The reason why I bring up their respective theologies and how Babka is one step to the left of Frazer relates to an interesting dynamic I've discovered: As you will see, Babka argues more for the compatibility between the ideals of the American Founding and Christianity. Indeed, it's precisely because America was not founded on uber-orthodox Calvinistic Christianity that theological moderates, liberals and heretics can find that the American Founding better resonates with their theologies. If one believes in unorthodox heresies (Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses), has added to revelation (Mormons), believes the Bible fallible (liberal Christians) or believes in the excessive use of reason and natural law in religion (Roman Catholics and others) the political theology of the American Founding, properly understood, is far likelier to speak to you than if you are a Calvinist who believes the Bible the infallible Word of God and man's reason "the devil's whore" (as Luther put it). Calvinists can feel comfortable with their place at the table of America's political theology -- indeed George Washington welcomed them there -- as long as they understand that they didn't create it and consequently don't own it and must share it with the heretics, many of whom they wouldn't regard as "Christians" at all.
And so it is that I am going to reproduce their debate at American Creation. I will add a new post every day until the debate is finished. Here is the first post where Jim Babka left a comment on my blog responding to Gregg Frazer's assertion that the American Revolution was not compatible with Calvinism.
Jon, you know I appreciate your work. I think you're quite fair and generally accurate. But there's a lot that appears to be very wrong with this piece.
First, I think your first assertion is awkward. You move from a quote about Arminianism to Unitarianism with no transition. One could even say you leapt. These two points of view are very different and have little to do with each other. Novel interpretations of scripture were going on all over the place in America and I think you overlook the role Methodists (Arminians) and Baptists, in particular and amongst others, played in the Revolution.
And while Witherspoon may have been Lockean in his views, he was also clearly identified as Trinitarian. Today, most Christians, even Calvinists, are more Lockean in their views than were Calvinists of an ancient generation.
Second, via Frazer, you assert that political liberty is nowhere spoken of in the Bible. There are many words that aren't in the Bible. That doesn't mean the concepts aren't there. Here are but two counter-examples to illustrate my point: I Samuel 8 and Acts 5:29.
Third, while interesting, the Adams quote is a solitary and unspecific piece of evidence that Unitarianism was wide-spread for 60 years. It is possible to appreciate reason as a method of scriptural interpretation without becoming a Unitarian. And it is also quite possible to find Calvinism to be appallingly awful, while still being a Trinitarian and believer in Jesus Christ.
Finally, and perhaps worst of all, why Calvin's view of the Bible is more "biblical" than others completely mystifies not only me, but anyone who is Methodist, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Anglican (Trinitarian), Friends (Quaker), Mennonite, and even some Baptists and Lutherans.
Perhaps you would say, well these groups evolved and didn't necessarily comport with the views of their respective denominations in the 17th and 18th centuries. This wouldn't necessarily be true.
For example, the ideas you identify as Lockean are more properly the innovations of Samuel Rutherford, author of Lex Rex (he was a direct influence on Locke). The King believed he had the right to control the church and Rutherford supported independent presybteries. That's the fight that really started the break from the Divine Right of Kings. Isn't it ironic, that it was a Presbyterian who launched this important historical battle?