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Friday, July 31, 2009

What Makes a Christian Nation?

Having an intelligent debate on why the Founding Fathers formed Christian States is tough to come by these days. I have definitely learned my lesson posting on blogs. Ed Brayton's blog, Dispatch From The Culture Wars, posted an article about Chris Rodda and Rep. Randy Forbes' battle for the "Christian Heritage" resolutions. Although it isn't much of a fair debate, I tried to start a dialogue with Chris about my core defense of the Christian State Constitutions, which I believe is the best apologetic, however it never became a meaningful debate; the bloggers dismissed my posts without sufficiently refuting them with verbal attacks seen in a Martin Scorsese film.

I posted Maryland's State Constitution that prohibited a religious test, and established Christianity as the State Religion. Obviously, the religious test had to refer to only a Christian denominational test. Chris' response to the Christian State Constitutions was:

"So now all you need to do is explain why virtually all of the states admitted after the U.S. Constitution was written put the same "no religious test clause" in their state constitutions, many in exactly the same words as the U.S. Constitution. All of those states, writing brand new state constitutions, had a choice, and they chose to copy the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on religious tests and other guarantees of religious freedom."

Maryland's State Constitution, and the Christian religion established, along with most of the others states, was in effect years after the Constitution was ratified, so Chris, how does a religious test have any bearing when Maryland, et al. established Christianity? It obviously is consistent with a religious test.

Religion was left to the States, therefore, whatever the religion the majority of States established should determine what kind of religious country we were. If no religion was mentioned, I couldn't declare that, but if: Lord, Christian, Protestant, Christ, etc. are mentioned, it's indicative of what kind of establishment it is. Getting into other areas of debate such as: wording in the Constitution, Republican Government, etc. is meaningless. The fact that the majority of framers were not heterodox should quell the false assumption of what kind of Christianity was established.

Chris, on this basis alone, I would be happy to debate you. On what other basis could I proclaim the Nation was formed on Christianity?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Orthodox Christianity Left To The States

Why was our nation formed on Orthodox Christian, and not heretical principles? First, Christianity was left to the States to practice as they wished, however, heterodox Christian principles were never a part of the incorporation of legal Christianity, neither in the State or Federal Documents; the heterodox were given freedom of conscience like everyone else, but their minority, at this time, had no inclusion in ANY founding government document.

The various State Constitutions were Orthodox in nature; the heterodox minority in Massachusetts were years away from the Dedham decision of 1820. The majority understood Unitarianism was not part of the Protestant Reformation, having been kicked to the curb by Luther and Calvin, and forever cast out by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Furthermore, the Reformation denounced all forms of Unitarianism, Arianism, and Socinianism, starting with the Gnostics, which were never considered Christian. The majority "Protestant" framers of Massachusetts understood their history. Yes, it's true, a Unitarian wrote most of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, however John Adams is only one man, while the ratifiers of that Constitution are most important.

Notice the State Constitution of a Mid-Atlantic State where heterodoxy was a small minority, perhaps non-existent:

Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), stated: Article XXXV That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention, or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.” That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God is such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested… on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality… yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion (until 1851) [bold face mine].

Not only were the vast majority of Founding Fathers Orthodox, the majority philosophers they studied were as well, including: Arminianist Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, Richard Hooker, Samuel de Puffendorf, and perhaps John Locke. Yes, Arminius believed in Total Depravity. His only beef with Calvin was free will.

It's true, Locke failed to espouse Church Creeds, or essentials, but so did the Apostles. At Pentecost, there was no Westminster Confession, only faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Clarification of Church Doctrine wasn't made until the 2nd to 3rd Centuries. Notice, Jared Sparks, the former President of Harvard, and his opinion of Locke's faith:

"And Locke must still be considered a Unitarian, till he can be proved a Trinitarian ; a task, which it is not likely you will soon undertake. At all events, he had no faith in the assemblage of articles which you denominate the essence of christianity, and without believing which, you say, no one can be called a Christian. His whole treatise on the Reasonableness of Christianity bears witness to this truth. For the leading object of that work is to show, that "the Gospel was written to induce men into a belief of this proposition, 'that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah,' which if they believed, they should have life."* He says nothing about total depravity, the atonement, the "sanctifying spirit of an Almighty Surety," nor any of your peculiar doctrines. Yet who has done more to elucidate the sacred Scriptures, or to prove the consistency and reasonableness of the religion of Jesus? Your rule, however, will take from him the Christian name."[bold face mine]

Sparks shows his understanding of Christian Theology. The Apostles had no assemblage of articles, and "without believing", has nothing to do with salvation, rather, it's the rejection of certain articles the indwelt Holy Spirit cannot affirm.

Did Locke have some unorthodox views regarding the unessential state of nature? Yes. Did he believe in inerrancy? Yes. Did he indirectly defend the Trinity? Yes. Furthermore, Locke could be a heretic, but more serious inquiry is needed to make a clear declaration as to John Locke's faith.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colleges of the Founding Fathers

During the Founding Era, the President of Harvard College was an "Old Light" named Edward Holyoke (1689-1769), a pseudo-arminian, Unitarian; typical of the Boston Elites. It's fair to say, Holyoke, as President of Harvard, was responsible for day to day operation of the college, which included teaching. He was essentially responsible for the theology taught at Harvard. John Witherspoon was likewise responsible for the theology at Princeton, and the same for Presidents of: Yale, King's College, Penn, Rutgers, Dartmouth, et. al.

Holyoke was an ardent opponent of Calvinism and the "Great Awakening," the famous revival of the 1730's and 1740's. Holyoke, and others, wrote an attack against George Whitefield, called: The Testimony of the President, Professors, Tutors and Hebrew Instructor of Harvard College, Cambridge, Against the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, And His Conduct. To the elites of Boston, ANY emotional behavior was deemed childish, and un-christian. One wonders if they believed what the scriptures say about speaking in tongues, and David dancing to the Lord.

Most likely, Harvard, at Boston, and William and Mary, in Virginia, were the only colleges that did not teach Orthodox Christianity to the Founding Fathers. Even at Harvard, Enlightenment Rationalism was taught to supplement the Scriptures, not vice versa.

Under Holyoke, Harvard rejected Orthodox Christian Fundamentals:

“The fact that Harvard had moved a long way from the strict faith of the fathers, under Edward’s “catholic temper” all manner of heresies flourished, or if they were not encouraged, were not firmly suppressed. Yale was the only stronghold of orthodoxy.” “Much was said, both in approval and censure of the President’s “catholic temper,” which soon affected the intellectual climate of the college. He had, moreover, “a good spirit of government.”

It is no mystery, Holyoke's arminianism derived from his "catholic temper," with its emphasis on salvation by works.