’s bad production very soon after its founding.

I agree with you that there are not many definitions of Christianity, in reality. Only one definition is correct -- God's definition, as I said in my initial foray into this discussion. However, there are many definitions put forward -- which is what this blog was discussing when I reentered the discussion and what I meant by the comment you criticized.

Again, if you read my work, you'd see exactly the creeds and confessions to which I refer. They are:
Westminster Creed (Presbyterians & Congregationalists)
Augsburg Confession (Lutherans & some Reformed churches)
Philadelphia Confession (Baptists)
Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, & 39 Articles (Anglicans/Episcopalians)

These churches represented the vast majority of churches in 18th century America. They all agreed on ten fundamental doctrines. If someone did not adhere to those doctrines, he/she was not a Christian by their standards. The theistic rationalists only believed one of the ten core doctrines.

Let me add that Frazer notes the key Founders did NOT believe in the creeds of those churches even though many were formally affiliated with them. (For instance Jefferson, Madison, Washington, G. Morris, Franklin, Wilson and others with the Anglican/Episcopal Church against whose official doctrines they rebelled when they revolted against England. This is important: The Anglican Church it its official doctrines DEMANDED obedience to England. Revolting against England meant revolting against the official doctrines of their Church and casts into doubt that they believed in said Church's official teachings found in its oaths, creeds and confessions. In short, that Washington et al. were formally members of the Anglican Club is a weak place to rest their "orthodox Christianity.") There is smoking gun evidence that Jefferson, J. Adams, and Franklin disbelieved in orthodox Trinitarian doctrines and very good reason to believe Madison, Washington, G. Morris, Wilson and Hamilton (until near death) disbelieved in them as well. Though the evidence is, admittedly, less absolute than it is with Jefferson, J. Adams and Franklin.

Personally I regard J. Adams as central because he was so politically conservative and mainstream for the time, indeed likely to be thought of as a "Christian" and has said things that sound far far more "Christian" than Madison, Washington, and Hamilton (until the very end) ever did. Yet, when it came time to explicating exactly what it was he believed, he was virtually agreed with Jefferson and Franklin on the basics. In short, if Adams could be a "theistic rationalist"/"unitarian"/"Christian-Deist" what have you, then so too could have Washington, Madison, Wilson, G. Morris, and Hamilton (until the very end) AND many others.

No comments: