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?