Monday, February 28, 2011

Was the Father of Virginia Orthodox?

George Wythe was the intellectual Giant of Virginia. He trained Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, James Monroe, and Henry Clay. His reputation was impeccable, yet not much is known about his faith. Mr. Munford, who gave his eulogy, and had lived with him stated he was a Christian:
He made no public confession of his religious faith ; and, as Mr. Jefferson has observed respecting him that "that religion must be good which could produce a life of such exemplary virtue," there have been doubts of his belief in the Christian system; but these are at once and forever dispelled by the declarations of Mr. Munford, who stated, in his eulogy pronounced over the corpse of Wythe in the Hall of the House of Delegates, that prayers for the mercies of his Redeemer were among his most fervent and latest aspirations.
--THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION OF 1776. A DISCOURSE// DELIVERED BEFORE THE VIRGINIA ALPHA or THE PHI BETA KAPPA SOCIETY, IN THE CHAPEL OF WILLIAM AND MAKY COLLEGE, IN THE CITY OF WILLIAMSBURG, ON THE AFTERNOON OF JULY THE 3rd, 1855. BY HUGH BLAIR GRIGSBY. [published By A Resolution Of The Society] J. W. RANDOLPH, * 121 MAIN STREET, RICHMOND, VA. 1855.

Without reading his biography, Wythe was not as hostile to fundamental Christianity as his friend Thomas Jefferson:
At this period he acquired that attachment to the Christian religion, which, though his faith was afterwards shaken by the difficulties suggested by sceptical writers, never altogether forsook him, and towards the close of his life was renovated and firmly established. Though he never connected himself with any sect of Christians, yet for many years he constantly attended church, and the bible was his favourite book.
--The American Law Journal and Miscellaneous Repertory, p. 93-94. Vol III. By John Elihu Hall. PHILADELPHIA: PUBLISHED BY FARRAND AND NICHOLAS. Also by Philip H. Nicklin & Co. Balt1more; D. W. Farrand & Green, Alban; D. Mallory .\ Co. Boston; Lyman, Hall k Co. Portland; Swift & Chipman, Middlcbury, (Vt.); Patterson and Hopkins, Pittsburg; and J. W. Campbell, Petersburg, Virginia.Try & Kammerer, Printers.1810.

A better perusal of his faith is needed. However, Chris Rodda repeats Bishop Meade's assertion Wythe was hostile to Christianity, linking him with Thomas Jefferson. Most likely Bishop Meade considered Wythe and Jefferson two peas in a pod, which may or may not have been the case. Wythe was silent regarding faith, and a close friend with the infidel Thomas Jefferson. However, Wythe never had the reputation of hostility against Christianity as TJ did. The evidence supports an active church membership early in life, his lukewarm faith by the time of the Revolution, then his subsequent return to fervent faith.

Wythe's attorney wrote "he had declared to him his firm belief in Christianity."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Did George Washington Commune?

John Fea posted an opinion piece about George Washington's faith on AOL. There is a reference concerning accounts GW communed. These accounts are from Clergy and a respected military officer (whose good character and memory is testified to by Bishop Meade) not from persons wanting their names in the paper. Yes, communion accounts are not in GW's handwriting. However, there are countless Orthodox Christian Fundamentalists that have no written accounts of communion.

The account of James Abercrombie--the Asst. Rector of Christ's Church in Philadelphia--of GW walking out of communion may be due to an ulterior motive. GW may have had an issue with him, or his Church, thus, Bishop White and James Abercrombie never saw him commune. As to GW walking out of communion, Bishop Meade gives a probable reason:
[I]n former days there was a most mistaken notion, too prevalent both in England and America, that it was not so necessary in the professors of religion to communicate at all times, but that in this respect persons might be regulated by their feelings, and perhaps by the circumstances in which they were placed. I have had occasion to see much of this in my researches into the habits of the members of the old Church of Virginia. Into this error of opinion and practice General Washington may have fallen, especially at a time when he was peculiarly engaged with the cares of government and a multiplicity of engagements, and when his piety may have suffered some loss thereby.
First, here is a first-hand account witnessing GW taking communion:
Extract From Major Popham's Letter To Mrs. Jane Washington

New York, March 14, 1839. My Dear Madam: You will doubtless be not a little surprised at receiving a letter from an individual whose name may possibly never have reached you; but an accidental circumstance has given me the extreme pleasure of introducing myself to your notice. In a conversation with the Reverend Doctor Berrian, a few days since, he informed me that he had lately paid a visit to Mount Vernon, and that Mrs. Washington had expressed a wish to have a doubt removed from her mind, which had long oppressed her, as to the certainty of the General's having attended the communion while residing in the city of New York subsequent to the Revolution. As nearly all the remnants of those days are now sleeping with their fathers, it is not very probable that at this late day an individual can be found who could satisfy this pious wish of your virtuous heart except the writer. It was my great good fortune to have attended St. Paul's Church in this city with the General during the whole period of his residence in New York as President of the United States. The pew of Chief-Justice Morris was situated next to that of the President, close to whom I constantly sat in Judge Morris's pew, and I am as confident as a memory now laboring under the pressure of fourscore years and seven can make me, that the President had more than once—I believe I may say often—attended at the sacramental table, at which I had the privilege and happiness to kneel with him. And I am aided in my associations by my elder daughter, who distinctly recollects her grandmamma—Mrs. Morris —often mentioned that fact with great pleasure. Indeed, I am further confirmed in my assurance by the perfect recollection of the President's uniform deportment during divine service in church. The steady seriousness of his manner, the solemn, audible, and subdued tone of voice in which he read and repeated the responses, the Chrisitan humility which overspread and adorned the native dignity of the saviour of his country, at once exhibited him a pattern to all who had the honor of access to him. It was my good fortune, my dear madam, to have had frequent intercourse with him. It was my pride and boast to have seen him in various situations—in the flush of victory, in the field, and in the tent—in the church and at the altar, always himself, ever the same. [bold face mine]
--Bishop Meade, Old Churches Vol. II. p. 490. George Washington The Christian by William J. Johnson. Andover-Harvard Theological Library Cambridge, Mass. 1919.

Notice his daughter--having a better memory than him--seconds the account by remembering her grandmother affirming the event. This cannot be swept under the rug. Furthermore, Major Popham served under Washington and was married into the Morris family; a distinguished family GW knew. The Major writes he sometimes sat in Judge Morris's pew, next to Washington.

It appears this is an authentic first hand account of a man--vouched for by Bishop Meade--testifying he communed with George Washington at St. Paul's Church in New York. This is important because Abercrombie was pastoring Christ's Church in Philadelphia.

Here is second-hand account of Washington Taking Communion:
I have the following anecdote," says Dr. Coxe, "from unquestionable authority. It has never, I think, been given to the public; but I received it from a venerable clergyman [Dr. Hillyer], who had it from the lips of the Rev. Dr. Jones [Johnes] himself. To all Christians, and to all Americans, it cannot fail to be acceptable:

"While the American army, under the command of Washington, lay encamped at Morristown, New Jersey [winter of 1776-7], it occurred that the service of the communion [then observed semiannually only] was to be administered in the Presbyterian church of that village. In a morning of the previous week the General, after his accustomed inspection of the camp, visited the house of the Rev. Doctor Jones [Johnes], then pastor of the church, and, after the usual preliminaries, thus accosted him: "'Doctor, I understand that the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated with you next Sunday. I would learn if it accords with the canon of your church to admit communicants of another denomination?' "The Doctor rejoined, 'Most certainly; ours is not the Presbyterian table, General, but the Lord's table; and we hence give the Lord's invitation to all his followers, of whatever name.' "The General replied, 'I am glad of it; that is as it ought to be; but, as I was not quite sure of the fact, I thought I would ascertain it from yourself, as I propose to join with you on that occasion. Though a member of the Church of England, I have no exclusive partialities.' "The Doctor reassured him of a cordial welcome, and the General was found seated with the communicants the next Sabbath."
This account is from a Clergyman to another Clergyman. Who would claim their testimony is not valid? Also, in the account is more testimony to support this event.

This doesn't mean Washington was a Christian. But it doesn't mean he wasn't a Christian either. The fact he never mentioned his faith in Christ is not evidence for or against. Many people do not wear their religion on their sleeve, yet alone write about it.

Although GW walked out of communion for many years, based on this testimony, this is a foundation for making the claim George Washington was a Christian.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

James Madison Quoting The Trinity

As the days go by, the Christian Orthodoxy of the Founding Fathers looms ever larger. As with previous posts concerning Alexander Hamilton quoting the Trinity, President John Quincy Adams, and Chief Justice John Marshall spurning the Unitarians for a neutral position on points of Christian Orthodoxy-- the Orthodoxy of President James Madison was consistent his entire life. Yes, there are some comments JM made that lend support against Orthodoxy, but that evidence is limited, and would succumb to the majority evidence.

Important to note, the preponderance of the evidence supports Madison never changed his views. In his childhood he had witnessed the persecution by the Anglican establishment, and therefore had a strict view of separation of church/state relations, voicing his opinion vociferously at Princeton. This view never left him--even after he retired. These separation views should not be construed to conflict with his faith in Jesus Christ; The One he believed is God:
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

"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."
-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.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, there is no substantial evidence that James Madison changed these beliefs: The Deity of Christ, Tri-Unity of God, Original Sin, and Pre-destination. If there are, they haven't been discovered yet. His writings about separation doctrine begin at Princeton University; at that time, the most Orthodox Seminary in the World.

Now that we understand not to confuse his views on separation doctrine with his faith, let us look at the minority evidence against James Madison's Orthodoxy. Here is James Madison in an address to the Cherokee Indians in 1812:
The Great Spirit has given you, like your white brethren, good heads to contrive, and strong arms, and active bodies. Use them like your white brethren of the eighteen fires, and like them, your little sparks will grow into great fires. You will be well fed, dwell in good houses, and enjoy the happiness for which you, like them, were created. These are the words of your father to his red children. The Great Spirit who is the father of us all, approves them. Let them pass through the ear in to the heart. Carry them home to your people; and as long as you remember this visit to your father of the eighteen fires, remember these are his last and best words to you!
This statement can barely prove Madison retracted his views of Christ; His name isn't even mentioned. Furthermore, JM wrote all other religions besides Christianity were false:
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.
-Memorial and Remonstrance, June 20, 1785.

Here, is another account referring to JM's heterodoxy:
I found the President more free and open than I expected, starting subjects of conversation and making remarks that sometimes savored of humor and levity. He sometimes laughed, and I was glad to hear it ; but his face was always grave. He talked of religious sects and parties, and was curious to know how the cause of liberal Christianity stood with us, and if the Athanasian creed was well received by our Episcopalians. He pretty distinctly intimated to me his own regard for the Unitarian doctrines.
— TICKNOR, GEORGE, 1815, Letter to his Father, Jan. 21 ; Life, Letters and Journals, vol. I, p. 30.

The problem is these words are not from the pen of James Madison, nor do they refer to the person of Jesus Christ.

Lastly, Madison refers to an Arian, Samuel Clarke, while defending God created the universe:
I have duly recd the copy of your little tract on the proofs of the Being & Attributes of God. To do full justice to it, would require not only a more critical attention than I have been able to bestow on it, but a resort to the celebrated work of Dr. Clarke, which I read fifty years ago only, and to that of Dr. Waterland also which I never read..But whatever effect may be produced on some minds by the more abstract train of ideas which you so strongly support, it will probably always be found that the course of reasoning from the effect to the cause, "from Nature to Nature's God," Will be the more universal & more persuasive application.
-To Frederick Beasley (Nov. 20, 1825), in 9 The Papers of James Madison, 1819-1836, at 229 (Gaillard Hunt ed., 1910).

Again, no mention of the person of Jesus Christ. He had not read Clarke in fifty years, which would be 1775, a time when he was affirming Pre-destination to his Presbyterian friend, Stanley Stanhope Smith! Hardly evidence rejecting Orthodoxy. It could be Madison never knew Clarke was an Arian. Also, the context of the quote is The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, given JM quotes the God of the Bible, whom the Founding Fathers, and Christian philosophers, including: Francis Bacon (Thomas Jefferson's idol), Montesquieu, Blackstone, et al. penned as "Nature's God."

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Real Rebel Yell

Not you Billy Idol. One day I would like to visit the Museum of the Confederacy. They have actual recordings of the Rebel Yell from Confederate Vets in the 1920's. These yells are magnified to that of hundreds of men onto a CD. I can see these rebels scaring the wits out of those Yankees. It sounds like they got this from the Indians.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Was Chief Justice John Marshall Orthodox?

From the below letter, we know John Marshall became an Orthodox Christian, believing in the Vicarious Blood Atonement for Sin by Jesus Christ upon the Cross. The Bible leaves  man no excuse as to what atones for sin. Romans 3: 23-25 literally says "faith in His blood":
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. [bold face mine]
On a side note, I know for a fact James Madison read this chapter because he quoted Romans 5 in his Memorial and Remonstrance, in which Paul says in v 8-9 the same thing about blood:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
It is safe to say Marshall and the other Founding Fathers read the entire book of Romans at least once. It was probably mandatory reading in college, most likely they had to translate into Greek from the English.

Back to Marshall. There appears to be some confusion from the below statement from Rev. Norwood and an earlier testimony on Marshall, most likely in 1830. Here is the letter from Rev. Norwood:
As to the religious opinions of Judge Marshall the following extract from a letter of the Rev. Mr. Norwood may be entirely relied on:

I have read some remarks of yours in regard to C hief Justice Marshall, which have suggested to me to communicate to you the following facts, which may be useful should you again publish anything in relation to his religious opinions. I often visited Mrs. Gen'l Harvie during her last illness. From her I received this statement. She was much with her father during the last months of his life, and told me that the reason why he had never communed was that he was Unitarian in opinion, though he never joined their society. He told her, that he believed in the truth of the Christian revelation, but not in the divinity of Christ, therefore he could not commune in the Episcopal Church. But during the last months of his life, he read Keith on Prophecy, where our Saviour's divinity is incidentally treated, and was convinced by his work, and the fuller investigation to which it led, of the supreme divinity of the Saviour. He determined to apply for admission to the communion of our Church—objected to commune in private, because he thought it his duty to make a public confession of the Saviour—and while waiting for improved health to enable him to go to Church for that purpose, he grew worse and died without ever communing. Mrs. Harvie was a lady of the strictest probity, the most humble piety, and of a clear, discriminating mind, and her statement, the substance of which I give you accurately (having reduced it to writing), may be entirely relied upon. I remember to have heard Bishop Moore repeatedly express his surprise (when speaking of Judge Marshall), that, though he was so punctual in his attendance at church and reproved Mr. , and Mr. , and Mr. when they were absent, and knelt during the prayers and responded fervently, yet he never communed. The reason was that which he gave to his daughter, Mrs. Harvie. She said he died an humble, penitent believer in Christ, according to the orthodox creed of the Church. Very truly your friend and brother in Christ,
William Norwood

Chief Justice John Marshall
 
From the below anecdote, it would appear Rev. Norwood's account is a bit mis-leading. Marshall did not reject the Trinity and Atonement, rather, he didn't believe in it; similar to the faith of John Quincy Adams, maybe John Jay, and perhaps George Washington, et al. The preface in the below anecdote from the Winchester Republican is May 1831. This account is most likely from or before 1830. And you can be assured the first attack on Christianity these lawyers made was at the Trinity:
He was once travelling in the northern part of Virginia, and about night-fall arrived at the village of Winchester, in Frederick County. He drove to what was then known as M'Guire's hotel. What occurred there has been thus related : —
' It is not long since a gentleman was travelling in one of the counties of Virginia, and, about the close of the day, stopped at a public house to obtain refreshment, and spend the night. He had been there but a short time, before an old man alighted from his gig, with the apparent intention of becoming his fellowguest at the same house. As the old man drove up, he observed that both the shafts of his gig were broken, and that they were held together by withes formed from the bark of a hickory sapling. Our traveller observed further, that he was plainly clad, that his knee-buckles were loosened, and that something like negligence pervaded his dress. Conceiving him to be one of the honest yeomanry of our land, the courtesies of strangers passed between them, and they entered the tavern. It was about the same time that an addition of three or four young gentlemen was made to their number—most, if not all of them, of the legal profession. As soon as they became conveniently accommodated, the conversation was turned by the latter upon an eloquent harangue which had that day been displayed at the Bar. It was replied by the other, that he had witnessed, the same day, a degree of eloquence no doubt equal, but that it was from the pulpit. Something like a sarcastic rejoinder was made to the eloquence of the pulpit; and a warm and able altercation ensued, in which the merits of the Christian religion became the subject of discussion. From six o'clock until eleven, the young champions wielded the sword of argument, adducing, with ingenuity and ability, everything that could be said pro and con. During this protracted period, the old gentleman listened with all the meekness and modesty of a child; as if he was adding new information to the stores of his own mind ; or perhaps he was observing, with philosophic eye, the faculties of the youthful mind, and how new energies are evolved by repeated action; or, perhaps, with patriotic emotion, he was reflecting upon the future destinies of his country, and on the rising generation upon whom these future destinies must devolve; or, most probably, with a sentiment of moral and religious feeling, he was collecting an argument which — characteristic of himself—no art would be " able to elude, and no force resist." Our traveller remained a spectator, and took no part in what was said.

1 Howe's Virginia Historical Collections, page 266.
2 Richmond in By-gone Days, p. 64.

' At last one of the young men, remarking that it was impossible to combat with long established prejudices, wheeled around, and with some familiarity exclaimed, "Well, my old gentleman, what think you of these things ?" If, said the traveller, a streak of vivid lightning had at that moment crossed the room, their amazement could not have been greater than it was with what followed. The most eloquent and unanswerable appeal was made for nearly an hour, by the old gentleman, that he ever heard or read. So perfect was his recollection, that every argument urged against the Christian religion was met in the order in which it was advanced. Hume's sophistry on the subject of miracles was, if possible, more perfectly answered than it had already been done by Campbell. And in the whole lecture there was so much simplicity and energy, pathos and sublimity, that not another word was uttered. An attempt to describe it, said the traveller, would be an attempt to paint the sunbeams. It was now a matter of curiosity and inquiry who the old gentleman was. The traveller concluded it was the preacher from whom the pulpit eloquence was heard; but no, it was the Chief Justice of the United States.'l [bold face mine]

1 This anecdote was originally published in the Winchester Republican, but preserved in durable form by being printed in Howe's Virginia Historical Collections, p. 275.
There seem to be some confusion in both accounts. Are they contradictory accounts?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Post On Acton Institute About Ronald Reagan

I remember when I was a kid, people scoffed at the name of Ronald Reagan. He was not respected as he is today in Conservative circles. History proves Reagan was the most liberal President of all time. As to his faith, the evidence supports he failed to accept Jesus Christ as His Saviour. His actions and writings to his family members support these conclusions. Given Reagan is exalted this past week, below is my post to Acton Institute:
As a Christian, I am interested in Reagan's faith. If Reagan had personal convictions about Jesus Christ as His Saviour, I haven't seen them.

The fact is, he spurned the moral majority that got him elected. Not once did he lobby Congress for one pro-life bill when he promised to do so. As Governor in 1967, Reagan signed an abortion law that resulted in over a million abortions.

He married Nancy Davis, a pagan stargazer, and had no clue the faith of his daughter. How can a person be a Christian and not preach Christianity to his family, and know their faith?

According to his memoirs, Reagan thought he could avert Biblical prophecy by getting rid of nuclear weapons because of his reading of the Book of Revelation. Thus, he tried to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants, violating Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, and the Law of Nations. He even vetoed an anti-aparteid law, which was overidden by the Senate.

As to Reagan's tax policy, he was the most liberal President in History; much more than Obama or Clinton. He raised taxes 11 times in 8 years. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then. In 81 he lowered taxes on the wealthy and corporations, sending us into the worse recession since the 1930's. In 82 he raised taxes on cigarettes and gasoline. In 83, he signed the biggest payroll tax increase in history. He actually was the first President to tax unemployment benefits, and he raised the self-employment tax up to 66%! The self-employed businessman got screwed. Under Reagan, the deficit tripled in part because of defense spending, which doesn't excuse his raising rates on the poor and middle class. In 86 was the worst to come.

Reagan actually lowered the top tax rate, and raised the bottom tax rate from 11% to 15%. He was literally taking from the poor to give to the rich to promote the "trickle down theory." To top it off, he lowered capital gains taxes for corporations, who were already making billions, and through greed, gave them the impetus to send our jobs overseas. Under Reagan, 3 tillion in wealth was transfered from the poor and middle class to the rich to spur the economy! The jobs it created were few and far between, and because of his lower taxes to corporations, those jobs are now in China and India! If Alexander Hamilton was here today, he would make Corporations pay huge taxes for taking jobs out of the country!

Reagan's wealth distribution dwarfs FDR's!

If anyone was a socialist, it was Reagan. But he did it the opposite way; he took from the poor and middle class to give to the rich.

He may have been a nice guy, but he didn't champion any true Christian causes; such as promoting life at conception, protecting the sovereignty of our borders, vociferously attacking homosexuality, which the Founding Fathers said would destroy our nation, lowering our taxes for our families, and promoting private Christian schools, which is what we need right now. Instead he failed miserably trying to curb the Dept. of Education.

Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran. Reagan and other senior U.S. officials secretly sold arms to officials in Iran, which was subject to a an arms embargo at the time, in exchange for American hostages. Some funds from the illegal arms sales also went to fund anti-Communist rebels in Nicaragua — something Congress had already prohibited the administration from doing.

Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. Reagan fought a proxy war with the Soviet Union by training, arming, equipping, and funding Islamist mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan. Reagan funneled billions of dollars, along with top-secret intelligence and sophisticated weaponry to these fighters through the Pakistani intelligence service. The Taliban and Osama Bin Laden — a prominent mujahidin commander — emerged from these mujahidin groups Reagan helped create, and U.S. policy towards Pakistan remains strained because of the intelligence services’ close relations to these fighters. In fact, Reagan’s decision to continue the proxy war after the Soviets were willing to retreat played a direct role in Bin Laden’s ascendancy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

If Alexander Hamilton Was Not Orthodox, Why Did He Quote The Trinity?

My buddie Jon has written a post on AC about Alexander Hamilton's faith. Because AH quoted the Trinity, unless he rejected the Trinity later in life, this is prima facie evidence supporting Orthodox Christian faith: 

AH! whither, whither am I flown,
A wandering guest in worlds unknown?
What is that I see and hear?
What heav'nly music fills mine ear?
Etherial glories shine around;
More than Arabias sweets abound.


Hark! hark! a voice from yonder sky!
Methinks I hear my Saviour cry,
Come gentle spirit come away,
Com to thy Lord without delay;
For thee the gates of bliss unbar'd
Thy consant virtue to reward.


I come oh Lord! I mount, I fly,
On rapid wings I cleave the sky;
Stretch out thine arm and aid my flight;
For oh! I long to gain that height,
Where all celestial beings sing
Eternal praises to their King.


O Lamb of God! thrice gracious Lord
Now, now I feel how true thy word;
Translated to this happy place,
This blessed vision of thy face;
My soul shall all thy steps attend
In songs of triumph without end.
--Soul Ascending into Bliss, October 17, 1772

"Although it is impossible to determine beyond dispute that Hamilton was the author of this poem, it is attributed to him by J. C. Hamilton (John Church Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton), who refers to it as 'a hymn,' but ascribes it to the period when Hamilton attended school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (The Life of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton, J.C., vol. I, 10 and The Works of Alexander Hamilton, editor Hamilton, J.C., vol. I, 48). In the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, there is a copy of an unidentified writing of the first three verses of this poem. At the end of the third verse is written in the same hand: "Written by A.H. when 18 years old." At the bottom of the page in still another handwriting is written: "This is a copy in pencil by Alex: Hamilton, my uncle – P.S." The "P.S" presumably refers to the Philip Schuyler who was the son of George L. Schuyler. George L. Schuyler had married Hamilton's granddaughter, Mary Hamilton, daughter of James A. Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton who copied the poem was probably the son of James A. Hamilton, brother-in-law of George Schuyler and uncle of Philip Schuyler." --from The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, volume 1

Hercules Mulligan gives a short commentary on the poem, presenting Hamilton's familiarity with Revelation 4:8. I am not sure this is a clear correlation; what I do know, is his faith was not temporary, to which his roommate in college (Robert Troup) testifies:
At this time,' Troup relates, 'the "General" was attentive to public worship, and in the habit of praying on his knees night and morning. I lived in the same room with him for some time, and I have often been powerfully affected by the fervor and eloquence of his prayers. He had read many of the polemical writers on religious subjects, and he was a zealous believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. I confess that the arguments with which he was accustomed to justify his belief, have tended in no small degree to confirm my own faith in revealed religion.
Also, Hamilton rented Pew 92 at Trinity Church as early as 1790, affirming his church attendance. As to taking Communion, he had desired it in the past, yet accomplished it on his death bed. Hamilton's death-bed statement proves he believed in Christ's Atonement years before his death:

It has for some time past been the wish of my heart, and it was my intention to take an early opportunity of uniting myself to the church, by the reception of that holy ordinance [Communion].
Furthermore, he despised the Enlightenment ideal, that man would get better with time:
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

Back to the post on Hamilton:
 
"I disagree that "nothing like it" appears in Hamilton's record. If that's your standard for what constitutes an "ass," other things Hamilton said during that period arguably merit him that label. For instance, when speaking on what he values in a military chaplain, in a letter to Anthony Wayne July 6, 1780, Hamilton said:

“He is just what I should like for a military parson except that he does not whore or drink. He will fight, and he will not insist upon your going to heaven whether you will or not."

Here is Hercules Mulligan's interpretation of Hamilton's words: 

If, however, the phrase does exist in Hamilton's original letter, this letter is poor evidence against his Christianity, for the following reasons. First of all, what idiot would seriously expect a military chaplain, of all people, to practice those things? The style of Hamilton's letter implies that he is writing somewhat humorously. Hamilton's reference(s) may be a rather exaggerated way of referring to the parson's abstinence from drinking wine and attending balls, which were part of the circle of life at Washington's headquarters, and since Washington was particularly hospitable to chaplains, he no doubt would have invited the chaplain to participate in the few relaxations and luxuries available at his headquarters. If the parson declined, he probably would have done so with Hamilton's knowledge, since Hamilton was one of Gen. Washington's closest aides-de-camp. Hamilton then, may be giving an impression of the parson's aversion to those things on account of their abuses.


In addition, Hamilton's statement “he will not insist upon your going to heaven whether you will or not” does not at all indicate impiety or heterodoxy on Hamilton's part. This sentence begins with “He will fight,” and then continues as quoted above. Hamilton is not saying that the parson is neglectful of the souls of the troops, but merely that he is willing to stand with them and defend their lives rather than allow them to die. Hamilton's words, paraphrased, would say something like, “This man will stand and fight, instead of saying 'If we die, it's just as well -- at least we'll all get to heaven more quickly!' (Going to heaven of course, would depend upon the cases of individual soldiers.).”


Notice also, that Hamilton's letter indicates ("whether you will or not") that he doesn't believe that all people are going to Heaven automatically; he is obviously not of the universalist mindset. Hamilton believes in Heaven, and that God requires people to satisfy certain criteria; given Hamilton's Christian youth, and no evidence of change, it is reasonable to conclude that he accepted the Scriptural standard of a Christian. We see then, that the evidence thrown as objections to Hamilton's faith and morals are rather weak when given a closer look.
The post continues with Hamilton's letter to John Laurens:


"Likewise when noting what he was looking for in a wife, to John Laurens, December, 1779, Hamilton writes:

"In politics I am indifferent what side she may be of. I think I have arguments that will easily convert her to mine. As to religion a moderate stock will satisfy me. She must believe in God and hate a saint. But as to fortune, the larger stock of that the better. You know my temper and circumstances and will therefore pay special attention in the treaty. Though I run no risk of going to Purgatory for my avarice, yet as money is an essential ingredient to happiness in this world, as I have not much of my own, and as I am very little calculated to get more either by my address or industry, it must needs be that my wife, if I get one, bring at least a sufficiency to administer to her own extravagancies."

"Notice how Hamilton cares more about the specifics of his political creed than his religious creed. He cares about converting his future wife to his politics; but as to religion, she has to merely "believe in God and hate a saint." We see no, "I have arguments that will easily convert my wife to Christianity because I can show her the evidences of its historical truth."

"Given his wife turned out to be an orthodox Christian, it's likely that she converted him at the end of his life."

First, his wife did not turn out to be an orthodox Christian, she already was an orthodox Christian! Mulligan explains, "[h]e apparently didn't mind a “devoted stock” either! So much for his aversion to religion!"

Furthermore, from Hamilton's death-bed statement, it is impossible for his wife to have converted him at the end of his life; he was already converted from his previous wish to commune. Hamilton's actions marrying an Orthodox Christian outweigh his words; thus, Hercules Mulligan hits the nail on the head:

This passage also fails to provide those who claim that Hamilton's faith diminished during this period that he ever changed his religious beliefs.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My New List

When I look back at my earlier list of greatest Founding Fathers I see a discrepancy which I believe I made. To be labeled the greatest Founding Father, I am referring to someone's participation in our structural design. He can't just be a Line Officer or leader. The formation of our government was already complete by the end of the Adams administration. Twelve years is long enough to establish the three branches of government.

Given after twelve years our government structure was complete. I do not feel John Marshall should get credit for being Chief Justice after the fact. George Washington was merely a leader, and did not play a major part in establishing the doctrine for our nation. I believe this list is more correct than the last one:

1. Roger Sherman-He is the only man to sign all the documents of government: Articles of Association, Confederation, The Declaration and The Constitution. He also helped structure the Northwest Ordinance that prohibited the advancement of slavery. Not only a signer, but very involved in the formation of these documents. Was largely responsible for the Bill of Rights; presented the Great Compromise of 1787 resulting in two houses of Congress; Ratified the Constitution, and was U.S. Senator.

2. George Washington-General of Continental Army; First President of United States, no doubt largely responsible for the Executive Department; President of the Constitutional Convention.

3. Alexander Hamilton-A great warrior, and perhaps the greatest administrator that ever lived. Our financial system is from his mind. Revolutionary Captain; head of the storming party at Yorktown; Secretary of the Treasury; principal author of the Federalist Papers; second in command of the Army 1798.

4. John Adams. Richard Stockton called him the "Atlas of Independence" was 2nd President of the United States; helped form the three branches of government; 1st Vice-President; signed the Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence; Minister to Great Britain, leader of the Revolution.

5. John Jay-He would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but was busy writing the Constitution of New York. He served as President of the Continental Congress 1778-79, which served as Chief Justice, President, and Secretary of State at once. He convinced Spain to give us $170,000 dollars for the revolution. Jay was one of the men who signed the Treaty of Paris on June 23, 1782. Was Secretary of State from 1784-1790; 1st Chief Justice 1789-1795, and Governor of New York.

6. James Wilson-First Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1789-1798; 2nd Choice for Chief Justice. One of only six men to sign both the Declaration and Constitution. 2nd most active participant at the Convention; wrote most of the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitution; first Professor of the Law of Nature in America.

7. Benjamin Franklin-Leader of the Revolution; secured vital aid from France, one of only six men to sign both the Declaration and Constitution, having a major role in the Declaration.

8. Samuel Adams-The "Father of the Revolution" The British pardoned only two men during the Revolution; Samuel Adams and John Hancock. His circular letter of 1768 led to the Boston Massacre of 1770. He organized the Boston Tea Party, signed the Declaration, helped draft the Articles of Confederation, and ratified the Constitution.

9. John Dickinson-The "Penman of the Revolution" What Samuel Adams did by action, Dickinson employed with the pen. He wrote the colonists' legal justification to break from Great Britain. Upon receiving news of his death, President Thomas Jefferson recognized him as being "among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain" whose "name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution." He was the principal author of our first Constitution, that lasted from 1777 to 1790. He was the most famous man in the colonies, who would have wrote the Declaration of Independence had he not been for reconciliation. Dickinson was the Governor of two states.
 
10. Thomas McKean-Was the only man to be concurrent office holder in two states; Governor of two states; Chief Justice of Pennsylvania; Signed the Declaration; helped write the Articles of Confederation; helped author the Delaware Constitution; was acting President of the United States (1781), Proposed the voting procedure of one State, one vote, under the Articles of Confederation. There he largely set the rules of justice for revolutionary Pennsylvania. According to biographer John Coleman, "only the historiographical difficulty of reviewing court records and other scattered documents prevents recognition that McKean, rather than John Marshall, did more than anyone else to establish an independent judiciary in the United States. As chief justice under a Pennsylvania constitution he considered flawed, he assumed it the right of the court to strike down legislative acts it deemed unconstitutional, preceding by ten years the U.S. Supreme Court's establishment of the doctrine of judicial review."

Jefferson and Madison are not on the list because their Presidency's were after the formation of our government. TJ had nothing to do with the Constitution or Bill of Rights, and lamented his being a "Draughtsman" of the Declaration. Madison was a junior member of Congress that helped form the Constitution, and Bill of Rights. His title "Father of the Constitution" should go to Charles Pinckney, whose draft of the Constitution is very similar to the actual document.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Founding Father John Quincy Adams Cont.

Continuing on the topic of John Q. Adams' faith. Paul C. Nagel's book is a good read into Adams' personal views. His faith in the Atonement, the most important in salvation, was not unlike his views on the Tri-Unity of God. He could not understand, which he should have, that blood, which comprises the life of all flesh, makes atonement for sin. The concept being "Dark and Dubious" not giving his opinion, when pressed that he needed to believe it for salvation.

However, later in life Adams used the word "Redeemer" more often, to which designates a "buying back." No where in the Scriptures is death the buy-back for sin. That blood is what redeems man from sin is too obvious to defend. It's redeeming quality is interspersed in the Scriptures, every Protestant council or Synod, and The Book of Common Prayer that every Anglican, or Catholic, including Republican Whigs, understood.

His thoughts on nullification are interesting in light of current political events.