Thursday, December 4, 2008

Frazer Chimes In On Definition of Christianity

I alerted Dr. Gregg Frazer of the controversy at American Creation over what exactly it means to be a "Christian" and whether America had an authentically "Christian" Founding. I'm reproducing his quick remarks he emailed to me:

1) Speaking as an evangelical Christian, I know that there is only one correct definition of the term “Christian” – that is, a true follower of Jesus Christ who has repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior – i.e. been “born again.” Getting to that point entails assent to certain fundamental beliefs on the part of the individual. It is not simply a club membership.

2) Speaking as a historian, there are many definitions of the term “Christian” – depending on the training, purposes, biases, beliefs, and historical/cultural context of the individual historian. Consequently, it’s not a very useful or helpful or meaningful term in the hands of a historian as such. Each historian is obliged to define what he means by the term, if he’s going to use it. In my work, I set aside my own personal definition because I wanted to know whether 18th century American Christians would consider the key Founders to be “Christians” by the beliefs that they held. I thought (and still think) it important to determine what beliefs their contemporaries thought were necessary to identify someone as an actual Christian.

3) A critical question to ask is whether someone has signed on to Jesus as the Christ – or whether they only recognize Jesus the moral teacher. I would suggest that those I call theistic rationalists should, at best, be called “Jesusians,” not Christians. Jesus was important to most of them (though not all), but Christ was not. They never referred to Him as “Christ;” if they used anything beyond Jesus, they preferred “Jesus of Nazareth” because it emphasized his humanity. They liked Jesus the moral teacher, but had no room for Jesus the Christ. They did not believe in the Christ that is the core of the term “Christian” – so how is it an appropriate term for them? [Of course, there is no distinction between Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the moral teacher, and Jesus the Christ – BUT THEY THOUGHT THERE WAS, and we’re trying to understand/categorize them]

4) I’m not interested in the club membership notion of what constitutes a Christian. As an evangelical Christian, I’m not interested in it because God is not interested in that notion – man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart. But as a historian, I’m not interested in that notion, either, because it doesn’t tell us anything of importance. Mr. Van Dyke is concerned to protect the role of “Christianity” in the Founding – but if Christianity is nothing more than self-proclaimed membership in a club (denomination) or a vague notion that Jesus was an important person for whatever reason, what’s important about its role? If it didn’t have any particular content or meaning, how is it any more important than the role of powdered wigs or pubs or horsemanship or any number of trivial things? How is it any more important than to follow the role of chess clubs?

5) Aren’t we primarily concerned about ideas when we talk of the role of a religion or belief system? That’s what I think is important, so I think it is critical to determine what the key Founders thought and, so that we don’t have to talk about each individually, to try to correctly categorize their beliefs when possible. It does no favor to Christianity to include in its roll those whose beliefs run precisely counter to it; it’s misleading – and it’s not historically accurate, either.

6) John Kennedy gained about 12% in polls and was elected president after famously holding a press conference in which he made it crystal clear that Catholic beliefs would play no role in his actions as president. So, other than for demographic or presidential trivia purposes, of what significance was the fact that he belonged to the Catholic club? He clearly did not believe in the core doctrines of his church (he said as much), so Catholic beliefs made no impact on his presidency – what he really believed is what made a difference. I am interested in the political theology of the American Founding – the beliefs that really impacted the American Founding – not the beliefs that didn’t. It is distracting, misleading, and false to talk of the role of Christianity while talking about people who did not hold to Christian beliefs. In recent embarrassing television appearances, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi made it crystal clear that they do not hold to the Catholic Church’s beliefs concerning the life of the unborn – so for the purposes of that issue, it is completely irrelevant and even misleading that they self-identify as Catholics. An uninformed voter might be ardently pro-life, see that they are listed as “Catholic,” and vote for them on false pretenses. Similarly, historians and non-historians who traffic in pseudo-history (such as Barton) may be misled or may mislead based on assumptions made on the basis of the term “Christian” or “Christianity.”

65 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

Dr. Frazer,

I am familiar with your work through Jon Rowe, and appreciate you taking the time to comment for us. However, I disagree with some of your work, and feel I've did (sp) a sufficient job of refuting it on my blog.

You ascribing the label of "key founders" to five or so framers out of over two-hundred, baffles my mind. Law is made by the majority, not five guys. The majority is what counts, and they were orthodox.

I go to a seminary, and attend one of the most Blessed by God Churches in the world, Calvary Chapel. I'm sure you've heard of Calvary's pastors: Chuck Smith, Raul Riess, Greg Laurie (Harvest Crusade), Jon Courson, etc.

There isn't a more abiding, orthodox, blessed group of believers in the world, and if you asked anyone of them "what is mandatory to be a Born Again Christian?" they would give you a list, at least after the point of accountability; a DENIAL of one of these beliefs will exclude the label Christian, as the Indwelt Holy Spirit cannot deny what He's written, and here they are:

1. Inerrancy-denying one verse compromises the entire Bible.
2. His Deity (fully God and fully man) and Virgin Birth.
3. His Sacrificial Blood Atonement for the sin of the World.
4. Jesus' Physical Resurrection from the Dead.
5. Christ's physical return to the earth.
6. The Lord's judgment of the wicked.

There may be more, but I listed these off the top of my head because I know any denial of these, and inerrancy of the Bible is rejected. I have personally heard David Hocking (two Ph.D's) any many Calvary Pastors preach all six.

I'm not saying a reservation about Jesus' Deity will quench the Holy Spirit as John Jay had, but anyone who denies the Deity of Jesus, or the Trinity, the Holy Spirit will not indwell. Deity and Trinity are a package deal, I write about it on my blog.

You also say an interesting thing,

"They never referred to Him as “Christ;” if they used anything beyond Jesus, they preferred “Jesus of Nazareth”>

James Madison referred to Jesus as "Christ". Did Madison lose his salvation?

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

I think you are the only one who "feels" that you've done a sufficient job refuting my thesis on your blog.

But to the larger point of Jesus of Nazareth v. Jesus Christ, that is one issue I might quibble with Frazer. The following is what I wrote him in an email:

I totally agree that the key Founders and ministers, philosophers and divines they followed were invariably Arians or Socinians. And I agree that they tended to call Jesus -- "Jesus of Nazareth" -- to stress his humanity and/or otherwise did not believe in His infinite atonement -- however I think the term "never" is a bit strong when asserting they never called Him Jesus Christ. [For example, I'm not a Christian, but I often capitalize Him when referring to Jesus as a convention and I'll sometimes call Him Jesus Christ simply because that's a convention in Western Culture, even though I'm really not at all sure as you are of His claims. Some historian parsing my words 200 years later could claim I must have been a "Christian" because I capitalized "H" in "Him" when referring to Jesus as the Christian America crowd does with such conventions as "In the Year of the Lord" found in the US Constitution.]

Jefferson and Franklin I think did invariably say "Jesus of Nazareth." But J. Adams whose beliefs are nearly identical to theirs said "Jesus Christ" (I think) as did Priestley and some of the other Socinian and Arian ministers.

James Hanley said...

Dr. Frazer,

It's good to see someone clarify their positions so succinctly and without fudging. It's hard to have intelligent conversations when we're not clear with our definitions.

Re: "Founding Truth," who said: "You ascribing the label of "key founders" to five or so framers out of over two-hundred, baffles my mind. Law is made by the majority, not five guys. The majority is what counts, and they were orthodox."

The idea that law is made by the majority is true only in the least meaningful sense: that in the end a majority voted in favor of a particular proposal. But you make it sound as though each of the "over two hundred" were equally influential, which is a very unsophisticated understanding of how politics works.

Laws (and Constitutions) get made through effective leadership, and it is those effective leaders who actually matter when trying to understand the outcomes. A good understanding of agenda-setting and the values of one's fellows allows an effective leader to impose his will against that of a majority.

And even if we accept your approach, we still run into the problem that nothing in the Constitution supports the idea that these orthodox Christians were trying to create an orthodox country--not even one oblique reference to God, and explicit prohibitions on the federal government against either restricting citizens' religious exercises or establishing an approved church (which would necessarily imply an approved theology and doctrine).

Assuming your points--that the majority was orthodox, and they got the Constitution they wanted--the necessary implication of your argument is that these orthodox Christians purposefully created a political system that prohibited federal support for an orthodoxy and explicitly protected unorthodoxy.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Great point Jim. "Our Founding Truth" happens to be one James Goswick, the ONLY person ever banned from Positive Liberty.

Frazer, myself and others may concentrate on five or so key Founders [Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin are arguably THE five most important Founders]. And a statistical majority of the two hundred or so FFs may indeed have been orthodox Christian. But it's not at all clear that it's 5 v. 200 as OFT likes to frame it.

Dr. Frazer's research also shows that G. Morris, Wilson, and Hamilton [before the very end of his life] were not orthodox Christians. And in an era -- not unlike ours today -- when lots and lots of folks are formally affiliated with a Church without believing in its official doctrines, we simply have no idea how many were really "orthodox Christians" v. what Dr. Frazer calls "theistic rationalists."

Again, I'm not an evangelical like Dr. Frazer is or OFT is. But that very religion intimates that "true" Christians -- the "regenerate" -- in ANY given society will be a minority, i.e., it is a very "narrow" path.

OFT well illustrates the "Christian Nation" myth which believes America was populated by a huge majority of "real Christians" and God assembled virtually all "real Christians" (i.e., "born again" Christians as OFT has actually termed the Founding Fathers) to "found" America, but for some strange reason even let a few deists and unitarians tag along.

Tom Van Dyke said...

4)...Mr. Van Dyke is concerned to protect the role of “Christianity” in the Founding – but if Christianity is nothing more than self-proclaimed membership in a club (denomination) or a vague notion that Jesus was an important person for whatever reason, what’s important about its role? If it didn’t have any particular content or meaning, how is it any more important than the role of powdered wigs or pubs or horsemanship or any number of trivial things? How is it any more important than to follow the role of chess clubs?

Nice of Dr. Frazer to mention me. He's quite right. He continues,

5) Aren’t we primarily concerned about ideas when we talk of the role of a religion or belief system?

Precisely my own thesis, that [Judeo-]Christian socio-political ideas underpinned the Founding. It's he and OFT who are using the same parameters about orthodoxy and belief, but disagree about the conclusions, OFT arguing that it unfairly stilts the discussion by emphasizing "key" Founders, particularly Adams and Jefferson, who, BTW, kept their heterodox theologies secret.

I'm not on board with OFT; I merely note that his argument about the method seems valid to me. As for my own objection to scrubbing "Christian" out of the Founding with terms like "theistic rationalist," my objections stand and I'll continue to add to them. I hold that it was ideas that were uniquely [Judeo-]Christian, starting with imago Dei in Genesis and running through the medievals, that must be recognized in any account of the Founding.

Our Founding Truth said...

And even if we accept your approach, we still run into the problem that nothing in the Constitution supports the idea that these orthodox Christians were trying to create an orthodox country--not even one oblique reference to God, and explicit prohibitions on the federal government against either restricting citizens' religious exercises or establishing an approved church (which would necessarily imply an approved theology and doctrine).>

Mr. Hanley, thank you for commmenting to my post, however, you make two points that I can easily answer. First, creating an Orthodox Christian Constitution is irrelevant and not the aim of the framers, as religion is left to the states. Because the DOI is considered as our Articles of Incorporation, and the Constitution its bylaws, the Constitution "only provided the specific details of how American govt. would operate under the principles set forth in the DOI."

David Barton nicely explains in Original Intent, "the Founders placed no explicit moral values or rights and wrongs into the Constitution..for they had already done so in the DOI."

and explicit prohibitions on the federal government against either restricting citizens' religious exercises>

But, the framers did prohibit citizens' religious exercises, that Jefferson said would subvert good order.

the necessary implication of your argument is that these orthodox Christians purposefully created a political system that prohibited federal support for an orthodoxy and explicitly protected unorthodoxy.>

It isn't that complicated. The framers did not prohibit support for orthodoxy, they prohibited an establishment of a National Church, such as the Church of England. Again, religion was left to the states. As to your last point, the framers protected every religion, not just unorthodoxy.

[Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin are arguably THE five most important Founders].>

James Madison tells us how ludicrous this "key founders" doctrine is by refuting they are the most important.

The RATIFIERS of Law are the most important, not makers of law, and the ratifiers of law are the majority.
http://books.google.com/books?id=cFTK6S6dR0cC&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&dq=james+madison+on+ratifiers+of+law&source=web&ots=Zm0pmOK8EA&sig=iNDjccsHgoEjbj_sck-3GuvcTyQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA126,M1 p.126.

By this twisted "key founder" illogic, Thomas Jefferson cannot under any circumstances be a "key founder" as he had nothing to do with Drafting or Ratifying the Constitution, or Bill or Rights. And Adams said principles in the DOI come from Ponet, so Jefferson didn't draft anything.

But that very religion intimates that "true" Christians -- the "regenerate" -- in ANY given society will be a minority, i.e., it is a very "narrow" path.>

This is your opinion, based on no fact, as you cannot see the hearts of men.

OFT well illustrates the "Christian Nation" myth which believes America was populated by a huge majority of "real Christians">

The State Constitutions support my position, not yours. Dr. Frazer, notice how the Ratifiers confess the Holy Trinity of God, BEYOND when the Constitution was Ratified:

The Constitution of the State of Delaware (until 1792) stated:

Article XXII Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:
“I, _______, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the
Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old
and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.” [p.203]

Notice, the main writers of this ORTHODOX Constitution were Signers of the Constitution George Read and Richard Bassett. Did they not know what they were doing?

Constitution of the State of North Carolina (1776), Article XXXII That no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE OLD OR NEW TESTAMENTS. (until 1876)

Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), stated: Article XXXV That.. a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.” (until 1851) [pp.420-421]

NEW JERSEY 1776 (until 1844) XIX. That there shall be no establishment..that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony..but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect

Here is my evidence for orthodoxy, only the words of the majority can refute them, and you don't have it, and never will. It's your object to refute the State Constitutions for they agree with my proposition, not yours.

Northron said...

These are interesting perspectives and thoughts.

I would like the contributors to consider the root of the greatness, prosperity, success, etc. of the united States.

As any sincere Christian agrees, The Bible is the word of God. This word from God is true. Therefore, it correctly describes, for us, the universe and beings that inhabit it. The principles it communicates to us gives us an alignment with reality.

This understanding of the truth the founders had. They were knowledgeable of the Word of God and used it consciously or subconsiously to define the Constitution and DOI.

This is what made the uS the light set on a hill. It was the principles. Not the sinful men that happen to utilise them.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"This is your opinion, based on no fact, as you cannot see the hearts of men."

And NEITHER do you know their hearts or have any facts for your assertion. But your own religion teaches the path is narrow. And in "The Search For Christian America" they show during the Founding era that the taverns on Saturday nights were more crowded than the church pews on Sunday morning.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The problem with the "states" argument is that the "states" were a mixed bag. For instance, Virginia and Rhode Island had more or less secular or at the very least "non-orthodox" principles. And Mass. the state with the MOST integration of Church & State couldn't decide whether "Christianity" meant "orthodoxy" or included unitarianism which led to the end of their establishment.

And Barton's wrong in asserting the Declaration of Independence has ANYTHING to do with "Christianity" as OFT and the orthodox define it. It's a generically theistic philosophical document. So if the DOI is the "organic law" on the nation, then the nation's organic law is theistic rationalism.

Pinky said...

.


Here’s a book to read!.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Please, Phil. Original source documents, please. We make our own arguments around here.

Jon, I do not think OFT is spot-on with all this: the states were indeed a mixed bag, but the states argument still cannot be totally discounted as a result. There is certainly an accommodation for a far stricter religious orthodoxy at the state level than we could conceive of today. This is a strong counterargument to the one that suggests the Founding begins and ends at the constitution, which Mr. Hanley makes on this very thread.

Further, OFT's argument against the "key Founders" method is quite good. There is certainly an attempt to make the "key Founders" method the prevailing orthodoxy about religion and the Founding. The counterargument that it's the Ratifiers who are key makes it a different ballgame. [The minimizing of Jefferson---the most religiously heterodox of all---in particular seems well-argued here.]

Pinky said...

,
TVD writes, "Please, Phil. Original source documents, please. We make our own arguments around here."
.
Is that supposed to be funny?
.

.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not at all. We're eyebrow-deep in polemics around here as it is and it's hard enough to keep the stables clean; we don't need to import any more.

Pinky said...

.
You're telling me?
.
Hoo hah!
.
I thought, maybe, someone would read the reviews on McElvaine's latest book--him being an Evangelical Protestant and all.
.
He states my position quite well. I've stated it here before. It is appropriate to the discussion.
.
I suppose I could copy the reviews and put them here; but, well, maybe you get my point.
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

I understand the states' rights angle complicates things. And we haven't even gotten to the 14th Amendment (though I just posted a video).

I don't think Jefferson's keydom can be argued away. He was after all the author of the DOI, the Secretary of State in GW's administration and the third President of the US for 8 years.

One reason I stress Adams so much is because in so many ways he typified "mainstream" conservative thought of that era that contrasted with Jefferson's radicalism. Indeed, Jefferson [along with Madison] helped make VA the state the most secular with the greatest degree of separation of Church & State. And Adams helped to Mass. achieve the greatest "accomodation" between Church & State. Yet, their personal religious creed was nearly identical. This tells me something significant about how "mainstream" their religious creed was for the elite FFs.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I get your point. You want to inject polemics about contemporary issues and persons into the blog. But I don't care about Ted Haggard, OK? He has nothing to do with this blog.

OFT, your link to the Perry book doesn't support your argument about the importance of the Ratifiers. Sorry. I tend to support the argument, but not the evidence you present. It's merely assertion. In law, the debates over the drafting of laws are often looked at as well.

Tom Van Dyke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, Jon, I think the minimization of Jefferson was well-argued. Is it decisive? No, but it might not be unfair to say that Jefferson's heterodoxy tends to get center stage and may not deserve it. As for Adams, sure he was influential, too, as were others. But Washington and Madison cannot be claimed for either side, in my view.

This tells me something significant about how "mainstream" their religious creed was for the elite FFs.

Elite? Ouch. That adds to OFT's objection, I think, as if the Founding was accomplished by a handful of guys. Further, they kept their creeds secret. As Rev. Benjamin Rush was the go-between for Jefferson and Adams' reconciliation, perhaps it's Rush's religion we should look at as more "mainstream." He believed in universal salvation, but only because of Christ's atonement.

http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/benjaminrush.html

Jonathan Rowe said...

I do see the Founding as a product of "elite" ideas that trickled down, which is usually the way it is in politics. Ideas have consequences. Think of how important individual figures from Locke to Rousseau to Marx have been in establishing mass movements that impact billions of lives.

Our Founding Truth said...

"This is your opinion, based on no fact, as you cannot see the hearts of men."

And NEITHER do you know their hearts or have any facts for your assertion.>

I do know their hearts, because I have their words. I'm not just guessing like you are.

By the way, you only have five guys if that, but the only chance you have of being correct is posting the other framers words that SPECIFICALLY deny orthodoxy, or SPECIFICALLY support rationalism.

And, to quote DeNiro, "you got nothing, that's what you got!"

And Barton's wrong in asserting the Declaration of Independence has ANYTHING to do with "Christianity" as OFT and the orthodox define it.>

The DOI has everything to do with Christianity as Tom and Kristo have referred to earlier. The Law of Nature and the Law of Nature's God is specifically Christian:

Romans 2:14-15, Tertullian (160-240AD), Augustine (354-430) Athanasius (297-373) Basil (329-379) Calvin, Knox, Hooker, Luther, Zwingli, Locke, Pufendorf, Grotius, Blackstone, Montesquieu, Rutherford, etc.

LONANG is not rationalism, it is a Classical term used by Classical Christian Philosophers in reference to the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ.

Tertullian knew the Law of Nature from the Bible, and his work, just one hundred years after the Apostle John, was studied by the Framers:

" For," where nothing
is commanded, either against the law of nature, or the positive law of God, I
never dispute my obedience."
TERTULLIAN'S1 APOLOGY
http://www.tertullian.org/articles/reeve_apology.htm

Here is Tertullian on the Law of Nature:

But since it is reasonable in other matters to prefer the law of nature, which is the law of God, before the written law, which has been enacted by men in a spirit of opposition to the law of God, why should we not do this still more in the case of those laws which relate to God?
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04.vi.ix.v.xxxvii.html
ANTE-NICENE FATHERS
VOLUME 4.
Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second.
Chronologically arranged, with brief notes and prefaces, by
A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.
T&T CLARK
EDINBURGH
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

Jonathan Rowe said...

I also see M&W as pretty darn pluralistic for their time and even today. I've seen the "Christian America" crowd make a big deal at just how throughly Protestant America was back then (like 98.5% -- but again with large swaths, perhaps a majority who were nominally Christian with deistic or unitarian tendencies; that fact, the Christian America crowd ignores). There was only small % of Jews and you could probably count Muslims on one hand. But Washington once noted that simply declaring oneself a Jew or Muslim gets one a "rights" exemption from statutes that aid teachers of the Christian religion.

And the largest group of non-Christians, it seems to me, were the natives. Washington of course, approved of their conversion to Christianity for "utilitarian" reasons, not because he they thought they worshipped a false god or needed to be "saved" thru Christ's atonement. And when Washington, Madison AND Jefferson spoke to Indians who had no desire to convert, they spoke of God as "The Great Spirit" as though He were the same one Jews and Christians worshipped.

Again the Christian America crowd are fond of saying things like "Allah" is a false demon god not the God of the Bible. Well, at least Allah claims to be the God of Abraham. The Great Spirit makes no such claim. And GW actually prayed to this God once by name! This it seems to me is worse than praying to Allah by name.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I do know their hearts, because I have their words. I'm not just guessing like you are.

LOL. I'd like to see you reproduce the official "words" and confessions of 51% of EVERY single person living in the US during the Founding era. That's the evidence you need to prove your assertion.

By the way, my claim is more modest. I'm saying that *we don't know,* that it's possible a statistical majority of American citizens were orthodox Trinitarian Christians, who thought of themselves as "born again" or "regenerate." I doubt it; but we simply do not know that.

Studies have been done that show that less than 20% of the population during the Founding era were members of Churches, that they were more likely to be in taverns on Saturday Nights, than in Churches on Sunday morning.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT, your link to the Perry book doesn't support your argument about the importance of the Ratifiers. Sorry. I tend to support the argument, but not the evidence you present. It's merely assertion. In law, the debates over the drafting of laws are often looked at as well.>

Tom, I used his book because I couldn't find Madison's quote, but he did say that, and let's be honest, the other framers believed it as well.

As Rev. Benjamin Rush was the go-between for Jefferson and Adams' reconciliation, perhaps it's Rush's religion we should look at as more "mainstream." He believed in universal salvation, but only because of Christ's atonement.>

Good point! I'll agree with that. Rush was Orthodox on the fundamentals. Rush believed in inerrancy, yet believed in universalism, although, I doubt there is much evidence that the majority were universalists.

The Bible is clear on every page, we are saved by Grace through Faith. How Rush missed that is beyond amazing.

Jonathan Rowe said...

LONANG is not rationalism, it is a Classical term used by Classical Christian Philosophers in reference to the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ.

Wow, even Francis Schaeffer knew this not to be the case. Watch and learn. Everything he rails about re Aristotle-Aquinas is applicable to the idea of the "laws of nature and nature's god."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLDgrBGwMX8

Except when the FFs discussed "the laws of nature and nature's God" they referred to something MORE modern (Lockean) than Aristotle-Aquinas. But make no mistake the laws of nature and nature's god refers to what man discovers from reason, not the Bible.

Our Founding Truth said...

LOL. I'd like to see you reproduce the official "words" and confessions of 51% of EVERY single person living in the US during the Founding era. That's the evidence you need to prove your assertion.>

LOL on "key founders" logic is right. I don't need every single person, you do!

All I need is the words of the majority, which I have. They are called the State Constitutions, you need to refute them. Good luck Jon.

By the way, my claim is more modest. I'm saying that *we don't know,* that it's possible a statistical majority of American citizens were orthodox Trinitarian Christians, who thought of themselves as "born again" or "regenerate." I doubt it; but we simply do not know that.>

No, you're calling them liars. The people went to orthodox churches, and took communion at those churches. You need to prove the people rejected communion.

Studies have been done that show that less than 20% of the population during the Founding era were members of Churches, that they were more likely to be in taverns on Saturday Nights, than in Churches on Sunday morning.>

I have studies that show the exact opposite. You need words not conjecture.

Our Founding Truth said...

Wow, even Francis Schaeffer knew this not to be the case. Watch and learn. Everything he rails about re Aristotle-Aquinas is applicable to the idea of the "laws of nature and nature's god."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLDgrBGwMX8>

Whatever, Aristotle and Aquinas are irrelevant. Tertullian was speaking of the Law of Nature 1100 years before Aquinas.

True Christians received the Law of Nature through the early church fathers, through the Bible, not through Aristotle.

I will believe Richard Hooker over Shaeffer because Hooker referenced LONANG from Paul in Romans 2:15-15.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The people went to orthodox churches, and took communion at those churches. You need to prove the people rejected communion.

There is testimony from ministers that large numbers of them got up and walked out just like Washington did and turned their backs on the Lord's Supper.

Further, even ministers themselves in orthodox Churches were theistic rationalists/unitarians. Joseph Priestley and Richard Price preached from the Presbyterian pulpits. And Mayhew et al. preached from the Congregational pulpits. If you want to call them liars or hypocrits, that's your call not mine.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I will believe Richard Hooker over Shaeffer because Hooker referenced LONANG from Paul in Romans 2:15-15.

No he didn't. Hooker was the Anglican heir to Thomas Aquinas who got his method from Aristotle.

Jonathan Rowe said...

All I need is the words of the majority, which I have. They are called the State Constitutions, you need to refute them. Good luck Jon.

You wish you had all the states. Off my head you don't have VA (see Jefferson's Statute on Religious Freedom) PA (Ben Franklin replaced their sectarian Christian religious test with a generically theistic one), RI (which followed Roger Williams' model of secularism) and Mass. (which though it had a "Protestant Christian" establishment also had a unitarian contingent that INSISTED unitarianism was "Protestant Christianity"). I've just knocked down four of your states. In order to prove a "Christian America" you have to have all of the states, which you don't.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, I used his book because I couldn't find Madison's quote, but he did say that, and let's be honest, the other framers believed it as well.

I want the quote, OFT. I'd like to use it. Without it, all those words and links you offered are valueless.

Except when the FFs discussed "the laws of nature and nature's God" they referred to something MORE modern (Lockean) than Aristotle-Aquinas

This would have to be argued. When the devout Samuel Adams embraces Locke, he's embracing views of natural law like Tertullian's. Locke himself quite publicly wrote something very similar to Tertullian:

"The holy scripture is to me, and always will be, the constant guide of my assent; and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth...[there is] ground enough for me to believe, because God has said it: and I shall presently condemn and quit any opinion of mine, as soon as I am shown that it is contrary to any revelation in the holy scripture."

Now, I don't make the great hay OFT does about this passage---I think he wrote it to get the Bishop of Worcester off his back. But still, this would be Sam Adams' Locke, the public Locke. Not Leo Strauss's Locke, who might be the real Locke and whose view of the laws of nature are from Thomas Hobbes, not Richard Hooker.

But the public Locke explicitly condemns Hobbes and praises Hooker.

As for Francis Schaeffer, you've never given him the time of day as an historian, Jon. Why start now?

I do see the Founding as a product of "elite" ideas that trickled down, which is usually the way it is in politics.

If one can locate these ideas in the 1700-odd year old Christian tradition, it seems that injecting "elites" is unnecessary complications per Occam's razor.

The "14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar," William of Ockham, that is. Just sayin'. ;-)

Brad Hart said...

Rowe writes:

"Hooker was the Anglican heir to Thomas Aquinas who got his method from Aristotle.

Not only that, but Hooker's Via Media took Aquinas' doctrine of natural theology even further, which became a benchmark for virtually all future discussions on natural religion, which as we know did not sit well with orthodoxy.

Jonathan Rowe said...

As for Francis Schaeffer, you've never given him the time of day as an historian, Jon. Why start now?

Well I think he's dead on right about how Sola-Scriptura orthodox Trinitarian Protestantism is at the very least in high tension with the "natural law/natural theology" of the Aristotle-Aquinas tradition.

Notice how OFT tries to argue that "natural law" is synonymous with scripture which is a laughable claim. At best for his side, Christian scholars of the natural law tradition would note that natural law (which defines as that which man discovers from reason) used properly will always perfectly parallel what's in scripture. But they still note the natural law method by definition is what man discovers from reason NOT what's written in the Bible.

Sometimes I wonder why we spend so much time with OFT whose claims are often shockingly inaccurate and un-scholarly. And I think the answer is because there are lots of folks like him out there that buy into this Christian Nation nonsense.

Dan Atkinson said...

Rowe writes:

"Sometimes I wonder why we spend so much time with OFT whose claims are often shockingly inaccurate and un-scholarly. And I think the answer is because there are lots of folks like him out there that buy into this Christian Nation nonsense."

Is that so. Well, I sometimes wonder why so many ignorant secular-minded individuals like yourself work so hard to destroy God's word. In the end, God's Holy Word cannot be destroyed. Instead, you are simply bringing damnation upon your own soul, Mr. Rowe, and I pitty you.

Jesus IS Lord.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Jon, unlike some of our commenters who consider themselves clever, I often learn something new, true, and relevant from OFT. Therefore, I find his contributions as invaluable although they include [much] stuff I wish he'd leave out.

As a commercial for a principled epistemology and an Opening of the American Mind, a flawed argument can hold more truth than a perfectly vacuous one. This would touch on the Barton issue as well.

Well I think [Schaeffer is] dead on right about how Sola-Scriptura orthodox Trinitarian Protestantism...

Oy. That's 3 qualifiers, and 4 if you add "Protestant" in front of [understood] "Christian." Yes, OFT argues that, but why let him dictate the terms of the discussion? I don't let Gregg Frazer do it, or anyone.

...is at the very least in high tension with the "natural law/natural theology" of the Aristotle-Aquinas tradition.

Perhaps. Kristo Miettinen disagrees, as he argues a uniquely Protestant twist on natural as understood by Tertullian and Aquinas. His offered thesis was, in my view, given short shrift. It was only the result of a lifetime's worth of research. It deserved better. We owed him better.

And Brad, Richard Hooker as Thomist [one who uses Aquinas' system of reasoning] deserves quite a closer look. I've read summaries of Hooker that maintain the same thing. Locke himself praises Hooker lavishly. Hooker made Aquinas's ideas respectable in Protestant, virulently anti-papist eyes. Before there was "Sola-Scriptura orthodox Trinitarian Protestantism," before Martin Luther, before Henry VIII, there was simply "Christianity," there was Aquinas, and a bunch of other thinkers.

[Although Christianity had philosophico-theological shootin' matches no less grave and bizarre than those spawned by the Reformation.]

And I think the answer is because there are lots of folks like [OFT] out there that buy into this Christian Nation nonsense.

Depends on what a "Christian" "Nation" is. Depends on what the meaning of "is" is. Christ, my head hurts sometimes with all the "scare quotes" we put around terms.

A Christian Nation seems different to me than a Christian nation. Even a capital "n" can make all the difference. One is "Onward Christian Soldiers" and the other is kinda, I dunno, mellow.

Tom Van Dyke said...

why so many ignorant secular-minded individuals like yourself work so hard to destroy God's word. In the end, God's Holy Word cannot be destroyed. Instead, you are simply bringing damnation upon your own soul, Mr. Rowe, and I pitty you.

Jesus IS Lord.


Mr. Atkinson, you were invited to this blog as a contributor and then you resigned. No one was more relieved than I was. Your original decision to go away was the correct one, perhaps an inspired one.

Our Founding Truth said...

I will believe Richard Hooker over Shaeffer because Hooker referenced LONANG from Paul in Romans 2:15-15.

No he didn't. Hooker was the Anglican heir to Thomas Aquinas who got his method from Aristotle.>

Hooker and the Authority of Magisterial Doctrine

12 In A Learned Sermon on the Nature of Pride,(63) Hooker defines law in general as follows:

. . . an exact rule wherby humane actions are measured.(64) The rule to measure and judge them by is the law of god . . . Under the name of law we must comprehend not only that which god hath written in tables and leaves but that which nature hath ingraven in the hartes of men. Els how should those heathen which never had bookes but heaven and earth to look upon be convicted of perversnes? But the Gentils which had not the law in books had saith the apostle theffect of the law written in their hartes. Rom. 2 (FLE 5:312).
http://www.mun.ca/animus/1998vol3/kirby3.htm

Again, It's the agenda, not truth.

Off my head you don't have VA (see Jefferson's Statute on Religious Freedom)>

VA Statute:
Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

The key words are Holy, and Lord. Only the Lord is Holy. No need to show the others, they are the same.

Sometimes I wonder why we spend so much time with OFT whose claims are often shockingly inaccurate and un-scholarly.>

You mean the false claim you posted on Hooker and Aristotle, as well as the Virginia Statute?

But they still note the natural law method by definition is what man discovers from reason NOT what's written in the Bible.>

That's not what Tertullian, Basil, and the early church fathers said. Read it again, the Ten Commandments and Reason are the same thing, from the same source. I'm not denying they are EXACTLY the same thing, one's on paper, one's on the heart. They both come from the same source, Kristo hit on it earlier; but they are the same Divine Law:

But since it is reasonable in other matters to prefer the law of nature, which is the law of God, before the written law, which has been enacted by men in a spirit of opposition to the law of God, why should we not do this still more in the case of those laws which relate to God?
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04.vi.ix.v.xxxvii.html
ANTE-NICENE FATHERS
VOLUME 4.
Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second.
Chronologically arranged, with brief notes and prefaces, by
A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.
T&T CLARK
EDINBURGH
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

Jonathan Rowe said...

The words of Thomas Jefferson, militant unitarian and drafter of the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty explaining exactly WHY "Almighty God" was purposefully NOT defined in orthodox Trinitarian terms in said statute:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions45.html

You are un-freakin' believable, OFT.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT: You don't even understand the law of nature as defined in the Bible which simply proves you are poor theologian. You should leave theology to your betters, the folks at Harvest Church or whatever and appeal to their authority. You are example #1 why the Roman Catholics are right in noting the Bible in the hands of ordinary folks, instead of an elite authority is a really bad idea for orthodoxy.

But the Gentils which had not the law in books had saith the apostle theffect of the law written in their hartes. Rom. 2 (FLE 5:312).

And if the Gentils had no "book" but the law was written in their "hartes" then how the heck were they supposed to "discover" that law without written revelation? It's called "reason," which is why "nature" defines as that which is discoverable by reason, UNAIDED by scripture, EVEN as scripture defines it. And the reason why scripture could define it as such is because Aristotle predates the New Testament. And figures from the New Testament appeal to pagan Greek teachings!

Jonathan Rowe said...

Here is some authority that should settle the matter that when the FFs spoke of "the law of nature and nature's god" they spoke of "reason," not "revelation." [Though revelation was free to confirm the findings of man's reason.]

"To him who believes in the Existence and Attributes physical and moral of a God, there can be no obscurity or perplexity in defining the Law of Nature to be his wise benign and all powerful Will, discovered by Reason."

– John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, March 19, 1794. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 377, Library of Congress. Seen in James H. Hutson’s, “The Founders on Religion,” p. 132.

"The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our's." [Bold mine.]

John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, CHAP. II, Sec. 6.

http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr02.htm

Note Locke states: "Reason" not scripture IS the "law of nature." Case closed.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Atkinson:

I don't know why I'm even addressing the trash you write, but I would note I've PAINSTAKINGLY left the Bible alone on these threads. I've got my problems with what the Bible says [issues such as its ambivalence towards chattel slavery] and orthodox ideas of salvation [I think it horrific if only "born again" Christian fundamentalists are saved and the rest of us roast in Hell forever]. But I've gone OUT OF MY WAY to show ONLY that the Bible/orthodox Christian religion was NOT the principle source for America's Founding principles [the Constitution, DOI and Federalist Papers] and that the key Founders [Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, G. Morris, Wilson, Hamilton before the very end of his life and others] were not "Christians" as you, OFT and other "born again Christians" define that term. That's all.

The fact that you try to incorporate the principles of "Americanism," the theology found in the Declaration of Independence and other places into "Sola-Scriptura"/orthodox Christianity is terrible for the purity of your faith.

You essentially "Mormonize" your faith by incorporating a whole slew of principles as "divinely inspired" (i.e., the notion God grants men the right to revolt against governments that don't secure "unalienable" rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that these are the divine "ends" of government) that have virtually *nothing* to do with what is written in the Bible.

When I say "Mormonize" I mean, you essentially write an additional "Testament" to the Bible -- a testament of "American theology" based on the "divine" inspiration of the Declaration, Constitution, Federalist Papers and actions and writings of the American Founding Fathers -- that has about as much to do with the Old and New Testament as does the Book of Mormon.

Our Founding Truth said...

The words of Thomas Jefferson, militant unitarian and drafter of the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty explaining exactly WHY "Almighty God" was purposefully NOT defined in orthodox Trinitarian terms in said statute:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions45.html

You are un-freakin' believable, OFT.>

This is your best one yet, so I had to paste the entire post. Are you still going to write a book?

If you read the post again, and slowly, Jefferson is saying that not just Christianity is protected, but so is infidelity, and mohammedism.

"within the mantle of its protection"

not who the grantor (Lord) is, of rights. The Lord is Jesus Christ, not a Hindoo, period! The identity of Virginia's Holy Author of religion was Christ.

And if the Gentils had no "book" but the law was written in their "hartes" then how the heck were they supposed to "discover" that law without written revelation? It's called "reason," which is why "nature" defines as that which is discoverable by reason, UNAIDED by scripture, EVEN as scripture defines it. And the reason why scripture could define it as such is because Aristotle predates the New Testament. And figures from the New Testament appeal to pagan Greek teachings!>

Jon, you are missing the point, again. The issue is not what reason is, I know what it is. For the second part of your post, you dodged the point again. Saying Aristotle predates the N.T. is irrelevant.

The point is the Christian Philosophers received the Law of Nature from the Bible, not Aristotle.

And figures from the New Testament appeal to pagan Greek teachings>

The N.T. appeals to pagan Grecian philosophy? Is that what you're saying?

Tom Van Dyke said...

C'mon, Jon, case not closed at all unless we skip over a lot of stuff. Paul in the Epistles sez that the natural law is written on man's heart. That's how Aquinas could give the pagan pre-Christian-era Aristotle his props.

It's not "reason" exactly. It's our human nature, our humanity itself, just as God created us. Some soft spot that lets us love art and not be robots. Aristotle found his way not only with an open mind but with an open heart. Aristotle was a mensch. If you know your Yiddish, a mensch has a brain and a heart. Otherwise, he's not a man.

Compare Aristotle with [the modernist] Thomas Hobbes, who made a damn good argument that we're just sophisticated and calculating social animals, and you see the difference.

You may bold Locke here, but the rest of the passage still sees our gift of life as from God.

"whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure..."

Liberty is cool, but life comes first, given by God, with duties to preserve and treasure it according to natural law. It's in your own quote and Locke's. What we do with the gift of life becomes a secondary question.

Our Founding Truth said...

Note Locke states: "Reason" not scripture IS the "law of nature." Case closed.>

Hey, we agree! Can you believe it? And "Right" reason is a twin sister
with Revelation, which is superior, case closed.

Our Founding Truth said...

Hey Tom, I checked out Homnick's article, it seems that's the only one he's written so far. But, it's cool, it's nice to see him use the Talmud, and in harmony with Genesis. It's a strong post.

That's awesome!

I tried to post on the new article about an Anglican Church promoting anti-Israel propaganda, but they haven't sent me a password.

Jonathan Rowe said...

And "Right" reason is a twin sister
with Revelation, which is superior, case closed.


Except neither Locke nor none of the key Founders say that revelation is superior to the law of nature/reason. That the Declaration ONLY invokes the law of nature/reason and totally ignores revelation destroys your claim and I think you know it.

bpabbott said...

OFT to Jon: "This is your opinion, based on no fact, as you cannot see the hearts of men."

Jon to OFT: "And NEITHER do you know their hearts or have any facts for your assertion."

Jon, you should be more careful with your words. You certainly do back your assertions with facts, and have never claimed to know what lies in the hearts of men. Such subterfuge is the playground of others.

There was quite a long exchange today, following to above ... but nothing that wasn't patently obvious from the initial encounter.

The enlightened follow the evidence and the deluded follow ideology.

Our Founding Truth said...

That the Declaration ONLY invokes the law of nature/reason and totally ignores revelation destroys your claim>

Says you. The Title is actually The Law of Nature and The Law of Nature's God, which is everything in God's Revelation. Why did the State Constitutions write the Bible as authority and not reason? Because Revelation is needed to explain "Right" reason.

Except neither aw Locke nor none of the key Founders say that revelation is superior to the law of nature/reason.>

Many of them did, because it's foolishness to think otherwise. John Jay believed it, there is your NONE.

Are you still mad about Hooker and Aristotle? There's always tomorrow.

bpabbott said...

OFT: "Why did the State Constitutions write the Bible as authority and not reason? Because Revelation is needed to explain "Right" reason."

I smell a misrepresentation. Might you give some specific evidence for your claim?

Which states and what exactly did their constitutions say that justifies your conclusion?

Did any state constitution actually claim that "reason" was inferior to "revelation"?

Tom Van Dyke said...

How disheartening. If you get your rocks off by having a go at the fundamentalist, please take it over to his blog, where at least he's on his home field. You're ruining this one. All of you.

http://ourfoundingtruth.blogspot.com/

Jonathan Rowe said...

Again I'll repeat "Nature" defines as what man discovers thru reason, therefore "the laws of nature and nature's God," doubly refers to reason. "Nature's God" is God insofar as we can understand His existence and attributes through reason alone.

The Declaration relies on natural theology only and avoids revealed theology entirely. This shouldn't surprise us that it did because Jefferson, J. Adams and Franklin were its principle authors.

Pinky said...

.
Tom, you were correct. This is an argument.
.
An endless one at that.
.
When one person is attempting to be rational, another an ideologue, and the third is trying to act the referee, there can't be any end in sight.
.
I think the problem is related to the statement that "God's Law" is written on the hearts of human beings and in getting that thought of as Natural Law.
.
In both cases, the argument has to do with ideas of what is good. You suspect that either one assumes to the highest good. So, here's the question neither side is able to confront, "What is the highest good?"
.
Now you leave rationalism and ideology aside and delve into philosophy. So, when that logger head is met, the one side sez, "Jesus is Lord". It's like not stepping on a crack because you'll break your mother's back. And, the other side shows its frustration as well.
.
The Founders, I think, knew that very important point and they were content to leave it up to the individuals who were capable of growing to some place where they could answer the question for themselves. And, that, my friends, is why we have the First Amendment which allows us to grow unimpeded to such a place.
.
They were geniuses of the first order of human nature.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom, and Pinky,

Let's think about this rationally, Jon Rowe is saying the God, who is the Law of Nature and Nature's God in the Declaration is different from the Law of Revelation, right?

If they are both from the same God, it is the God of the Bible. LONANG in the DOI is still the God of the Bible, because the law on the heart is just a part of the same Divine Law. Does that make sense?

Ask Jon, how the God of Reason, which everyone from Paul to John Locke, said was Yahweh, the God of the Bible is a different God from the God of Reason? It's the same God!

Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both.
James Wilson, Signer of the DOI, and Constitution.

Am I reading this wrong?






When one person is attempting to be rational, another an ideologue, and the third is trying to act the referee, there can't be any end in sight.
The Declaration relies on natural theology only and avoids revealed theology entirely.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes you are reading it wrong because "nature" means that "reason" must "discover" the principle. That principle can be EXACTLY what's written in scripture. But "nature" means you don't simply look it up in the Bible but "discover" it from reason.

Even Wilson noted that scripture formed only PART of the law of nature (presumably those parts of scripture that man's reason could confirm):

Reason and conscience can do much; but still they stand in need of support and assistance. They are useful and excellent monitors; but, at some times, their admonitions are not sufficiently clear; at other times, they are not sufficiently powerful; at all times, their influence is not sufficiently extensive. Great and sublime truths, indeed, would appear to a few; but the world, at large, would be dark and ignorant. The mass of mankind would resemble a chaos, in which a few sparks, that would diffuse a glimmering light, would serve only to show, in a more striking manner, the thick darkness with which they are surrounded. Their weakness is strengthened, their darkness is illuminated, their influence is enlarged by that heaven-descended science, which has brought life and immortality to light. In compassion to the imperfection of our internal powers, our all-gracious Creator, Preserver, and Ruler has been pleased to discover and enforce his laws, by a revelation given to us immediately and directly from himself. This revelation is contained in the holy scriptures. The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin, and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually. [Bold mine.]

In order to bring the WHOLE Bible into the DOI, you need to invoke "scripture" or "revelation," which the DOI does not.

Our Founding Truth said...

Hey Tom, can you figure this out:

In order to bring the WHOLE Bible into the DOI, you need to invoke "scripture" or "revelation," which the DOI does not.>

If reason is the same thing as the Bible, but only in the mind, what does the WHOLE Bible have to do with anything? It's the same God right? Isn't the identity of the God the issue?

Man's conscience is implanted by the God of the Bible, The Law of Nature, and The Law of Nature's God is Jesus Christ.

Tom,

Today at church, the reading for today was Psalm 40:8, Natural Law in the heart written by David 700 years before Aristotle, how ironic:

"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."

Paul did not get Natural Law from Aristotle, but from the O.T.

But "nature" means you don't simply look it up in the Bible but "discover" it from reason.>

And the only way to find out if we're right is to look it up. Revelation does not look up Reason for truth, Reason looks to the Bible. How does anyone know if they're using "Right" reason unless they look it up?

Anyone else, does that make sense?

Tom Van Dyke said...

See my latest comment on James' Wilson's view of all this. Interesting man, and by all accounts a highly influential one. There's a certain synchronicity with the current discussion. And if we can, let's leave out the Jesus IS Lord and "the Bible is true" stuff and get a clean start. As Montesquieu noted, if Jesus IS Lord, etc., He doesn't need man's protection.

Pinky said...

.
OFT.
/
The position and questions you take in your last post are philosophical.
.
That means that you have come to a place that is outside your ideology.
.
Can you handle the answers?
.

Pinky said...

OFT, When I said "your last post", I meant the post that starts out with, "Let's think about this rationally, Jon Rowe is saying the God, who is the Law of Nature and Nature's God in the Declaration is different from the Law of Revelation, right?"

Our Founding Truth said...

The position and questions you take in your last post are philosophical.
.
That means that you have come to a place that is outside your ideology.
.
Can you handle the answers?>

I can handle it, but I definitely would like your take on it.

Pinky said...

.
My take is that you are asking questions, the answers of which lie outside the purview of either rational or religious thought.
.
And, in a way, that points toward Natural Law being superior over God's Law.
.
To discuss Nature's God, one has to think in terms of philosophy. And, that is part of why theologians are so disrespectful of philosophers. Theologians claim to have absolute answers and philosophers claim otherwise. If you go over into philosophy, you have to give up on theological answers.
.
And, that puts the argument at loggerheads.
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT: Jefferson, Franklin and Adams believed in a partially inspired Bible and THEY wrote the DOI. As such revelation had to be confirmed by reason not the other way around.

Not everyone of course, believed this; but "reason" served as the lowest common denominator or ultimate standard of truth in the DOI, not revelation.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT:

This is what I wrote about Nature's God in my article that the Cato Institute reproduced on political theology:

Nature’s God was theologically unitarian, universalist (did not eternally damn anyone) syncretist (most or all world religions worshipped Him), partially inspired the Christian Scriptures, and man’s reason was ultimate device for understanding Him. He was not quite the strict Deist God that some secular scholars have made Him out to be. But neither was He the Biblical God. Rather, somewhere in between.

The question is: Is this the God you worship, the God of the Bible? Because it WAS the God of Jefferson, Franklin and J. Adams, the men who wrote the DOI. You can't get around the fact that this was the God they believed they invoked in the DOI.

If many others did NOT believe Nature's God had these attributes, then the conclusion that we draw from that is form a Lowest Common Denominator and those issues about which the orthodox disagreed with the authors of the DOI are simply driven from politics. The American Founding then takes no position on whether God is unitary or Triune, whether the Bible is infallible, whether God damns people to Hell eternally or whether other non-biblical religions worship the same God Jews and Christians do.

But ultimately the term "nature" means discoverable from reason not revealed in the Bible. Thus reason not revelation is where American Founding politics were supposed to rest.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT: Jefferson, Franklin and Adams believed in a partially inspired Bible and THEY wrote the DOI. As such revelation had to be confirmed by reason not the other way around.>

Again, the drafters of Law are secondary, what matters is the ratifiers of law, and the ratifiers believed the entire Bible inspired.

“I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in
which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In
that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that
is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security ”

– James Madison (letter to Henry Lee, 25 June 1824)

Ratification is what mattered.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The Declaration of Independence was never ratified. And the Constitution is godless.

Kristo Miettinen said...

Jon/Gregg (which one of you is really speaking?),

when you say a Christian is one who is "a true follower of Jesus Christ who has repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior", this is very different from an "orthodox Nicene Christian", which you (Jon/Gregg) have previously maintained.

Which is it?

Was, e.g., St. Stephen (martyred shortly after Jesus' death, as recorded in Acts), a Christian?

After all, it stretches the imagination to believe that he assented to the Cappadocian solution to a problem that he likely never even thought of.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Gregg's comments are in blue. I think he is speaking of his personal standard for what is a Christian (orthodox, born again; Roman Catholics are not Christians accordingly). His standard as an historian of late 18th Century America is a little more generous and draws the line at orthodox Trinitarianism and includes Roman Catholics into the definition of Christianity. Page 10 of his PhD thesis shows all of the Churches (except the Quakers) in America at that time were formally attached to an orthodox Trinitarian creed or confession.