Friday, July 30, 2010

Debunking "Beck U" -- Faith 102 with "Professor" David Barton:

By Chris Rodda. Here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best Cop Ever:

All cops should be this patient:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Deists in Disguise:

One more for now from Rev. Samuel Miller.

In this interdisciplinary field of history/politics/theology the biggest challenge I've faced as someone thinking about trying to "cross over" more into "real" publishing is novelty. Finding and doing things that haven't been done by someone before.

I've concluded that the "key Founders" -- the FFs on American currency -- if pushed would have considered themselves "Christians" not "Deists." Though they may have endorsed an understanding of Deism that didn't view itself as incompatible with "Christianity." Yet many in the academy endorse the line "the FFs were Deists not Christians."

I think this much is understood by a number of notable scholars. But not enough.

HOW did this come to be? The real story is less well understood.

The standard line from "Christian America" is the FFs were virtually all "Christians" and the bad, secularist revisionists "stole" that heritage, knowingly and duplicitously.

That narrative, of course, is as phony as "the Founders were all Deists" narrative.

I have found that the self understood "rational Christianity" of Jefferson, J. Adams, Franklin, and perhaps Madison, Washington, G. Morris and others was considered "not Christian" and, in principle, no better than "Deism" by prominent Founding and post-Founding era conservative clergy. The D. James Kennedy's of the day, many of whom occupied prominent places in the academy back then. And they, accordingly, deserve a large portion of the responsibility for the idea that secular scholars later ran with: The Founders were "Deists."

That kind of irony, I dig.

The figures in question include Timothy Dwight, Jedidiah Morse, Bishops Samuel Seabury and William White and Rev. Samuel Miller. James Renwick Willson was even less respectable than the figures thus named. But he deserves particular notable mention for his sermon on the American Presidency that most scholars misidentify as Bird Wilson's.

With that, here Rev. Samuel Miller illustrates this mindset in his letter where he argues that Unitarians, though they call themselves "Christians" are really "Deists in disguise."

[Paragraph breaks added for clarity.]

You are now, I trust, prepared, without hesitation, to answer the questions which were asked toward the close of the first Letter;—viz— What estimate you ought to form of the opinions of Unitarians? How you ought to treat their persons? How to consider their preaching? How to act with respect to their publications? Whether you ought to regard them as Christians at all? Whether their congregations ought to be called churches of Christ? And whether the ordinances which they administer ought to be sustained as valid?

You are prepared, I hope, to decide, promptly and without wavering, that they are By No Means To Be Considered As Christians, in any scriptural sense of the word; that their preaching is to be avoided as blasphemy; their publications to be abhorred as pestiferous; their ordinances to be held unworthy of regard as christian institutions; and their persons to be in all respects treated as Decent And Sober Deists In Disguise.

Such is the estimate which I feel constrained to form for myself; and, of course, that which I wish to impress upon your minds. And, if I do not deceive myself, you have seen enough to preclude all doubt as to its justice. If they reject every fundamental doctrine of the religion of Christ, they, of course, reject Christianity; if they reject christianity, they, surely, are not christians; if they are not christians, their congregations, evidently, ought not to be called churches, nor their ordinances considered as valid: and, these things being so, you ought to regard a proposition to go and hear them preach, or to read their publications, as you would a proposition to hear a preacher of open infidelity, or to read an artful publication of a follower of Herbert or of Hume.

I have said, that Unitarians ought to be considered and treated as Deists In Disguise. I beg that this language may not be misconstrued. It is by no means my intention to intimate, for I do not believe, that Unitarians are, as a sect, a set of hypocrites; that they profess one thing, and really believe another. I have no reason to doubt that they are as sincere in their profession of belief, that is, that they as really believe what they profess to believe, as any of us all. But my meaning is, that, while they assume, and insist on retaining the christian name, their creed really does not differ much, in substance, from that of serious Deists.

Now, if this be the case, and if the fact that they are substantially Deists, be, in effect, concealed from popular view by the name which they bear, what is this but being Deists under the christian name, in other words, Deists in disguise? I certainly take no pleasure in using offensive language. On the contrary, I can truly say, that every thing of this kind which I have employed in these Letters has been extorted from me by a painful sense of duty; but my obligation to state that which I deem both true, and highly important to the best interests of mankind, is paramount to all considerations of delicacy or ceremony.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rev. Samuel Miller: Unitarians Aren't "Christians", Miller's Argument:

The last time I posted this, I excerpted the Unitarians' response, not Miller's claim. This time I am going to post parts of Miller's attack. He argues, perhaps with erroneous premises, that the Unitarianism that prevailed in America was, in principle, not much better than Deism. But it helps explain why men who thought of themselves as "Christians" (Jefferson, J. Adams, Franklin) historically became known as "Deists."

As Miller writes [with paragraph breaks added for clarity]:

One more insurmountable Objection to, the Unitarian system with me, is, that Infidels EVERY WHERE PREFER THIS SYSTEM TO ANY OTHER THAT BEARS THE CHRISTIAN NAME, and feel no reluctance to uniting in worship with its adherents.

It is not an uncommon thing for Unitarians to boast, that avowed Deists, on hearing, or reading the discourses of their distinguished preachers, have greatly admired them; and declared, that if the system exhibited in them were Christianity, they had no longer any difficulty in taking the name of Christian.

I have been credibly informed of repeated instances of this kind in reference to the Rev. Mr. Channing's sermon, preached and published in Baltimore. Unitarians consider this fact as a most potent argument in favour of their creed; as an argument, that it is so rational, and so strongly commends itself to common sense, that even infidels bow to its authority. But is it not a much more direct and powerful proof of something very different; viz. that Unitarianism and Infidelity are so closely allied, that he who embraces the one, has really no good reason for objecting to the other? This, I have no doubt, is the real ground of the fact in question. And, indeed, how can it be otherwise?

The prevalent system of Unitarianism at the present day, not only makes Christ a mere man, and discards the whole doctrine of Redemption; but also, as you have seen, rejects the inspiration of the scriptures; and, in short, presents a system reduced so nearly to a level with the Deistical scheme, and allows so much latitude of belief and of feeling, with regard to what is left, that the Deist must be fastidious indeed, who would feel much repugnance to joining in communion with a Unitarian society.

Dr. Priestley seems to have been very much of this opinion; for, in writing to a Unitarian friend, concerning a gentleman who had been commonly reputed a Deist, he observes— "He is generally considered as an unbeliever: IF SO, HOWEVER, HE CANNOT BE FAR FROM us; and I hope in the way to be not only almost but altogether what we are."*

Mr. Belsham, according to a representation given in a former Letter, explicitly acknowledges, that Unitarianism does not differ, in any important point, from serious Deism; and; in another place, does not hesitate to avow, that he would much rather embrace Deism than Orthodoxy.*

So Infidels themselves view the matter. They have little objection to the prevalent forms of Unitarianism; not because they are willing to approximate to real christianity; but because they see something, under the name of christianity, NEARLY APPROACHING TO THEM.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Debunk U" Study Guide - Lesson 1

By Chris Rodda


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chris Rodda on Olbermann:

Well done. Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More From DG Hart on Lillback:

Here. Dr. Hart cites my American Creation co-blogger Brad Hart, but mistakenly calls him a "history professor." If Brad's writing can fool an eminent scholar like DG Hart, he must be doing something right.

George Washington was not an evangelical Christian -- Lillback admits that. Lillback is a leader in and a scholar of reformed Calvinistic theology. Lillback's dilemma is that he wants to claim someone with whom he admittedly has religious differences. So he'll concede only when it's so obvious and otherwise interpret the facts to fit his happy ending.

For instance, in 20,000 pages of recorded words of GW, the words "Jesus Christ" are found once, and one other time JC is mentioned by example, not name. Neither of which are written in GW's hand, but by an aide and both of these are in public addresses. In all of his many private letters, though "Providence" and other generic God words are mentioned very often, the name or person of Jesus is not mentioned ever. You never see "Father, Son, Holy Spirit," from GW's words. And the one time "Redeemer" is mentioned, it's from an address by the Continental Congress that GW had reproduced for his troops.

This dynamic, at the very least, proves GW was not an evangelical. But Lillback spins it as GW was a low church latitudinarian orthodox Trinitarian Anglican and claims it the custom of them not to mention Jesus. Well, they may not have talked about Jesus as much as the evangelicals did, but they didn't systematically avoid talking about Jesus, as though they had no relationship with Him like GW did. GW, from what we can tell, rarely had Jesus on his mind.
No, Mr. Beck, Our Constitution is Not Based on the Book of Deuteronomy:

By Chris Rodda, here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Rev. Samuel Miller: Unitarians Aren't "Christians"

But he couldn't figure out what to call them.

Rev. Samuel Miller was a professor at Princeton and corresponded with and about America's Founding Presidents. He was an orthodox Calvinist (in fact one of the few notable ones that supported Jefferson).

In this book written in 1821, Miller denies Unitarians the title "Christian." The Unitarians, who thought of themselves as "Christians" so responded:

... Dr. Miller professes to submit his Reply to the "Christian public;" and it is certainly very unreasonable in him to complain, that we should decline our agency in forcing it upon a class of persons, whom he holds not to be Christians.


It is no wonder, that Dr. Miller, after denying to us the name of Christians, should be puzzled in deciding what to call us. "There is a real difficulty," he says, "in giving a convenient name to these persons as a general body." We beg leave to tell him, that this is a difficulty of his own making. We have never asked him to be at the trouble of giving us a name. We are perfectly satisfied with the one, by which we have always chosen to call ourselves; and really we cannot see, why he, or any one else, should think it so great a tax upon his courtesy and condescension to give us the "distinctive title," which he says, and which we allow, we have "assumed." The difficulty of giving us a name, he informs us, arises from the circumstance of our "differing so materially among ourselves." Does he mean by this, that Trinitarians do not differ equally as much? The truth is, the differences among them are vastly greater, than among Unitarians, not only in regard to the distinguishing doctrine of their faith, but all the leading doctrines of Christianity. And yet, we have never found any "difficulty" in giving them a name, because we are entirely willing they should have the one, which they have "assumed." Whether it be, or be not, a title, which designates their opinions, is no concern of ours. It is enough that they choose to adopt it. If they misname themselves, it is an affair of their own. We do not see in what respect we have any ground of complaint, or any right to interfere.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Thomas Belsham's Unitarian Creed:

From "American Unitarianism," circa 1816:

"I shall now proceed to exhibit a concise view of Rational Christianity in its connection with Natural Religion.

"Of Rational Religion, the first and fundamental principle is that the Maker of the universe is infinitely powerful, wise, and good, and that it is impossible for him to act in contradiction to his essential attributes.

"God Is Love. Infinite benevolence alone prompted him to action. And infinite benevolence, combined with unerring wisdom, and supported by irresistible power, will infallibly accomplish its purpose in the best possible manner. It appears in fact, that a limited quantity of evil, both natural and moral, was necessary to the production of the greatest possible good. Whence this necessity arises, we know not; but that it could sot be avoided in a system upon the whole the best, we are well assured; for God would not choose evil for its own sake. Evil therefore is introduced and permitted, not because it is approved, but because it is unavoidable. It is in its own nature temporary and self-destructive; and in the view of the Deity it is absorbed and lost in the contemplation of its ultimate beneficial effects, so that to him the whole system appears wise, beautiful and good.

"God is the Former, the Father, and Benefactor of the human race, whom for wise reasons, unknown to us, but perfectly consistent, no doubt, with his magnificent plan of universal order and happiness, he has been pleased to place in circumstances of frailty and danger, the natural consequence of which, in their progress through life, is the contraction of a certain degree of moral pollution, which, in the nature of things, and by the divine appointment, exposes them to a proportionate degree of misery here or hereafter.

"But this fact by no means proves a preponderance of vice and misery in the world; otherwise we must conclude that the Maker of the world, whose character we learn only from his works, is a weak or a malignant being. The truth is, that although the quantity of vice and misery actually existing is very considerable, there is nevertheless, upon the whole, a very great preponderance of good in general, and, with few, if any exceptions, in every individual in particular.

"The almost universal desire of life and dread of dissolution, amounts to a strong presumption, that life is in general a blessing. And the disgrace universally attached to flagrant vice, proves that such vice is not common. Character is the sum total of moral and intellectual habits, and the proportion of virtuous habits, in the worst characters, exceeds that of vicious ones. But no character takes the denomination of virtuous unless all the habits are on the side of virtue: whereas one evil habit is sufficient to stamp a character vicious.

"God cannot be unjust to any of his creatures. Having brought men into existence and placed them in circumstances of imminent peril, though in the nature of things misery is necessarily connected with vice, we may certainly conclude that none of the creatures of God in such, or in any circumstances, will ever be made eternally miserable. Indeed it is plainly repugnant to the justice of God, that the existence to any of his Intelligent creatures, should be upon the whole a curse.

"The light of philosophy affords a few plausible arguments for the doctrine of a future life: there are some appearances physical and moral, which cannot be satisfactorily explained upon any other supposition. But since the sentient powers are suspended by death, and admit of no revival but by the revival of the man, a fact the expectation of which is entirely unsupported both by experience and analogy, the speculations of philosophy would commonly, and almost necessarily, terminate in the disbelief of a future existence.

"Here divine revelation offers its seasonable and welcome aid. God has commissioned his faithful and holy servant, Jesus of Nazareth, to teach the universal resurrection of the dead, and by his own resurrection to confirm and exemplify his doctrine.

"Jesus hath authoritatively taught, that the wicked will he raised to suffering; nor could it possibly be otherwise, if they are to be raised with the same system of habits and feelings with which they descended to the grave, and without which their identity would be lost. But since eternal misery for temporary crimes is inconsistent with every principle of justice, and since a resurrection from previous insensibility to indefinite misery, to be succeeded by absolute annihilation, is a harsh supposition, contrary to all analogy, and not to be admitted but upon the clearest evidence, we are naturally led to conclude, that the sufferings of the wicked will be remedial, and that they will terminate in a complete purification from moral disorder, and in their ultimate restoration to virtue and happiness. In this conclusion we seem to be justified by those passages in the apostolical writings which declare, that the blessings of the gospel shall be far more extensive than the calamities of the fall, and that Christ shall reign till all things shall be subdued unto him. (Rom. v.—1 Cor. xv.)

"The apostles were commanded to preach the gospel to the idolatrous heathen as well as to the chosen family of Abraham, and they were authorized to confirm their doctrine by miracles. These extraordinary powers are in the Scriptures called the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit; and the great change which took place in the views, feelings, and character of pharisaic Jews and idolatrous heathen, when they sincerely professed the Christian faith, is called, a new creation, regeneration, rising from the dead, and the like. And as conversion to Christianity was usually produced by the evidence of miracles, this new creation, regeneration, sanctification, or passing from death to life, is in this sense ascribed to the Spirit of God.

"The Jews, having been chosen by God to peculiar privileges, entertained a very high notion of their own dignity, and expressed themselves in the most contemptuous language of the idolatrous gentiles, who were not in covenant with Jehovah. Of themselves they spoke as a chosen and a holy nation, sons of God, and heirs of the promises. But the heathens were represented as sinners, as aliens-, as enemies to God, and the like. In allusion to which forms of expression, the converted gentiles being entitled equally with converted Jews, to the blessings of the new dispensation, they are therefore said to be forgiven, reconciled, and saved, to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

"The death of Jesus is sometimes called a propitiation, because it put an end to the Mosaic economy, and introduced a new and more liberal dispensation, under which the gentiles, who were before regarded as enemies, are admitted into a state of amity and reconciliation; that is, into a state of privilege similar to that of the Jews. It is also occasionally called a sacrifice, being the ratification of that new covenant into which God is pleased to enter with his human offspring, by which a resurrection to immortal life and happiness is promised, without distinction, to all who are truly virtuous. Believers in Christ are also said to have redemption through his blood, because they are released by the Christian covenant from the yoke of the ceremonial law, and from the bondage of idolatry. Dr. Taylor has in general well explained these Jewish phrases in his admirable Key to the apostolic writings, prefixed to his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

"The Scriptures contain a faithful and credible account of the Christian doctrine, which is the true word of God: but they are not themselves the word of God, nor do they ever assume that title : and it is highly improper to speak of them as such, as it leads inattentive readers to suppose they were written under a plenary inspiration, to which they make no pretension, and as such expressions expose Christianity unnecessarily to the cavils of unbelievers.

"Christianity sums up the whole of human duly in the love of God and our neighbor; and requiring that all our time should he employed to the best account, and that every action should be consecrated to God, lays no stress upon ritual observations, and expressly abolishes that distinction of days, which formed so conspicuous a feature in the Mosaic institute. To a true Christian every day is a Sabbath, every place is a temple, and every action of life an act of devotion. A Christian is not required to be more holy, nor permitted to take greater liberties upon one day than upon another. Whatever is lawful or expedient upon one day of the week is, under the Christian dispensation, equally lawful and expedient on any other day. Public worship, however, must be conducted at stated intervals; and it has been usual from the earliest times for Christians to assemble together, on the first day of the week, to commemorate the death and to celebrate the resurrection of their Master.

"This appears to me to be the true doctrine of reason and revelation, in which the God of nature is not represented as frowning over his works, and like a merciless tyrant dooming his helpless creatures to eternal misery, with the arbitrary exception of a chosen few ; but as the wise, benevolent, and impartial parent of his rational offspring, who is training them all, under various processes of intellectual and moral discipline, to perfect virtue and everlasting felicity. Such is the God of my faith and adoration, the God of nature and of revelation, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that God whose existence, attributes, and government are the joy and confidence of every enlightened and virtuous believer."*

"Jesus is indeed now alive. But as we are totally ignorant of the place where he resides, and of the occupations in which he is engaged, there can be no proper foundation for religious addresses to him, nor of gratitude for favors now received, nor yet of confidence in his future interposition in our behalf."