Saturday, July 30, 2011

Founding Fathers as Westerners:

We argue over the heritage terms used to describe the American Founding -- "Christian," "Protestant Christian," "Judeo-Christian," "Theist," "Deist," "Unitarian," "Universalist," "Enlightenment," etc. America's Founders certainly well drew from the "Western" tradition. Is that synonymous with Christendom? Perhaps; but Western Civilization had a noble pagan Greco-Roman source as well which was certainly evident in the American Founding.

Terming the Founders as "Westerners" isn't to take a side in the culture wars that pits the defenders of Western Civilization against multiculturalism. Indeed, Multiculturalism itself is a Western concept. As is Marxism, classical liberalism and modern lefty liberalism and a whole bunch of other good and bad things.

Speaking of bad things, pagan Anglo-Saxonism, apart from fantasy literature and entertainment, really isn't respectable anymore, for obvious reasons (i.e., 20th Century German nationalism's poisoning its well). Yet, pagan Anglo-Saxonism represents another "heritage" source for Western Civ., though, the Anglo-Saxons weren't quite as accomplished as the Greco-Romans. Thursday is Thor's Day, after all.

What brings this to mind are the proposals for the Great Seal by Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They proposed three different illustrative concepts: One, Moses and Pharaoh; two, Hercules "contemplating images of Virtue and Sloth"; and three, "Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honor of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed."

Those three concepts include the Judeo-Christian, but also the pagan Anglo-Saxon and Greco-Roman.

Finally see historian Wayne Dynes' deconstruction of Jefferson's Hengist and Horsa proposal. As alluded to above, modern 20th-21st Century folks can get away with affinities for pagan Greco-Romanism, but pagan Anglo-Saxonism seems racist.

Update: Here is a link to John Adams' original letter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Enlightenment Meme:

This is one thing I've waited to get to and needs much further exploration. One reason why historians and political scientists say America was a product of the Enlightenment is because it was founded during the AGE or the ERA of Enlightenment.

For the most part, this categorization of the era was done after the fact by scholars. For instance, when I saw Gordon Wood speak at the James Madison Program at Princeton, he noted, the Founders didn't self consciously say to themselves, (I'm paraphrasing Wood) "We are living in the age of Enlightenment." (He noted this when explaining the context of why America's Founders were the product of "Enlightenment.")

Yet they did commonly use enlightenment terminology. Terms and qualifiers like "benign" "benevolent," "sober," "rational," "reasonable," "liberal," "enlightened," to name of few. [I blogged about that here; also see Tom Van Dyke's summary of Philip Hamburger's article on a related matter.]

Read for yourself the search engine results when one puts the term "enlightened" into George Washington's extant corpus.

Or this particular quotation of Washington's speaking to the Swedenborgians:

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States. [Bold mine.]

The first thinker to self consciously understand theirs was an "age of Enlightenment" -- I have found was Immanuel Kant. That is, apparently, where the meme originated.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik's Thoughts on Christian Nationalism:

I do a lot of bashing of WorldNetDaily; though this article has some useful reporting. The terrorist is 1. a European Christian Nationalist, but 2. not very religious himself, apparently. He is a Freemason. And he has thought about some of the issues like "what is a Christian nation?" and "what is a 'Christian'?" that we at American Creation have. God I hope he never visited our site.

"As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus," he writes. "Being a Christian can mean many things; That you believe in and want to protect Europe's Christian cultural heritage. The European cultural heritage, our norms (moral codes and social structures included), our traditions and our modern political systems are based on Christianity – Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and the legacy of the European enlightenment (reason is the primary source and legitimacy for authority). It is not required that you have a personal relationship with God or Jesus in order to fight for our Christian cultural heritage and the European way. In many ways, our modern societies and European secularism is a result of European Christendom and the enlightenment. It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a 'Christian fundamentalist theocracy' (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want). So no, you don't need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)). The PCCTS, Knights Templar is therefore not a religious organisation [sic] but rather a Christian 'culturalist' military order."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

If You Will Excuse Me:

I usually wouldn't post something like this to American Creation -- a "History" blog that I see as interdisciplinary with other secondary subjects: theology, politics, law, philosophy; and tertiary subjects like culture and technology.

It's very difficult for instance to avoid political and theological analysis of contemporary events and leave the American Founding off limits. But I discipline myself in not so doing at American Creation; so when I so do, well, I guess I'll be very open about it.

A commenter at a listserv I am on noted the following about the recent terror bombing by a self professed "Christian":

Christianity doesn't align with what he did.

Islam DOES align with what Islamic terrorists do.

There is a difference.

This is my reply:

To the skeptical outsider looking in, arguably this appears self serving sophistry. Something can present itself as "Islam" and "Christianity" and do X or be against doing X. How does one tell what is the authentic version of X apart from its self presentation? Verses and chapters of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Koran can be proof quoted in favor of or against X.

This isn't to say these holy texts can be used to support *any* position; but yes, they can be used to support many positions.

That's why I support the more enlightened, liberal, rationalistic understandings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“It has pleased the Providence of the first Cause, the Universal Cause, that Abraham should give religion not only to Hebrews but to Christians and Mahomitans, the greatest part of the modern civilized world.”

-– John Adams to M.M. Noah, July 31, 1818.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This is Embarrassing:

I like attacking the low hanging "Christian Nation" fruit. Perhaps it's a vice of mine. Still the error this author makes is so bad, I wanted to give him a chance to correct it before I exposed it. I emailed Joe Farah and the author in the morning, but the article is still there.

So here goes. Check it out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gary North on the Fourth of July:

Dr. North always has something interesting to say.


I will say it, loud and clear: the freest society on earth in 1775 was British North America, with the exception of the slave system. Anyone who was not a slave had incomparable freedom.

Jefferson wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

I can think of no more misleading political assessment uttered by any leader in the history of the United States. No words having such great impact historically in this nation were less true. No political bogeymen invoked by any political sect as "the liar of the century" ever said anything as verifiably false as these words.

I think North would have a point; except that hyperbole is an accepted rhetorical device, which is the way I read Jefferson's words. But I would agree, if not given a hyperbolic reading, it does seem quite ridiculous.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anger Kills:

I disagree with this article in the Huffington Post insofar as it claims anger is ever good for us. No anger has never gotten a bad rap; it deserves all the bad things we can say about it and then some. Though the article does feature great quotations from philosophers arguing against anger in every circumstance.

Medieval Christianity decreed anger as one of the seven deadly sins. Buddha teaches that anger side-tracks enlightenment and is rooted in illusion. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna regards anger as a sign of ignorance that leads to perpetual bondage. And the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, a source of Judaic law, advises, "Anger is a very evil trait and it should be avoided at all costs. You should train yourself not be become angry even if you have a good reason to be angry." Even current medical research conducted through the American Heart Association lists its negative health consequences, including anger as a trigger for heart attacks.

Indeed, these sources -- ancient wisdom -- are right and the author shouldn't presume to know better.

But why the qualified defense of anger?

Anger is a hard issue because it's something human beings seem universally subject to, some more than others. Because of its universality, the "everyone does it" excuse temps the human ego. While I can't speak for the non-Judeo-Christian sources of ancient wisdom, Christianity rightly answers the "everyone does it" excuse with the doctrine of original sin or all human beings falling short of the ideal; everyone does it means everyone is guilty, not excused. And the folks who indulge in this poison more than others are the guiltier parties.

The author properly notes anger is built into human DNA as a survival mechanism. Indeed, all mammals emotionally react with anger and fear when their physical survival is threatened. But, this mechanism did evolve in the brute state of evolutionary nature. What separates humans from animals is our ability to rise above our animal nature. Think about it: since humans stopped being cavemen and became civil, especially in modern times when the prospect of needing a burst of adrenalin to fight off a tiger seems ever unlikely, fight or flight emotional reactions became useless and superfluous, indeed things that make us into badder, less pleasant to be around, less happy people.

Some argue anger and fear can usefully motivate to accomplish good; but -- and this is an "aha," wake you up out of the Matrix discovery -- whatever good outcome anger or fear can motivate you towards can be done without them. Can and SHOULD. Whatever one needs to accomplish, anger or fear are likely to get in the way, fluster you or make you overreact and not handle the situation properly. In short, you have to do the right, effective thing IN SPITE of the emotional reaction.

Nothing a person can do to you justifies you getting angry. And this is true as much if not more so for your sake than theirs.

Folks unaware of this discovery sometimes think not getting angry means being a wimp and letting people get away with things. To the contrary, in many ways it means "winning" (as Charlie Sheen might put it) without getting the heart attack that killed Howard Beale.

When folks wrong you, they always deserve to be stood up to; though prudence may dictate silence. For instance, an armed gangster who rudely shoves you out of his way on a public sidewalk deserves to be stood up to; but it might get you shot. Sometimes folks deserve to be straightened out; they may deserve a punch or even God forbid a bullet. But in the ideal, these ought to be done, not in a state of emotional reaction, but in a state of emotional detachment. If someone directly and imminently threatens your life or the lives of your loved ones, they deserve a bullet. So when I say, "don't get angry at them" it's obviously not for THEIR sake but yours.

I hope never to be in a circumstance of having to use deadly force; but if I were, I know if I could totally emotionally detach myself from the circumstance and not get angry or upset while using the deadly force, I would be spared from the misery of post traumatic stress disorder and happily go on with my life. If I got emotional and upset, I would need therapy; the past trauma would consume me and make me miserable. I would also almost certainly better handle the situation if I did not get angry or upset (see below for what I mean).

Yet other times, not getting angry IS for other people as well as for you. Someone who overreacts, gets irritated and takes his or her anger out on other folks for little or more moderate transgressions is generally not well liked or pleasant to be around. And if you are not in a position of power or authority over someone you are likely to be told off (or worse!) by a stranger or ruin a friendship when you get angry at someone and take it out on them. What's more, taking out your anger or frustrations on someone is just a rotten thing to do. And unfortunately, bosses, parents, and partners-spouses do this way more than they should (in the ideal they never would.) And then when parents get old their adult children give it back to them with the parents left scratching their heads asking "what did I do to them?" You took your anger and frustrations out on them while they were subject to your authority and it's coming back to haunt you.

Because I am detached from the circumstance I can laugh at Buddy Rich, Casey Kasem and Alec Baldwin overreacting and taking their anger out at those under their authority; but honestly they all acted as rotten human beings when they did this.

Now in each of those circumstances, the other party -- Buddy Rich's band, Alec Baldwin's daughter, and Casey Kasem's subordinate worker -- may have done something wrong that triggered the emotional reaction. But their misdeeds didn't merit the overreaction. "He started it" or "you did this" doesn't excuse the anger-overreaction.

So how much do you give someone when you reprimand them for their misdeeds? Only in a calm, emotionally detached state will your intuition instruct you on the proper words and tone of voice to use. Anger practically guarantees bungling the conflict.

Let me end with a more serious anecdote to illustrate this rule. A tragic story of two lives ruined by anger. 59 year old pharmacist Jerome Ersland was victimized by a gang of armed robbers. A lawful gun owner, he reacted legally and morally by initially shooting the robbers in self defense. After one robber was already shot and subdued, but still alive, "Ersland [fired] five shots into the unconscious teenager's abdomen that killed him."

The robber morally deserved the initial shot that left him subdued, but did not deserve the five shots that killed him. And the moral bullet was also legal; the five immoral bullets were illegal. The immoral bullets were the result of anger which caused the overreaction. Ersland could have still done the right thing, in SPITE of his anger, and resisted the temptation to fire those additional bullets. But, if he did not get angry, his intuitive sense would have instructed him, effortlessly with no temptation, to stop firing after he subdued the robber.

Anger kills and ruins lives.

In subsequent posts I may follow up on strategies for not being subject to anger. I know all of this is easier said than done. But the first step in an enlightened understanding is giving up the egotistical justification for ever getting angry. When the ego self-righteously justifies the angry state (as in "I am angry because X did this or caused it") it becomes almost impossible to let go. And ultimately that's what you need to do with your anger; let go of it. Never indulge it. Don't suppress it; don't indulge it. And here the author of the HuffPo article and I agree. :).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anti-Creedalism of the American Founding:

How America's Founders viewed creeds/confessions is important for a few reasons. First, some Christian Americanists have used the content of the creeds as a shortcut to determine the Founders' religious belief. I most recently blogged about Bryan Fischer doing this.

Now, I know Fischer is a dimwit who makes for easy pickins. But he relies on the work of M.E. Bradford, no lightweight he.* As I mentioned before, Dr. Bradford, at least in my second revised edition of "Founding Fathers" doesn't make the total leap of saying the FFs were "members" in the sense of swearing oaths to doctrinally orthodox creeds, but he does use the term "members" of orthodox churches. (p. xvi.) Regardless, he doesn't demonstrate, because the record doesn't show 50+ of the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention swearing oaths to their churches' orthodox doctrines/creeds. Rather the record shows some kind of bare affiliation with churches that professed orthodoxy; and it shows it for all 55 delegates including the supposed "Deists." Some/many did take oaths; we just don't know the exact number. Though Fischer didn't fabricate the "swear oaths to orthodox doctrines" meme; other, more notable figures did before him.

Peter Lillback for instance, in George Washington's Sacred Fire accurately notes George Washington took oaths to the Anglican Church when he became a vestrymen and a godfather. Thomas Jefferson likewise did when he became a vestryman for the Anglican Church.

As I've noted many times before, Lillback's "smoking gun" to prove GW's "orthodoxy" are those oaths to official Anglican doctrine; and that's because Washington's own words don't prove this. The logic of Lillback, Fischer and others on this matter has been something along the lines of: 1. they were members of orthodox churches in the "they took oaths to creeds" sense; 2. therefore they either were orthodox Trinitarian Christians OR they were dishonorable hypocrites. In fact, I debated a Christian Americanist PhD, author, scholar whom I won't name because I don't think he wants me to (you can ask Ray Soller or Jim Allison about him to confirm this) who repeated like a mantra: Because they took those oaths, Washington AND the other Founders were either orthodox or political whores.

Note: I don't make this argument; they do. That's their judgment not mine. I understand life is complicated. But one senses Lillback's "George Washington's Sacred Fire" writes off Jefferson as a dishonorable man because he took oaths to orthodox Anglican doctrines to become a vestryman while personally rejecting every single doctrine of orthodoxy.

Enter John Jay. He is, in my opinion, rightly conceded as an orthodox Christian. And as I wrote here, he was a church warden in the Anglican-Episcopalian Church, which presumably demonstrates "official oath swearing member" status as opposed to mere nominal affiliation. Yet, as I noted in that link, he didn't seem to care one whit about those creeds, but rather, viewed sectarian oaths as man made creeds.

And doing so led him to flirt with either theological unitarianism, or as this commenter noted, perhaps the Incarnation Sonship heresy, where Jesus is viewed as eternally the second Person in the Trinity, but not the "eternally begotten" Son; rather, the Father-Son relationship didn't occur until Jesus was Incarnated. That's not what his church taught; that's NOT what the Athanasian Creed teaches.

Enter William Livingston, who, as I noted here and here, rejected creeds and ecclesiastical authority. He is also one of Bradford's Presbyterians. I don't know whether he took Presbyterian oaths (see this chart for late 18th Cen. American Churches and their oaths). But my links show he 1. believed in the Bible; but 2. rejected creeds as man made, and 3. mocked the Athanasian Creed.

Enter Benjamin Rush. Though an orthodox Trinitarian, he embraced the Universalist heresy. He was nominally Presbyterian (see this useful chart for formal/nominal affiliation of the Founders). I do not know whether Rush took Presbyterian oaths; but his Arminianism and Universalism contradicted Presbyterianism's creed.

And Rush knew it. He expressed his rejection of creeds to John Adams, April 5, 1808, and noted his religion a compound of "orthodoxy" and "heterodoxy." He also told Adams he kept his exact religious beliefs secret.

Indeed, one of the reasons why I DISLIKE the claim -- "they were orthodox because they were all members of Churches with orthodox creeds" -- so much is, from what I have seen it is precisely the opposite of the truth. Some Founders connected to those churches were biblical unitarians; some were orthodox in spite of what those creeds taught, but rather because they found Trinitarianism in the Bible; and some were more rationalistic unitarian and deistic "Christians." But I haven't seen ANY evidence that the Founders were "orthodox" because they respected the creeds to which their churches adhered. James H. Hutson's The Founders on Religion, on pages 79-81, reproduces quotations from Abigail and John Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Jay and Rush on the subject of creeds and EACH is anti-creedal in sentiment.

The "orthodox because of their churches' creeds" meme misses the radically anti-creedal, anti-ecclesiastical dynamic of the American Founding.

*Bradford was almost the appointed to chair the National Endowment for the Humanities by President Reagan until his paleoconservative belief that the South was right poisoned his well.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

John Knox's Sexist Screed:

I've been investigating -- and I'm far from done -- the evolution of the notion that Christian believers have a right to resist and disobey rulers in the face of, among other proof texts, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. It didn't all just happen at once. Its seeds had been germinating for quite a time as a dissident growth within Christendom. Common-sensically, the arguments emerged as a result of experience with crappy Kings...and Queens.

A little while back someone with whom I interacted in a comment thread suggested John Knox on when rulers lose their legitimate authority. The commenter objected to my idea that Sola Scriptura doesn't get you the right to resist tyrants. John Knox was a Calvinist, reformed guy; they are Sola Scripturaist, right?

Well no. As among others, Jordan J. Ballor has noted, there is a tradition of natural law in Protestantism. And this is, I think, because Protestantism inherited a great deal of its traditions from Roman Catholicism.

And indeed John Knox, the former Roman Catholic Priest he, cites Aristotle in The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

But, honestly, I have a hard time with both the title and the contents of this work. I'm a product of modern egalitarian gender equality thought. And this is anything but.

Here is a taste:

[The Empire of Women is
Repugnant to Nature]

And first, where I affirm the empire of a woman to be a thing repugnant to nature, I mean not only that God, by the order of his creation, has spoiled [deprived] woman of authority and dominion, but also that man has seen, proved, and pronounced just causes why it should be. Man, I say, in many other cases, does in this behalf see very clearly. [14]For the causes are so manifest, that they cannot be hid. For who can deny but it is repugnant to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to lead and conduct such as do see? That the weak, the sick, and impotent persons shall nourish and keep the whole and strong? And finally, that the foolish, mad, and frenetic shall govern the discreet, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind? And such be all women, compared unto man in bearing of authority. For their sight in civil regiment is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy, if it be rightly considered.

[15]I except such as God, by singular privilege, and for certain causes known only to himself, has exempted from the common rank of women, and do speak of women as nature and experience do this day declare them. Nature, I say, does paint them forth to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish; and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel, lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment. And these notable faults have men in all ages espied in that kind, for the which not only they have removed women from rule and authority, but also some have thought that men subject to the counsel or empire of their wives were unworthy of public office. [16]For thus writes Aristotle, in the second of his Politics. What difference shall we put, says he, whether that women bear authority, or the husbands that obey the empire of their wives, be appointed to be magistrates? For what ensues the one, must needs follow the other: to wit, injustice, confusion, and disorder. The same author further reasons, that the policy or regiment of the Lacedemonians (who other ways amongst the Greeks were most excellent) was not worthy to be reputed nor accounted amongst the number of commonwealths that were well governed, because the magistrates and rulers of the same were too much given to please and obey their wives. What would this writer (I pray you) have said to that realm or nation, where a woman sits crowned in Parliament amongst the midst of men?

"Oh fearful and terrible are thy judgments, O Lord, which thus hast abased man for his iniquity!"

I am assuredly persuaded that if any of those men, which, illuminated only by the light of nature, did see and pronounce the causes sufficient why women ought not to bear rule nor authority, should this day live and see a woman sitting in judgment, or riding from Parliament in the midst of men, having the royal crown upon her head, the sword and the scepter borne before her, in sign that the administration of justice was in her power: I am assuredly persuaded, I say, that such a sight should so astonish them, that they should judge the whole world to be transformed into the Amazons,[17] and that such a metamorphosis and change was made of all the men of that country, as poets do feign was made of the companions of Ulysses; or at least, that albeit the outward form of men remained, yet should they judge their hearts were changed from the wisdom, understanding, and courage of men, to the foolish fondness and cowardice of women. Yea, they further should pronounce, that where women reign or be in authority, that there must needs vanity be preferred to virtue, ambition and pride to temperance and modesty; and finally, that avarice, the mother of all mischief, must needs devour equity and justice.[18] [19]

But lest that we shall seem to be of this opinion alone, let us hear what others have seen and decreed in this matter. [20]In the Rules of the Law thus is it written: [21]"Women are removed from all civil and public office, so that they neither may be judges, neither may they occupy the place of the magistrate, neither yet may they be speakers for others." The same is repeated in the third and the sixteenth books of the Digests,[22] where certain persons are forbidden, Ne pro aliis postulent, that is, that they be no speakers nor advocates for others.[23]And among the rest, women are forbidden, and this cause is added, that they do not against shamefacedness [modesty] intermeddle themselves with the causes of others; neither yet that women presume to use the offices due to men. The Law in the same place does further declare that a natural shamefacedness [modesty] ought to be in womankind,[24] which most certainly she loses whensoever she takes upon her the office and estate of man. [25]As in Calphurnia was evidently declared, who having license to speak before the senate, at length she became so impudent and importunate, that by her babbling she troubled the whole assembly; and so gave occasion that this law was established.[26]

[27]In the first book of the Digests, it is pronounced that the condition of the woman, in many cases, is worse than of the man: as in jurisdiction (says the Law), in receiving of cure and tuition, in adoption, in public accusation, in delation, in all popular action, and in motherly power which she has not upon her own sons. The Law further will not permit that the woman give anything to her husband, because it is against the nature of her kind, being the inferior member, to presume to give anything to her head.[28] The Law does moreover pronounce womankind to be most avaricious (which is a vice intolerable in those that should rule or minister justice).[29] And Aristotle, as before is touched, does plainly affirm, that wheresoever women bear dominion, there the people must needs be disordered, living and abounding in all intemperance, given to pride, excess, and vanity; and finally, in the end, they must needs come to confusion and ruin.[30]

[31]Would to God the examples were not so manifest to the further declaration of the imperfections of women, of their natural weakness and inordinate appetites! I might adduce histories, proving some women to have died for sudden joy; some for impatience to have murdered themselves; some to have burned with such inordinate lust, that for the quenching of the same, they have betrayed to strangers their country and city;[32] and some to have been so desirous of dominion, that for the obtaining of the same, they have murdered the children of their own sons, yea, and some have killed with cruelty their own husbands and children.[33] [34] [35] But to me it is sufficient (because this part of nature is not my most sure foundation) to have proved, that men illuminated only by the light of nature have seen and have determined that it is a thing most repugnant to nature, that women rule and govern over men. [36]For those that will not permit a woman to have power over her own sons, will not permit her (I am assured) to have rule over a realm; and those that will not suffer her to speak in defence of those that be accused (neither that will admit her accusation intended against man) will not approve her that she shall sit in judgment, crowned with the royal crown, usurping authority in the midst of men.

[The Empire of Women is Contrary
to the Revealed Will of God]

But now to the second part of nature, in the which I include the revealed will and perfect ordinance of God; and against this part of nature, I say, that it does manifestly repugn that any woman shall reign and bear dominion over man. For God, first by the order of his creation, and after by the curse and malediction pronounced against the woman (by reason of her rebellion) has pronounced the contrary.

[37]First, I say, that woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man, not to rule and command him. As St. Paul does reason in these words: "Man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. And man was not created for the cause of the woman, but the woman for the cause of man; and therefore ought the woman to have a power upon her head" [1 Cor. 11:8-10] (that is, a cover in sign of subjection). Of which words it is plain that the apostle means, that woman in her greatest perfection should have known that man was lord above her; and therefore that she should never have pretended any kind of superiority above him, no more than do the angels above God the Creator, or above Christ their head.[38] So I say, that in her greatest perfection, woman was created to be subject to man.

[39]But after her fall and rebellion committed against God, there was put upon her a new necessity, and she was made subject to man by the irrevocable sentence of God, pronounced in these words: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. With sorrow shalt thou bear thy children, and thy will shall be subject to thy man; and he shall bear dominion over thee" (Gen. 3:16).[40] Hereby may such as altogether be not blinded plainly see, that God by his sentence has dejected all women from empire and dominion above man. For two punishments are laid upon her: to wit, a dolour, anguish, and pain, as oft as ever she shall be mother; and a subjection of her self, her appetites, and will, to her husband, and to his will. From the former part of this malediction can neither art, nobility, policy, nor law made by man deliver womankind; but whosoever attains to that honour to be mother, proves in experience the effect and strength of God's word. But (alas!) ignorance of God, ambition, and tyranny have studied to abolish and destroy the second part of God's punishment. For women are lifted up to be heads over realms, and to rule above men at their pleasure and appetites. [41]But horrible is the vengeance which is prepared for the one and for the other, for the promoters and for the persons promoted, except they speedily repent. For they shall be dejected from the glory of the sons of God to the slavery of the devil, and to the torment that is prepared for all such as do exalt themselves against God.

Against God can nothing be more manifest than that a woman shall be exalted to reign above man; for the contrary sentence he has pronounced in these words: "Thy will shall be subject to thy husband, and he shall bear dominion over thee" (Gen. 3:16). As [though] God should say, "Forasmuch as you have abused your former condition, and because your free will has brought yourself and mankind into the bondage of Satan, I therefore will bring you in bondage to man. For where before your obedience should have been voluntary, now it shall be by constraint and by necessity; and that because you have deceived your man, you shall therefore be no longer mistress over your own appetites, over your own will or desires. For in you there is neither reason nor discretion which are able to moderate your affections, and therefore they shall be subject to the desire of your man. He shall be lord and governor, not only over your body, but even over your appetites and will." This sentence, I say, did God pronounce against Eve and her daughters, as the rest of the scriptures do evidently witness. So that no woman can ever presume to reign above man, but the same she must needs do in despite of God, and in contempt of his punishment and malediction.[42]

[43]I am not ignorant, that the most part of men do understand this malediction of the subjection of the wife to her husband, and of the dominion which he bears above her. But the Holy Ghost gives to us another interpretation of this place, taking from all women all kinds of superiority, authority, and power over man, speaking as follows, by the mouth of St. Paul: "I suffer not a woman to teach, neither yet to usurp authority above man" (1 Tim. 2:12). Here he names women in general, excepting none; affirming that she may usurp authority above no man. And that he speaks more plainly in another place in these words: "Let women keep silence in the congregation, for it is not permitted to them to speak, but to be subject, as the law sayeth" (1 Cor. 14:34). These two testimonies of the Holy Ghost are sufficient to prove whatsoever we have affirmed before, and to repress the inordinate pride of women, as also to correct the foolishness of those that have studied to exalt women in authority above men, against God and against his sentence pronounced.
1 Peter 2:

At American Creation we've done a great deal of discussion on St. Paul's Romans 13. But that's not the only proof text in the Bible that instructs believers to submit to and obey rulers. There is also 1 Peter 2:

13Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

15For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

16As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

17Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

When it comes to proof texting the Bible, I don't see how anyone could dispute that the British had the more biblical argument; America's Founders did not "honour the king." What's a more interesting question is how Christendom, even orthodox Christendom, added a natural law that originates in Aristotle to the Bible as, at the very least, a supplement. Without that supplement, you don't get a right to rebel against tyrants.

Some argue that supplementing is a slippery slope to superseding; that might be true. But it is what America's Founders did. You don't get to rebel against a tyrannical King without looking outside the four corners of the Bible to "Nature."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bryan Fischer Digs Himself Deeper in the Hole:

I have no idea who BF is responding to in this article that ends "To our secularist friends: man up, get over yourselves, and deal with it." Perhaps he read my earlier article that refuted his assertion that America's Founders were all "Christians" in a way that satisfies a conservative evangelical's test for the faith.

As I've noted before, if one casts a wide enough net, just about all of America's Founders were "Christians," as is Barack Obama, Bishop Spong and all of the Mormons. But according to evangelical minimums, a great deal of them were not.

Fischer conveniently defines those minimums in his article:

... Of the 55 framers of the Constitution, we know as a matter of historical record that 51 or 52 of them swore on oath to evangelical statements of faith,...


According to Dr. M.E. Bradford of the University of Dallas, of the 55 framers, 28 were Episcopalians, 8 were Presbyterians, 7 were Congregationalists, and there were two each of Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Methodists and Roman Catholics. That left, by Bradford's counting, three deists and one founder whose religious views cannot be determined definitively.

Don't forget that at this time, most churches required sworn adherence to strict doctrinal statements, meaning all 51 of these men swore an oath before Almighty God that they believed the Bible to be God's revelation to mankind and that they themselves believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and that they trusted in him for their eternal salvation.

The problem with this is that it isn't true. ME Bradford did not "find" 51 of the 55 framers of the Constitution were "members" of churches in the "I took an oath" sense. All he found was some kind of nominal connection to an orthodox Church. I have one of those too; I was baptized in the Roman Catholic church but never went beyond that step. So did Jefferson -- he was nominally Anglican -- who denied every single tenet of orthodox Christianity. And Jefferson actually did take orthodox oaths when he became an Anglican Vestryman (which was more of a social function). Indeed of the 28 Episcopalians, however many of them did take oaths (understanding there is no proof all 28 of them did), actually took loyalty oaths to the crown that they violated when they rebelled.

There is reason why appeal to authority is logical fallacy and that's because sometimes expert authorities get it wrong. If I am wrong -- if ME Bradford did find that 51 out of the 55 Framers were "members" in the "I took an oath" to an orthodox Church sense -- then prove it by citing the primary sources. I've already looked into this and know "there is no there there" and I'm willing to wager $$ to get Fischer to put up or shut up.

Based on what he wrote in the article Fischer should understand Dr. Bradford's figure is worthless: Even the 3 Deists had those nominal connections to orthodox churches. Yes, BF understands Bradford's 3 Deists weren't really "Deists" but doesn't seem to understand that casts doubt on the credibility of the argument for the other 51-52.

Finally, let us appreciate irony of Christian Nationalists like Fischer using the "oaths" argument as a shortcut to prove the Founders' orthodox Christianity. While they were all God believers and attached to their various sects for social and hereditary reasons, many of them disbelieved and questioned the "official" doctrinal stories that their orthodox clergy sold them. For that reason, many Founders hated sectarian oaths, especially sectarian oaths required for public office. See James H. Hutson's The Founders on Religion, pp. 154-56 to match Fischer's appeal to authority.*

* More on the Founders' explicit anti-oath arguments that reference the primary sources in subsequent posts and perhaps in the comment thread to this post. As I challenged BF, I will put up or shut up.
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Countering a Christian Nation Talking Point at WorldNetDaily:

For those who aren't friends with me on Facebook, I've been doing a lot of intellectual stuff over there that I don't link to on my blogs (perhaps I should more).

Here is an article from one Tom Flannery on history. In it he writes:

For the past half century, there has been a concerted effort to de-emphasize our founders, the (biblical) principles upon which they established this nation and America's Christian heritage – for the express purpose of robbing us of that heritage.

I replied:

There is way too much Christian Nation revisionist nonsense coming from the other side. Great Britain arguably was more of a Christian state than America was. And the invocations of God in the DOI were not meant to distinguish America as any kind of biblical government from Great Britain's. Rather it was done arguably out of necessity. When you violate the positive law as revolutions by their nature do, you better make sure you square your arguments with God. Great Britain did the same, but they had Romans 13 and the Bible on their side. America had to turn to theistic naturalism.

I realize my assertion, like his, is debatable; so debate all you want. But, I wrote what I did because I noticed an all too common error from Christian Nationalists on the Declaration of Independence -- that its religious talk was somehow meant to distinguish American government as a "godly" or biblical government from Great Britain's or the rest of the world's. This is false. If one wants to mention the Declaration to distinguish America's birth certificate from modern positivism or secularism, fine. As I intimated in my comment, all then governments, or at least all then Western governments had some sort of explicit religious connection, indeed just about all of the others were more sectarian, more orthodox and more biblical than America's.

Great Britain had its political-theological arguments for demanding loyalty that were FAR more "biblical" and proof texting oriented. (Romans 13 and all that.) America could not make a successful argument that could rally the masses without likewise matching Great Britain's God talk. But do keep in mind, this was not a matter of America turning to "God" against Great Britain's or the other nations of the world's man made positivism. Rather it was God talk matching God talk. And theirs was more traditional, more orthodox Christian. America's was more naturalistic.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Voegelin on Locke:

I know about Leo Strauss' secret atheist Locke; but I didn't know Eric Voegelin whom Strauss corresponded with also viewed John Locke as a "modern" philosopher, not an authentic, traditional Christian thinker.

From this article by EV. I've put Locke's words in bold so as not to confuse when Locke is speaking and when EV is commenting on Locke's words:

The last step [of something] is taken by Locke in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. "Reason is natural revelation, whereby the Father of Light and fountain of all knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of truth which he has laid within the reach of their natural faculties."

This part of the passage sounds comparatively harmless, so harmless that in isolation it could perhaps be taken as Thomistic in meaning.

The sequel is less harmless:

Revelation is natural reason enlarged by a new set of discoveries communicated by God immediately, which Reason vouches the truth of, by the testimony and proofs it gives that they come from God. So that he that takes away Reason to make a way for Revelation, puts out the light of both, and does much the same as if he would persuade a man to put out his eyes, the better to receive the remote light of an invisible star by a telescope.

Now, indeed, Reason is made the judge of the truth of Revelation. "Whatsoever God hath revealed is certainly true. No doubt can be made of it. But whether it be a Divine Revelation or no, Reason must judge, which can never permit the mind to reject a greater evidence for that which is less evident, or prefer less certainty to greater."

The bond of faith is broken and the experiences that give meaning to the symbols of myth and religion are lost.

At American Creation we've longed discussed Locke being the philosophical mentor of America's Founders, especially on their political-theological issues. Was it traditional Christianity? Was it Thomism? Was it Enlightenment rationalism? Where does one end and the other begin? EV seems to cite Locke for the proposition of reason trumping revelation or reason determining what is legitimate revelation from God. This differs from Leo Strauss' Locke as a secret atheist, but is consonant with Gregg Frazer's notion of theistic rationalism that posits a partially inspired Bible, one that is errant and fallible and of which man's reason determines the valid parts.