Monday, May 31, 2010

Ronald Reagan Occultist and Sorcerer!

Heh. I knew that title would get you. Interesting story in the Washington Post. The part that interests me:

... This book, The Secret Destiny of America, caught the eye of the future president, then a middling Hollywood actor gravitating toward politics.

Hall’s concise volume described how America was the product of a “Great Plan” for religious liberty and self-governance, launched by a hidden order of ancient philosophers and secret societies. In one chapter, Hall described a rousing speech delivered by a mysterious “unknown speaker” before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The “strange man,” wrote Hall, invisibly entered and exited the locked doors of the Philadelphia statehouse on July 4th, 1776, delivering an oration that bolstered the wavering spirits of the delegates. “God has given America to be free!” commanded the mysterious speaker, urging the men to overcome their fears of the noose, axe, or gibbet, and to seal destiny by signing the great document. Newly emboldened, the delegates rushed forward to add their names. They looked to thank the stranger only to discover that he had vanished from the locked room. Was this, Hall wondered, “one of the agents of the secret Order, guarding and directing the destiny of America?”

At a 1957 commencement address at his alma mater Eureka College, Reagan, then a corporate spokesman for GE, sought to inspire students with this leaf from occult history. “This is a land of destiny,” Reagan said, “and our forefathers found their way here by some Divine system of selective service gathered here to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps.”

Reagan then retold (without naming a source) the tale of Hall’s unknown speaker. “When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words,” Reagan concluded, “he couldn’t be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room.”

Reagan revived the story in 1981, when Parade magazine asked the president for a personal essay on what July 4th meant to him. Presidential aide Michael Deaver delivered the piece with a note saying, “This Fourth of July message is the president’s own words and written initially in the president’s hand,” on a yellow pad at Camp David. Reagan retold the legend of the unknown speaker – this time using language very close to Hall’s own: “When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.”
For Memorial Day:

Icarus II

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Lillback Roll:

I know I'm on a roll with all of these Glenn Beck/Peter Lilback posts today. Let me explain why I'm paying so much attention. I've put in a great deal of time reading Peter Lillback's book "George Washington's Sacred Fire" and analyzing its arguments. I'm probably one a handful of folks who has actually gotten through the entire 1200 pages, footnotes and all. And I've certainly (as far as I know) written more about that book than any other living person (which obviously excludes Lillback himself).

I've thought about trying to publish an actual in print scholarly review of the book somewhere, but figured that my "self publishing" in the form of blogging is sufficient.

But with the recent amazing Glenn Beck/Amazon thing, I'm not going to ignore this new wave of attention the book gets.

For those who don't know, I have concluded that Lillback (easily) demonstrates Washington was not a strict Deist (that is one who believes in an absentee landlord God), but does not prove GW was an "orthodox Trinitarian Christian" as the book purports to prove. And that's because the record shows that GW was not a strict Deist but does not demonstrate him an "orthodox Trinitarian Christian."

Because Washington's own words (in 20,000 pages of them found here) do not prove him an orthodox Christian, Lillback attempts to prove GW's "orthodoxy" through his membership in the Anglican/Episcopalian Church.

But that is one very complicated dynamic that raises more questions than it answers. Washington systematically avoided communion in that church. One possible explanation is GW, like the other the deistic and unitarian minded church members, didn't believe in what that act represents: Christ's Atonement. That's what GW's own minister, James Abercrombie, concluded.

Lillback, rather, argues it was because Washington had problems with the Church's Tory hierarchy. No doubt, GW and the other Anglican Whigs did. But that only proves that Washington et al. were in rebellion not only against Great Britain but the very doctrine of their church.

So why the Hell didn't they just exit the Anglican Church for the Baptists or Presbyterians, good orthodox denominations that didn't teach submission to the King as a theological duty? The only explanation is that they had a social or "club membership" attachment to Anglicanism which is exactly the point scholars who argue George Washington's deism make: He belonged to a church for social reasons while not believing in its religious teachings.
Christianity, Liberalism, Lillback, Beck and Ironies:

[Wow, long title for a post; the post won't be too long, I promise.]

The following is from Peter Lillback's interview on the Glenn Beck Show about Christianity and "social justice."

BECK: OK. Give me the origins of social justice.

LILLBACK: Well, let’s start in the context of Westminster Seminary. The man who started the school where I’m the president, J. Gresham Machen, wrote a book that revolutionized the 20th century. It was called “Christianity and Liberalism.”

And basically what he said is, is that liberals claim to be Christians, they use all kind of Christian vocabulary, but they give them different meanings. And that Christianity and liberalism are two different religions.

And that is the core of what you deal with now, really, a century after Dr. Machen started Westminster Seminary. The words are Christian, but they have been redefined. . . .

There are two ironies here: One is Lillback is speaking to a Mormon and this is exactly what conservative evangelicals have long accused Mormons of doing. Simply substitute "Mormonism" for "liberalism."

It was called “Christianity and [Mormonism].”

And basically what he said is, is that [Mormons] claim to be Christians, they use all kind of Christian vocabulary, but they give them different meanings. And that Christianity and [Mormonism] are two different religions.

And that is the core of what you deal with now, really,...The words are Christian, but they have been redefined.

Sound familiar?

The second irony is that Lillback himself, as a "Christian Americanist" has attempted to incorporate "liberalism" into HIS faith. That is, the American Founding was "liberal" in a small l sense. Classical liberalism. We are all -- even Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell -- as Francis Fukuyama pointed out, liberal democrats to some extent. (Unless of course, you are a communist, fascist, anarchist, and I was going to say genuine theocrat like the followers of RJ Rushdoony; but even they, except Gary North, attempt to appropriate the American Founding.) That just means that you believe in voting among citizens to validate elections, elect representatives, etc. And that you believe in *some* concept of individual and minority group rights, antecedent to majority rule.

"Liberal democracy" as such is compatible with most forms of modern day lefty liberalism, righty conservatism and libertarianism. And, for a variety of reasons, all sides would love to claim their politics and personal preferences as the "owners" of the heritage of the American Founding and its classical liberalism. If "we" "own" the heritage of American Founding, the logic goes, then society should adopt our policy prescriptions.

Therefore, as conservative orthodox Christians, Peter Lillback, David Barton and others attempt to claim the American Founding and reconcile its liberalism with their personal theology.

So Peter Lillback for instance, would want to claim as many of the ideas as possible in the patriotic sermons of the American Founding (even though many of the most notable ministers weren't even "Christians" as Lillback understands the term, but unitarians, and otherwise believed in all sorts of things Lillback would regard as "heresy"). But Lillback would not want to touch the loyalist sermons.

As I pointed out previously, America's patriotic preachers were LIBERATION theologists, of the classical liberal variety. The idea that "rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God" or that God sides with the oppressed is no more or less "biblical" than the social justice teachings against which Lillback and Beck rail. And the patriotic sermons used the same method as the social justice sermons of "extracting" words and teachings from the Bible and giving them new meaning.
Peter Lillback on Glenn Beck on Social Justice:

You can watch part of it below:

Cross Culture on Peter Lillback's "History":

Here. A taste:

The misuse and misappropriation of the Bible in this country is a rampant problem that orthodox Christians must fight against on a daily basis. So, it is disheartening to see those very people, whose ordained office and status requires them to jealously guard the Word of God, not only allowing it to be misappropriated but committing, or at the very least endorsing, the misuse of the Scriptures.

This month the Providence Forum, a group dedicated to promoting “a Judeo-Christian worldview” and “emphasizing America’s historical Judeo-Christian roots,” published a Philadelphia Faith and Freedom tourist guide and a flashy (if slow) website in order to commemorate Philadelphia’s celebration of National Bible Week. The well-designed guide highlights many of the main tourist attractions, as well as a few off the regular itinerary (including Westminster Theological Seminary, which is headed by Providence Forum President Dr. Peter Lillback!). The guide seeks to show the influence of the Bible in Philadelphia and American history. Each site on the tour has a Bible verse connected with it. Many of the verses used are moral aphorisms, such as the quote attached to the City Tavern from Proverbs 27:17. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV). Many of these connections, however, strain credulity, such as tagging Deuteronomy 28:12 to the Second National Bank, “Thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” (KJV).

Making out the Bible to be a book of moral sayings is bad enough since that rips the Bible out of its redemptive-historical context and ignores Christ. However, the guide does not stop there, but makes comparisons between the leaders of ancient Israel and George Washington crossing the Delaware:

Washington’s bold and dangerous move reflected his bold and constant trust in God’s providence His [George Washington's] actions reflect the virtues of Joshua 1:8 and Proverbs 3:5-6. Joshua 1:9 declares, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV) Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

Did God command George Washington to cross the Delaware? Tying American patriots to Ancient Israel is dangerous business, especially since, according to the Reformed view, Israel is now Christ’s Church and Christ fulfilled the promises made to Israel.

One of the most inappropriate citations comes in the entry on the National Constitution Center:

The U.S. Constitution limits power by dividing government into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. This seems to be anticipated by Isaiah 33:22, which says “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us” (NIV). This passage suggests the three branches of our federal government.”

The American Constitution is “anticipated” by Isaiah! It is not only a historical error and incredibly presumptuous to make such a claim, but it is offensive to any sort of sensible exegesis. The constitution, no matter what the Mormons and some Evangelicals say, is not an infallibly divine document. It is the product of men and a certain historical context.

Throughout the guide, the connection is made between the Christian liberty promised in the Scriptures and the liberties fought for in the American Revolution. In the entry on Fort Mifflin it says that the fort “stands as a silent testimony of the resolve of the American people in the Revolutionary War to stand fast in the liberty that had been bequeathed to them by Penn’s Charter. As Galatians 5:1 says, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’” (NIV).

It is true that many in the Revolution made this connection between Christian Liberty and Political Liberty. It became common parlance in political sermons at the time. The guide cites one such sermon in the entry of Christ Church which was where the Rev. Jacob Duche preached on Galatians 5:1 which says “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (KJV). “In his message, Duche connected the spiritual liberty Christians have in Jesus Christ with the liberty they should have through a just government.”

The liberty Paul is talking about in this passage is freedom from the condemnation of the Law and sin. It is freedom from divine judgment because of the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ. Paul is certainly not making any statement about political liberty. After all, it may be true that George Washington was a devout Christian. It may also be true that Benjamin Franklin. who is held up as a model throughout the guide, was a Christian as well (although his deist credentials are pretty strong). But it is also true that King George and many of the British soldiers and Tories claimed to be a Christians and were a members of the same denomination as George Washington. Just because political sermons during Revolution made this assertion does not make it any less of a grievous error....
One More From Hart on Lillback and Beck:

Here. My favorite passage:

A similar understanding of the relationship between the religious and the social, or the theological and political is at work recently in the Manahattan Declaration, the very statement that Lillback recommended to Beck at the end of their interview, when he said:

I would like to tell all of your listeners and Glenn, you personally, that you need to put your signature on the Manhattan Declaration. Chuck Colson spoke to me about this some months ago and he said, “Would you help me sign it?”

And I had the privilege of being one of the first 100 signatories. And basically, he said this — we need to bring together the movement of people across this country who are willing to die for what they believe in. And the things that are being challenged where the government is going to come to force us out of the convictions are the sanctity of life, our definition of historic marriage and our resounding commitment to protect rights of conscience of religious liberty.

In the Manhattan Declaration, not only have the differences among Protestant denominations been placed in the background compared to the pressing social demands of the sanctity of human life and religious liberty. Also Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodoxy are now united in the name of Christ and for the sake of the gospel to advocate certain moral and social causes in the public sphere....

Ooops. I think Lillback doesn't know that Mormons WERE NOT INVITED to sign the Manhattan Declaration because they are not "Christians" according to the MD's ecumenical orthodox Trinitarian understanding of "Christianity."

Sorry Glenn you can't sign unless you convert to "Christianity."
Darryl G. Hart on If George Washington Gets A Pass, Why Not William Ernest Hocking?

Here. A big taste.

Well, one reason is that Washington was the nation’s first president and the U.S. Capitol has a whole lot of hullabaloo about him as a divine-like being (see the image of Washington’s apotheosis). Hocking, by contrast, was merely a professor of philosophy at Harvard University. As positions go, teaching at Harvard is not too shabby, but it runs well behind the founding president of the greatest nation on God’s green earth.

But when you read the religious statements of each man, you do begin to scratch your head about the relative orthodoxy of George Washington, regarded by most professional historians to be a deistical member of the Masons, compared to the theological liberalism of Hocking, who wrote the controversial report on American Protestant foreign missions, Re-Thinking Missions (you know, the report that led Machen to found the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and to Machen’s conviction and suspension from ministry in the PCUSA).

Here is Washington’s statement regarding a national day of thanksgiving


And here is a statement from Hocking about the aim of missions:


Whatever the merits of either statement, it is curious to note that Hocking at least mentions Jesus Christ while Washington rarely referred to the second person of the Trinity, except when using the conventional language of the Book of Common Prayer. (It is odd, by the way, for evangelicals to cling to the language of formal prayers when defending Washington’s piety when that same liturgical language was and is off limits in born-again worship where sincerity demands extemporaneous prayers and repudiates merely going through the motions of “prayer-book” religion.)

Which leads to the question: if we can make allowances for George Washington’s religious statements, don’t we have to extend the same generosity to Harry Emerson Fosdick, Hocking, and Pearl Buck? In other words, if you show charity to the American founders, don’t you have to extend the same to Protestant liberals? In which case, if we believed in the orthodoxy of the Founders, would we actually have communions like the OPC and the PCA?

What I get from all this: Lillback argues that "social justice" Christianity is not authentically "Christian." Hart properly points out, whatever the failings of "Christian authenticity" of social justice Christianity, it is FAR MORE identifiably and authentically "Christian" than what came out of the mouth of George Washington and many other "key Founders." And Hart is right.
Darryl G. Hart on Lillback on Machen on Beck:

Here. A taste:

PCA pastor, Peter Lillback, invoked J. Gresham Machen the other night on the Glenn Beck show to clear up the host’s confusion about social justice and the churches. Beck, of course, thinks “social justice” is code for liberalism, big government, and Obamanian tyranny. But Lillback, who belongs to a communion where social justice in the form of “word and deed” ministry are prevalent, thinks a better, kinder, gentler, orthodoxer version of such justice exists. And on the show he did so by turning to, Machen, the most articulate defender of the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. Unfriggingbelievable!

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

BECK: OK. I wanted — let’s start at the beginning.

And, Peter, maybe you can help me. Just on — first of all, never happened — this is not in any founding document, social justice or any of that stuff, right?

LILLBACK: The phrase “social justice” cannot be found in Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

BECK: OK. It also isn’t — it’s not found in the Bible.


Mr. Snerdling, stop the tape. God is not found in the Constitution, nor is Jesus Christ mentioned in George Washington’s deistical piety, but does that prevent folks from attributing Christianity to America’s founding documents and fathers?

BECK: OK. Give me the origins of social justice.

LILLBACK: Well, let’s start in the context of Westminster Seminary. The man who started the school where I’m the president, J. Gresham Machen, wrote a book that revolutionized the 20th century. It was called “Christianity and Liberalism.”

And basically what he said is, is that liberals claim to be Christians, they use all kind of Christian vocabulary, but they give them different meanings. And that Christianity and liberalism are two different religions.

And that is the core of what you deal with now, really, a century after Dr. Machen started Westminster Seminary. The words are Christian, but they have been redefined. . . .

LILLBACK: Well, let’s put it this way: Going back into the late 1800s, there were others that were wrestling with social problems.

BECK: Right.

LILLBACK: And we think of the name Washington Gladden or Walter Rauschenbusch. These were great theologians that were trying to address problems of orphanages and lack of education.

Stop the tape again! Gladden and Rauschenbusch, the leaders and theorists of the Social Gospel were “great” theologians? If so, in what class does that put Warfield and Hodge?

BECK: Right.

LILLBACK: And there have always been social problems that need to be addressed and they were calling the church to do it.

But what had happened is that they begin to lose focus in the truth of the Bible. They stopped believing — as you called it — the individual character of salvation. Instead of one coming to the cross to find Jesus Christ as a crucified, buried and risen savior, the one who saved sinners, they started to turn to society. And they said salvation is when the society feeds you, when it gives you clothes, when it gives a better hospital.

BECK: Right.

LILLBACK: When it keeps your house from burning.

Now, all of those things were good, but that’s not the gospel. Those are implications of the gospel.

And what liberalism did is that it said, we no longer can believe in Jesus as God or Jesus crucified and risen and coming again. We can’t believe that. So, what we’ve done is we kept all the language and we’ve changed its meaning.

And that is social justice thinking: It’s liberalism in the cloak of Christianity. That was Dr. Machen’s fundamental insight.

This is a very confused reading of Machen, Christianity, and liberalism, and we shouldn’t fault the Mormon Beck for not being able to raise the right questions....

You have to read the rest of the post in order to get why Hart criticizes Lillback. Look for a later post from me on how this relates to the American Founding.
The Immanent Frame on Lillback and Beck:

Here. A taste:

A theologian and church historian, Lillback currently serves as president of Westminster Theological Seminary, a pillar of conservative Presbyterianism since its founding by J. Gresham Machen in 1929.

Once unknown outside of evangelical and Presbyterian circles, Lillback has made a name for himself as a defender of “America’s historical Judeo-Christian roots.” As head of the Providence Forum, he has authored several works on the nation’s religious heritage, including Wall of Misconception, Lessons on Liberty, and the Washington book. Board members for the Providence Forum include John Templeton, Jr. and Francis Irénée du Pont.

In 2007 Lillback spoke at a celebration of Jamestown’s quadricentennial sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries, an organization led by Doug Phillips, son of Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips. According to Lillback, “It was wonderful to see that, four centuries later, Americans are still celebrating the Christian worldview of Jamestown’s founders.” The same year he participated in an event at the National Constitution Center with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and John DiIulio.

How did a seminary president become Amazon’s bestselling author? On Tuesday, May 18, Lillback made an appearance on the Glenn Beck Program with Jerry Falwell, Jr., chancellor of Liberty University. Though the focus was on the roots of social justice, Beck took the opportunity to plug Lillback’s George Washington’s Sacred Fire. Lillback thanked him for the exposure.

When Lillback called Beck “the best publicist in town,” he was on to something. On a March program, the broadcaster spoke of creating a virtual Glenn Beck University, promising to feature “some of the brightest minds in America.” In recent weeks, the FOX News personality has helped to publicize a version of America’s founding largely rejected by academic historians.

Among those rejecting the Christian America storyline are Lillback’s co-religionists, historians Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden. Well-regarded scholars with strong evangelical commitments, this trio published The Search for Christian America back in 1983, arguing that “a careful study of the facts of history shows that early America does not deserve to be considered uniquely, distinctly, or even predominately Christian, if we mean by the word ‘Christian’ a state of society reflecting the ideals presented in Scripture. There is no lost golden age to which American Christians may return.” While acknowledging the influence of religion in colonial America, they also criticized the misuse of faith during the American Revolution.

There are a lot of good hyperlinks in the reproduced passage that I didn't include. Check them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

John Locke on "Christian-Deism":


As men, we have God for our King, and are under the law of reason: as christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the law revealed by him in the gospel. And though every christian, both as a deist and a christian, be obliged to study both the law of nature and the revealed law, that in them he may know the will of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; yet, in neither of these laws, is there to be found a select set of fundamentals, distinct from the rest, which are to make him a deist, or a christian. But he that believes one eternal, invisible God, his Lord and King, ceases thereby to be an atheist; and he that believes Jesus to be the Messiah, his king, ordained by God, thereby becomes a christian, is delivered from the power of darkness, and is translated into the kingdom of the Son of God; is actually within the covenant of grace, and has that faith, which shall be imputed to him for righteousness; and, if he continues in his allegiance to this his King, shall receive the reward, eternal life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Glenn Beck and GW's "Sacred Fire":

I just found out, via Josh Hoisington at American Creation, that Peter Lillback's George Washington's Sacred Fire is at #2 on Amazon, chiefly because of Glenn Beck's promotion of it. Beck has also, of late, promoted David Barton's work.

I've had much to say of the book over the past few years. I'm not going to rehash it here.

What I find interesting is the Barton/Lillback/Beck connection. Glenn Beck, though a political and religious conservative like Barton and Lillback, is also a Mormon. Mormons think of themselves as "Christian" and think of the American Founding as a divinely inspired event. I get the impression that many Mormons think of the Founders as proto-Mormon. And I've written that Mormonism incorporates some of the theologically eccentric non-orthodox elements of the American Founding into their teachings. (Such things as American Indians are the Lost Tribes of Israel; that God is a material being; and Franklin's idea that gods rule over solar systems.)

Obviously Beck, as a Mormon, cares not about proving the orthodox Trinitarian dynamic of the American Founding. Rather he's more concerned with proving America's Founders weren't atheist or strict deists, that they were more "religious" in a broad, ecumenical "Judeo-Christian" sense where Mormonism is another "Judeo-Christian" creed. And much of the stuff that Barton and Lillback have uncovered is useful in that regard.

However, evangelicals like Barton and Lillback are, or are supposed to be, more spiritually discerned than to let Mormons in their political-theological tent. How comfortable should they be with Beck in their tent and vice-versa? We often hear the term "Judeo-Christian" bandied about and used interchangeably with "Christian." What do those terms mean? Does Mormonism "fit"? A number of orthodox Christians have defined "Judeo-Christianity," when I pressed them, as orthodox Christianity where Judaism gets to tag along because of the special place the Jews have as an antecedent to historic Christianity.

Well, not only do Mormons not "fit" according to that understanding of "Judeo-Christianity," but neither do many "key" American Founders, arguably George Washington. But they all do fit in a broader understanding of "Judeo-Christianity" that includes Jews, orthodox Christians, Mormons, Swedenborgs, Jehovah's Witnesses, Arians, Socinians and various Trinity deniers, perhaps even Muslims.

I think Barton, Lillback and Beck need to be pressed on this. It irks me when politicized figures [mis]use the American Founding and religion and try and claim ownership for their own political authority. Lillback has said of George Washington to at least one evangelical revival, that he was "one of us." Well is Glenn Beck one of "you"? The "us" question relates to where the theological line is drawn. Not an atheist? Not a strict deist? Sure. Orthodox Trinitarian Christian? No. At least with Washington, not proven by Lillback or anyone else.
Robert Tilton's Mea Culpa Part 5: You are So Sweet and Obedient:

And for the finale, listen closely at the very end when Robert Tilton introduces his (now ex) wife, Marte and says to her, "you are so sweet and obedient."

Robert Tilton's Mea Culpa, Part 4:

Here we learn "the devil likes to make something out of nothing, but Jesus makes nothing out of something."

He also "sings in tongues" for us illiterate folks.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Harry V. Jaffa on Bloom's "Closing":

I've always wanted to read this. But the journal didn't offer online access to it. That is, until now. See pages 111-138.

A few things, in the review Jaffa rants about homosexuality and Bloom's general ignoring of it in "Closing." I won't reproduce what Jaffa writes. It is, in my opinion, in very bad taste. Jaffa knew that Bloom was a homosexual and probably hated him for it. Jaffa's anti-homosexual argument is a variant of the Aristotelian-Thomistic argument, but not as intellectually cogent.

I don't agree with the biblical or natural law arguments against homosexuality; but I do know some folks who articulate these positions who seem to be genuinely good folks who can respectfully and civilly argue their case. Jaffa is not one of them. A good analogy here is to the Jews. For orthodox Christians, Jews have done something tremendously wrong. No I'm not talking about "crucifying Jesus" -- that event is quite complicated and the claim that the Jews were chiefly responsible for the event is rightly disputed. Rather, the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah, Savior, 2nd Person in the Trinity, what have you. There is a way to respectfully disagree on such fundamental matters and I think most traditional Christians, presently at least, do so in their dealings with Jews.

On the other hand, fundamental disagreements sometimes give rise to gross bigotry. For instance, Martin Luther's On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543, which, without question was used to foment the holocaust.

Harry Jaffa talks of homosexuals as Luther talked of Jews (yes he is that bad) and shame on him for it. But just as I wouldn't write off the tremendous works of Luther for his transgressions I also won't write off Jaffa's.

I focus on Jaffa's criticisms of Bloom's understanding of the American Founding. Many of the points Jaffa makes are quite apt:

....Elsewhere Bloom asserts that

What was acted out in the American and French Revolutions had been thought out beforehand in the writings of Locke and Rousseau, the scenarists for the drama of modern politics (p. 162).

He adds that Hobbes had "led the way" and, as he proceeds, it becomes clear that he regards Locke as essentially Hobbes with a fig leaf covering the hedonism, atheism, and materialism that is so prominent in the former, but no less essential although concealed in the latter. We will return to this point presently. But think of it, the American and French Revolutions "scenarios" written by Locke and Rousseau! The embattled farmers who "fired the shot heard round the world" and the great protagonists in the world historical events that followed Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, are mere actors, following a script. Do we not have here an historical determinism equal to Hegel's? Only the "cunning of history" is replaced by the cunning of the modem philosophers. But this is the purest nonsense.

Leaving the French Revolution to others, I comment only on the American Revolution and the American Founding....Bloom purports to write about "the American mind." But he is perfectly oblivious of the presence of this expression in one of the most famous documents of American history. In a letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825, Thomas Jefferson explained the sources, the purpose, and the manner of the writing of what Lincoln would call that "immortal emblem of humanity," and Calvin Coolidge (observing in 1926 the sesquicentennial of the event) called "the most important civil document in the world."

But with respect to our rights and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced therefore to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject; in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent . neither aiming at originality of principle nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversations, in letters, printed essays or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero. Locke. Sidney, etc.

We must...emphasi[ze]...Jefferson's emphasis upon the "one opinion" on this side of the water. There really was a "public philosophy" at the time of the Revolution and the Founding. The party conflict of the 1790s exceeded in intensity anything that has come after even that of the decade before the Civil War. Yet Jefferson, in his inaugural address in 1801, could say "We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Federalists, we are all Republicans." To speak as Jefferson did, in the letter to Lee, of the "harmonizing sentiments of the day," is to imply a consensus transcending the normal differences of opinion among a free people. Of "the elementary books of public right" mentioned by Jefferson, two are ancient, two are modern. I think it safe to assume that according to Jefferson's understanding of the American mind, that mind found harmonizing sentiments among the books of public right no less than among the conversations, letters, and printed essays. Certainly that would suggest that Americans then read John Locke's Second Treatise in its "harmonizing" sense, in which Locke quotes Hooker for authority for his doctrine, and through Hooker reaches back to Christian scholasticism, and through it to Aristotle.

Bloom not only believes that the English and American Revolutions were scenarios by Locke he says that "the new English and American regimes founded themselves according to his [Locke's] instructions" (p. 162). According to Bloom one can save oneself all the trouble of reading political and constitutional history like Bloom and just read Locke. But how does Bloom read Locke?

"Perhaps the most important discovery" upon which Locke's teaching was based, according to Bloom, was that "there was no Garden of Eden . . . Man was not provided for at the beginning God neither looks after him nor punishes him. Nature's indifference to justice is a terrible bereavement for man. He must [therefore] care for himself." (p. 163). The complete break with Biblical religion, as well as with classical philosophy, as represented by Aristotle and Cicero, is the necessary presupposition of Bloom's Locke.

Once the world has been purged of ghosts or spirits, [meaning of any belief in God or immortality] it reveals to us that the critical problem is scarcity[.] What is required is not brotherly love or faith, hope, and charity, but self-interested rational labor (p. 165).

"Americans" says Bloom,

are Lockeans: recognizing that work is necessary (no longing for a nonexistent Eden), and will produce well-being; following their natural inclinations moderately, not because they possess the virtue of moderation but because their passions are balanced and they recognize the reasonableness of that; respecting the rights of others so that theirs will be respected . From the point of view of God or heroes, all this is not very inspiring. But for the poor, the weak, the oppressed the overwhelming majority of mankind it is the promise of salvation. As Leo Strauss put it, the moderns "built on low but solid ground" (p. 167).

We need not dispute Bloom's interpretation of Locke to deny that the American mind has ever been the mind represented by that interpretation....[T]he words attributed to Strauss are not Strauss's but Churchill's albeit words Strauss himself frequently quoted. But can a regime to which a Churchill could give such unstinting devotion a regime in whose finest hour so many would come to owe so much to so few; a regime whose glory would not be of a day, but of a thousand years be a regime despised by God and heroes?

....Bloom's own account of the success of American Lockeanism is testimony to the proposition that this is precisely the kind of regime that the God of the Bible, who cares for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed would favor. Bloom to the contrary notwithstanding this is the kind of God most Americans have always believed in. This is what they believe when they sing "God bless America."

Let us again consult Jefferson, at his inaugural, declaring of the American mind that it is one

enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter (p. 333).

As far as I can see, everything Bloom says on subject of the American Founding is derived from his readings of Hobbes, Locke, or Tocqueville. I have found not a word of serious interpretation apart from his birdseed scatterings coming from an American source: not Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, or Lincoln. No one has maintained more persistently than I have, during the past thirty-five years, the importance in the American Founding of Locke's teachings as they were understood and incorporated into their handiwork by the Founding Fathers. But to say that a radical atheism discovered in Locke's esoteric teaching was part of what they understood, believed, and incorporated into their regime when every single document bearing on the question contradicts it, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it is just plain crazy.

A qualified defense of Bloom: He understood much of what Jaffa argues when he wrote the book. Of course he was aware of the "God talk" of the American Founding. He wasn't stupid and he read the documents. His, after Strauss' idea is that Hobbes' and Locke's state of nature/contract and rights ideas are at their heart atheistic and materialistic. And ideas have consequences. Therefore, dressing these ideas up in God talk doesn't negate their inherently atheistic, materialistic nature. As Bloom wrote in "Closing":

When Bishops, a generation after Hobbes’s death, almost naturally spoke the language of the state of nature, contract and rights, it was clear that he had defeated the ecclesiastical authorities, who were no longer able to understand themselves as they once had. (pp. 141-2).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

John Fea on Romans 13, American Creation and Steven M. Dworetz:

See here.

He quotes Steven M. Dworetz's The Unvarnished Doctrine: Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution. While I haven't read the book, I have read parts that Gregg Frazer quoted in his PhD thesis. Fea quotes the following passage:

Basing a revolutionary teaching on the scriptural authority of chapter 13 of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans must rank as one of the greatest ironies in the history of political thought. This passage, proclaimed by George Sabine as "the most influential political pronouncement in the New Testament," served as the touchstone for passive obedience and unconditional submission from Augustine and Gregory to Luther and Calvin. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God: The powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil...For he is the minister of God to thee for good...."

The medieval church fathers as well as the reformers and counter-reformers of the sixteenth century all invoked this doctrine in denouncing disobedience and resistance to civil authorities. To them it seemed absolutely unequivocal. If civil rulers, as such, "are ordained of God," then resistance is in all cases a sin and, indeed, as Luther put it, "a greater sin than murder, unchastity, theft, and dishonesty, and all that these may include." In sum, Romans 13 easily earned its reputation in the history of political thought as the "locus classicus of passive-obedience theory."

I've learned a lot from among others Fea himself, Frazer, and a whole host of scholars of virtually every ideological bent. One thing I struggle with is this notion, now in vogue in Texas, that "Christian principles" played a key role in America's Founding. No doubt they were influential. But few "Christian Nationalists" seem willing to admit that "Christian principles" are often complicated, disputed and go both ways -- or, because they are so disputed are vociferously argued both ways -- on some of the most important issues during the American Founding as well as today.

It is a "Christian principle" that what the American Founders did in revolting against Great Britain was "a greater sin than murder, unchastity, theft, and dishonesty, and all that these may include." It's also a "Christian principle" that their revolt was okay.

I think a more honest way of putting it is, "the Bible was consulted as authority." Not the Koran or other holy books. Though other sources like Ancient Greeks and Romans were consulted as well. But the results may not have been what a particular believer in good faith thinks the Bible teaches.

For instance, unitarians of that era "consulted" the Bible and determined that Jesus was not God. Universalists "consulted" the Bible and found it taught all men would eventually be saved. Benjamin Rush "consulted" the Bible and found that it abolished the death penalty. Even today Barack Obama "consults" the Bible in support of socialized health care and Ted Kennedy "consulted" Leviticus of all places in support of hate crimes laws that protect sexual orientation.

Likewise both sides "consulted" the Bible on slavery. And certainly the Bible was "consulted" in support of the notion that heretics should be burned at the stake.
The Universalists On Elihu Palmer:

From a book about Universalism published in 1884:

The Articles of Faith, although couched in language that may seem to be designedly ambiguous, making allowance for a large diversity of opinion to be entertained by those who should accept them as a common platform, were no doubt intended as a statement of the Trinitarianism of the Convention. This is evident from the subsequent action of the Philadelphia church, organized by the union of the Murrayites and Winchesterians, in July, 1790, which at once accepted the Articles, in ruling out the application of an avowed Unitarian for membership, on the ground that their creed would not allow them to accept him. The Philadelphia church, writing to George Richards, March 14,1792, said: —

"No doubt Brother Gordon mentioned to you a Mr. Palmer who was preaching with us when he left this city for Boston. This young man offered himself to become a member of our church, but before the time for admitting him his sentiments were Buspected of being Socinian, if not Deistical. He was accordingly examined, and confessed that he did believe Jesus to be the natural son of Joseph and Mary, begotten by ordinary generation. This made his membership with us inadmissible at that time. He still continues the same, and hath withdrawn from us, and hath gotten other places to preach in, where he can preach that sentiment freely, and that to crowded audiences."

The person thus referred to was Elihu Palmer, a native of Canterbury, Conn., born in 1764. He has been called a deist, and probably was so later in life; but in 1792 his disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity would have been likely to have gained him the reputation of being a deist, even if he had professed unwavering faith in revealed religion. Denied the fellowship of the Universalists, Mr. Palmer, with a few followers, obtained a room in Church Alley, and commenced preaching there in March, 1791. Somewhere in 1788 or 1789, John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, and Henry Voight, his associate in that enterprise, who were avowed deists, believing, as they claimed, only in "the God of Nature," discovered from conversation with others that there were a sufficient number of persons in Philadelphia in sympathy with their views to justify an attempt at an organization. It was not, however, till February, 1790, that they succeeded in perfecting their plans, and organized what they called "The Universal Society." In order to separate themselves and their society as much as possible from all Christian influences, it was resolved among the members to cease the use of Anno Domini, and to date their era from the establishment of "The Universal Society."

The announcement that Mr. Palmer was to preach on the date above mentioned, and the circumstances under which his meeting was held, attracted much attention throughout Philadelphia; and "The Universal Society," which at that time numbered forty members, especially interested themselves to give the persecuted man, as they styled him, all the aid in their power, and, if possible, win him over to themselves. The room where the meeting was held was. therefore crowded, — "The Universal Society," it may be supposed, being present in full strength. Mr. Palmer preached from Micah vi. 8 : "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God." In the sermon he combated the dogma of the deity of Christ; and the success of the effort was such that notice was given that on the succeeding Sunday he would preach again. This announcement, with the attendant circumstances, excited much feeling, remonstrance, and heated opposition on the part of the leading Christian people in the city. Bishop White was prominent in the crusade against the movement; and although the owner of the room in which the meetings were being held was a member of "The Universal Society" he could not resist the pressure brought against him, but closed his doors against the people on the day fixed for the second sermon. " The Universal Society " soon ceased to exist.1

Vol. i. — 20

Mr. Palmer then went to New York for a while, and afterwards returning to Philadelphia, Was attacked by the yellow fever in 1793, and became totally blind. He again removed to New York, where he became the head of the "Columbian Illuminati," established in 1801. He died in Philadelphia in 1806.

Friday, May 21, 2010

George Washington, David Barton and Unitarianism:

David Barton, apparently, has a blog. It doesn't look too "noticed."

I am going to respond to this post entitled "Episcopal Church." Barton writes the following:

A further example of how revisionism attempts to misportray the religious faith of George Washington recently appeared in an ad in a national magazine. 72 That ad (promoting a new book) claimed “George Washington was Unitarian” and not Christian. The only problem with the charge is that it is not true. All of George Washington’s religious ties were to the Episcopal church, which did not hold Unitarian beliefs; furthermore, Washington died in 1799, and the Unitarians did not even organize until 1818 – nineteen years after Washington’s death!

I suspect this passage was lifted from another article of Barton's and the "72" is a footnote. I'd like to see where the footnote is to. The blogpost doesn't say. The problem with Barton's assertion is that he appears to 1) knock down a straw man, and 2) peddle factual inaccuracies while doing so.

The inaccuracy: It's not true that Unitarians didn't begin to organize in America until 1818. King's Chapel -- an Anglican/Episcopal Church! -- was (arguably) "Unitarian" as of 1786. Joseph Priestley helped found the First Unitarian Church in 1796.

It would help to know the exact claim Barton is attempting to counter. He almost certainly either 1) misunderstands it, or 2) intentionally misrepresents it. No one is stupid enough to argue that George Washington was a member of an official capital U Unitarian Church (like the kind Priestley helped form).

The claim rather made is that Washington was a theological unitarian, like Jefferson, J. Adams, Franklin, and probably Madison. And theological unitarians, according to John Adams' own testimony, date back in America since at least 1750.

Jefferson and Madison were both, like Washington, formally connected with the Anglican/Episcopalian Church. There is no need to rehash Jefferson's religious creed here. His example shows one could reject every single doctrine of Christian orthodoxy while remaining an Anglican/Episcopalian and thinking himself a "Christian" and a "unitarian" at the same time.

Less evidence exists for Madison but we do have the following eye-witness account from George Ticknor, founder of the Boston public library:

I found the President more free and open than I expected, starting subjects of conversation and making remarks that sometimes savored of humor and levity. He sometimes laughed, and I was glad to hear it ; but his face was always grave. He talked of religious sects and parties, and was curious to know how the cause of liberal Christianity stood with us, and if the Athanasian creed was well received by our Episcopalians. He pretty distinctly intimated to me his own regard for the Unitarian doctrines.— TICKNOR, GEORGE, 1815, Letter to his Father, Jan. 21 ; Life, Letters and Journals, vol. I, p. 30.

If this is accurate, that would be another Virginia Anglican/Episcopalian "key Founder" and President who was a theological unitarian. This doesn't prove George Washington was anything, but rather shows it was not unheard of for American Founders to be formally connected to a "Christian" church that professed orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, but still privately believe in unitarian doctrines.

And as my last post noted, to be an Anglican Whig meant, by nature, belonging to an institution from whose official doctrines you dissent.

The claim that Washington was a unitarian stems from, among other things, 1) that he systematically avoided communion in his church, suggesting he didn't believe in what the act stood for: Christ's Atonement; and 2) that in the voluminous extant corpus of his recorded words, there is no orthodox Trinitarian God talk. Yet, there is lots of God/Providence talk. Which would make him a theological unitarian by default.

This is an argument that Barton doesn't even begin to address.

Finally, the exact claim Barton claims to address is “'George Washington was Unitarian' and not Christian." The "unitarians" of the day -- for instance Thomas Jefferson, John Adams -- tended to call and think of themselves as "Christians" as well. Further, they likely believed Jesus "Savior" or "Messiah" in some unorthodox sense. Jared Sparks who offers testimony on behalf of Washington's "Christianity" was himself a unitarian in this sense and considered his creed a form of Christianity.

That begs the question are "unitarianism" and "Christianity" mutually exclusive concepts? Or can one be a "Christian" and a "unitarian" like the proponents of the latter claimed? Are doctrines like original sin, Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, eternal damnation non-negotiable tenets of "Christianity" or things over which rational Christians can in good faith disagree? So when Jared Sparks, for instance, claimed Washington a "Christian," I don't believe he meant Washington believed in original sin, Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, etc., but rather that Washington wasn't an atheist or a strict Deist.

This is an issue Barton needs to clarify as well when claims Washington a "Christian" and not a "Unitarian."

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This book, available in its entirety, seems a useful reference on among other things, the strange political theological dynamic of Anglicanism and the American Revolution. The Anglican, soon to be Episcopalian, Church was the "Church of England" -- the church of the mother country against which America rebelled. As such, the church's official teachings were Tory in nature. Many, perhaps most American Anglicans were loyalists. A strong majority of Anglican ministers were loyalists. Yet, some of the most notable American Whigs were Anglicans. In short, they were members of a church against whose official political-theological doctrines they revolted.

That's one reason why I am suspicious of the logic that goes: X Founder was an Anglican; Anglicans officially adhered to orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, found in oaths that they may have or did indeed take to the church; therefore, X was an orthodox Trinitarian. No, the oaths that Anglicans of the Founding era took were high church/Tory oriented. And many American Anglicans remained loyal precisely because they were devoutly attached to their church's official doctrines as contained in those oaths.

If they could rebel against their church's official theological teachings on the King of England's civil supremacy, then why not orthodox Trinitarian doctrine? Perhaps they had a commitment to historic orthodox Christianity that was unmoored from Anglican doctrine on loyalty to the King? Yes, perhaps.

But that needs to be proven. And proof of belief in such orthodoxy must involve something beyond their mere memberships or even taking oaths as means to an end in the Anglican church (i.e., to become a Vestryman as George Washington AND Thomas Jefferson were). As Whigs, they are already proven dissenters from official Anglican doctrine. Doctrines to which many Anglicans took oaths.

With that, what follows is from the chapter entitled, "The Crisis of the American Revolution: 1763–1783":


Inasmuch as the prewar debate over bishops caused conflict even among Anglicans, it is hardly surprising that the Church of England in America divided more than any other denomination over the War for Independence itself. Like their fellow colonists, American Anglicans covered a broad spectrum of political views—from patriots on the left, to neutralists and conciliators in the center, to loyalists on the right. The paradoxes within Anglicanism in the revolutionary era are quite clear. About three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Anglican laymen, yet throughout the war loyalism had a decidedly Anglican tinge.13 The greatest leaders of the revolutionary cause—statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay—were members (at least nominally) of the Church of England, yet in some towns and villages “Tory” and “Anglican” were virtually synonymous.

Large numbers of Anglican clergy also had loyalist sympathies—a political stance that was generally linked to the relative weakness of the Church of England in the colonies where the loyalists served....Conversely, Anglicans were usually the most committed to the patriot cause where the Church of England was strongest, because in those colonies the clergy were maintained by local, not British governmental, sources.14 Although a precise calculation of the political views of all Anglican laypeople is not possible, a tally of the orientation of the approximately three hundred clergymen in America between 1776 and 1783 has been compiled. According to the historian Nancy Rhoden, over 80 percent of the clergy in colonial New England, New York, and New Jersey were loyalists, while less than 23 percent of the clergy in the four southern colonies adopted that stance during the war with Great Britain.15 In New England, where Anglicans were a small minority among Congregationalists and where the SPG had helped found most of the parishes, all Anglican clergy except two (Edward Bass of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Samuel Parker of Boston) were loyalists. In New York, and especially in the lower four counties where Anglicanism was established, only one priest (Samuel Provoost) was a patriot. For most of the war, the city of New York served as a British military stronghold and as refuge for prominent loyalists, many of whom belonged to the Church of England. And in New Jersey, where all of the clergy were SPG missionaries, all but one of the clergy (Robert Blackwell, who served as a chaplain in the Continental Army) took the British side.16

Another reason why so many Anglican clergymen remained loyal to Great Britain is contained in the oaths taken by each minister of the Church of England at the time of his ordination. According to the canons of 1604, Anglican clergy were required to affirm that the king “within his realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and all other his dominions and countries, is the highest power under God; to whom all men . . . do by God’s laws owe most loyalty and obedience, afore and above all other powers and potentates in earth.”17 When he was ordained, each Anglican deacon or priest was obliged publicly to swear allegiance to the king, recognizing his authority as head of both church and state in Great Britain. Furthermore, the 1662 Act of Uniformity bound clergy to use the official liturgy of the Church of England whenever they led public worship.18 This provision required the verbatim reading of services in the Book of Common Prayer, which included prayers for the king, for the royal family, and for Parliament. In the service of Holy Communion, for example, the priest was obliged to say the following prayer:

Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and power infinite; Have mercy upon the whole Church; and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant George, our King and Governor, that he (knowing whose Minister he is) may above all Things seek thy honour and glory: And that we, and all his subjects (duly considering whose authority he hath) may faithfully serve, honour, and humbly obey him, . . . through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . . Amen.19

Since Anglican clergy observed these oaths and prayers with great seriousness, they faced a crisis of conscience as soon as the revolt against Great Britain began. During 1775 and 1776, the Continental Congress issued a series of decrees ordering churches to observe specific days of fasting and prayer on behalf of the American cause. Although some loyalist clergy braved the consequences and refused to observe the fast days, most reluctantly held services. When they read the prayer book liturgy with its required prayers for the king, however, disturbances inevitably ensued. On July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the dilemma faced by Anglicans grew even worse. After that date, the actions of Congress, supported by subsequent state laws, made prayers for the king and Parliament acts of treason. Whichever way the clergyman turned, he faced condemnation. Until such time as he was released from obedience to his ordination vows, he would be guilty of betraying his oath to the king if he prayed for the American cause. But if he remained faithful to the traditions of the Church of England, he risked both fines and imprisonment at the hands of American patriots.20

While ordination vows represented the chief reason, several other considerations also compelled Anglican clergy to become loyalists. The men supported by the SPG, for instance, were liable for dismissal by the society if they expressed any hint of disloyalty.21 Another important factor was the unbending respect for political and ecclesiastical authority that was characteristic of Anglicanism. Although some Anglican loyalists sympathized with the grievances of their fellow colonists, they did not think that gaining independence through a violent revolt was at all justifiable.22 Related to this conservative political attitude was a fear that the Revolution was fundamentally a neo-Puritan plot to destroy Anglicanism in the colonies. This concern was especially evident in New England, where British defeat left Anglicans at the mercy of the Congregational religious establishment. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, Anglicans tended to see clear parallels between the American Revolution and the English Civil War, when Puritans had not only executed the king and the archbishop of Canterbury but also outlawed Anglicanism itself.23

Sensing the potential hardship and disruption that lay ahead, some Anglican clergy who opposed independence started leaving the colonies before 1776. This group of emigrants included such prominent clergy as Thomas Bradbury Chandler and Myles Cooper, president of King’s College in New York. On the same day that Paul Revere received his famous signal from the steeple of Christ (Old North) Church in Boston, the rector of the parish, Mather Byles, resigned his position.

As threats intensified, increasing numbers of clergy fled to Britain, to Canada, and to American areas still under British military control, where some (e.g., Samuel Seabury of New York and Jonathan Odell of New Jersey) joined loyalist regiments as chaplains. Most of the Anglican clergy who remained in the colonies after the Declaration of Independence also decided, albeit reluctantly, to suspend services until they could perform them in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer and without interference from the patriot governments. By the summer of 1776, Anglican church doors were closing throughout America. At the end of the year, a missionary informed the SPG leadership that in the four colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, the only Anglican churches still open were those in Philadelphia, one or two in rural Pennsylvania, those in British-controlled New York, and two parishes in Connecticut.24

The closing of churches did not mean that Anglican loyalists were left entirely without opportunities for worship. Clergy who did not flee from the colonies continued to minister to their congregations as best they could, using churches or private homes. In other parishes, lay readers, who were not bound by oath to perform prayer book liturgies verbatim, read the services of Morning and Evening Prayer and delivered printed homilies. In addition, at least one church in Massachusetts hired a non-Anglican clergyman to lead worship. A few Anglican clergy, moreover, defiantly continued to hold services. John Beach of Connecticut not only conducted worship throughout the war but also swore that he would continue praying for the king until the rebels cut out his tongue. And Charles Inglis of Trinity Church in New York persisted in reading the royal prayers even when George Washington was in the congregation and when a patriot militia company stood by, observing the service. In addition, those who were willing either to omit or to modify the royal prayers were usually able to read the prayer book liturgy without interference from revolutionaries.... (pgs. 38-40.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dio on Vivian Campbell:

RJD had a falling out with former guitarist Vivian Campbell. Dio, shedding light on their falling out, wasn't afraid to speak his mind:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tenacious D on Dio:

I think this whole week is going to be a Ronnie James Dio tribute.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Legend Lost: RIP Ronnie James Dio:

Heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio has died.

He was 67.

One of my life regrets, now I guess, is that I didn't see him. I actually planned on seeing him in the next year or two with Heaven & Hell, the name of Black Sabbath with Dio.

I've worked like a dog these last 5 years; this is my fifth and final untenured year. Tenure, which I've been granted, kicks in next Fall. I haven't been in the mood to see many shows these last few years. Though I try to see Kansas every year. I had to drag myself to see Kansas last fall in Trenton, their final symphonic date. That memory was captured via a wonderful bootleg (check out what the digital age has done for bootlegs).

I guess this is teaching me not to put off things I want to do.

Dio was notable not just for his immense talent as a vocalist, but also as one who lost little if any of his tone and range as he aged. It's understandable that after 20, 30, 40 years of touring and singing/screaming at the top of their lungs would wear on a rocker's voice. Opera singers tend not to have this problem because they sing with a regimented technique (they do things the "right" way). And I suspect that rock vocalists whose voices last do something similar.

I use Dio as an example for bodily gestures in my Global Environment of Business class. He notably introduced the "maliok" (devil's horns) as a symbol of heavy metal. Of Italian ancestry, the maliok is part of that heritage. It represents warding off of evil spirits (it's actually a lucky charm). Dio admittedly learned the maliok from his traditional Italian grandmother. This shows how cultures and subcultures borrow from one another. (One of my students told me one of the Latino gangs has adopted it as their hand gesture.)

With that, here are some videos of Dio at his best. Here is "Heaven and Hell" from 2007 which shows how impressive he was as a metal vocalist in his mid-60s.

Here is the 80s video for "Last in Line." This has such an 80s feel to it.

Here is Ronnie with Deep Purple, "Sitting in a Dream":

Finally, to make the Kansas connection, here is Dio singing about Satan from an evangelical Christian perspective for Kerry Livgren's solo work. "Mask of the Great Deceiver":

Ronnie James Dio, you will be missed.
William Livingston on New Jersey View on Religion & Government:

In the 1947 Everson case, the Supreme Court essentially nationalized Madison and Jefferson's "Virginia Plan" on disestablishment. Subsequent scholarship has aptly noted, while the Founders generally agreed on religious liberty, they disagreed on establishment policy. Therefore, religion (especially establishment policy) was left to the states. Virginia was the most "disestablished" state. Massachusetts was the most "established" state. Most of the other states were somewhere in between. They tend to be ignored or at least less focused on.

Jefferson and Madison, of course, formulated the policy that prevailed in Virginia. John Adams to an extent, represents the Massachusetts' view. Adams helped write Mass.'s original constitution which contains its view on religion and government.

William Livingston, originally from New York, wrote on church-state issues, as a New Yorker, in the Independent Reflector magazine. Later, as governor of New Jersey, Livingston wrote, under the pseudonym "Cato," two addresses on church-state policy that referenced provisions New Jersey's state constitution. The addresses were published in 1788 in the American Museum magazine.

Here is the relevant provision of NJ's Constitution:

XVIII. That no person shall ever, within this Colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner, agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor, under any presence whatever, be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall any person, within this Colony, ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform.

XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.

It's not as established as Mass., nor as disestablished (or religiously equal) as Virginia. Yet the rhetoric that Livingston uses to defend New Jersey's model is arguably more anti-clerical, anti-establishment, pro-religious liberty than Jefferson's and Madison's Virginia's documents.

Also notable is Livingston's Lockeanism. Although Jefferson and Madison's documents likewise build from a Lockean there is far more explication of Lockean theory in Livingston's two Cato addresses.

I've already uploaded the two "Cato" documents but it seems I am going to have to write out some of its passages before I get more folks to reflect on the ideas.

I just found on googlebooks, the February 18, 1778 address by Livingston, which I can copy, paste and reproduce.

"If, in our estimate of things, we ought to be regulated by their importance, doubtless every encroachment upon religion, of all things the most important, ought to be considered as the greatest imposition; and the unmolested exercise of it, a proportionable blessing.

By religion, I mean an inward habitual reverence for, and devotedness to the Deity, with such external homage, either public or private, as the worshipper believes most acceptable to him. According to this definition, it is impossible for human laws to regulate religion without destroying it; for they cannot compel inward religious reverence, that being altogether mental and of a spiritual nature; nor can they enforce outward religious homage, because all such homage is either a man's own choice, and then it is not compelled, or it is repugnant to it, and then it cannot be religious.

The laws of England, indeed, do not peremptorily inhibit a man from worshipping God, according to the dictates of his own conscience, nor positively constrain him to violate it, by conforming to the religion of the state: But they punish him for doing the former, or what amounts to the same thing, for omitting the latter, and consequently punish him for his religion. For what are the civil disqualifications and the privation of certain privileges he thereby incurs, but so many punishments? And what else is the punishment for not embracing the religion of others, but a punishment for practising one's own? With how little propriety a nation can boast of its freedom under such restraints on religious liberty, requires no great sagacity to determine. They affect, tis true, to abhor the imputation of intolerance, and applaud themselves for their pretended toleration and lenity. As contra-distinguished, indeed, from actual prohibition, a permission may doubtless be called a toleration; for as a man is permitted to enjoy his religion under whatever penalties or forfeitures, he is certainly tolerated to enjoy it. But as far as he pays for such enjoyment, by suffering those penalties and forfeitures, he as certainly does not enjoy it freely. On the contrary, he is persecuted in the proportion that bis privilege is so regulated and qualified. I call it persecution, because it is harassing mankind for their principles; and I deny that such punishments derive any sanction from law, because the consciences of men are not the object of human legislation. And to trace this stupendous insult on the dignity of reason to any other source than the one from which I deduced it in the preceding essay, I mean the abominable combination of King-Craft and Priest-Craft, (in everlasting indissoluble league to extirpate liberty, and erect on its ruins boundless and universal despotism,) would I believe puzzle the most assiduous enquirer. For what business, in the name of common sense, has the magistrate (distinctly and singly appointed for our political and temporal happiness) with our religion, which is to secure our happiness spiritual and eternal? And indeed among all the absurdities chargeable upon human nature, it never yet entered into the thoughts of any one to confer such authority upon another. The institution of civil society I have pointed out as originating from the unbridled rapaciousness of individuals, and as a necessary curb to prevent that violence and other inconveniences to which men in a state of nature were exposed. But whoever fancied it a violence offered to himself, that another should enjoy his own opinion? Or who, in a state of nature, ever deemed it an inconvenience that every man should choose his own religion? Did the free denizens of the world, before the monstrous birth of Priest-Craft, aiding by and aided by the secular arm, ever worry one another for not practising ridiculous rites, or for disbelieving things incredible? Did men in their aboriginal condition ever suffer persecution for conscience sake? The most frantic enthusiast will not pretend it. Why then should the members of society be supposed, on their entering into it, to have bad in contemplation the reforming an abuse which never existed? Or why are they pretended to have invested the magistrate with authority to sway and direct their religious sentiment? In reality, such delegation of power, had it ever been made, would be a mere nullity, and the compact by which it was ceded, altogether nugatory, the rights of conscience being immutably personal and absolutely inalienable, nor can the slate or community as such have any concern in the matter. For in what manner doth it affect society, which is evidently and solely instituted to prevent personal assault, the violation of property and the defamation of character; and hath not (these remaining inviolate) any interest in the actions of men—how doth it, I say, affect society what principles we entertain in our own minds, or in what outward form, we think it best to pay our adoration to God? But to set the absurdity of the magistrate's authority to interfere in matters of religion, in the strongest light, I would fain know what religion it is that he has authority to establish? Has he a right to establish only the true religion, or is any religion true because he does not establish it? If the former, his trouble is as vain as it is arrogant, because the true religion being not of this world, wants not the princes of this world to support it, but has in fact either languished or been adulterated wherever they meddled with it. If the supreme magistrate, as such, has authority to establish any religion he thinks to be true, and the religion so established is therefore right and ought to be embraced, it follows, since all supreme magistrates have the same authority, that all established religions are equally right, and ought to be embraced. The emperor of China, therefore, having, as supreme magistrate in his empire, the same right to establish the precepts of Confucius, and the Sultan in his, the imposture of Mahomet, as hath the king of Great Britain the doctrine of Christ in his dominion, it results from these principles, that the religions of Confucius and Mahomet are equally true with the doctrine of our blessed Saviour and his Apostles, and equally obligatory upon the respective subjects of China and Turkey, as Christianity is on those within the British realm; a position which, 1 presume, the most zealous advocate for ecclesiastical domination would think it blasphemy to avow.

The English ecclesiastical government, therefore, is, and all the religious establishments of the world, are manifest violations of the right of private judgment in matters of religion. They are impudent outrages on common sense, in arrogating a power of controlling the devotional operations of the mind and external acts of divine homage not cognizable by any human tribunal, and for which we are accountable only to the Great Searcher of hearts, whose prerogative it is to judge them.

In contrast with this spiritual tyranny, how beautiful appears our catholic constitution in disclaiming all jurisdiction ever the souls of men, and securing, by a law never to be repealed, the voluntary, unchecked moral suasion of every individual, 'and his own self directed intercourse with the father of spirits, either by devout retirement or public worship of his own election. How amiable the plan of entrenching, with the sanction of an ordinance, immutable and irrevocable, the sacred rights of conscience, and renouncing all discrimination between men on account of their sentiments about the various modes of church government, or the different articles of their faith."

That's all the 1822 googlebooks reproduces. It is most, but not all, of Livingston's 1778 address. (For more, again, see here.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Rutherford Challenge:

I've perused the "Christian Nation" debates for some time. And one oft-repeated claim I hear from the pro-Christian Nation side is that Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex was extremely popular during the time of the Founding and that's where John Locke got his ideas from.

From my meticulous research, I've concluded the claim is false. But I'm open minded towards the evidence.

Rutherford anticipated some of Locke's ideas on resisting the magistrate. That might explain why America's Founding era Presbyterians were open to Locke's ideas. Rutherford, however, did not agree with Locke or America's Founders on religious liberty and in fact justified Calvin's putting Servetus to death.

Further, it could be that many ordinary Presbyterians knew and appreciated Rutherford and/or that the Presbyterian pulpit of the American Founding championed his ideas. There's just no extant evidence of this. The notable pro-revolt Congregational and Presbyterian sermons do not rely on Rutherford, but Locke. And few if any notable Founding Fathers cited Rutherford by name in favor of revolt. I know John Adams did nominally reference the name of some of the Calvinist pro-resisters. But he did so while citing an endless plethora of authority for why America was justified in revolting against Great Britain.

Finally I've heard it claimed, yes, they cited Locke, but Locke relied on Rutherford. But this is false as well. Locke doesn't cite Rutherford. From what I've seen there is NO connection between Locke and Rutherford other than *some* similarity in their ideas.

There is a reason why I entitled this post a "challenge." If I am wrong, show me the money.

Friday, May 14, 2010

William Livingston February 18, 1778:

Here I've uploaded another Livingston address. Footnote 3 to the Feb. 4, 1778 address seemed to indicate that BOTH of these pieces were "inserted" by Mathew Carey in Dec. 1788 to the "American Museum." The pieces were given under Livingston's name and dated 1778.

I'll try to track down some more info and answer when exactly and in whose hand these addresses were written.

The dates are important because, as we will see, some of the arguments here strikingly parallel those in Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, written in 1785.

It's also interesting to see how the anti-clerical, pro-religious liberty, anti-establishment rhetoric is used to support the New York/New Jersey plan on religion and government (too often we focus on Virginia or the Massachusetts models only).

Livingston 3

Livingston 4

Livingston 5
William Livingston, Cato, February 4, 1778:

I've uploaded the entire text from William Livingston's address as "Cato," February 4, 1778 which I quoted in my last post. If the text is too small, use the magnifying glass tool.

Pay close attention to the 3rd footnote. And that's because our next upload will be of a piece by Livingston dated February 18, 1778. Yet the footnote appears to inform that the Feb. 18 address was "inserted" by Mathew Carey under Livingston's name in 1788. The reason why the ten years make a difference is because, as we will see, the arguments there strikingly parallel Madison's in the Memorial and Remonstrance. If these were Livingston's words in 1778 we could reasonably concluded Madison lifted the ideas (that's how close they are). But if they were Carey's words in 1788, it's likely he lifted the ideas from Madison. Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance was written in 1785.

Livingston 1

Livingston 2

Update: In rereading the footnote, it seems that BOTH pieces were "inserted" by M. Carey in 1788. However, I can't tell (yet) who wrote the pieces (Livingston, under whose name they were given or Carey) and when they were written (1778 when dated or 1788 when published). The difference matters. Because as noted if they were written in 1778, they anticipate Madison's argument in the Memorial and Remonstrance, and some of Jefferson's Virginia arguments too. It's true that the "Whigs" -- Jefferson, Madison, and Livingston -- cribbed Locke. However, it wasn't just "Locke," but rather how Jefferson understood Locke, how Madison understood Locke, how Livingston understood Locke, etc.