Monday, November 14, 2011

Putnam and the "Great Spirit" Part Deux

I don't want to spend too much time on this, but Jon Rowe wrote this in response to my previous post about Rufus Putnam and the Great Spirit:
Goswick seems to suggest that unconverted Natives really DIDN'T worship the God of the Bible with men like Washington and Putnam in knowledge of this. What would that make them then? Manipulative hypocrites when dealing with Natives. Suggesting unconverted Natives worship the same God Christians do, while not believing it, reeks of the same charge of hypocrisy that some secular nationalist scholars make when they claim the early Presidents were cold deists (or atheists) who may have publicly spoken as though they believed in Providence or something closer to Christianity to placate the masses over whom they ruled.
I don't see any hypocrisy at all considering Putnam started and was the President of the original Ohio Bible Society, and perhaps a member of the Society For Propagating the Gospel To The Indians. They weren't missionaries preaching the Gospel--this was diplomacy. If Rowe is correct, Putnam--and all of the Bible societies and missionary organizations--had his people go to the Indians and say, "The Great Spirit so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Great Spirit that whosoever believes in Him has everlasting life...he that believes on the Great Spirit has life, he that has not the Great Spirit has not life?" Don't think so. None of the framers, minus Thomas Jefferson, were ecumenists.

I am confident I can find other evangelicals using that term--most likely members of the societies to promote the Gospel, as Putnam did. I'm fairly certain Congress supported The society for propogating the Gospel to the Indians. That means it was everyone.
In 1798, he was the prime mover in establishing in Marietta the first academy of learning; in 1807, he planned and superintended the building of the church still used by the Congregational Society there; in 1812, he organized there the first Bible Society west of the mountains; in 1817, the first Sunday school and he was the largest subscriber to the funds of each.
--Putnam's Journal

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