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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Political Liberty IS in the Bible:

Jon Rowe wrote a piece on his interpretation of Romans 13, to which Jim Bakka responded on Positive Liberty. Mr. Bakka clearly follows the interpretation ascribed to John Calvin, Martin Luther, and others. I do not have a problem with different interpretations of an unessential to the faith, like Romans 13; my issue is with some of the men who claim to be authorities, who lack basic common sense, such as: Dr. Greg Frazer, who teaches political science at The Masters College, and Dr. Robert Kraynak of Colgate. In fact, both, write ideas supposedly found in the Bible, that aren't there, not even implied. Here, is an example:

"First, as Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.” Second, “(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….There is nothing voluntary or consensual about the biblical covenant; and the most severe punishments are threatened by God for disobedience.”

Maybe those men are reading a different bible. Does Kraynak, Frazer, or even Rowe, whose blog it appears, believe God forced Abraham's seed into servitude? There is not a single doubt as to a covenant/compact God made with Abraham and his descendents; undemocratic? The covenant is throughout the Torah:

Deuteronomy 4:31(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

Deuteronomy 5:2 "The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb."

The Compact between God and Israel in the Book of Joshua:

Joshua 24:22 "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses."

As a matter of fact, the covenant started with Abraham as early as Genesis 15;18:
"In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Here is the basis of the covenant with Abraham agreeing to it by circumcision:

Genesis 17:13:
He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Genesis 17:23:
And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

The rest of Frazer's post in Rowe's blog is equally incorrect, and not worth a rebuttal. Jon Rowe also shows his lack of biblical knowledge, and history, as he writes:

"Rather, the Biblical record in no uncertain terms shows that God unilaterally burdened His people with the law of Moses without their consent or approval. And the notion that people must "consent" to the laws which will rule them is entirely a Whig or 18th Century republican ideal, not a biblical idea."

These statements are all too common with secular intellectuals; in the Reformation writings, "Consent" is on every page; Republicanism(Biblical Law enforced by representatives of the people)starts in Exodus 18, and is thoroughly, and completely elucidated in "Vindici"(A Defense Against Tyranny) and Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex(Law is King).

John Quincy Adams identified it (Vindici) one of the most influential writings on the eve of our war for independence, and be assured, all the founding fathers, including First Chief Justice John Jay, understood it was the correct interpretation. Here, Adams sums up that our Constitution(Law) is based on Christianity:

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."

-- John Quincy Adams, (Thornton's accurate summary of Adams' quote) An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-first Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), p. 5.

Adams' quote is easy to affirm from Common Law in general. Reformers and Pre-Reformers: John Rutherford, Thomas Aquinas, Bullinger(who was before Calvin), Beza(who advocated non-violent resistence), Martin Bucer, John Knox, his pastor Christopher Goodman, George Buchanan, Francois Hotman, John Ponet, Althusius, etc. all agreed only good government was ordained by God in Romans 13. Luther, Calvin, and Melanchton were wrong.

The Bible, and subsequently (A Defense Against Tyranny), is the work the Founding Fathers relied on for justified rebellion against unlawful government, "Vindici" as it was known, said the people collectively, are above the King, yet, individually, each man is under the King in a compact between the King, God, and the people(church), whereby, if the King violated God's Law, he forfeited his Kingdom. That God is to be obeyed over man is all over the document, in fact, only good government is to be obeyed; common sense dictates if man was never to resist an evil king, Israel would have been under the same principle, but it was not; countless times, God destroyed, or had other rulers destroy evil Israelite rulers, such as: Saul, Manasseh, Ahab, Jehoram, Jeroboam, etc.

That the people choose the King, implies consent of the governed; the people's superiority is in Proverbs 14:28:

"In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince."

The want of people is obviously their consent, since the people have the power to remove a King.

Steven M. Dworetz's summary of Romans 13 quotes Calvin and Luther for authority; why quote one man whose theories are easily refuted, and another, who was a racist, advocating burning Jew's houses, searing their tongues with hot irons? Maybe, Mr. Dworetz had heard of the alternate viewpoint, that of the founding fathers, and Reformation. Just because Calvin, Luther, and some early church fathers had a certain interpretation, does not mean they were correct. It is debatable whether Calvin was a Christian at all; he believed his infant baptism secured his salvation. Here is what Dworetz says:

"Basing a revolutionary teaching on the scriptural authority of chapter 13 of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans must rank as one of the greatest ironies in the history of political thought. This passage...served as the touchstone for passive obedience and unconditional submission from Augustine and Gregory to Luther and Calvin....The medieval church fathers as well as the reformers and counter-reformers of the sixteenth century all invoked this doctrine in denouncing disobedience and resistance to civil authorities."
-- Dworetz, The Unvarnished Doctrine: Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution, p. 155, quoted in Frazer, The Political Theology of the American Founding, p. 358.

Claiming "all" Christian reformers believed his interpretation is a flat-out falsehood. Has Dworetz heard of "Vindici" (A Defense Against Tyranny) by Hubert Lanquet and Philippe du Plessis-Mornay, published in 1579?

The New Testament relates the same principle as the Old Covenant, explains the Vindici:

"Now...the form...the church and the Jewish kingdom be changed...the same things may be said of Christian kings, the gospel having succeeded the law, and Christian princes being in the place of those Jewry...the same covenant...same conditions...same punishments...the same God Almighty."

And again, the Vindici:

"Kings are ordained by God, and established by the people to procure and provide for the the order of Justice, and in managing of armies for the repelling their enemies."

In Romans 13, we also see the concept "verbal for verbal, and force with force" and "render to all their dues" and "whatever a man sows, he also reaps." Examples in Israel would be Jehoida defending Israel against Athaliah, and Deborah and Gideon defending Israel in like kind.

Christian Kings, as well as ancient Israel needed approval from the people, even kings ascending the throne by heredity needed approval by representatives of the people such as: counts, barons, dukes, and earls. King Louis was choosen instead of the rightful Robert, Earl of Evereux(Annales Gillii). Unitarian Patriot, Jonathan Mayhew in 1750, claimed:

"It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God's ministers."

It is a fact of history, the Founding Fathers attributed our theory of government and liberty from the Reformation, not the enlightenment:

A Short Treatise on Political Power, John Ponet, D.D. (1556) President John Adams credited this Calvinist document as being at the root of the theory of government adopted by the Americans. According to Adams, Ponet's work contained "all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke" including the idea of a three-branched government. (Adams, Works, vol. 6, pg. 4). Published in Strassbourg in 1556, it is one of the first works out of the Reformation to advocate active resistance to tyrannical magistrates, with the exception of the Magdeburg Bekkentis (the Magdeburg Confession)."

John Locke learned some of his theories from Samuel Rutherford, who was a colleague of Locke's parents. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) In addition to being the decree of Parliament as the standard for Christian doctrine in the British Kingdom, it was adopted as the official statement of belief for the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Although slightly altered and called by different names, it was the creed of Congregationalist, Baptist, and Presbyterian Churches throughout the English speaking world. Assent to the Westminster Confession was officially required at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Princeton scholar, Benjamin Warfield wrote: "It was impossible for any body of Christians in the [English] Kingdoms to avoid attending to it." [Link goes to chap.23, "On the Civil Magistrate."]

This is an interesting quote for anyone who claims James Madison was heterodox as he helped form the nation. Warfield makes perfect sense, the Founding Fathers, including James Madison, adhered to that confession, another evidence of Madison not rejecting orthodoxy until well in the 19th century.

Protestant Reformer George Buchanan started the limited government theory stating, ""it was much safer to trust liberties to laws than to kings . . . confine them to narrow bounds, and thrust them, as it were, into cells of law . . . circumscribe [them] within a close prison." Buchanan believed a Constitution was superior to any ruler: "Kings being accordingly left, in other respects free, found their power confined to prescribed limits only by the necessity of squaring their words and actions by directions of law."

There is no doubt whatsoever, political liberty is in the bible, brought out with the Protestant Reformation, and perfected by the American experiment; called limited governmental power under Biblical Law, and Jesus Christ. Our Tenth Amendment has it's roots in Johannes Althusius's 1603 Politica:

"Besides, whatever power the people did not have it could not transfer to its administrators. Therefore, whatever power and right the administrators did not receive from the people, they do not have, they cannot exercise over the people, nor ought they to be able to do so."

His main point was what arose out of the Reformation was Republicanism; rule by law: Rulers are to be objectively subordinate to "God, the law of nature and of nations, and the ephors."

Samuel Rutherford's Lex Rex, further emphasized "Vindici" on Romans 13. Rutherford asserted that the parliament had greater power than the king, a notion disputed at the time. The king did not have unlimited power. To the contrary, any tyranny which opposed justice, peace, and the good of the people, was "unreasonable and forbidden by the law of God and the civil law . . . [it] cannot be lawful power, and cannot constitute a lawful judge . . . How can the judge be the minister of God for good to the people (Rom. 13:4) if he has such a power as a king, given him of God, to destroy and waste the people?" Moreover, Rutherford argued: "God, in making a king to preserve his people, should give liberty without all political restraint, for one man to destroy many is contrary to God's end in the fifth commandment, if one has absolute power to destroy souls and bodies of many thousands."

Like I've said before, on my blog, the American Revolution, and the Founding Fathers' formation of our country had absolutely nothing to do with enlightenment philosophy, which excluded God from the equation, in fact, the fateous, scholastic elites continue to purport these lies. Separation of Powers(Isa 33:22), property rights(Ex 22), Life(Deut 30:19, Hos 9:13-14), Liberty(Eccl 3:13), Happiness(Eccl 3:13),4th Amendment(Deut 24:10), The Law of Nations(Sovereignty, Deut 19:14), Jury System(Deut 17:6), inalienable rights, freedom of conscience(Entire New Testament), political rights(Torah), etc. all come out of the Bible, and Reformation, espoused by men like: The Prophets, David, Solomon, Jesus Christ, Paul, Peter, James, John Wycliffe(Univ of Oxford), Zwingli, Luther(Univ of Wittenberg), Hus(Univ of Prague), Rutherford, Knox, Lanquet, Mornay, Beza, Aquinas, Hooker(who espoused unalienable rights), Pufendorf, Grotius, and many others.

Eighteenth Century Americans were regulated by the Bible, sure there were a few infidels such as: Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams, but, since the law is supreme, what is important, is the beliefs of the ratifiers(people) of law, rather than the subjective views of three people; this is something the scholastic elites cannot admit or allow, thereby, holding to their agenda.

There are far many more orthodox than heterodox preachers who affirmed the correct, biblical, reformation, view of Romans 13, as I've described above; some of these include: Samuel Davies(Distinguished successor to Jonathan Edwards at Princeton), John Witherspoon, Jacob Duche, Isaac Backus, Samuel Sherwood, George Whitefield, Elhanan Winchester, Ezra Stiles, Samuel Langdon(President of Harvard 1774-1780), Elizur Goodrich, Nathaniel Emmons, Samuel Wales, William Smith, and many others. The unitarian preachers comprised a fraction of the pro-rebellion preachers.

Here, the use of philosophical language to evidence a lack of orthodoxy is debunked, note, this is how preacher's of the 18th century spoke:

“Religion cannot subsist without right notions of God and divine things; and entire ignorance or mistakes in its fundamental articles must be destructive of its nature; and therefore a divine revelation must be a collection of rays of light, a system of divine knowledge; and such we find the Christian revelation to be, as contained in the sacred writings.”
Samuel Davies
[Quote from his sermon “The Divine Authority ... of the Christian Religion.”]

Davies(The Apostle of Virginia) left his mark as scholar and patriot on his students, particularly the eleven members of the Class of 1760 whom he taught as seniors. ``Whatever be your Place,'' he told them in his baccalaureate address, ``imbibe and cherish a public spirit. Serve your generation.'' This they did. Among the eleven were a member of the Continental Congress, chaplains in the Continental Army, judges in Maine and Pennsylvania, the founder of a college in North Carolina, a member of the United States House of Representatives, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Davies was a primary founder of the Presbyterian Church in Virginia and North Carolina, the advocate and defender of the South's civil rights and religious liberties.

Maybe I should speak in philosophical language; let the secularists call me an infidel! This is, in fact, how Christians used to speak about God. The South's fervor for independence in the coming conflict with Britain was established with Davies' ministry; the presbyterian church, not the unitarian church, was the pulpit of independence. As Patrick Henry, a congregant in one of the churches established by Davies, later said, “Were it not for him, America freedom would have been still-born. In the Gospel he preached, the energy he displayed, and the courage he lived day by day, he modeled the true American temper.”

Henry's oratory, which Jefferson and Madison could not match, employed Davies' speaking ability; the variety of (pitches) "sounds" in his sermon delivery, as well as alternating back and forth from religious to philosophical(classical) terminology. Davies' second wife, Jane Holt, was the daughter of a Williamsburg mayor and printer, and provided Davies with direct access to the Virginia Gazette, which he used as a platform for defending his own and other dissenting clergy's rights to preach. At the time of his death, in 1761, Davies' sermons were well known and influential as models for other clergy; by the time of the Revolution, they were among the most widely circulating collections of sermons in the colonies, particularly in the Middle Colonies, Virginia, and North Carolina...The rhetorical education of Scottish Presbyterians carried a legacy of beliefs about human reason, human rights, congregational polity, and the educability of moral sensibility through the written and the spoken word. Like I said earlier, this is reformation doctrine, not enlightenment.

Incidently, no one helped educate the blacks more than Davies, who aggravated most southerners believing blacks were equal with whites. I agree with Dr. Swearingin about Davie's impact(and Presbyterianism) on Patrick Henry, and of the growing fervor of independence in the Southern Colonies in general, but her quoting the Scottish Englightenment as it's foundation is incorrect; consent, human rights, reason, religious tolerance, inalienable rights, etc are not products of the enlightenment, they are products of the Bible, illuminated to the world by men of the Reformation. The enlightenment brought about humanism, rationalism, and reason as the ultimate authority, neglecting the supernatural and biblical revelation. Hutcheson, Paine, Voltaire, Hume, Rousseau, Leibniz, and Kant, all neglected the Bible as the Supreme Authority.

Jon Rowe, along with most of the academic elites, miss the boat; here, Rowe believes an Orthodox Christian's use of philosophical language is from the enlightenment, but as this blog shows, we know for a fact, these terms were used by preachers at that time and by Christians three hundred-fifty years before, perfected in political rhetoric during the Reformation (1500-1678):

"John Witherspoon was one of those evangelicals who contributed to the spread of secularism in American life. His Lectures on Moral Philosophy, what he primarily taught his Princeton students like James Madison, did not teach Christian or Calvinist principles, but rather Scottish Enlightenment principles."

This blog has already proven John Witherspoon did not deny one word of the bible in favor of rationalism.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Was George Washington a Christian?

The more I investigate and read the account of witnesses claiming George Washington was a Christian, the more my own view is questioned. By a careful examination of Washington's words, and the context of those words, it is evident his philosophical language, which all Christians used in reference to God, no doubt, referred to Jesus Christ. Granted, this is not an admission of faith, but, neither does it exempt the label of Christian.

Using proper English Comprehension, the key to Washington's letter to the Delaware Chiefs is not the Indians' arts and ways of life, but our ways of life, showing Jesus Christ's Religion is to be above everything else in our culture; again, Washington includes himself in "our" arts and ways of life:

"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it."
Head Quarters, Middle Brook, May 12, 1779.,+Vol.+15:+SPEECH+TO+THE+DELAWARE+CHIEFS&query=jesus+christ&id=gw150049

So George Washington never referred to God in Christian terms? Quite the contrary; he mentioned Jesus Christ to the Delaware Chiefs, and here, in 1789:

"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions."
Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3rd, 1789

Who pardons transgressions and is The Lord? Jesus Christ is the only answer. This also shows his prayers and supplications were to Jesus, not to a deist, or theist god.

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation."
Washington's Farewell to the Army, June 8th, 1783

Without a doubt, George Washington is referring to Jesus Christ, as these Characteristicks refer only to Him. He declares, including himself, our country's religion is Christianity, whose imitation every nation should imitate.

And again, here, Washington says Revelation, which is God's will for mankind, is referring to the Bible, supported by Webster's definition of the word. Notice, God's revelation is superior to all human knowledge, including man's reason, which can only be useful and relevant if it is written down:

"[t]he Treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labours of Philosophers, Sages and Legislatures, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government; the free cultivation of Letters, the unbounded extension of Commerce, the progressive refinement of Manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and above all, the pure and benign light of Revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind and increased the blessings of Society."

There is evidence, among other reports, Washington took communion, here is one testimony in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

The Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, an ordained Presbyterian minister, graduate of Princeton with a degree from Dickinson College. Mr. Snowden was born in Philadelphia January 17, 1770 and died November 12, 1851. His writings cover a period from youth to 1846. In his records may be found these observations, in Mr. Snowden's own handwriting:

Mr. Snowden, as if to emphasize the piety of Washington sets forth in his records that he often saw Washington, that he accompanied seventy other clergymen to visit him on the anniversary of his birth February 22, 1792. Then Mr. Snowden adds:

"When the army lay at Morristown, the Rev. Dr. Jones, administered the sacrament of ye Lord's supper. Washington came forward at ye head of all his officers and took his seat at ye 1st table, & took of ye bread and wine, the Symbols of Christ's broken body and shed blood, to do this in remembrance of ye L J C & thus professed himself a Christian & a disciple of the blessed Jesus."

Did Washington fake communion, and this testimony false? Is the Valley Forge Prayer an accurate account? I know there are equally other testimonies rejecting Washington's faith, but, without his words rejecting Christianity, it's difficult to label him a theist. David Barton may be on safe ground claiming Washington a Christian. The claims of Washington's Grand daughter Nelly Custis-Lewis, John Marshall, Abiel Holmes, or Jared Sparks may only refer to his Christian character, not his faith in Christian Orthodoxy, which is mandatory for salvation; Marshall was a unitarian until the latter part of his life.

If Snowden's testimony is true, I have no problem with people claiming Washington a Christian, for me, I am still undecided.