Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Greatest Influence to Thomas Jefferson

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson claimed Francis Bacon was the greatest man that ever lived. It is ironic TJ put Bacon at the top of a circled Trinity with Locke and Newton beneath him, in view of the fact TJ was a unitarian and Bacon a Trinitarian. Bacon was a devout Anglican, who, it would appear, believed in all the fundamentals of Christianity. His rejection of Aristotle's philosophy for empiricism, and Locke's blank slate theory, for the more correct Original Sin doctrine, by man's erroneous understanding of initial information is refreshing, given Bacon had such an effect on the primary draughtsman of the Declaration of Independence.

The most influential man the world has ever known according to the rationalist Thomas Jefferson, was an Orthodox Christian. How poetic.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What Is The Foundation Of The Declaration of Independence And Constitution? Part Deux

The Westminster Assembly
I find myself agreeing more and more with Catholic theologians when referring to many aspects of the origins of our Republic. That Puritan Covenant Theology is our "Civil Religion" and foundation of the Declaration of Independence is understood by author Donald J. D'Elia, Professor of History at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Don D'Elia is also Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and a member of the Advisory Board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.

D'Elia and myself, appear in agreement with the false exhaltation of Enlightenment philosophy into our founding:
It is anachronistic to think.. that the founding generation did not believe that government must submit to divine positive law. Here the author confuses the Enlightenment minimalistic natural law views of Thomas Jefferson and a relatively small group of Founders with the consensus of the overwhelming majority of the American people in 1776 and 1789 that the state indeed has an obligation to worship God or perish. The Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution, as well as the state constitutions, however they may be celebrated and interpreted in liberal historiography today, were seen at the time as having meaning only within the much larger “oral constitution” of what was a Christian culture-not an Enlightenment culture.
Signer of the DOI, Benjamin Rush, is another man who rejected the notion of Lockean Enlightenment Philosophy into the document adhered to by Thomas Jefferson and his miniscule minority:
Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) of Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence, but his understanding of its meaning as an evangelical Protestant was very different from that of his secular minded friend, Thomas Jefferson. The “unalienable Rights” of the Declaration, Rush believed with many, many other Americans, were bestowed on man not immediately by some abstraction called nature in the Jeffersonian and Lockean sense, but directly and immediately by the living God. This was no dogmatic individualism! “Self-existence” he protested against the eighteenth century spirit of presumption that would culminate in the French Revolution, “belongs only to God.” The 'language” of American independence, Rush wrote in 1783 to his English Quaker friend, Granville Sharp,has for many years appeared to me to be the same as that of the heavenly host that announced the birth of the Saviour of mankind. It proclaims “glory to God in the highest — on earth peace — good will to man..How foolish it was, how presumptuous it was, to think that some autonomous Jeffersonian man had brought this about, relying only on natural reason! Fulton J. Sheen was much closer to the truth about the meaning of the Declaration of Independence to the American people at the nation's Founding. While no friend of Catholicism, such as he understood it, Dr. Rush would have agreed with the Bishop's characterization of the Declaration of Independence as also a Declaration of Dependence. “The Declaration of Independence” Sheen had the historical insight to realize, “asserts a double dependence: dependence on God, and dependence on law as derived from God... .”
Dependence on God is implicit in the DOI, making God the foundation of the covenant as D'Elia notes:
Read the Declaration of Independence and there find the answer: [I might add to the nature of the “American idea”] “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice these words: The Creator has endowed men with rights and liberties; men got them from God! In other words, we are dependent on God, and that initial dependence is the foundation of our independence.
The Constitution was founded on the principles of the DOI, not the personal viewpoints of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine:
Everyone in the country in 1776, except for a decided minority of men like Jefferson and Thomas Paine who mocked revealed religion, understood the Declaration and the constitution of the United States, including the Federal charter, in this way. Rush believed that the hand of God was to be seen in the Federal Constitution, as much as it had been in His dividing the Red Sea to give a passage to the children of Israel. [1] The divine character of the new government of the United States was professed from a thousand pulpits, and one did not have to look far to see this confirmed in newspapers and magazines.
All the State Constitutions, Fast Day Proclamations by the Congress, were part of Puritan Covenant Theology that imbedded the entire nation:
What John Henry Newman called the “goodly framework of society which is the creating of Christianity” was still in place in the period of the nation's Founding. [2] Religion was the “bond of society,” and real law of the land, not, what was often ridiculed as `parchment” constitutionalism. Tocqueville was right to say, and many years had passed from the creating of the Republic when he said it, that the Christian religion was “the foremost of the political institutions of the United States (my italics)..In 1776, though, Dr. Benjamin Rush was representative of the great majority of Americans in giving explicit Christian and biblical meaning to the Declaration of Independence and all the other national and state charters that were to follow. They were covenants, having a solemn religious character as among the ancient Hebrews, no mere secular contracts or Lockean compacts. Their model, whether consciously realized or not, was that of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620 applying ideas of church government to civil government. Only the Anglicans to some extent, were exempted from what Perry Miller has called the “Federal or Covenant Theology,” the American people's intense awareness of their being “a chosen race, entered into specific covenant with God, by the terms of which they would be proportionately punished for their sins.” [3]
The over-exaggeration of John Locke's influence, by missing the forest for the trees, is a smoke-screen for modern liberal secularists, to twist the Declaration and Constitution into whatever they will:
The symbols of the covenant an jeremiad,” that popular recital of the Chosen People's sins, were what mattered. Even “British liberties” and the social and political philosophy of John Locke made sense only within this Gestalt [4].
The Covenant structure was always in Orthodox Trinitarian language, not of the unitarian minority within the Boston area, or the infidel musings of TJ and Thomas Paine. Notice, Congress AGREED to this distinctly PURITAN proclamation:

On a report of a committee, consisting of Mr. [Joseph] Montgomery, Mr. [Oliver] Wolcott, and Mr. [John Morin] Scott, appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several states, to set apart a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer Congress agreed to the following Proclamation:
The goodness of the Supreme Being to all his rational creatures, demands their acknowledgments of gratitude and love; his absolute government of this world dictates, that it is the interest of every nation and people ardently to supplicate his mercy favor and implore his protection.When the lust of dominion or lawless ambition excites arbitrary power to invade the rights, or endeavor to wrench wrest from a people their sacred and unalienable invaluable privileges, and compels them, in defence of the same, to encounter all the horrors and calamities of a bloody and vindictive war; then is that people loudly called upon to fly unto that God for protection, who hears the eries of the distressed, and will not turn a deaf ear to the supplication of the oppressed. Great Britain, hitherto left to infatuated councils, and to pursue measures repugnant to their her own interest, and distressing to this country, still persists in the chimerical idea design of subjugating these United States; which will compel us into another active and perhaps bloody campaign.The United States in Congress assembled, therefore, taking into consideration our present situation, our multiplied transgressions of the holy laws of our God, and his past acts of kindness and goodness exercised towards us, which we would ought to record with the liveliest gratitude, think it their indispensable duty to call upon the different several states, to set apart the last Thursday in April next, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, that our joint supplications may then ascend to the throne of the Ruler of the Universe, beseeching Him that he would to diffuse a spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens; and make us a holy, that so we may be an happy people; that it would please Him to impart wisdom, integrity and unanimity to our counsellors; to bless and prosper the reign of our illustrious ally, and give success to his arms employed in the defence of the rights of human nature; that He would smile upon our military arrangements by land and sea; administer comfort and consolation to our prisoners in a cruel captivity; that he would protect the health and life of our Commander in Chief; give grant us victory over our enemies; establish peace in all our borders, and give happiness to all our inhabitants; that he would prosper the labor of the husbandman, making the earth yield its increase in abundance, and give a proper season for the in gathering of the fruits thereof; that He would grant success to all engaged in lawful trade and commerce, and take under his guardianship all schools and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of virtue and piety; that He would incline the hearts of all men to peace, and fill them with universal charity and benevolence, and that the religion of our Divine Redeemer, with all its benign influences, may cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.
 -Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1782.




Notes


1.  Quoted in D.J. D'Elia, Benjamin Rush: Philosopher of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, 1974), p.56. On Jefferson, see idem., The Spirits of `76: A Catholic Inquiry (Front Royal, Va., 1983), ch. 1, pp. 9-23; idem., “The Real Bicentennial: the Continual Quest for a Therapy of Order,” Faith and Reason 13, No. 4 (1986), pp. 353-362.
2.  Quoted in Christopher Dawson, “The Trend to Secularism,” in James Oliver and Christina Scott, eds., Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher Dawson (Garden City, N.Y., 1975), p.290.
3.  “From the Covenant to the Revival,” in James Ward Smith and A. Leland Jamison, eds., The Shaping of American Religion , vol. I of Religion in American Life (4 vols.: Princeton, New Jersey, 1961), pp.325, 339.
4.  Ibid., 328, “Our mental image of the religious patriot,” Perry Miller observed of the orations of the day, “is distorted because modern accounts do treat the political paragraphs as a series of theoretical expositions of Locke, separated from what precedes and follows. When these orations are read as wholes, they immediately reveal that the sociological sections are structural parts of a rhetorical pattern. Embedded in their contexts, these are not abstractions but inherent parts of a theology. It was for this reason that they had so energizing an effect upon their religious auditors,” ibid., p. 342.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Is The Foundation Of The Declaration of Independence And Constitution?

According to many historians, including Daniel Judah Elazar (1934–1999), past professor of political science at Bar Ilan University (Israel), Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the founder and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Federalism is a Puritan invention. Fernando Rey Martinez, Professor of Constitutional Law at Valladolid Law School, in Valladolid, Spain, quotes Elazar that, "American Federalism rests on the reading the Puritans gave to federal theology in the covenant of the Old Testament"1. The word "Federalism" was not yet created when Federal Systems of government were formed in New England, however, the concept of federal liberty was 2. Martinez writes, "The word "federal" comes from "foedus," the latin word for "covenant." "Federal liberty" was a comprehensive relationship, not a contract based on written duties, but similiar to a marriage found in Judeo-Christian tradition 3. Even Lincoln described the DOI as "a regular marriage" 4, and to Puritans it was a "Federal" relationship with God that carried over into the civil arena 5.

In our founding documents, no other foundation but Covenantal Puritanism was the predominant theory. Here, the noted former Emeritus Professor at Columbia:
From the Bay Colony came the great intellectual leaders, the theologians who became the leaders … in the establishment of New England colonies… Nor was its influence restricted to New England, for its ideals and aspirations… became the dominant influence in the development of the United States.
 -Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization, vol. 1, ch.3

Prominent 19th Century historian Alex d'Tocqueville did not give Enlightenment Rationalism the influence modern historians do, but understood Puritan Covenant Theology the main impetus for social theology that spread throughout the new nation:  
In was in the English colonies… better known as the states of New England, that the two or three main principles now forming the basic social theory of the United States were combined. New England principles spread first to the neighboring states and then…to those more distant, finally penetrating everywhere… Their influence now extends beyond its limits over the whole American world…”
-Alex d’Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Book I, ch. 2.

Is it no less a surprise that the political leader of the Revolution was a Puritan; speaking for the new nation? The Declaration of Independence is a Puritan compact:
The people of this country, alone, have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and with open and uninfluenced consent bound themselves into a social compact. Here no man proclaims his birth or wealth as a title to honorable distinction, or to sanctify ignorance and vice with the name of hereditary authority. He who has most zeal and ability to promote public felicity, let him be the servant of the public. This is the only line of distinction drawn by nature.
-Samuel Adams, An ORATION Delivered at the State-House, In PHILADELPHIA, To A Very Numerous AUDIENCE; On THURSDAY the 1st of AUGUST 1776.

As Robert N. Bellah notes, Puritanism was the foundation for our constitutionalism, what he coined, our "civil religion" 7. Thus, our civil religion is a form of Puritan Christianity, established on biblical promises. True, Puritan Congregationalism may not be the only factor of our Constitutional Compact, but, it is the context from which the other aspects flow.

Included in Puritan Theology was Millenialism; the idea that human history is divinely ordained and will lead to a period of heavenly perfection on earth. Puritan Whigs that were to make up the future Hamiltonian Federalist Party in 1790, believed in this "Covenant Theology." Some may have discarded theological points within Calvinism, but milennialism was not one of them. These men believed in a "New Jerusalem" and that place was America. Just as God had led the Israelites out of Egypt into Canaan, God had sovereignly delivered the Colonists from England, to bring in a righteous kingdom, led by righteous rulers, ultimately to establish Christ's millenial reign. As long as there were "righteous rulers" God's Blessings endured.

Important to note, this belief was not limited to New England Puritans, but was taught in Reformed Churches throughout the colonies, evidenced by beliefs from middle states Founding Fathers: John Witherspoon, Thomas McKean, George Clymer, Benjamin Rush, and Southern Congregationalists: Button Gwinnett, and Lyman Hall. Other millenialist Whigs included: Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, Richard Stockton, Josiah Bartlett, Oliver Ellsworth, John Hancock, Oliver Wolcott, Alexander Hamilton, and yes, John Adams. Whatever Adams may have wrote after he retired; in 1776, he believed as the others: 
But We should always remember, that a free Constitution of civil Government cannot be purchased at too dear a Rate; as there is nothing on this Side of the new Jesusalem, [Jerusalem] of equal Importance to Mankind.
-John Adams to Archibald Bulloch July 1, 1776

The idea to separate the fundamental beliefs of Whigs (Colonists that rejected Monarchial rule, and the Divine Right of Kings), with Puritan Covenant ideology is revisionism. Whigs and Puritans agreed that God was on our side, to help us in our cause:
To be sure, the wide support of Whig thought may have had something to do with America's religious heritage, for a number of Real Whig themes resembled cherished Puritan themes, at least in form. First, Puritans and Whigs shared a pessimistic view of human nature. Puritans believed that natural depravity predisposed individuals to sin; Whigs held that political power brought out the worst in leaders. Both emphasized that freedom meant liberation from something. For Puritans it was freedom from sin; for Whigs it was freedom from political oppression. Both also linked freedom and virtue. Puritans held that sinful behavior led to spiritual and other forms of tyranny; Whigs felt that tyrannical behavior grew from corruption and, in turn, nourished it. Finally, Puritans and Whigs both regarded history in similar terms. It was the struggle of evil against good, dark against light, whether for the Puritan (Antichrist versus Christ) or the Whig (tyranny versus freedom). This similarity in form between Whig political ideas and the traditional theology of some Americans made it easier for many to blur the distinction between a political struggle for rights and a spiritual conflict for the kingdom.
 (Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, George M. Marsden, David F. Wells, and John D. Woodbridge, editors, Eerdmans' Handbook to Christianity in America [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983], pp. 134-135).

This point reinforces the idea John Locke, or enlightenment philosophy, had any fundamental position in the DOI. The Scriptures (1 Cor 11:14, "Doth not even nature itself teach you" and Rom 2:14-15), espoused by English Divine Richard Hooker, John Calvin, and Reformed ideology, had years earlier, enumerated Natural Law subservient to Revelation. Natural Law, advocated by Thomas Aquinas, preceded the Scottish Enlightenment by almost four-hundred years. What did the Enlightenment teach? Reject the supernatural, and question the Bible. Did the Colonists adhere to those tenants? No. Why then do historians: Donald S. Lutz, B. Bailyn, G. Wills, Gordon Wood et al. promote this false idea? It is historical revisionism to ignore the concepts laid down from the Protestant Reformation and Francisco Suarez and The School of Salamanca, to say nothing of Christendom from the Church Fathers to the Renaissance.

It has been noted by many historians, that Locke's influence has been exaggerated prior to 1776. Professor and British historian Jack Richon Pole:
It isn't surprising to claim the idea of popular sovereignty and representative government by the Colonists of the 1760's was not influenced, as is generally believed, by the political theology of John Locke..Very little evidence exists to suggest that Locke exerted any effective influence on the political thought of the Colonists until Thomas Jefferson came to draft the Declaration of Independence.
-Political representation in England and the origins of the American Republic (Macmillan 1966). H. Trevor Colborum, Thomas Jefferson's Use of the Past, "William and Mary Quarterly" Jan. 1958, 56-70.

If the Enlightenment was to touch on morality, economics, jurisprudence, consent of the governed, life, liberty, property, etc. they were way late to the game, which says volumes about the historians who promote it. Or if the Founding Fathers had questioned the Scriptures in favor of reason, it would be fair to include Enlightenment thought in the DOI, however, the personal preferences of: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, do not represent the Southern, Middle, or New England Colonies.


Notes
1) See generally DANIEL J. ELAZAR, EXPLORING FEDERALISM 127 (1987). The concept of federalism appeared in almost all versions of Calvinism. In the Dutch version, it partially inspired the federation of the United Provinces at the end of the 16th century (keeping this federal style until Napoleon's invasion). Calvinist federalism also showed up in the Helvetica and German Confederations. Even the French term for its Protestants was "Hugerenot." meaning "oath-based" association or "federation."
2) Martinez, The Religious Character of the American Constitution: Puritanism and Constitutionalism in the United States. p.477. "This expression comes from John Winthrop and Elazar, describing 'namely the liberty of the partners to act in accordance with the moral principals embodied in God's covenant with humanity (as in biblical Israel and colonial New England)." See CORWIN ON THE CONSTITUTION 79 (Richard Loss ed., 1981).
3)Id at 478
4)Id 478
5) Id 478
6)Id 480. See also Robert N. Bellah Civil Religion in America, Daedalus 96 (1967). See also John T. Watts, Robert N. Bellah's Theory of America's Eschatological Hope. 22 J. OF CHURCH AND STATE 5, (1980).
7)Spencer Welles McBrideThe Courtship of Providence and Patriotism p. 7. See Ruth H. Bloch, Visionary Republic: Millenial Themes in American Thought, 1756-1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), xi.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

15 Out of 20 So-Called Pro-Life Representatives Fired, Including Bart Supak

The Pro-life movement in America is strong. Bart Stupak of Michigan lost his seat on Tuesday. He claimed to be pro-life, yet signed Obama's Health Bill. Marilyn Musgrave, Director of Votes Have Consequences, showed her clout as a leader in the Pro-Life Movement; gives an interview about the election, and Stupak's defeat. Sad to note, the people of Colorado hammered their pro-life bill.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

News Real Blog Has It Correct About "Psycho Talk" Commentator Ed Shultz

Here is Ed Shultz:
[M]ost of these Founding Fathers that you think so highly of were actually slave owners themselves, and the ones that didn’t own slaves weren’t exactly abolitionists…[C]omparing progressives to slave owners while idolizing actual slave owners — that’s “Psycho Talk.
He attacked Samuel Adams, and also derided the Framers for the 3/5 provision in the Declaration of Independence, revealing his familiarity with the Federalist Papers. As author Ben Johnson notes:
There are three problems for Big Ed: He’s wrong about Sam Adams; he’s wrong about the Founding Fathers; and he’s wrong about the three-fifths compromise.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do The Founders Agree On Natural Rights?

You bet. There had to be consensus on this fundamental issue. Unalienable Rights are one of the building blocks of our country. The author of this post on American Creation raises an important point not to be ignored.  All the framers agreed that Natural Law was to be identical to Divine Law, but, if the former diverted in the only possible way it could; by a written law, the Scriptures were to be, in the words of Founding Father James Wilson; Superauthentick. Also, by using standard logic, evidenced by the fact the men quoted in the Constitutional Convention: Sir William Blackstone, Baron Montesquieu, Puffendorf, Richard Hooker, John Locke, and the below quoted Hugo Grotius, believed as they did:
The very meaning of the words divine voluntary right, shows that it springs from the divine will, by which it is distinguished from natural law, which, it has already been observed, is called divine also. … Now this law was given either to mankind in general, or to one particular people. We find three periods, at which it was given by God to the human race, the first of which was immediately after the creation of man, the second upon the restoration of mankind after the flood, and the third upon that more glorious restoration through Jesus Christ. These three laws undoubtedly bind all men, as soon, as they come to a sufficient knowledge of them.
Above, Grotius is affirming the Scriptures superior to Nature. Furthermore, "All Human Laws are null and void if contrary to the Divine Law" was adhered to by all. Natural Law can only be relevant if made into Human Law. In lock-step with the Unitarians of the day, John Adams understood Natural Law was subserviant to Revelation:
 I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government, — Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws — Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe.
-A dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765

That Orthodox Christians: George Mason, Samuel Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, spoke largely of unalienable rights in terms of Natural Law, reinforces the fact they viewed the Scriptures superior. What then of this comment?

"If this is true, neither man's covenants nor God's can change this fact."

However, the Founding Fathers believed God's Word was superior. Is this a contradiction? God's promises are not inferior to man's ideas. Parts of the Bible not repeated in the New Testament; many I might add, are for a different dispensation; for instance, dietary laws. This is the key concept in this narrative, one brought to light by Montesquieu's fundamental "principles that do not change." Early American Law Books taught that government was free to set its own policy only if God had not ruled in an area. For example, Blackstone's Commentaries:
To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the Divine...If any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it, we are bound to transgress that human law...But, with regard to matters that are...not commanded or forbidden by those superior laws such, for instance, as exporting of wool into foreign countries; here the...legislature has scope and opportunity to interpose.
In summation, the Founding Fathers appealed to Heaven as their authority, not Natural Law.