Saturday, October 14, 2006

On "Theocracy," 9: Update to the Government Under God web page

I have just now made a significant update to the Government under God Web page in the companion reference web site, especially Section E, on the biblically based roots of modern liberty.

[Of course, there are other roots, hence my "many streams" remarks in the linked notes, but this is the one that is under major attack currently; by those who would censure Bible-based Christians -- often dismissed in that context, as extremists and potentially violent, oppressive "fundamentalists" analogous to the Islamist terrorists and theocrats of Al Qaeda or the Taliban [the notes give a specific, Caribbean, case in point] -- as generally or even inevitably enemies of liberty. IMHCO, this is due to confusion of libertinism, licence and amorality with liberty, but it is of great help in opening up minds to have to reckon with the record of history. The contribution of such Christians to the liberation struggles in the Caribbean is also well worth a second -- or a first - look.]

The main updates in question include:

  1. Brief excerpts and comments on evidence that indeed the Dutch DOI of 1581 may well have actually consciously contributed to the US DOI of 1776 -- this is not now just a guess on my part -- as I originally made in about 2001 -- based on the strong cluster of rhetorical and conceptual parallels.

  2. Further links on the various congressional proclamations of days of fasting and prayer, which abundantly fit in with Perry Miller's remarks that "Actually, European deism was an exotic plant in America, which never struck roots in the soil. 'Rationalism' was never so widespread as liberal historians, or those fascinated by Jefferson, have imagined. The basic fact is that the Revolution had been preached to the masses as a religious revival, and had the astounding fortune to succeed." [Nature’s Nation, p. 110 (1967)]

  3. A note is linked on the denominational commitments of the US Framers, which means that they made some very specific public commitments, the overwhelming majority of whom never abandoned them publicly or in documents we can trace. That includes Mr George Washington, so far as I can see -- even though he is notoriously reticent in his public remarks on religion. [So, while we do know that some key founders were at least privately in dissent from the consensus, we have to reckon seriously with the sort of proclamations that from 1776 to 1783, the founding congress regularly made AS A BODY, of days for prayer, penitence, petition for blessings and thanksgiving. This series of statements -- as discussed just Tuesday past in this blog -- leaves no credible room for doubt as to the public influence of the stated, Christian, covenant theology of nationhood and government under God on the US founding.]

  4. A deeper look at the immediate impact and significance of Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex in 1644, and on its plausible influence on Locke's treatises on Government in the next generation.

  5. Bringing up in a bit more details, the biblical influences on Locke's thought in light of his Essay on Human Understanding and the plausibly -- and in some cases explicitly -- underlying arguments in Romans.

  6. Addressing in more details, in the sub-section on Locke, the perception that rationality and faith lie in irreconcilable opposition to one another, which seems IMHCO to be a wellspring for the idea that Bible-believing Christians are irrational, potentially violent, potentially oppressive enemies of liberty.

  7. Addressing the objection that Mayhew was by evidence a unitarian, as irrelevant to the material point that his sermon probably gained popularity and impact because it appealed, not to dubious novelties rooted in his unitarianism, but to the longstanding roots of covenant theology in the colonial American communities -- especially in New England.

  8. Pointing out the popularity of Blackstone in the American colonies on the eve of the Revolution: according to Amos, as many copies were sold there as in Britain in the decade from its publication to the American revolution.

  9. Some further clarification -- especially through using scare quotes -- that I have long since recognised that American "Deists" were materially different from the European "breed standard."

  10. Bringing up and addressing the Treaty of Tripoli as irrelevant, through a link to J P Holding's interesting discussion, and contrasting the significance of the Trinity decision.

  11. Bringing to bear Kuyper's equally telling summary in his 3rd L P Stone lecture on Calvinism at Princeton in 1898.

Thus, I believe it will be worth the time to take a re-read; or, a first read. END

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