Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Tidbit on America's Radical Unorthodoxy

I have, elsewhere on this blog, defended the position that America was founded as an unorthodox Christian nation, and also that one sign of that unorthodoxy was the complete lack of bishops of any episcopally organized denomination (Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox) in America prior to the revolution.

A tidbit relating to this, that I have yet to integrate into my view, is the following: having rejected bishops and the ecclesiastical machinery that goes with them, one of the institutions lacking in America was religious courts. Because of this, offenses that were matters for church discipline in England became matters for the civil magistrates and courts in America. Among them Brogan lists (Longman History of the USA, p.44): heresy, witchcraft, profanity, blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, sodomy, and Sabbath-breaking.

As I have mentioned earlier, the cause for Roger Williams' sermons against the involvement of civil authority in church affairs was that the civil machinery was coming down on him and his deviant congregation for their refusal of communion fellowship with the Anglican church (and thereby with the Puritan congregations of the Bay colony), a purely religious matter.

So, rather than separating church and state, American unorthodoxy pulled the state in colonial times into a broad spectrum of affairs that weren't its jurisdiction in contemporary Europe, to fill the vacuum left by the missing church hierarchy.

6 comments:

Pinky said...

Allen Guezlo, in this series, Handles your point with exceptional scholarship, Captain Miettinen. No bluster and no fluff.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Why don't you state the gist of it instead of pointing behind the curtain, Pinky? I'm very interested in what he has to say, but not 300 bucks worth.

Pinky said...

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The "gist" of the matter is that America is like a "stew" being created by two different cooks; one Christian and the other Secular. Sometimes these "two" get along famously and other times they fuss and fight.
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That's the "gist" more or less.
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So, are there two Americas?

Pinky said...

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Professor Guezlo takes his class on a journey starting in sixteenth century Europe and ending in the mid twentieth century. He details the process as it unfolded and, to this day, continues to do so.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

That's nice but it's hearsay, not evidence. I'm sure he's very good but I'm not spending 300 bucks to find out whether he's correct in his views. For one thing, we must start earlier than the 16th century if we're to have any correct understanding of "Christian."

As for the secular and religious, even if I think Michael Novak reaches too far in claiming GWashington for Christianity, his On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding makes the same modest claim as Guezelo. It'll only cost you a buck-and-a-half [used].

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Wings-Humble-American-Founding/dp/1893554341

Pinky said...

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You asked for the "gist" of Guezlo's lecture series.
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I think I gave you the gist which is the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work.
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His work is not a description of Christianity; but, about the creation of the American Mind.
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It is very edifying to follow the threads forward from the early beginnings up to or backward from our being today. There is nothing like the personalization of history.
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