Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mark David Hall Responds to D.G. Hart

Dr. Hall sent me the following note:
Jon Rowe sent me the following post [here] by D.G. Hart and asked me if I wanted to respond on AC.  I read it several times, but am not sure what to say.  Based on earlier conversations with Hart, I suspect he objects to Gutzman’s suggestion that I think Locke and Calvin had a  “consistent” approach to resisting tyrants.  This is a contested question, which I try to finesse as follows:
“Calvin, one of the most politically conservative of the Reformers, contended that in some cases inferior magistrates might resist an ungodly ruler. However, Reformers such as John Knox (1505–72), George Buchanan (1506–82), and Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) of Scotland, Theodore Beza (1519–1605) of France and Switzerland, David Pareus (1548–1622) of Germany, and Christopher Goodman (1520–1603) and John Ponet (1516–1556) of England argued that inferior magistrates must resist unjust rulers and even permitted or required citizens to do so” (15). 
I address Calvin’s views in a bit more detail in the notes, but I am more interested in political ideas that developed within the Calvinist tradition.   My contention is that Sherman and other Reformed founders were significantly influenced by the Calvinist political tradition, not Calvin per se.  Similarly, I contend that Reformed thinkers played a major role in developing the idea that an important (but not the only) role of government is to protect natural rights.
To summarize a chief complaint of the book, I argue that “[a]lthough the days of Locke et praeterea nihil should be long gone, students of politics, law, and history are still too wont to attribute references to natural rights, religious liberty, consent, and the right to resist tyrannical governments to John Locke.  In doing so, they neglect the reality that for many founders, these and other political principles were derived from Calvinist thought—and that in each case that they were present in Reformed communities long before Locke wrote the Second Treatise” (5). 


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