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.