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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Founding Fathers' Belief in Freewill and the New Birth in Jesus Christ

It is interesting how appellations have been applied to our Founding Fathers, regarding their religious beliefs; some of these terms are used by secularists, who redefine them. These terms include: arminianism, enlightenment, freedom of conscience, and Christianity. The secularists understanding of enlightenment, or scottish-enlightenment theory, applied to framers such as: John Witherspoon, Benjamin Rush, and James Madison, etc. is not only incorrect, but the world continues to believe this deceit from these pseudo-philosophers. Spiritual liberty was translated into Political liberty in our founding documents, written by men such as Founding Father John Jay:

"On this topic the gospel is explicit. It commands us to obey the higher powers or ruler. It reminds us that “he beareth not the sword in vain”; that “he is the minister of God, and a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Now, if he is not to bear the sward in vain, it follows that he is to use it to execute wrath on evildoers, and consequently to draw blood and to kill on proper occasions. As to the second species of warfare, it certainly is as reasonable and as right that a nation be secure against injustice, disorder, and rapine from without as from within; and therefore it is the right and duty of the government or ruler to use force and the sword to protect and maintain the rights of his people against evildoers of another nation. The reason and necessity of using force and the sword being the same in both cases, the right or the law must be the same also."

As the framers believed in liberty of conscience, so they believed in freedom of oppression, and injustice.

The Scottish Enlightenment was more radical than that of Europe, because of its denial of the supernatural by Scots such as David Hume, and Francis Hutcheson. Because of this denial, we can exclude from this group, all the Founding Fathers, including John Locke, and the European Christian Theologians, who, without a doubt, believed in the supernatural. So what is enlightenment thought?

It is rule where reason is the ultimate standard, where man is the ultimate arbiter of truth. The other aspect of enlightenment thought that secularists apply to the framers is freewill; that this freedom of conscience originated out of the rationale of man's reason. Nothing could be farther from the truth, which is why the Founding Fathers rejected such utter nonsense.

The proof that the Founding Fathers rejected the enlightenment(rationalism) is their acceptance of the supernatural, and their understanding that freewill in man comes from the Bible, not from the mind of rationalist philosophers like David Hume, who, our framers, including Thomas Jefferson, rejected.

In my opinion, as well as that of Christian Theologians, including: John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Richard Hooker, John Witherspoon, Samuel von Pufendorf and Martin Luther; freewill, is laden throughout the New Testament, with The Saviour, Jesus Christ the greatest promoter of this fact. Contrary to the opinion of John Calvin, who, with the others affirmed Political Liberty, but denied Spirtual Freewill.

"A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one...Yea, the more of a Christian any man is, to so many the more evils, sufferings, and deaths is he subject, as we see in the first place in Christ the first-born, and in all His holy brethren."
Martin Luther-On Christian Freedom, 1520

"When a man-made law is imposed upon the soul to make it believe this or that as its human author may prescribe, there is certainly no word of God for it. If there is no word of God for it, then we cannot be sure whether God wishes to have it so, for we cannot be certain that something which he does not command is pleasing to him."
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Christian in Society II, Vol, 45, 1523. edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al),M1
"By this procedure no one is compelled to believe, for he can still believe what he will; but he is forbidden to teach and to blaspheme."
(LW, Vol. 13, 61-62) edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al

Here James Madison affirms Luther's leading the way in governments removal on the mind of man:

It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported.
TO F. L. SCHAEFFER Montpellier, Dec. 3rd ,1821

If anyone has granted freedom of conscience to the people, it is Christian people. Luther believed in freedom of conscience, but affirmed the penalties for breaking Biblical Law. I disagree with Luther's proposed penalties apart from murder. The Founding Fathers' upholding of the second table of the law, minus the tenth commandment, is obvious and right; the first two commandments cannot be mandated, yet alone, are contrary to freedom of conscience; the just punishments to the crimes, made by the framers, I concur with.

Another interesting aspect to the enlightenment theory, as applied to the morality, and penalty to the minds of the Founding Fathers, had a non-existent effect. The Bible trumped enlightenment thought, with the death penalty for adultery not lessened until the 1780's. The fact is, the death penalty "was standard for a laundry list of crimes--from adultery to murder, from arson to stealing horses." Robbery and Counterfeiting were also capital offenses.
The Death Penalty: An American History by Stuart Banner

Contrary to enlightenment philosophers, here are some of Jesus' words affirming freewill:

John 4:14
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 6:40,47,51,54
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:"
"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 7:37
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."
John 8:51
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
John 11:26
"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

This is just one book of the Bible; Paul, James, Luke, Jude, and Peter affirmed the same doctrine. The Bible teaches freewill for salvation; practically all of the founding fathers believed this doctrine, as well as the early church fathers, and Christian Theologians.

Pufendorf, on the Bible's superiority, and man's reason:

"For this reason in Scripture too the law is said to be "written in the hearts" of men.[4] [Romans, ii, 15.] that man would not be sociable either, if not imbued with religion; and since reason alone cannot go further in religion than in so far as the latter subserves the promotion of peace and sociability in this life. For, in so far as religion promotes the salvation of souls, it proceeds from a special divine revelation."

Pufendorf believed, as did the framers, man's reason could not save anyone, or reveal who God is.

The founders employed freedom of conscience into Political Liberty, the system John Witherspoon taught James Madison and other students at Princeton.

Witherspoon's students included, in addition to a president and vice-president of the United States, nine cabinet members, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine congressmen, three justices of the Supreme Court, and twelve state governors. Five of the nine Princeton graduates among the fifty-five members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were students of Witherspoon.
Witherspoon, John Locke, the Christian Philosophers, and our founding fathers, received the politically couched freedom of conscience from the Bible, not from enlightenment philosophers.

Here, Witherspoon affirms, total depravity, the supernatural, original sin, and Supreme Authority of Scripture:

"When I say it is a supernatural change, I mean that it is what man cannot by his own power effect without superior or divine aid. As we are by nature in a state of enmity against God, so this is what we cannot "of ourselves" remove or overcome. The exercise of our own rational powers, the persuasion of others, the application of all moral motives of every kind, will be ineffectual, without the special operation of the Spirit and Grace of God." John Witherspoon, Works, Section IV,M1

Thomas Aquinas spoke of Natural Law, primacy of reason in human affairs, five-hundred years before Deist Benjamin Franklin. Man's reason, freedom of conscience, science, and Natural Law are Biblical concepts; ascribing these theories to the enlightenment is false. Enlightenment theory, denied the supernatural, nothing more.
As to the doctrine of the New Birth(being born again) as a child of God, its reference is in John 3:7-8:

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it is every one that is born of the Spirit."

All the founding fathers that learned at Princeton, James Madison referenced earlier, was taught this New Birth that Jesus speaks of. Princeton alum, Benjamin Rush(1760), who served in the Adams, Jefferson, and Madison administrations, was taught the same thing:

"But inhabiting this earthly body is the body spiritual, immortal, the essence of our Heavenly Father, which expressed the Holy Spirit. It is the awakening of this Spirit which our Saviour refers to when He tells us that we must be born again." Benjamin Rush, The Road to Fulfillment, The Law of New Birth, p.85, Harper & Brothers, 1942, New York and London.

As far as morality goes, Rush was only against the death penalty, not because of enlightenment humanitarism, but to make punishment more efficient, and better.

No doubt, there are countless other framers who believed this doctrine, including ministers: Robert Treat Paine, Lyman Hall, and Abraham Baldwin.

Belief in predestination, espoused by John Calvin, seems to be adhered to by a small percentage of founding fathers, freewill, was the pervading viewpoint. The use of philosophical language by Born Again Founding Fathers, proves the language was common by everyone, not evidence of belief in heterodoxy.


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