Thursday, December 31, 2009

Finally, To The Blogosphere; James Madison's Notes On The Bible Part II


It is an understatement that the general public has never seen many early writings of James Madison. Indeed, their importance is magnified, by the lack of visibility they are given. However, the underlying influence to JM happens to be the same influence of our founding. Many of his personal letters to and from his family, and most notably to his best friend William Bradford, after 1775, are lost. R. C. Weightman, who collaborated with William C. Rives; the first Madison biographer, explains "some of JM's letters to Bradford were probably dated at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787" but they haven't been found. In reality, James Madison destroyed most of his private correspondence he thought not important. The remainder of his private letters were scattered to his friends and family.

Whatever the reason he destroyed his private correspondence, this blog has sufficiently shown, prior to the 19th Century, James Madison was a Calvinist. Several of his letters from 1773 to 1775 appear similar in style to any Calvinist clergyman; sometimes with more zeal (emphasis mine).

For instance, this letter in 1773 could have been written by a Genevan legislator in the 16th Century:

"[B]ut I find them [book reviews] loose in their principles[,] encourage[r]s of free inquiry even such as destroys the most essential Truths, Enemies to serious religion..." [bold face mine]

-To William Bradford, Dec. 1, 1773. The Papers of James Madison, Vol. I. 16 Mar 1751 - 16 Dec. 1779. Edited by William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. 1962, by the University of Chicago Press.

*[Editors Note] Students' notes taken between 1772 and 1775 on Witherspoon's "Moral Philosophy, Rhetoric and Eloquence" lectures, now preserved in the Princeton University Library, include warnings against reading ephemeral works dangerous to sound religion and morality.

Madison is refering to writers who promote Heterodox Christianity, of which he veheminately attacked. JM understood the difference between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy:

"At the same time his ingenious and plausible defence of parliamentary authority carries in it such defects and misrepresentations, as confirm me in political orthodoxy—after the same manner as the specious arguments of Infidels have established the faith of inquiring Christians. [bold face mine]

-To William Bradford Jr., July 1, 1774.

Did JM mean some Christians were being influenced by infidels? What kind of heterodoxy was he refering to? Here, the Orthodox Bradford reassures his friend about the importance of Orthodoxy:

"I went yesterday to hear our classmate McCorkle predicate: & I assure you his sermon was very orthodox: The point he chiefly Laboured to prove was "that the Laws of God were superior in wisdom to the Laws of men"; & I think his arguments on this part were in a gr[e]at measure unanswerable; the rest had a great deal of chronology but very little instruction in it." [bold face mine]

-To James Madison, Oct 17, 1774.

It appears Bradford is assuring JM that their friend, McCorkle, remained orthodox, or else why write this if JM wasn't orthodox?

This next quote highlites the Calvinism he learned at Princeton:

"Little did I ever expect to hear that Jeremiah's Doctrine that "the heart of man is deceitful above all things & desperately wicked"[Jer 17:9] was exemplified in the celebrated Dr Franklin, & if the suspicions against him be well founded it certainly is remarkably exemplified. Indeed it appears to me that the bare suspicion of his guilt amounts very nearly to a proof of its reality."

-To William Bradford, June 19th, 1775.

The Total Depravity of man was adhered to by almost every Founding Father, excepting unitarian Clergyman, who had the audacity to claim their virtue could meet God's standards; at this very day, an unbelievable, and hopeless act of arrogance.

JM had a "Commonplace Book" many Founding Fathers kept, including Bradford. This quote in that book is interesting as JM condemns himself. His use of the word "Sinners" and "faults" appear to describe a personal rather than professional depravity:

"I know a Man, reputed moderate, just & devout, who is a Mortal Enemy to Auricular confession. And why? Is he conscious of some extraordinary & atrocious Qualities? or does he desire to appear much better than he really is? People who pretend to Religion cannot help confessing in general that they are Sinners; but they conceal or disown all Particulars. Why should I be so unwilling to confess even my Particular faults to men? Since they have the same faults or Equivalent. They may well admire my Sincerity or (if you will) my Impudence; but they cannot be surprized at my Wickedness. I am Humble before God, but confident before Men."

-Commonplace Book, 1759-1772.

After JM added his words to the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776, John Calvin's Pre-destination Theology was still evident in a letter to JM.

Madison's response to Smith is lost, but Smith tells us that Madison rejected moral liberty in favor of John Calvin's(Scripture's) pre-determined will, promoted by Jonathan Edwards and John Knox:

"I have read over your theoretical objections against the doctrine of moral liberty; for practically you seem to be one of its disciples.1 I remember the manner in which you have formerly expressed yourself upon that intricate subject..It was with a view to avoid the objections with which you press me, that I made a distinction betwixt desire, & volition; & supposed that the latter solely regards our actions, & not merely the objects themselves that excite desires the immediate motives of volition...But only that they have such an influence as to prevent any necessary & irresistible effect of their antagonists. The mechanism of the idea is the objection which I make to your illustration of a motive deficient by 1/3 of the force necessary to produce an action--which then would not be commensurate to the effect, & would require some supplement to make up the deficiency. Altho we are not able to explain the idea of moral liberty, & that innate of mind that is involved in it, so as to be exempt from all questioning & doubt, yet we have as clear a sentiment of nature to appeal to, as in the case of colour.4"

-Smith to Madison, September 15, 1778. The Papers of Madison, Vol. 1, William Hutchinson, 1970.

Footnotes:
1. JM's reply to Smith's letter of Nov. 1771-August 1778 (q.v.) is lost, but at least part of what he must have written is implicit, & occasionally explicit, in the present answer.
4. From Smith's rebuttal it would appear that JM had countered Smith's distinction between desire and volition by advancing a staple argument of the opponents of freedom of the will to the effect that desire and volition are both conditioned by a chain of antecedent forces necessarily determing any given choice [PRE-DETERMINED ACTIONS DETERMINE CHOICE]. Another important thread of JM's argument seems to have been an effort to confound Smith's derivation of moral liberty from the multitude of desires, passions, interests, etc., which press upon human beings. JM apparently tried to show by a specific percentage analysis of the contending motives that even the interplay of forces from which Smith derived moral liberty might well be a part of the great chain of events (predeterming) every course of action.

Madison quoted John Calvin as late Feb. 1788:

"It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

As Author, David W. Hall explains, Madison sounds not unlike John Calvin:

"If we were all like angels, blameless and freely able to exercise perfect control, we would not need rules or regulations. Why, then, do we have so many laws and statutes? Because of man's wickedness, for he is constantly overflowing with evil; this is why a remedy is required."
-Sermons on Galatians (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1996), 313.
Emphasis Added.

How could JM move from a seemingly orthodox position until 1788, and call the "Great Spirit" of the Indians the "Father of us all?" From his years at Princeton, he knew without a shadow of a doubt, no other belief system could have any purity without Christ; refering to his "The best and purest religion" quote of 1833. Anyway you slice it, there was a change, which begs the question, why did he destroy his personal letters, at a time when he was less orthodox? Could it be he departed from his earlier faith, and didn't want posterity to see how he used to believe? With JM's knowledge of orthodoxy, and Seminary training, he knew precisely what infidelity was, as his early letters support.

No doubt we would all be very surprised to see those lost letters JM destroyed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finally, To The Blogosphere; James Madison's Notes On The Bible Part I


When I first saw these notes (and others James Madison wrote attending college), I felt like a kid in a candy store. I knew they were real, however, did his notes present Christian Orthodoxy, as the Bible explains? I have seen some of these quotes, one in particular, that is never sourced. They make their rounds, posted both by Christian Nation, and secularist hounds, who have no gumption to check its authenticity, thereby bringing attention to themselves, rather than to the substance of the quotes.

Before I present Founding Father James Madison's Notes on the Bible, the biggest question I had after reading them, was, did Madison write anything while forming the nation that blatantly contradicts these words from 1770 to 1775? That answer is a resounding no! But, let's face it, that some of the Founding Fathers changed their views is a fact of history. Along with Madison, Robert Treat Paine, John Marshall, James Kent, and John Adams come to mind. I mention John Adams because he also believed in inerrancy of Scripture until after he helped form the nation:

"The idea of infidelity [a disbelief in the inspiration of the Scriptures or the divine origin of Christianity, Websters 1828 Dict.] cannot be treated with too much resentment or too much horror. The man who can think of it with patience is a traitor in his heart and ought to be execrated [denounced] as one who adds the deepest hypocrisy to the blackest treason.

-John Adams to James Warren on August 4, 1778.

A thorough examination of each of their writings, show their fundamental views on religion changed over time. Calling the "Great Spirit" of the Indians the "Father of us all" and Christianity, "The best and purest religion" as Madison did, happened in the 19th century, beyond the time of our founding. Furthermore, Marshall and Kent never departed from inerrancy of the Bible, but Madison's quotes do.

Here are some of Madison's "Notes on Commentary on the Bible" found in The Papers of James Madison, p. 51-59. Vol. I. 16 Mar 1751 - 16 Dec. 1779. Edited by William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. 1962, by the University of Chicago Press.

[Th]e Acts

Ch. 20. Grace, it is the free gift of God. Luke. 120 32-v. 32

Ch. 21. Sins, or Faults, committed before conversion should not be related to the prejudice of the late Sinner v. 8

Ch. 22. Carnal Reason, when against the command of God, should be laid by. v. 19

Ch. 23. Conscience[:] it should be inform'd as well as followed. v. 1.
Herod mentioned ib[id].
Sadducees, deny the Resurrection & the existence of Angel or Spirit v. 8

Ch. 26. Unconverted has little reason to expect to convert others by their ministry

Ch. 28. Charity[:] no duty more certainly rewarded in another World; so is it frequently rewarded in this, as was Publius, by the miraculous cure perform'd on his Father for his Charity to Paul. v. 8.

Gospels.

Mat. Ch 1st Pollution[:] Christ did by the power of his Godhead purify our nature from all the pollution of our Ancestors v. 5. &c

Virgin Mary had no other Child (probably) but our Saviour. v. 25

Some Proverbs of Solomon

XX 9 Who can say I have made my Heart clean; I am pure from my sin

In the book of Acts, where the Bereans are mentioned that they searched the scriptures, JM commends their conduct "as a noble example for all succeeding Christians to imitate and follow..."

"Omnisciency--God's foreknowledge doth not compel, but permits to be done." Acts, ch. II. v. 23.
"Christ's divinity appears by St. John, ch. XX. v. 28."
"Resurrection testified and witnessed by the Apostles. Acts, ch. IV. v. 33."

The editor believes these notes, with the exception of the extracts from Proverbs, were quoted from William Burkitt's, Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, printed in London in 1724. JM most likely wrote these notes while a student at the College of New Jersey.

Of course the above sentiments is what JM and his family believed for generations; foreknowledge, depravity, The Trinity, Grace, etc. encommpassed the Calvinist beliefs of James Madison.

JM's Calvinism is written in: The Federalist Papers of 1787-88, and his Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, evidenced from "that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction.."..It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."

The Worship of God, (in its Christian context), is not a choice, but a duty, brought on by the conscience.

In part II, I'll discuss JM's later Calvinist writings.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How John Dickinson Changed American History


19th century historians call Founding Father John Dickinson, the "Penman of the Revolution" for he publicly presented the people with the legal justification to separate from Great Britain. He produced our first paper on nationalism in the Stamp Act Congress called, "Declaration of Rights." His 19th century biographer, Paul Leicester Ford, explains, "Letters of a Farmer" ran through the colonies like wildfire, furnishing a common fighting ground to all and so leading the way to union." Dickinson's "Liberty Song" led to the first Congress, and they designated him only to draw up "Petition to the King" and "The Address to Inhabitants of Quebec."

Ford explains, "In the Continental Congress he drew the "Second Petition to the King," offering for the last time the olive branch; while at the same time writing the "Declaration upon taking up Arms." Yet, for all his great work, he paused to declare independence, most likely due to his Quaker beliefs of peaceful resistance, thereby, changing history by opening the door to national prominence for another man, who in turn, befriended another who rose to the same station.

The two men I speak of are: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the third and fourth President's of the United States. Jefferson gained National prominence from Dickinson's in-action to become the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. History supports if Dickinson had not wavered for independence, he, not Jefferson, would have been the principal author of the Declaration. Not only that, but Benjamin Franklin may not have been on the DOI drafting committee; Dickinson, with many other Framers, didn't like him much. Dickinson, publicly wrote against Franklin, and demanded his recall from service to the King giving seven reasons. Here is the fourth reason:

"Because the Proposal of the Person mentioned, is so extremely disagreeable to a very great Number of the most serious and reputable Inhabitants of this Province of all Denominations and Societies (one Proof of which is, his having been rejected, both by this City and County at the last Election, though he had represented the former in Assembly for 14 years) that we are convinced no Measure this House can adopt, will tend so much to inflame the Resentments and imbitter the Divisions of the good People of this province, as his Appointment to be our Agent--And we cannot but sincerely lament, that the Peace and Happiness of Pennsylvania should be sacrificed for the Promotion of a Man, who cannot be advanced but by the Convulsions of his country." [bold face mine]
-John Dickinson, A Protest Against The Appointment of Benjamin Franklin As Agent For The Colony of Pennsylvania. October 26, 1764.

Jefferson was an unknown compared to the most famous man in the colonies. After 1776, Dickinson was still the best writer in the land by preparing the original draft of The Articles of Confederation; our first Constitution. It is only speculation, however, had Dickinson come around sooner, after all, he was a Pennsylvania Brigadier General from 1775-1777, he could have been elected President, displacing either George Washington or John Adams; most likely Adams. To my somewhat surprise, Dickinson was a Republican, and Jefferson greatly admired him.

Adams did not lose his re-election bid because he wrote an Orthodox Christian Fast Proclamation. As Ross Perot did to Bob Dole, so Alexander Hamilton did to John Adams. Hamilton's followers, called "Hamiltonians" were largely affluent attorneys, who split the party, crushing Adams' re-election. At that time, Adams had many adversaries, including: Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin. His "Presbyterian" fast of 1798 did not hurt him at all, rather, he gained more votes from the Orthodox.

Both Jefferson, and Madison, may have Dickinson to thank for his wavering in-action. Madison became President riding on the coat-tails of Jefferson, who may not have been President.

Ironically, Washington was only eight months older than Dickinson. Would Dickinson have been elected over Washington, or nominated his Vice President over Adams? An interesting what if.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How The Protestant Reformation Shaped The Modern World


As this blog as noted before, the Protestant Reformation, not the Enlightenment, is responsible for the world's political liberty and promoting human rights. Writer for the Acton Institute, David W. Hall, is Senior fellow at The Kuyper Institute in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He has written an article emphasizing the different Social Contracts; one arising from the Reformation, the other, from the Humanist Enlightenment.

Here is David W. Hall on the different Social Contracts:

"The one I refer to as the social covenant (to distinguish) has resisted tyranny, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism with consistent and irrepressible force; the other has led to oppression, large-scale loss of life, and the general diminution of liberty, both economic and personal."

The Social Contract of the Founding Fathers is found only in the Bible, with God the foundation of the covenant. Hall, whose research on John Calvin's influence on the United States is a must read, explains the five leading tracts promoting political liberty are: "The Right of Magistrates (1574) by Theodore Beza, The Rights of the Crown of Scotland (1579) by George Buchanan, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) by Phillipe du Plessis Mornay, Politica (1603) by Johannes Althusius, and Lex Rex (1644) by Samuel Rutherford."

These reformers no doubt read passages such as Proverbs 14:28, et al. supporting their theories of Republicanism. Calvinism was the impetus for suppressing absolute monarchy, by elevating Constitutional Republicanism. Granted, political liberty was touched on in the middle ages, however, Geneva's Republicanism completely transformed the State, as Hall explains, "Planting the seeds that would eventually bear fruit in the American Revolution, Protestants generally laid the foundation for the motto on Thomas Jefferson’s seal: “Resistance to Tyrants Is Obedience unto God."

Republicanism; that the people are above the king, is theology derived from the above mentioned verse in Proverbs, "In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince." The Reformation also brought the world, "consent of the governed" as the people, next to God, are supreme in the State. Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison understood limited government and consent of the governed directly from Reformation writers. These framers, including Thomas Jefferson, stole "resistance to tyrants" theology from John Calvin, otherwise known as interposition.

Here is Hall on the enlightenment:

"Since this New World led to such paramount developments of government, the locus of the underlying root is not unimportant. Systemic features such as limited terms, balance of powers, citizen nullification, and interpositional magistracies were at the heart of New World government, all concepts that were popularized by the Reformation. One hundred years prior to the American Revolution, most of the major ideas were set, and they did not originate properly from Enlightenment social contract thought so much as from Buchanan/Rutherford’s social covenant, ensconced in its distinctly Biblical moorings."

We must not forget the Federalist Papers; the correct exposition of the Constitution, is filled with John Calvin's ideas, not those of the enlightenment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Christianity Didn't Give Us?

Yet another blogger espousing views of Christianity that go against even a cursory examination of Scripture. Managing Editor of Cato Unbound Jason Kuznicki, has this to say about Christianity's influence:

"Many ideas that are crucial to the modern political synthesis are nowhere to be found until the seventeenth century at the earliest, and even during that era, the far more typical Christian politics was not John Locke’s, but that of the lesser-known Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux and court preacher to Louis XIV. Bossuet’s Politics Drawn from Holy Scripture made the case that the most natural Christian polity — indeed, the only properly Christian polity — was an absolute monarchy, because the king was an image of God on earth. Christianity certainly taught that there was an inherent dignity to all people, regardless of social station, but it was quite reluctant to challenge the idea of social station itself."

Modern political foundations were nowhere espoused "until the seventeenth century at the earliest?" Did not the Protestant Reformation promote freedom of conscience, equal rights, property rights, etc? The Reformation began at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Secondly, if Mr. Kuznicki would have read 1 Samuel 12:17 and 25, he wouldn't have used Bossuet's work:

"I will call unto the Lord..that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king."

Jesus Christ is reluctant to challenge social station? The rabbis of Jesus' day wouldn't dare talk to a woman in public. They said they would rather die than leave "The Law" to women. Women were basically slaves in the first century, but the greatest rabbi talked in public to women. Women were the first to tell of the Resurrection of Christ, and the Apostle Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." [bold face mine]

Talk about going against the grain; if it wasn't for Christianity, Islam would reign, and what then of women's rights?

The N.T. is just as unaccomodating to tyranny as the O.T. The Apostle Paul calls Rome a perverted nation:

"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world"

-Phil 2:15

Furthermore, John Calvin's understanding of "the powers that be are ordained of God" is not absolute. If God is sovereign, which He is, then yes, tyrants acquire power with God's approval because that power is sacred. However, Calvin believed power was not carte blanche, as did the other Reformers:

"For if there are now any magistrates of the people, appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings (as in ancient times the ephors . . .), I am so far from forbidding them to withstand, in accordance with their duty, the fierce licentiousness of kings, that, if they wink at kings who violently fall upon and assault the lowly common folk, I declare that their dis-simulation involves nefarious perfidy, because they dishonestly betray the freedom of the people, of which they know that they have been appointed protectors by God’s ordinance." [bold face mine]
-Calvin, Institutes 4. 20. 30

As I've noted in an earlier post, Calvin was the first great promoter of Representative Government. Quoting David W. Hall's excellent book, Genevan Reformation And The American Founding, Calvin's influence on the Founding Fathers is remarkable:

"The highly respected nineteenth-century Harvard historian George Bancroft was one of many who asserted that Calvin's ideas buttressed liberty's cause. He and others noted the influence of this thought on the development of various freedoms in Western Europe and America. Writing in the middle of the nineteenth-century, Bancroft extolled Calvin as "the foremost of modern republican legislators" and responsible for elevating the culture of Geneva into "the impregnable fortress of popular liberty , the fertile seed-plot of democracy."

Also, from my previous post:

"No doubt Christianity, and John Calvin's Exposition of it, was the greatest influence on the American Experiment. Calvin's theory of "Solidarity" is the basis and foundation of Republican Representative Government. Solidarity refers to how an individual refers to a group, nation, or mankind, etc. The group is then viewed and treated in relation to its head or King. Solidarity is the basis of the human race having worth and dignity, as man is made in the image of God, His image imputed by Adam to us (Gen. 1:26-27; James 3:9). Solidarity is the basis for: election, the Levitical Priesthood, Corporate Guilt and Punishment, and Even For the Righteous. Egypt's punishment based on the sins of a few is a classic example. The Bible teaches the acts and decisions of one's representative are viewed and treated as being one's own acts and decisions. If our representatives declare war, you and I have declared war. Representatives for the mass of people was started by God as far back as Exodus 18. Because man is depraved (Calvin's first point in his five points of Calvinism), checks had to be established to limit his power. The Separation of Powers Doctrine, etc. was derived from the work of John Calvin."

Any mention of the Social Contract theory; that is, not a mere contract between humans, but that God is the foundation of the contract. A 1579 Huguenot tract, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, explains what rulers can lose (their reign) by departing from the Law and Gospel.

Egalitarianism is strictly condemned by both Jesus and Paul. For, any idea of man contradicting the Gospel is vanity:

"Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [bold face mine].

-Mark 7:6-7

Here is the Apostle Paul echoeing Jesus' sentiments:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

-Col 2:8

How much more did the Founding Fathers adhere to Representative Republican Government started in Ex 18?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Human Depravity, James Madison, and The Founding Fathers

David W. Hall's excellent book, "Genevan Reformation And The American Founding" provides excellent insight into Calvin's Influence on the Founding Fathers and in the formation of the United States. Here is Google's overview of the book:

"Calvinism's insistence on human rulers' tendency to err played a significant role in the founders' prescription of limited government and fed the distinctly American philosophy in which political freedom for citizens is held as the highest value. Hall's timely work countervails many scholars' doubt in the intellectual efficacy of religion by showing that religious teachings have led to such progressive ideals as American democracy and freedom."

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, this tendency to err on the part of human beings is encompassed in Calvin's exposition on human depravity. This condition, derived from Original Sin in the Scriptures, is imputed to all humanity by the fall of Adam. Nearly all our Founding Fathers adhered to Human Depravity; from Federalists George Washington to Democratic Republicans such as, James Madison.

Not to say Washington, or Madison for that matter, adhered to all tenets of Calvinism; but human depravity never left them. Madison quoted Calvin as late Feb. 1788:

"It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

As David W. Hall explains, Madison sounds not unlike John Calvin:

"If we were all like angels, blameless and freely able to exercise perfect control, we would not need rules or regulations. Why, then, do we have so many laws and statutes? Because of man's wickedness, for he is constantly overflowing with evil; this is why a remedy is required."
-Sermons on Galatians (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1996), 313.
Emphasis Added.

The best example of James Madison's adherance to human depravity is from a letter by a Presbyterian named Samuel Stanhope Smith. Madison's response to Smith is lost, but Smith tells us that Madison rejected moral liberty in favor of John Calvin's predetermined will, promoted by Jonathan Edwards and John Knox:

"I have read over your theoretical objections against the doctrine of moral liberty; for practically you seem to be one of its disciples.1 I remember the manner in which you have formerly expressed yourself upon that intricate subject..It was with a view to avoid the objections with which you press me, that I made a distinction betwixt desire, & volition; & supposed that the latter solely regards our actions, & not merely the objects themselves that excite desires the immediate motives of volition...But only that they have such an influence as to prevent any necessary & irresistible effect of their antagonists. The mechanism of the idea is the objection which I make to your illustration of a motive deficient by 1/3 of the force necessary to produce an action--which then would not be commensurate to the effect, & would require some supplement to make up the deficiency. Altho we are not able to explain the idea of moral liberty, & that innate of mind that is involved in it, so as to be exempt from all questioning & doubt, yet we have as clear a sentiment of nature to appeal to, as in the case of colour.4"
-Smith to Madison, September 15, 1778. The Papers of Madison, Vol. 1, William Hutchinson, 1970.

Footnotes:
1. JM's reply to Smith's letter of Nov. 1771-August 1778 (q.v.) is lost, but at least part of what he must have written is implicit, & occasionally explicit, in the present answer.
4. From Smith's rebuttal it would appear that JM had countered Smith's distinction between desire and volition by advancing a staple argument of the opponents of freedom of the will to the effect that desire and volition are both conditioned by a chain of antecedent forces necessarily determing any given choice. Another important thread of JM's argument seems to have been an effort to confound Smith's derivation of moral liberty from the multitude of desires, passions, interests, etc., which press upon human beings. JM apparently tried to show by a specific percentage analysis of the contending motives that even the interplay of forces from which Smith derived moral liberty might well be a part of the great chain of events (predeterming) every course of action.

It was a delight finding Hutchinson's volumes of Madison's papers. In light of Madison's other writings on depravity, the editor hit the nail on the head. Ultimately, Madison believed external(supernatural) forces determine our choices. He could only be referring to two causes; God or Satan. Defending Calvinism by percentage analysis is not influence at all, but evidence of his faith.

Calvin employed predestination directly from the scriptures:

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
-Ro 8:29.

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."
-Eph 1:5.

Madison again, explaining the heart, in general terms, is depraved:

"The genius of republican liberty seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people, but that those intrusted with it should be kept in independence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and that even during this short period the trust should be placed not in a few, but a number of hands...The history of almost all the great councils and consultations held among mankind for reconciling their discordant opinions, assuaging their mutual jealousies, and adjusting their respective interests, is a history of factions, contentions, and disappointments, and may be classed among the most dark and degraded pictures which display the infirmities and depravities of the human character."[bold face mine]
-Federalist #37.

Madison believed, along with the other Calvinists, that whatever decisions humans make, God already foreknew those decisions. Whatever volition we make was God's will.

What does this say about Madison's belief in Calvin's unconditional election? If he believed our choices were pre-determined, it follows he believed in predestination, which is based on the same argument he was making to Rev. Smith. Is it not an inconsistency to believe our choices are predestined, and not our souls?

Madison's biographer Ralph Ketcham, here and author Mark Noll, here, affirm Madison adhered to Calvin's doctrine of human depravity. It's Calvin's doctrine, as the word "depravity" isn't found in the Bible of the framers.

That James Madison has been labeled a "rationalist" in any meaningful sense, should be forever abandoned. The evidence now supports Madison believed in a form of predestination, and the depravity of human nature. Furthermore, in a recent post, I declared Madison was most likely not a unitarian in the way his elite contemporaries, such as: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were. Madison had a Calvinist education; Jefferson, his southern compatriot, did not. Madison believed in God's Grace; Jefferson did not. And Madison believed in the supernatural; which Jefferson rejected. It wasn't until the 19th Century that Unitarian intellectuals, from Jared Sparks, to William Ellery Channing, who, proclaimed more accomodating views toward the essentials of the Christian Faith. Enlightenment Unitarians of the 18th Century, here, and in Europe, abandoned all foundational Christian fundamentals, such as: Original Sin, Total Depravity, Grace, and the Vicarious Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, Orthodox Christianity starts with human depravity, of which is the basis of Original Sin. Upon this depravity, the Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ is the logical cure. The concept of the Blood Atonement is precisely the same as that of Original Sin(Human Depravity), that is, imputation; sin imputed to man, man's sin imputed to Christ, and Christ's righteousness imputed to man. This is the Bible, and Calvinism; all consistent, of which Madison was taught.

The rationalists believed God saved souls by a works doctrine by character; read Jonathon Mayhew, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson.
The following are only a couple of quotes by Founding Fathers; the orthodox such as: Mason, Jay, Stockton [who tutored Law to Boudinot and Paterson], Wolcott, Webster, Trumbull, Boudinot, Witherspoon, King, Marshall, Lee, Pendleton, Sherman, Ellsworth, Dickinson, Rush, Laurens, Johnston, Read, McKean, Huntington, Hancock, and Samuel Adams, no doubt believed in one or more of John Calvin's Theology.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the greatest Statesman to ever live, is sometimes labeled a rationalist, however he rejected their views on human nature. Hamilton's views are no different from those of James Madison. For instance, he attacked reason in April 1802, four months after his son died. Although I doubt he ceased to be a rationalist because his son died; more likely, he never was a rationalist. His son's death is not a motive for dropping rationalism to the curb, especially when he attacked reason, and claimed "I will comply with your invitation by submitting some ideas which, from time to time, have passed through my mind." Obviously, supporting the Christian religion had to be one of those ideas, and he is writing this letter to his Orthodox friend. It doesn't appear probable that Hamilton would write to Rev. Bayard, wanting to support a heterodox religion Bayard rejected. Here is Hamilton's rant on reason:

"Nothing is more fallacious than to expect to produce any valuable or permanent results in political projects by relying merely on the reason of men. Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion. This is well understood by our adversaries, who have practised upon it with no small benefit to their cause; for at the very moment they are eulogizing the reason of men, and professing to appeal only to that faculty, they are courting the strongest and most active passion of the human heart, vanity!"
http://www.reclaimliberty.com/hamiltonplan2009.html

Here is Hamilton's definitive statement on the condition of humanity:

"And making the proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge. [bold face mine]
-FEDERALIST No. 78

Thus, unlike, the rationalists, he did not believe learning and the enlightenment would cause virtue, but only that the depravity would change its form. Hamilton knew he couldn't change his condition, because it was inherrant:

"As riches increase and accumulate in few hands; as luxury prevails in society; virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature: It is what, neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is a common misfortune, that awaits our state constitution, as well as all others..It is a harsh doctrine, that men grow wicked in proportion as they improve and enlighten their minds. Experience has by no means justified us in the supposition, that there is more virtue in one class of men than in another. Look through the rich and the poor of the community; the learned and the ignorant. Where does virtue predominate? The difference indeed consists, not in the quantity but kind of vices, which are incident to the various classes; and here the advantage of character belongs to the wealthy. Their vices are probably more favorable to the prosperity of the state, than those of the indigent; and partake less of moral depravity." [bold face mine]
-Alexander Hamilton, New York Ratifying Convention 21 June 1788. Papers 5:36--37, 40--43
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s38.html

Hamilton thought the later stages of the French Revolution a prime example of human depravity:

"But though we may find in these causes a solution of the fact calculated to abate our solicitude for the consequences; yet we can not consider the public happiness as out of the reach of danger so long as our principles continue to be exposed to the debauching influence of admiration for an example which, it will not be too strong to say, presents the caricature of human depravity. And the pride of national character at least can find no alleviation for the wound which must be inflicted by so ill-judged so unfortunate a partiality.
If there be anything solid in virtue—the time must come when it will have been a disgrace to have advocated the Revolution of France in its late stages.
-Alexander Hamilton on the French Revolution [bold face mine] [Philadelphia, 1794]
http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/593/

Not a few Hamilton scholars hold a similar view of his belief in human depravity:

"The effects of what he called “the ordinary depravity of human nature” were everywhere, of “uncontrollable impulses of rage . . . . jealousy. . . . and other irregular and violent propensities.”(18)
Quoted in Adrienne Koch, “Hamilton and Power,” in Cooke, P. 17. Also see idem., Power Morals and the Founding Fathers; Essays in the Interpretation of the American Enlightenment (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1963), ch. iv., pp. 50-80. Cf-The Federalist No. 15 in Milton Cantor, ed., Hamilton (Prentice-Hall, 1971), pp. 51-53.

Important Founding Father Patrick Henry understood depravity as the others:

"The Northern States will never assent to regulations promotive of southern aggrandizement. Notwithstanding what gentlemen say of the probable virtue of our representatives, I dread the depravity of human nature. I wish to guard against it by proper checks, and trust nothing to accident or chance. I will never depend on so slender a protection as the possibility of being represented by virtuous men."[bold face mine]
-Patrick Henry, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3] Thursday, June 12, 1788

James Wilson, one of the principal builders of the Constitution, and Signer of the Declaration of Independence, appears to have believed that our human nature was corrupted, that man's nature is selfish, a form of depravity, not a grown or learned selfishness, but an inherrant corruption in our nature. The nature of man, refers to the natural tendencies of man.

Wilson said the Scriptures were from God, affirming inerrancy. Claiming inerrancy, refers more so the entire Scripture, as he did not clarify what portions were not inspired. Only the original autographs are inspired, so Wilson may not have referred to the King James Version. Whenever the framers quoted depravity of human nature, or nature, etc., the meaning is inherrant:

"It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest in preference to the public good, and I do not mean to make any personal reflection when I add that it is the interest of a very numerous, powerful and respectable body to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late convention." [bold face mine]
-Pennsylvania State Convention, October 6, 1787
http://www.constitution.org/afp/jwilson0.htm

George Washington also wrote about depravity:

"[F]ew men are capable of making a continual sacrifice of all views of private interest, or advantage, to the common good. It is vain to exclaim against the depravity of human nature on this account; the fact is so, the experience of every age and nation has proved it and we must in a great measure, change the constitution of man, before we can make it otherwise. No institution, not built on the presumptive truth of these maxims can succeed." [bold face mine]
-To THE COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS WITH THE ARMY
[Head Quarters, January 29, 1778.]

and

"Good God! who besides a tory could have foreseen, or a Briton predicted them! were these people wiser than others, or did they judge of us from the corruption, and depravity of their own hearts? The latter I am persuaded was the case, and that notwithstanding the boasted virtue of America, we are far gone in every thing ignoble and bad."[bold face mine]
-To HENRY KNOX, December 26, 1786.

Total depravity of the human heart was adhered to by another Architect of the Constitution; Charles Pinckney:

"To the liberal and enlightened mind, the rest of Europe affords a melancholy picture of the depravity of human nature, and of the total subversion of those rights, without which we should suppose no people could be happy or content."
-The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 4][bold face mine]

Influential delegate, and Signer of the Constitution, Luther Martin, admitted his own depravity:

"Why then all this misrepresentation of my absence at Baltimore and New York? Why the attempt to induce a belief that the Convention had been engaged in business from the fourteenth of May, and the insinuation that it might have happened in those periods? And why the charge that in not stating those facts I had withheld from the public information necessary to its forming a right judgment of the credit which ought to be given to my evidence. But, Sir, I am really at a loss which most to admire--the depravity of this writer's heart, or the weakness of his head." [bold face mine]
-Luther Martin's Reply to the Landholder, March 3, 1788. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 [Farrand's Records, Volume 3]

Here, a Congressman refers to depravity as common knowledge:

"The President, notwithstanding the supposed depravity of mankind, will hardly remove a worthy officer to make way for a person whom the Senate max reject." [bold face mine]
-Mr. Hartley, House of Representatives, June 16, 1789. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 4]Removal by the President.--On the Bill for establishing an executive Department, to be denominated the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Most of the Ratifiers of the Constitution understood the depravity of human nature:

"We ought to consider the depravity of human nature, the predominant thirst of power which is in the breast of every one, the temptations our rulers may have, and the unlimited confidence placed in them by this system. These are the foundation of my fears, They would be so long in the general government that they would forget the grievances of the people of the states. But it is said we shall be ruined if separated from the other states, which will be the case if we do not adopt."[bold face mine]
-Ratifier of the Constitution, Wm. Lenoir. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 4]DEBATES IN THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, ON THE ADOPTION OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.

and

"You will feel yourself little obliged to me even now that I draw off your attention from the endearing concerns of private and domestick life, from the recesses of rural and philosophic retirement, to fix it upon scenes that characterise human nature in its most depraved state, and almost tempt a man to arraign providence that he has been cast into being at a time when private & political Vice is at a Crisis & the measure of Iniquity full and overflowing."
-Signer of the Declaration of Independence William Hooper to Samuel Johnston, Sept 26th, 1776.

If the Founding Fathers believed in inherrant depravity of human nature, then, isn't assuming belief in the other mysteries of Revelation, such as the Trinity, and Atonement, within the realm of possibility?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another Calvinist Founding Father: George Washington

Along with James Madison, another Virginian who was fairly silent on his religious beliefs was General George Washington. No doubt Christianity, and John Calvin's Exposition of it, was the greatest influence on the American Experiment. Calvin's theory of "Solidarity" is the basis and foundation of Republican Representative Government. Solidarity refers to how an individual refers to a group, nation, or mankind, etc. The group is then viewed and treated in relation to its head or King. Solidarity is the basis of the human race having worth and dignity, as man is made in the image of God, His image imputed by Adam to us (Gen. 1:26-27; James 3:9). Solidarity is the basis for: election, the Levitical Priesthood, Corporate Guilt and Punishment, and Even For the Righteous. Egypt's punishment based on the sins of a few is a classic example.

The Bible teaches the acts and decisions of one's representative are viewed and treated as being one's own acts and decisions. If our representatives declare war, you and I have declared war. Representatives for the mass of people was started by God as far back as Exodus 18. Because man is depraved (Calvin's first point in his five points of Calvinism), checks had to be established to limit his power. The Separation of Powers Doctrine, etc. was derived from the work of John Calvin.

George Washington and the Founding Fathers in general, believed in Calvin's Human Depravity, and they designed our government to reflect that depravity. Far from making a distinct declaration of Washington's faith, below is strong evidence of Orthodoxy, as these notes are in his own handwriting, and apparently has his signature. Since Washington approved these words by his signature, he may have added these words himself. Washington's notes for his Inaugural Address show Calvin's influence:

"The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest of purposes. Should, hereafter, those who are intrusted with the management of this government, incited by the lust of power & prompted by the supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction & sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable--and if I may so express myself, that no wall of words--that no mound of parchmt can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." [bold face mine]
-George Washington, First Inaugural Address Fragments 1789. The Papers of George Washington Documents.

Washington made other comments about his faith that can be construed, however, below, is most likely a spurious letter; most of Washington's fake letters have no date:

"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."
-George Washington, To the members of the New Church at Baltimore.

So why do secularists claim Washington was Arian? Isn't that appellation a superstition? They make that claim because GW claimed in The 1783 Circular to the States refers to Jesus as "the Divine Author of our blessed Religion." GW's use of "superstition" then, must refer to something other that Scripture, most likely added revelation, and heresy.

If Washington claimed Jesus was Divine, who can claim he denied the Trinity, as well as his understanding man was depraved and need of redemption, which man could not provide, thereby man needing a Divine Redeemer?

As to GW's faith, there is evidence on both sides, however Calvin's Human Depravity need not be disputed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Calvinist, James Madison

From Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, and his contribution in the Federalist, he was, at this time, no doubt a Calvinist, adhereing to total depravity. His three main teachers in his education were all Calvinist Clergyman. Does not sin corrupt the whole lump, or only parts of the lump? Yes, man can be good; that is not the issue, rather, man is prone to sin, and requires many checks that Calvinism supplies:

"The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation...Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence. Nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a Religion not invented by human policy, must have pre-existed and been supported, before it was established by human policy. It is moreover to weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits...Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of revelation from coming into the Region of it; and countenances by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them." [bold face mine]
-James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785.
http://www.auok.org/original_intent_2.htm

Madison believed salvation was by grace through faith; a gift, that cannot be earned, not that salvation was by character, as Unitarians, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin believed.

"The genius of republican liberty seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people, but that those intrusted with it should be kept in independence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and that even during this short period the trust should be placed not in a few, but a number of hands...The history of almost all the great councils and consultations held among mankind for reconciling their discordant opinions, assuaging their mutual jealousies, and adjusting their respective interests, is a history of factions, contentions, and disappointments, and may be classed among the most dark and degraded pictures which display the infirmities and depravities of the human character."
-Madison, Federalist #37.

Madison understood what depravity was, and how man acquired it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

John Witherspoon Claimed the Most Votes

Dr. Witherspoon received the most votes as the important Clergyman of the founding period. Although it was a small sample, and a close race, I was suprised Jonathan Mayhew received the votes he did, as he passed away years before the Revolution. Jonathon Edwards and Joseph Priestley came in 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Witherspoon was the favorite at the outset.

Witherspoon was no doubt one of our greatest Founding Fathers, having participated in over one-hundred committees in the Continental Congress; among his layman graduates was James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, and Vice-President Aaron Burr. Of his students, ten became cabinet officers and sixty served in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives in Congress. Twelve became Governors of States and fifty-six members of State Legislative bodies and three Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Of the twenty-five College graduates at the Continental Congress, nine were from Princeton University, among which six had Witherspoon's signature on their College diplomas.

He was a staunch Calvinist, teaching its precepts at Presbyterian, Princeton College. Witherspoon disagreed with rationalists of the enlightenment, including, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume, who understood reason was superior to revelation:

"In the deistical controversy, what commonly leads the way, is the necessity of revelation in general...The first infidel writers in Europe, were chiefly employed in shewing the sufficiency of reason as a guide to man in his conduct, of whom Lord Herbert, of Cherburg, was one of the most early, and one of the most eminent. Their way of arguing is very fallacious; for they avail themselves of that very improvement of reason, which they owe to revelation, in order to shew revelation to be unnecessary...Infidels do not now plead for Jupiter, Juno, Mars, and Apollo, but for the suffciency of human reason." [bold face mine]
-Works, Vol 4.

Witherspoon understood, as did John Calvin, that reason supports revelation, and is a vital part of Christian Theology, however, he never aligned with the rationalists, but derided their theology:

"Very plain, that such is our blindness and ignorance in the things of God, that we know very little about them, till they are made known by God himself; and if we were to make our own reason the previous standard of what was admissible or not in quality of revelation, it would make mad work indeed." [bold face mine]
-Works, Vol 4.

He believed, as did all Christians before him, that reason is perfectly agreeable to The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

"I shall care very little what men of vain and carnal minds say of my sentiments; but I have been many years of opinion, that as revelation was necessary, and revelation is given us, we act the most wise and truly rational part, if we take all our theological opinions immediately, and without challenge, from the oracles of truth. I confess it is agreeable to me to shew, that the truths of the everlasting gospel are agreeable to sound reason, and founded upon the state of human nature ; and I have made it my business through my whole life to illustrate this remark. Yet to begin by making the suggession of our own reason the standard of what is to be heard or examined as a matter of revelation, I look upon to be highly dangerous, manifestly unjust, and inconsistent with the foundation-stone of all revealed religion, viz. that reason, without it, is insufficient to bring us to the knowledge of God and our duty; and therefore as Socrates said to Al.cibiades, It is reasonable to think that God will come down into the world, to teach us his will." I am not insensible how far it would be just to carry the principle on which our adversaries ground their sentiments. Any new principles or doctrines, seemingly absurd in themselves, and unholy in their effects, would not, with judicious persons, be rashly or suddenly admitted ; and the more supicious the principles are in themselves, no doubt we will examine the pretensions to miracles the more carefully.—This is the part of prudence ; but to carry it further, and say, we will receive no evidence that God hasn't taught any thing different from what we ourselves think reasonahle, is just weakening the truth before admitted,' that revelation immediately from himself is evidently new?"It will now be time to consider a little, the objections against the Christian religion...That reason is a sufficient guide to truth and happiness and therefore revelation is unnecessary; and that miracles are impossible, and incredible. Those I pass with what has been laid on them above.""that things may be above reason, and yet not contradictory to it. By this expression above reason, may be understood two things—beyond the power of reason to discover, and above the reach of reason to comprehend."Therefore though we say that the trinity in unity is incomprehensible, or above reason, we say nothing that is absurd or contrary to reason; so far from it, I may say rather it is consistent to reason and the analogy of nature that there should be many things in the divine nature that we cannot fully comprehend. There are many such things in his providence, and surely much more in his essence." [bold face mine]
-Works, Vol 4.

The Sovereignty of God is a firm Calvinist belief that all Christians should adhere to. There are many parts of scripture beyond our comprehension to understand, yet God is Sovereign, and has preserved His Words for His Creation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

John Eidsmore on John Calvin and the Founding

John Eidsmore, Pastor, Assn. of Free Lutheran Congregations, and Professor at Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy has written a post on Firm Foundation about John Calvin's legacy to our Founding.

Calvin was no doubt the Greatest of Reformers during the Protestant Reformation, being the only person to give a succinct Christian Theology. Calvin greatly influenced the Founding Fathers in their understanding of Law and Government, as Eidsmore explains:

"But if, as Calvin taught, every plowboy should be able to read and interpret the Scriptures for himself, then every plowboy must be taught to read. This led to widespread literacy, which made republican self-government possible."

It is true, the framers wanted literacy to be a great part of Republican Government. Benjamin Rush was among the many who labored hard for literacy to any and everyone, not to mention, nearly all the framers affirmed Calvin's Human Depravity which leads to Republican Representative Government:

"Calvin’s emphasis on Sola Gratia led to a recognition of the total depravity of human nature. Because of man’s sinful nature, we cannot live in a state of anarchy; we need government to maintain law and order. But because those in authority have the same sinful nature as the rest of us, we cannot trust government with too much power. This led to the system of limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, and reserved individual rights that characterize republican self-government."

The framers employed Calvin's Human Depravity into Representative Government, which led to consent of the governed, separation of powers, etc. Representative government derives from the Calvinist concept of solidarity; the Biblical notion of persons (The King) representing the group, and the group judged by actions of the one (King). This Calvinist (Biblical) idea, being "In Adam" because of the imputation of sin, and "In Christ" by the imputation of Christ's Righteousness, is based on solidarity. In fact, Calvin's espousal of Original Sin is an air-tight case, quoting James 3:9 as scriptural support. If man is to deny Original Sin, he must deny man is made in the image of God as well.

Other historians have claimed Calvin's great influence on our Founding:

"But Leopold von Ranke, founder of the modern school of history in Germany, stated flatly, “John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.” And George Bancroft, the leading American historian of the first half of the 1800s, though not a Calvinist himself, called Calvin the “father of America” and added, “He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”

Calvin on Romans 13, and the responsibility of civil rulers:

'Magistrates may hence learn what their vocation is, for they are not to rule for their own interest, but for the public good; nor are they endued with unbridled power, but what is restricted to the well-being of their subjects; in short, they are responsible to God and to men in the exercise of their power. For as they are deputed by God and do his business, they must give an account to him: and then the ministration which God has committed to them has a regard to the subjects; they are therefore debtors to them."
-Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 481.
http://74.6.146.127/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=representative+government+through+Calvin%27s+human+depravity&fr=ush1-mail&u=www.prpbooks.com/samples/9781596380912.pdf&w=representative+government+calvin%27s+calvin+human+humans+depravity&d=NQpxxRlMTSlO&icp=1&.intl=us

And in some cases it appears Calvin allowed lower magistrates to overthrow a wicked ruler:

"For if there are now any magistrates of the people, appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings (as in ancient times the ephors . . .), I am so far from forbidding them to withstand, in accordance with their duty, the fierce licentiousness of kings, that, if they wink at kings who violently fall upon and assault the lowly common folk, I declare that their dis-simulation involves nefarious perfidy, because they dishonestly betray the freedom of the people, of which they know that they have been appointed protectors by God’s ordinance."
- Calvin, Institutes 4. 20. 30

Friday, July 31, 2009

What Makes a Christian Nation?

Having an intelligent debate on why the Founding Fathers formed Christian States is tough to come by these days. I have definitely learned my lesson posting on blogs. Ed Brayton's blog, Dispatch From The Culture Wars, posted an article about Chris Rodda and Rep. Randy Forbes' battle for the "Christian Heritage" resolutions. Although it isn't much of a fair debate, I tried to start a dialogue with Chris about my core defense of the Christian State Constitutions, which I believe is the best apologetic, however it never became a meaningful debate; the bloggers dismissed my posts without sufficiently refuting them with verbal attacks seen in a Martin Scorsese film.

I posted Maryland's State Constitution that prohibited a religious test, and established Christianity as the State Religion. Obviously, the religious test had to refer to only a Christian denominational test. Chris' response to the Christian State Constitutions was:

"So now all you need to do is explain why virtually all of the states admitted after the U.S. Constitution was written put the same "no religious test clause" in their state constitutions, many in exactly the same words as the U.S. Constitution. All of those states, writing brand new state constitutions, had a choice, and they chose to copy the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on religious tests and other guarantees of religious freedom."

Maryland's State Constitution, and the Christian religion established, along with most of the others states, was in effect years after the Constitution was ratified, so Chris, how does a religious test have any bearing when Maryland, et al. established Christianity? It obviously is consistent with a religious test.

Religion was left to the States, therefore, whatever the religion the majority of States established should determine what kind of religious country we were. If no religion was mentioned, I couldn't declare that, but if: Lord, Christian, Protestant, Christ, etc. are mentioned, it's indicative of what kind of establishment it is. Getting into other areas of debate such as: wording in the Constitution, Republican Government, etc. is meaningless. The fact that the majority of framers were not heterodox should quell the false assumption of what kind of Christianity was established.

Chris, on this basis alone, I would be happy to debate you. On what other basis could I proclaim the Nation was formed on Christianity?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Orthodox Christianity Left To The States

Why was our nation formed on Orthodox Christian, and not heretical principles? First, Christianity was left to the States to practice as they wished, however, heterodox Christian principles were never a part of the incorporation of legal Christianity, neither in the State or Federal Documents; the heterodox were given freedom of conscience like everyone else, but their minority, at this time, had no inclusion in ANY founding government document.

The various State Constitutions were Orthodox in nature; the heterodox minority in Massachusetts were years away from the Dedham decision of 1820. The majority understood Unitarianism was not part of the Protestant Reformation, having been kicked to the curb by Luther and Calvin, and forever cast out by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Furthermore, the Reformation denounced all forms of Unitarianism, Arianism, and Socinianism, starting with the Gnostics, which were never considered Christian. The majority "Protestant" framers of Massachusetts understood their history. Yes, it's true, a Unitarian wrote most of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, however John Adams is only one man, while the ratifiers of that Constitution are most important.

Notice the State Constitution of a Mid-Atlantic State where heterodoxy was a small minority, perhaps non-existent:

Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), stated: Article XXXV That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention, or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.” That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God is such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested… on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality… yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion (until 1851) [bold face mine].

Not only were the vast majority of Founding Fathers Orthodox, the majority philosophers they studied were as well, including: Arminianist Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, Richard Hooker, Samuel de Puffendorf, and perhaps John Locke. Yes, Arminius believed in Total Depravity. His only beef with Calvin was free will.

It's true, Locke failed to espouse Church Creeds, or essentials, but so did the Apostles. At Pentecost, there was no Westminster Confession, only faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Clarification of Church Doctrine wasn't made until the 2nd to 3rd Centuries. Notice, Jared Sparks, the former President of Harvard, and his opinion of Locke's faith:

"And Locke must still be considered a Unitarian, till he can be proved a Trinitarian ; a task, which it is not likely you will soon undertake. At all events, he had no faith in the assemblage of articles which you denominate the essence of christianity, and without believing which, you say, no one can be called a Christian. His whole treatise on the Reasonableness of Christianity bears witness to this truth. For the leading object of that work is to show, that "the Gospel was written to induce men into a belief of this proposition, 'that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah,' which if they believed, they should have life."* He says nothing about total depravity, the atonement, the "sanctifying spirit of an Almighty Surety," nor any of your peculiar doctrines. Yet who has done more to elucidate the sacred Scriptures, or to prove the consistency and reasonableness of the religion of Jesus? Your rule, however, will take from him the Christian name."[bold face mine]

Sparks shows his understanding of Christian Theology. The Apostles had no assemblage of articles, and "without believing", has nothing to do with salvation, rather, it's the rejection of certain articles the indwelt Holy Spirit cannot affirm.

Did Locke have some unorthodox views regarding the unessential state of nature? Yes. Did he believe in inerrancy? Yes. Did he indirectly defend the Trinity? Yes. Furthermore, Locke could be a heretic, but more serious inquiry is needed to make a clear declaration as to John Locke's faith.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colleges of the Founding Fathers

During the Founding Era, the President of Harvard College was an "Old Light" named Edward Holyoke (1689-1769), a pseudo-arminian, Unitarian; typical of the Boston Elites. It's fair to say, Holyoke, as President of Harvard, was responsible for day to day operation of the college, which included teaching. He was essentially responsible for the theology taught at Harvard. John Witherspoon was likewise responsible for the theology at Princeton, and the same for Presidents of: Yale, King's College, Penn, Rutgers, Dartmouth, et. al.

Holyoke was an ardent opponent of Calvinism and the "Great Awakening," the famous revival of the 1730's and 1740's. Holyoke, and others, wrote an attack against George Whitefield, called: The Testimony of the President, Professors, Tutors and Hebrew Instructor of Harvard College, Cambridge, Against the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, And His Conduct. To the elites of Boston, ANY emotional behavior was deemed childish, and un-christian. One wonders if they believed what the scriptures say about speaking in tongues, and David dancing to the Lord.

Most likely, Harvard, at Boston, and William and Mary, in Virginia, were the only colleges that did not teach Orthodox Christianity to the Founding Fathers. Even at Harvard, Enlightenment Rationalism was taught to supplement the Scriptures, not vice versa.

Under Holyoke, Harvard rejected Orthodox Christian Fundamentals:

“The fact that Harvard had moved a long way from the strict faith of the fathers, under Edward’s “catholic temper” all manner of heresies flourished, or if they were not encouraged, were not firmly suppressed. Yale was the only stronghold of orthodoxy.” “Much was said, both in approval and censure of the President’s “catholic temper,” which soon affected the intellectual climate of the college. He had, moreover, “a good spirit of government.”

It is no mystery, Holyoke's arminianism derived from his "catholic temper," with its emphasis on salvation by works.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Dirt IS Flying at American Creation

It's sad to follow the dialogue at American Creation; a blog that supposedly discusses the Founding Fathers, and their religious beliefs. Instead, after I quit that blog, it has become a Christian theology blog, apparently controlled by Lindsey Shuman. Lindsey, you definitely know how to throw mud. Just read some of her posts, insulting any, and everything inerrantly Christian, including: David Barton, Newt Gingrich, or any fundamentalist Christian, with the feracity seen only on anti-christian blogs. It's not just her attacks on anything Christian, but she personally attacks people. In this recent post, where much can be learned, especially from Dr. Frazer and his interpretation of a Christian incidental; the bias is obvious. Yet American Creation was not designed to be a theology blog.

Her agenda doesn't appear to promote debate about the religious views of the framers, but to moderate what is acceptable in her own mind, and squash any comment that differs from her own viewpoint. From my perspective, American Creation focuses to undermine the Orthodox Christian Nation Thesis. Where will you find a post supporting the Founding Orthodox ratifiers, and Orthodox Christianity on that blog? No where! It's almost sad what the blog has become, since we can learn a great deal without personally attacking people.

For instance, the moderator of that blog would never allow a comment such as,

"Joseph Smith's parents declared their son, the founder of Mormonism, an occultist. Orthodox Christians have claimed Mormonism a cult for almost two-hundred years."

Yet, Lindsey is using terms such as, "arrogant jerk." Lindsey, it is you that comes off WAAAAY to strong? Another familiar insult used on that blog is "delusional."

What hypocrisy! What a sad forum to spray insults at people who express their views in a civil manner.

Notice the diatribe,

"My God, Tom! You really don't listen to anyone do you? I don't want to counter your arguments here in this thread. I don't give a care. My whole entire point has been that you come off WAAAAAY too strong. You attack people on a regular basis, and as a result, you have alienated the overwhelming majority of people here. To speak in simply terms, you come off being arrogant, condescending, self-righteous and downright aggressive. How many people have you rubbed the wrong way over the months, Tom? That should tell you enough...at least it would to anyone paying attention."[bold face mine]

Of course you don't care about an alternative viewpoint from your own. You are confortable with your bias. Incredibly, that response came after this,

"No, Gregg, I'll give you Jefferson and half [mebbe 3/4] of the confused John Adams. Otherwise, it's game on. And you're a public intellectual now. The heat comes along with it. But, person to person, I deleted a comment I made in a thread above this one out of courtesy for your recent personal loss because I thought it would be unfair that you wouldn't be here to defend your thesis. But here you are back again. And no, as your thesis is in public discussion, where presumably a man of letters would want it, no, I cannot "leave you out of it."[Although I will work hard to bifurcate your POV from your personal beliefs, as we previously agreed.] And por favor, man, STOP YELLING AT ME, Gregg. I hear you fine, and I understand you fine. However, you don't understand the underpinnings of my argument yet atall. But I'll get to them. Best regards as always, and my prayers are with you in this difficult time."[bold face mine]

Arrogant, condescending, self-righteous, and downright aggressive? So that warrants you calling the guy an "arrogant jerk?" Should I post all the arrogant, condescending, self-righteous, and downright aggressive statements you've made on that blog?

Mr. Frazer, with all do respect to your views of Romans 13, which appears biblically sound, your "theistic rationalist" term is vulnerable. Are you upset at the critique? Were you called a jerk by Lindsey? I still haven't read clear evidence from James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton denying the miraculous, or inerrancy while forming the nation? Madison's views noticeably changed, and Hamilton's words were consistent all his life. The definition of your term is no less incredible than the Natural Law interpretation of Romans 13.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

David Barton and Romans 13

David Barton, of Wallbuilders, has posted a recent article on Romans 13, and the right to overthrow tyrants. David's excellent article, again, reiterates the false claim that the 18th Century Enlightenment had anything to do with the theory of righteous rebellion against corrupt governments. Rebellion against tyrants was couched in "Right Reason" of Natural Law, spelled out in Romans 2, by the Apostle Paul, and Reformation Philosophers.

In my previous post, I mentioned the "Old Lights," Liberal Preachers, such as: Jonathan Mayhew, and Samuel Cooper, who were raised in the 18th Century Enlightenment, however did not use enlightenment principles in their view of Romans 13, but used the Biblical Text, and Natural Law, from centuries earlier.

The Old Lights, who were of the minority viewpoint in their theological reasoning, could not, by their lack of numbers, and limited geographical base; Massachusetts, be the majority impetus for the American Revolution. There were countless, more Orthodox Clergy, from Rhode Island to Georgia, who chanted rebellion through ink, and from their pulpits. The Orthodox were the major voice for Revolution interpreting Romans 13. The Old Lights, therefore, were a theological minority in voicing their opinion, although their voice, in some areas, appeared louder than the others.

The correct, and majority American Political Theology, must therefore be Orthodox Christian.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The "Old Lights" and Rebellion

What the Scriptures "actually say" pertaining to Romans 13, may or may not be consistent with Natural Law, thus, did the Founding Fathers have the right to rebel against Great Britain? Inasmuch the literal reading of Romans 13 is inconsistent with the American Revolution, as it could be; along with the Founding Fathers, the Heterodox, Elite, 18th Century Christian Preachers, are an important dynamic within Founding American Political Thought. Regardless of the correct biblical exegegis; righteous rebellion from Natural Law, espoused by Thomas Aquinas to the Founding Fathers, has a strong historical tradition.

In my last post, I overlooked Founding Father John Jay's defense of the Natural Law tradition of Romans 13, by ignoring the correct context of of John 18:36, which Mr. Jay apparently missed:

"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." [bold face mine]

Mr. Jay understood a right to rebellion by Jesus' disciples (the people), granted that universal right for any nation, was couched in Natural Law. But Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world, until the start of the Millennial Age. Jesus' Kingdom has been called by God. It appears the text says "Every" governing authority is granted by God. If the right to rebel against any authority has support in Romans 13, it's in the Greek rendering of the word "resist." That word, refers only to "standing against." It is never used in the New Testament for fighting. If fighting against governing authorities is granted by God to the people, why didn't Paul use a different word? That point, however, may be incidental, as the text seems to imply the people should submit to every authority they are under.

The "Old Lights" referring to New England Preachers of the liberal bent, include: Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766), Charles Chauncy (1705-1787), Simeon Howard (1733-1804), Samuel Cooper (1725-1783), Ebenezer Gay (1696-1787) and Samuel West (1730-1807). West, was a member of the committee which framed the Constitution of Massachusetts, and member of the Mass. Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1788. These men are interesting characters, in that most of their theological reasoning discarded sixteen-hundred years of Church tradition for the freedom to interpret the Scriptures in their own way. This is all fine and dandy involving the incidentals of Christianity. These men owe our respect for their involvement in the Revolutionary cause; risking their lives, and promoting freedom of conscience to all men.

These men ranged from Arians to Socinians, having denied the Trinity as unreasonable, they rejected seemingly Calvinist principles promoted by Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies et. al. in the Great Awakening. Having free reign to interpret the Scriptures, and rejecting Church Creeds, led these men to deny the fundamentals of Christian Theology. The departure of fundamentals did not start at rejecting inerrancy, but rejecting the Deity of Jesus Christ, which led to rejecting Christ's Vicarious Blood Atonement for Sin. To them, only God can forgive sin, and Jesus was not God, negating Jesus' capacity for blood atonement. Scripturally, they rejected the atonement, looking to God's forgiveness through character. Amazingly, they discarded the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament, along with God's promise of a final sacrifice for sin. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, which begs the question, "How much virtue does it take to outweigh one sin?"

This exaltation of character over, or even to partner, the free gift of grace, took them off track in God's plan of Salvation. Character is not a part of salvation, but is an evidence of salvation. Character is an evidence, not a requirement. These "Old Lights" mixed grace and works, perhaps due to their emphasis on Natural Law.

They preached in Congregational Churches limited to the Boston area of Massachusetts, before the Unitarian split in the early 19th Century. A good question to these men is how did they get around taking communion? If membership required adherance to Church ordinances, how did Samuel Cooper for instance, get around not taking communion when he adminstered it at Brattle Street Church in Boston? Brattle Street Church was Baptist that eventually became First Baptist Church. His congregation was seemingly more secretive in its Unitarianism than Jonathan Mayhew's Church, with past communion members such as: John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.

A small group of Elite Founding Fathers embraced the psuedo-arminianism of the Unitarian Preachers, some of these men included: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Massachusetts men: John Adams, his son John Quincy, William Cushing, James Bowdoin, and Paul Revere. The division in Unitarian theology did not happen until the 19th Century, with William Ellery Channing. The key to unlock the religious views of the Founding Fathers is tied to their position on atonement-depravity. The pseudo-arminians viewed man as good, the Calvinists or nominal Calvinists viewed man as depraved.

Whatever theological beliefs they had, they were instrumental, along with the Orthodox Preachers, in arousing fervor for revolution against Great Britain. These Old Light preachers are an important element in the American Revolution.

If righteous rebellion is not correct biblical exegesis as some commentators insist, the American Revolution was un-biblical, no matter its inclusion into Natural Law. If the Revolution was un-biblical, does an incidental in Christian theology affect the Christian Nation Thesis?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

To Rebel or Not To Rebel?

Not only does The Church debate whether the Scriptures authorize rebellion against corrupt governments, but secularists have an opinion as well. The debated chapter in the Bible about righteous rebellion is found in Romans 13 by the Apostle Paul. The definitive statement on the matter is v. 4:

"For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of god, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." [bold face mine]

The verse is clear; only Kings, or governments that are ministers for good are ordained by God. However, I believe the United States was formed under the laws of God, and the ideal government ordained by God, is a Republic. Certain calvinists use v. 2 to say governmental authority can be "resisted" but not overthrown. Verse 4 is the context for chapter 13.

Calvinists, Dr. Gregg Frazer, Professor of History & Political Studies at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, CA, along with Master's President John MacArthur, promote the "Unlimited Submission" doctrine our Founding Fathers rejected. Some of Dr. Frazer's statements on American Creation are striking. Dr. Frazer gives a Calvinist position for a defense of "unlimited submission" on American Creation:

"Hitler had authority from God, as do all in authority. He sometimes used it for good (lowest crime rate in the world in 1930s) and often used it for great evil (massacring Jews and other well-known examples). ALL GOVERNMENTS DO THIS BECAUSE ALL ARE RUN BY FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS. The level of evil to which they rise varies, of course. The U.S. government today, for example, supports the murder of millions of unborn children and numerous other violations of God’s law. None of this makes the government illegitimate, removes its authority, or negates what Romans 13 clearly says."

Hitler had authority from God? Most certainly, no modern government is legitimate. All governments violate God's laws in some part. The point is not that every government is evil, but does the government persecute the Church, its people, and violate Romans 13. Scripture tells us a righteous government made of sinners is possible and valid:

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn."

-Proverbs 29:2

I Corinthians 9:7-10, is another place in scripture where God allows at the minimum, defensive rebellion. The Apostle Paul repeats commands from the Law of Moses that is pertinent for the Church, such as taking fruit from your own vine:

"Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope."

Our most decorated Founding Father, John Jay, did not believe someone had to be specifically called to rebel, or that rebellion by the people against their government was prohibited. Jay used Jesus' own words to defend rebellion:

"To the advancement and support of his spiritual sovereignty over his spiritual kingdom, soldiers and swords and corporeal exertions were inapplicable and useless. But, on the other hand, soldiers and swords and corporeal exertions are necessary to enable the several temporal rulers of the states and kingdoms of this world to maintain their authority and protect themselves and their people; and our Savior expressly declared that if his kingdom had been of this world, then would his servants fight to protect him; or, in other words, that then, and in that case, he would not have restrained them from fighting. The lawfulness of such fighting, therefore, instead of being denied, is admitted and confirmed by that declaration...Had the gospel regarded war as being in every case sinful, it seems strange that the apostle Paul should have been so unguarded as, in teaching the importance of faith, to use an argument which clearly proves the lawfulness of war, viz.: “That it was through faith that Gideon, David, and others waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of aliens”; thereby confirming the declaration of David, that it was God who had “girded him with strength to battle; and had taught his hands to war, and his fingers to fight.” The gospel appears to me to consider the servants of Christ as having two capacities or characters, with correspondent duties to sustain and fulfill. Being subjects of his spiritual kingdom, they are bound in that capacity to fight, pursuant to his orders, with spiritual weapons, against his and their spiritual enemies. Being also subjects and partakers in the rights and interests of a temporal or worldly state or kingdom, they are in that capacity bound, whenever lawfully required, to fight with weapons in just and necessary war, against the worldly enemies of that state or kingdom. " [bold face mine]
http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=64

The Founding Fathers and Christian Philosophers: Montesquieu, Blackstone, Locke, Rutherford, Hooker, and Grotius, etc., understood the theory of "Unlimited Submission," was not what the Bible teaches. They believed the Bible teaches that governmental authority is limited. Does a Prophet have to be called by God to determine the validity of the biblical principle of righteous rebellion? The text doesn't say, whereas, we should be concerned with exegesis (taking out of the text), not eisegesis (reading into the text).

Israel wanted a monarchy, to be like the other nations. This was a bad decision. Nations that submit to God's Word are Blessed with just and righteous rulers. However, nations that rebel against God's Word are visited with oppressive governments for the purpose of bringing them into submission. Hosea gives us the principle:

"[T]he Assyrian shall be his king, because they [Israel] refused to return [to God]."

-Hosea 11:5

Frazer again:

"As for the Judges 3 example, GOD may raise up a deliverer to accomplish His purposes – but the reason that the passage specifies that God raised him up and that the Spirit of the Lord was given to him is BECAUSE WITHOUT SPECIFIC REVELATION FROM GOD, what he did was wrong. It would be wrong for any person not specifically and specially “raised up by God.”

This appears to be an eisegetical statement, maybe he can elaborate on where the text says this.
Among the 18th century preachers calling for rebellion against King George, were Unitarians Samuel West, and Jonathan Mayhew. They both attacked this "unlimited submission" doctrine using the Bible:

"Unlimited submission and obedience is due to none but God alone."

-Samuel West, "A Sermon Preached before the Honorable Council , and Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, in New England, May 29, 1776."

What West and the framers were getting at, was the people, as well as rulers, are subject to God's laws. All legitimate authority is based on God's laws, illegitimate authority is not ordained. West understood a government could abide by some of God's laws, and still be illegitimate, which did not pertain to the United States:

"Can we conceive of a more perfect, equitable, and generous plan of government than this which the apostle has laid down, viz., to have rulers appointed over us to encourage us to every good and virtuous action, to defend and protect us in our just rights and privileges, and to grant us everything that can tend to promote our true interest and happiness; to restrain every licentious action, and to punish everyone that would injure or harm us; to become a terror of evil-doers; to make and execute such just and righteous laws as shall effectually deter and hinder men from the commission of evil, and to attend continually upon this very thing; to make it their constant care and study, day and night, to promote the good and welfare of the community, and to oppose all evil practices?"

-West, On the Right to Rebel against Governors, Boston 1776

Anyone who submits to the ungodly decrees of men becomes a slave of ungodly men.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/13781328/Christian-Duty-Under-Corrupt-Government