Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Orthodox Christianity and Political Liberty

The following is Gregg Frazer's response to Positive Liberty commenter Andy Craig's thoughts on the Babka/Frazer dialog. I add some brief comments below:

Mr. Craig:

I am sorry that you have rejected Christianity, and I would like to clear up a couple of things.

Biblical Christianity is authoritarian in the sense that God has established various authority structures and cares deeply whether His people respect what He’s established. It is not authoritarian in the sense that it requires an authoritarian political system. There is nothing about Christianity that would keep a believer from enjoying living in a “world of individual liberty.” Christians can flourish under freedom just as much as can non-Christians.

Also, let me respectfully suggest that you’re missing the point in I Samuel 8. The people did not “convince” God to do “something He didn’t want.” First, you’ll notice that verse 6 says it was displeasing in SAMUEL’S sight — not God’s. Second, God isn’t “convinced” to give them a king — He turns them over to their own foolishness to allow them to discover that they would be much better off if they did not reject God and the blessings He has in store for them. Third, in the rest of the chapter, God is warning them of the consequences of their wrong desires — which He knows because He is omniscient, etc.

If you’re concerned about liberty, you should be happy with this incident. God allows them to experience the disastrous results of their choice to reject Him.

I would be interested in other places in which you believe the Bible is contradictory — because I do not believe it is contradictory in any way.

I am also intrigued by your denial of the authoritativeness of the Bible. Do you know of any other authority which accurately predicted hundreds of events in great detail hundreds of years in advance? Also, I suspect you find science to be an impeccable authority — despite the scientific errors which are discovered nearly every day. Have you yet figured out what you should/should not eat in order to avoid cancer? I can’t keep up with the conflicting “facts.”

Finally, I agree with you that Christians frequently act inconsistently with the teachings of their faith — but I see that as a bad thing — tragic, really.


As a political libertarian (and a non-Christian) if I wanted to argue the case for political libertarianism to a biblical orthodox Christian I would not argue the Bible endorses or is the source of the concept of political liberty as found in the Declaration of Independence (it does/is not). Rather I would argue the Bible is compatible with the idea of political liberty. And it makes good sense for orthodox Christians to endorse the concept. If, in the grand scheme of things, it's most important for Christians to "save souls" by missionary or conversion efforts (as opposed to fighting a "culture war") then it makes sense that an evangelical Christian chiefly be concerned that he has his political/religious liberty to proselytize effectively and in fact save souls.

In a closed, controlled society where just about everyone believed in the same kind of orthodox theology, it makes sense, from an orthodox Christian perspective, to forbid heresy, if it were just a matter of setting mousetraps to keep the house free of mice, as it were. Samuel Rutherford, though he may have been mistaken about Romans 13 on strict biblical grounds, rejected religious liberty on grounds entirely compatible with the Bible:


“It was justice, not cruelty, yea mercy to the Church of God, to take away the life of Servetus, who used such spirituall and diabolick cruelty to many thousand soules, whom he did pervert, and by his Booke, does yet lead into perdition.”

– Samuel Rutherfurd, “A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience.” (1649).


However, the experience of religious disagreements within Christendom made such a political-religious consensus nigh well impossible. In short, if you give the civil magistrate the power to forbid religious heresy or enforce orthodoxy, chances are, you'll end up on the receiving end as a "heretic." Not only do Roman Catholics and evangelical/reformed Protestants irreconcilably differ on religious truths, but within Protestantism, the sects differ in meaningful ways. Even among the "sola scriptura" orthodox Trinitarian understanding of Protestantism, sects differ in such serious ways that if we didn't recognize religious/political liberty, dominant sects would use the power of the state to persecute dissident sects. Indeed, the rationale that I have just laid out is the story of how religious/political liberty came to Christendom. It wasn't a matter of "finding" these concepts in the Bible or the longstanding traditional understanding thereof, but rather through experience of warring and blood shedding among sects that concepts of religious and political liberty emerged and gained hold in Western Society as a way to "keep the peace," as it were.

96 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

As a political libertarian (and a non-Christian) if I wanted to argue the case for political libertarianism to a biblical orthodox Christian I would not argue the Bible endorses or is the source of the concept of political liberty as found in the Declaration of Independence (it does/is not).>

It is simple to prove this is a false statement, as I have previously done on this blog. The Law of Nature, from David to Paul, to Tertullian, to John Locke, is the God of the Bible, period.

Jon, you fail to interpret the Law of Nature and of Nature's God is a contraction of The Law of Nature and The Law of Nature's God.

The Law of Nature is what man discovers from Reason, but LONANG in the DOI is all of God's revelation. You just limit it to promote your agenda, but it won't fly with me.

As James Wilson explains, the law of nature is from God, and cannot be separated in any way, which you desire to do, to make the God of the Declaration a god of reason, which everyone rejected, even Adams before he retired.

Political liberty IS in the Bible, you just can't find it. Maybe you should read the Bible instead of talking about it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Political liberty IS in the Bible, you just can't find it. Maybe you should read the Bible instead of talking about it.

Just saying it doesn't make it so. Perhaps you can also find my grandmother's recipe for cheesecake in the Bible.

Our Founding Truth said...

Actually OFT, given the Bible/the evangelical understanding of Christianity teaches the "narrow path," the burden is on you to prove that you are more than just a "nominal Christian.">

This is from "the more they stay the same part II" The statement is so judgmental, bigoted, and whacked out, maybe you'll get banned, but I doubt it.

So, you're telling every professed Christian on this planet, they aren't Christians unless they prove it? If belief in Jesus as Saviour isn't sufficient for you, what is your criteria for the Christians of the world? Is there a test you would mandate them to do? So if someone claims to be a Christian all their life, and dies, you, Jon Rowe believe they weren't a Christian because they didn't spell out their words on the fundamentals? Just think how many people you have condemned to hell according to the faith of Christianity.

Not only do you NOT have a clue what you're talking about on most every subject you write about, you're a nut job.

By the way, the narrow path, is profession of Jesus Christ as Savior, not Jon Rowe's criteria.

bpabbott said...

OFT: "By the way, the narrow path, is profession of Jesus Christ as Savior, not Jon Rowe's criteria."

You are welcome to state your definition for what a Christian is, as is Jon.

But no one need take heed of either. Anyone can apply the term to themselves or another, but they should be prepared to define the term when asked.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not only do Roman Catholics and evangelical/reformed Protestants irreconcilably differ on religious truths...

Irreconcilably, Jon? The Reformation is not yet 500 years old, less than a quarter of Christianity's history.

As Chou-enlai said about the French Revolution, it's too soon to tell. Patience, grasshopper.

Not that I expect a resolution, mind you, because the Reformation's best observation was that God created us one by one as individuals. One size does not fit all, and never will...

Jonathan Rowe said...

Not only do you NOT have a clue what you're talking about on most every subject you write about, you're a nut job.

Ha ha, if that's not the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is.

So if someone claims to be a Christian all their life, and dies, you, Jon Rowe believe they weren't a Christian because they didn't spell out their words on the fundamentals?

Not that you read my assertion correctly at all, but...:

"[F]or out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Lots of folks claim to be "Christians" (as I noted, homosexuals, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Phil Donahue) and given I'm not a Christian, their self understanding of Christianity is just fine with me.

However, I DO know something about YOUR brand of Christianity. And it indeed requires more than just self labeling as a "Christian" to be considered one.

It also takes more than just professing Christ as savior as well, because Mormons, Arians and Socianians meet this standard.

If you are turning into a theological liberal, OFT, where Mormons and trinity deniers now count as "Christians" I have no problem with it. But that's where your argument leads.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Just think how many people you have condemned to hell according to the faith of Christianity.

OFT, one of the reason why I do not believe in your specific brand of Christianity is that it teaches that not just the overwhelming majority of the world, but that lots and lots of folks who profess to be Christians get turned away from the gates of Heaven and therefore consigned to Hell. As far as I understand your faith, it consigns virtually all, if not all of the 1 billion world Roman Catholics to Hell.

*It teaches a narrow path.* This is something I find personally quite disturbing, so much so that I don't think I'll ever become this kind of "Christian." I'd imagine it disturbs many self professed Christians as well to the point where polls show 70% of the American population believe in something like universal salvation, that even atheists get into Heaven.

If the idea that many "professing Christians" (like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton) are not really saved is "nuts," perhaps you should look for a new church (maybe join the Episcopalians); because I understand this is exactly what your church teaches.

But in any event, my point was never to invoke the *salvation* question but rather ask what is a Christian by "orthodox" standards and note many folks from the Founding era and today who outwardly profess to be "Christian" in some broad-identifactory sense do NOT meet the strict standard of "orthodox Christian."

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

Oh Jonathan,

Why is it you always have to complicate things?

At Landover Baptist they can tell you the Scriptures' message is simple:

"Love me or burn"

Our Founding Truth said...

Lots of folks claim to be "Christians" (as I noted, homosexuals, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Phil Donahue) and given I'm not a Christian, their self understanding of Christianity is just fine with me.>

The people, and groups you listed have already disclosed how they view the bible. You named them just to divert the stupidity of your previous statement, which I can't believe you didn't at least get a warning.

The point is, you have no right to judge anyone without their OWN words in respect to Christianity. If you do, it's a blind assumption, that will only hurt yourself, and your career. By all means, go for it.

As to the founding fathers, any judgment you make is a flawed argument (logical fallacy), especially all your rants about Hamilton and his refusal to go to church.

But in any event, my point was never to invoke the *salvation* question but rather ask what is a Christian by "orthodox" standards and note many folks from the Founding era and today who outwardly profess to be "Christian" in some broad-identifactory sense do NOT meet the strict standard of "orthodox Christian.">

Ok, where are their words specifically denying orthodox christian standards, say of James Madison?

Pinky said...

.
This discussion is just so much bull roar.
.
OFT seems to off on a toot in a zealous effort to convince himself of something he apparently has a hard time believing. Maybe if he keeps repeating it OFTen enough, he'll be convinced.
.
Hey, Tom Van Dyke, you mentioned a dispute someone had with Struass. Do you recall? Who was that person? If this isn't a good place for you to reply, feel free to email me at my address which you will find in my profile. There seems to be more and more of Strauss coming to the surface here. For example, a discussion he has in one of his lectures on the Hebrew word, T'shuvah***, would be appropriate in this thread.
.
*** Repentance.

Our Founding Truth said...

I would not argue the Bible endorses or is the source of the concept of political liberty as found in the Declaration of Independence (it does/is not)>

Political liberty is freedom of conscience (New Testament), property rights (Old Testament) etc.

John Locke believed the law of nature was reason AND the Bible; not just reason.

[T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God.
[L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.
Locke, Two Treatises on Government, Bk II sec 135. (quoting Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, 1.iii, § 9 )

Blackstone believed the same thing, that the law of nature encompassed the Bible and reason; that they cannot be separated under ANY circumstances, showing that the God of the Declaration was the God of the Bible:

This ,law of nature, being coeval [existing at the same time - ed.] with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original. The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man's felicity.

Even Blackstone supports my position, believing the Bible superior to reason, for the simple case of common sense. You don't need to be a philosopher to understand it:

"If we could be as certain of the [natural law] as we are of the [revealed law], both would have an equal authority; but, till then, they can never be put in any competition together."
1 William Blackstone, Commentaries 42.

The foremost authority on The Law of Nature is Baron Puffendorf and he, and the founding fathers believed the same thing.
http://www.constitution.org/puf/puf-law.htm

You are wrong, period! Cha Ching.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

You believe what you want. Neither Hamilton nor Madison claimed to be Christians throughout their entire lives and most scholarly experts who have meticulously studied the record side with me not you.

Hamilton certainly wasn't claiming to be a Christian from 1775-1792 but rather seemed to take religion not seriously at all.

Other than those two, I'd really like to know who you think I'm denying the orthodox Christianity of on the basis of their profession of Christianity?

You can call my argument stupid, but, you are simultaneously calling expert scholarly opinion stupid. Indeed you are calling conservative scholars James Hutson and Phillip Munoz stupid because they both argue Madison was probably not an orthodox Christian but some kind of "deist" (as Hutson put it) or "rationalist" (as Munoz put it). If anything is going to hurt my career it's that I am to the political right of scholarly consensus on Founders and religion which is more likely to argue "they were all Deists" and supported the separation of Church & State.

Our Founding Truth said...

Neither Hamilton nor Madison claimed to be Christians throughout their entire lives>

Both of them claimed to be Christians, and you have no evidence from them that they weren't. You need their words; by all means post them.

Our Founding Truth said...

You can call my argument stupid>

Your belief in lonang is stupid, as common sense dictates.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Regarding your last post OFT, the problem is you don't understand what the philosophers you quoted wrote. Their own words say the law of nature refers to that law of God that is discoverable from man's reason alone. When they discuss the Bible, they specifically name it something DIFFERENT, "i.e., the law of revelation" or "scripture."

Even Blackstone's original that you quoted shows he believe scripture to be "part" of the law of nature, i.e., they are not synonymous. "Nature" refers to what man discovers through reason. This is founding era terminology 101, if you don't understand this, there is no proceeding with you. Because I can't argue with someone who claims the sky is red.

The more subtle but profound point you miss is many FFs believed since both revelation and nature come from the same God, they will always agree. That still doesn't change the fact that "nature" is NOT shorthand for scripture. Rather the law of nature and nature's God is God's law discovered discovered by reason period.

However many folks may have believed reason and revelation always agreed during the Founding era, what refutes your position is Jefferson, J. Adams, and Franklin, the men who actually WROTE the DOI didn't quite believe this. They believed the Bible was partially inspired, that man's reason was the ultimate evaluator of truth and determined what revelation was legitimate.

However much other philosophers may have influenced them, they were the ones who wrote the document (NOT BLACKSTONE) and their intent trumps.

Happy New Year. You are refuted.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Your belief in lonang is stupid, as common sense dictates.

Tell it to the expert historians who side with me and laugh at you.

Our Founding Truth said...

That still doesn't change the fact that "nature" is NOT shorthand for scripture.>

No, they are everything as the philosophers believed. You won't weasel your way out of this:

The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man's felicity.
Blackstone

the Founding era, what refutes your position is Jefferson, J. Adams, and Franklin, the men who actually WROTE the DOI didn't quite believe this. They believed the Bible was partially inspired, that man's reason was the ultimate evaluator of truth and determined what revelation was legitimate.>

Drafters mean nothing, only how the people ratified the instrument is what matters.

However much other philosophers may have influenced them, they were the ones who wrote the document (NOT BLACKSTONE) and their intent trumps.>

The people learned it from Blackstone, Pufendorf, and Grotius, and they aren't as ignorant to think they can be separate. The law of nature is revelation first, then reason, because, as Blackstone claims, reason is inferior.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"The law of nature is revelation first, then reason, because, as Blackstone claims, reason is inferior."

This is your own arbitrary made up understanding of "the law of nature." It doesn't accurately describe how Blackstone, who wasn't a Founder, defined the law of nature. He may have claimed the Bible superior to reason, but he still defines the laws of nature as what is discovered through man's reason.

I don't need to weasel out of anything. This is Founding era terminology 101. As John Adams put it:

"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.

Adams says nothing about the Bible but defines the law of nature as what man discovers from reason alone. The strict deists for crying out loud embraced "the law of nature" while rejecting every word of the Bible as divinely revealed. If the law of nature doctrinally referred to revelation, they wouldn't be able to do this.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Drafters mean nothing, only how the people ratified the instrument is what matters.

And "the people" never ratified the DOI, rather the Continental Congress did.

The notion that the men who authored the document -- their position means nothing -- now THAT is something truly stupid.

bpabbott said...

OFT: "Both of them claimed to be Christians, and you have no evidence from them that they weren't. You need their words; by all means post them."

sigh, I probably shouldn't bother :-(

The burden is on the individual who makes the claim. If I claim there are a billion pink unicorns on the opposite side of the moon, and you call bullshit, those two positions are not on equal standing. The burden would fall on me ... the individual making the positive claim.

If you claim Madison is a Chrisitian (a positive claim), but there is no recorded evidence of him acknowledging that, then the burden is on you to substantiate your claim (i.e. to bring evidence into the record).

You are free to believe what you want, but having a belief and having evidence are entirely different things.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Pinky, that would be Eric Voegelin, whose correspondence with Strauss fills a book! This preview has a lot of it:

Faith and Political Philosophy. Their disagreement is over the power of religion in the affairs of men.

However, Strauss' use of T'shuvah refers more to Zionism than actual religiosity, and doesn't quite hit the bullseye here.

OFT, I don't think you'll get to your goal of proving the vast majority of Founders were pretty much evangelicals. Your quote of Locke citing Hooker about the need for law to not contradict the Bible is a good one, although I think you'll find that he's not exactly agreeing with Hooker.

[Although I'd argue that most of the Founders, reading lightly, thought he was!]

As for Pufendorf, you haven't really made an argument, just linked to his book. Were you to become more expert on Pufendorf, it might help your arguments---most of the Founders cite him as a source and influence.

As for you bearing all the burden of proof about Washington's or Madison's religiosity, you do bear it if you're claiming them as anything resembling today's evangelicals.

However, my own take is that both were consummate politicians, and that came first. The more silent they remained, the more universal their appeal. Therefore, we should not take their silences as probative either: there are many deeply religious people who prefer not to speak of it, especially not in public, but even in private.

To try to suss out the religiosity of the Founding, I think we simply must move on to other figures.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm leafing through the preview I linked to of the Strauss-Voegelin correspondence, and recommend p.75 onward. Strauss touches on "historicism," and then they kick around the revelation vs. philosophy question. Cool to be a fly on the wall with two great minds in the room.

Our Founding Truth said...

And "the people" never ratified the DOI, rather the Continental Congress did.>

I will believe Samuel Adams over you any day:

Before the formation of this Constitution..This
declaration of Independence was received and ratified by all the States
in the Union, and has never been disannulled.
Samuel Adams
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS.
JANUARY 17, 1794.

It doesn't accurately describe how Blackstone, who wasn't a Founder, defined the law of nature.>

You can always take an english comprehension class. Let's make a bet I find that the law of nature is both reason and revelation in the foremost authority on the law of nature, Pufendorf?

"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 law of nature is God's supreme will. Adams isn't excluding revelation, by not listing revelation, and you can't prove he is, because he believed the mind of man was the most evil thing in the world, proving the most evil thing in the world is incapable of knowing perfect truth without revelation.

although I think you'll find that he's not exactly agreeing with Hooker.>

Show me where he disagrees with Hooker.

If you claim Madison is a Chrisitian (a positive claim), but there is no recorded evidence of him acknowledging that, then the burden is on you to substantiate your claim (i.e. to bring evidence into the record).>

“[A]lways keep the Ministry obliquely in View whatever your profession be. This will lead you to cultivate an acquaintance occasionally with the most sublime of all Sciences and will qualify you for a change of public character if you should hereafter desire it. I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of Religion or against temporal Enjoyments even the most rational and manly than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent Advocates in the cause of Christ, and I wish you may give in your Evidence in this way.”–

James Madison, in a letter Sept. 25, 1773 to William Bradford, reprinted in The Papers of James Madison, eds. William T. Hutchinson and William M.E. Rachal (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962), vol. 1, p. 96.
Now, you need written evidence refuting this, I'll wait for your post.

Our Founding Truth said...

And "the people" never ratified the DOI, rather the Continental Congress did.>

I will believe Samuel Adams over you any day:

Before the formation of this Constitution..This
declaration of Independence was received and ratified by all the States
in the Union, and has never been disannulled.
Samuel Adams
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS.
JANUARY 17, 1794.>

As a matter of fact, I found out what Adams means by the DOI being ratified by the people. I'll leave you to find out for yourself.

Our Founding Truth said...

Actually, I have proved this quote cannot mean what you say:

"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 law of nature is God's supreme will. Adams isn't excluding revelation by not listing revelation, and you can't prove he is, because he believed the mind of man was the most evil thing in the world, proving the most evil thing in the world is incapable of knowing perfect truth without revelation.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked . . . [for] it must be remembered, that although reason ought always to govern individuals, it certainly never did since the Fall, and never will till the Millennium.”
Diggins, ibid., 84–85, 94. He is citing Adams, Defence, 3:289, 479.

Adams believed "the heart" [everyones heart] is deceitful above all things. Adams says reason cannot govern anything without assistence, therefore, it could never govern the people of the U.S.A.

How could someone claim the human heart is the arbiter of truth, as rationalists believe, and claim the heart is deceitful above all things?

Tom Van Dyke said...

And oh my, Phil---When Voegelin gets to John Locke on p. 93, and on p. 96 writes about Locke's fundamental dishonesty, hiding behind Rev. Richard Hooker all the while selling Thomas Hobbes:

"When it comes to Locke, my heart runs over. He is for me one of the most repugnant, dirty, morally corrupt appearances in the history of humanity."

Geez, tell us what you REALLY think, Eric.

Fortunately for the sake and future of America, Voegelin goes on to question [as I do] whether he was commonly understood that way, as not following Hooker, by those who cited him at the Founding. If Locke was up to something, and Strauss and Voegelin agree he was, Voegelin argues his sliminess and subterfuge had no real effect.

bpabbott said...

Jon: "the people" never ratified the DOI, rather the Continental Congress did."

OFT: "I will believe Samuel Adams over you any day"

Lying about Adams' words does not change the reality.

Tom Van Dyke said...

OFT---The law of nature, or the natural law---is not exactly synonymous with revelation. Not just philosophically, but even as the Founders understood it.

I think you're holding your own in this one, although you and your correspondent should each refrain from claiming victory IMO---that's a sign of weakness of argument. And third parties should of course butt out. In hockey, third-man-in gets you sent to the penalty box, where you feel shame, according to the American classic film Slapshot.

I wouldn't go near John Adams, to whom I've never accredited any serious knowledge or insight or even influence. He was the George Herbert Walker Bush of the Founding, a guy who was "around." OK, but a bit of a ninny.

Show me where he disagrees with Hooker.

Please see my colloquy with Phil Johnson ["Pinky"] re Locke, Strauss and Voegelin. Life does go on around here without you, Mr. Goswick. I get your back when I can, but rest assured it has nothing to do with my occasional or even frequent agreement with you. I just think that arguments should be outgunned, not outnumbered.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT---The law of nature, or the natural law---is not exactly synonymous with revelation. Not just philosophically, but even as the Founders understood it.>

It has to be synonymous or we are lost, and cannot know the truth. We already went over this last week and you agreed with Wilson that it was synonymous.

Rest assured they taught this doctrine at Princeton, Penn, Rutgers, Yale, Harvard, King's College, and William and Mary.

I just think that arguments should be outgunned, not outnumbered.>

Which hasn't been done yet. Thanks, by the way on my finding the truth on JQ Adams.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Abbott, Mr. Goswick ["Our Founding Truth"] did not lie. His citation of Samuel Adams was accurate, and apt. You have slandered him by saying he is lying.

If you're going to continue to exercise your liberty of speech, please send Mr. Goswick your address so he can exercise what Benjamin Franklin called the Liberty of Cudgel, where any coward who attacks another man's integrity from behind the skirts of the printed word gets justifiably and righteously bitch-slapped.

Are we clear, Ben? Your namesake Mr. Franklin would not have endorsed let alone tolerated your behavior toward Mr. Goswick. And I won't have anyone at this blog treated the way you treat OFT.

Cease and desist, sir!

Tom Van Dyke said...

TVD: The law of nature, or the natural law---is not exactly synonymous with revelation. Not just philosophically, but even as the Founders understood it.>

OFT: It has to be synonymous or we are lost...


Perhaps, but we must bite off pieces of The Truth a little at a time, lest we all puke.

As Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlop says in Slapshot, you guys are f***in' wearin' me out. Right this moment, I'm thinking Slapshot contains all the mysteries of life [it was written by a woman, BTW]. The Founding or at least the revolution, was won by the jocks and not the philosophers, after all.

No wonder George Washington was elected Homecoming King.

Pinky said...

I can't find the link to the Strauss-Voegelin correspondence and need some help.
.

bpabbott said...

TVD: "You have slandered him by saying he is lying."

No I have not. I've been direct and blunt, but have not slandered.

Note, I did not question the validity of the quote by Adams. It is OFT's intentional distortion (a lie) of the meaning of Adams words that I question.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I don't doubt that in a lot of people's minds during the Founding era, and today, the law of nature and the law of revelation always agreed with one another because both came from the same source -- the biblical God. Accordingly, reason and revelation always agreed. And if they didn't seem to then it must have been man's fallen reason which erred. This is what Aquinas taught, and it seems similar to what Blackstone on the surface taught (but as Gary North aptly pointed out, didn't really make a strong case for the theory).

James Wilson taught something similar but his Works teach that revelation could NOT supersede the workings of reason and the senses and the proper role for revelation was to support the findings of man's reason (in other words, revelation would be the handmaiden to reason), NOT the other way around.

All of that said -- whatever the proper way to understand reason v. revelation (I think it's safe to say that 1) there was a consensus that reason and revelation generally, but not always, agreed; but 2) that the Founders as a whole were disagreed on exactly how the two should work with one another) the bottom line remains that "nature" doctrinally defines as what man discovers from reason, NOT necessarily what's written in the Bible. And THAT refutes OFT's argument.

And by the way, whatever one thinks of John Adams, the quotation I offered from him accurately defines what the law of nature IS from a pure doctrinal sense.

If the law of nature and nature's God was doctrinally dependent on revelation, the strict Deists would never had embraced the concept, as they did. The reason why orthodox Christians could embrace the laws of nature and nature's God is because they believed, ultimately, such a concept would complement their orthodox Christianity. But that doesn't change the fact that "nature" was doctrinally defined as what man discovers through reason.

In arguing "the law of nature" doctrinally defines as what's written in the Bible, OFT is arguing something along the lines of 2+2=5 or the sky is red; there is no reasoning with people who hold such erroneous premises. OFT was misled into believing this error by Christian Nationalist sources and is too stubborn to give it up.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ben, your behavior is not acceptable.

Pinky, Faith and Political Philosophy. Enjoy.

http://books.google.com/books?id=In0tFsfFhnQC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=voegelin+strauss+preview&source=web&ots=CFb26fBnaR&sig=VzIU7clWP99aTRevpnp3tOVupg4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result

Jonathan Rowe said...

Whether it's a lie or not, OFT doesn't seem to understand the term "ratified" as Sam Adams uses it.

The DOI never went through ratifying conventions like the Constitution did.

bpabbott said...

TVD: "Ben, your behavior is not acceptable"

I have a similary view of lying.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom, every Christian Philosophy believed God was the author of Natural Law:

But that God is the author of the natural law is proved by the natural reason, if only we limit ourselves strictly to the present condition of humanity, disregarding the question whether his primitive condition was
different from the present, or whence that change has come about.
Pufendorf, CHAPTER III On Natural Law

Pufendorf realized, like all the others, how weak and inferior reason was:

"So much is indeed certain, that the effect of this natural religion[natural law], precisely considered, and with regard to man's present condition, is limited to the sphere of this life, and is of no avail to secure eternal salvation. For human reason, if left to itself, does not know that the depravity which is seen in man's faculties and inclinations came through human sin, and deserves the anger of God and eternal destruction. Hence too the necessity of a Saviour is hidden from the reason, as also His service and merit, likewise the promises of God, given to the human race, and whatever else depends upon these, -- the things through which alone eternal salvation is gained for men, as is known from the Scriptures."

CHAPTER IV On the Duty of Man toward God, or Natural Religion

Tom, I just found another proof, that the law of nature is not just reason; coming from John Adams himself:

"One great advantage of the Christian religion is that it brings the great principle of the law of nature and nations--Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you,--to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people.

John Adams, Dairy entry dated August 14, 1796.

Adams is referring to Mark 12:

29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Love your neighbor as yourself is not taken from Reason. It is from Revelation, and Adams called that the law of nature! [emphasis mine]

Samuel Adams believed the law of nature was revelation and reason:

"In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to the Legislature of Massachusetts,
17 January 1794)

Same with Noah Webster:

Law of nature, is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator, and existing prior to any positive precept....These tendencies or determinations, whether called laws or affections of matter, have been established by the Creator, and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture, ordinances of heaven.

Noah Webster, 1828 definition of law of nature.

And Signer, and Ratifier of the Constitution Rufus King:

[I] hold that all laws and compacts imposing any such condition upon any human being are absolutely void, because contrary to the law of nature, which is the law of God [both revelation and reason], by which he makes his way known to man, and is paramount to all human control."
To C. Gore. Feby. 17, 1820.

The framers did not pervert the theories of all the philosophers.

And THAT refutes OFT's argument.>

Nothing you say can refute my argument. It is logically impossible for your interpretation to be correct.

Adams says reason cannot govern anything,

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked . . . [for] it must be remembered, that although reason ought always to govern individuals, it certainly never did since the Fall, and never will till the Millennium.”
Diggins, ibid., 84–85, 94. He is citing Adams, Defence, 3:289, 479.

So reason must need assistence, and we all know that assistence is the Bible, as James Wilson explains. If reason cannot govern by itself, it cannot be by itself the ultimate arbiter of truth in the DOI, so the law of nature is both reason and revelation as every Christian philosopher and Founding father believed. It is impossible for you, Jon Rowe, to be correct.

Read from the foremost authority in America on the Law of Nature, the first Professor of the Law of Nature, James Wilson:

In compassion to the imperfection of our internal powers, [reason] 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. The law of nature and the law of revelation are both divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is, indeed, preposterous to separate them from each other. The object of both is ― to discover the will of God ― and both are necessary for the accomplishment of that end.
Wilson, Works

The Law of Nature is both reason and revelation. Wilson, being the authority, is all that is needed to establish Jon Rowe, and Glenn Frazer's incorrect interpretation of the law of nature. The words of the other framers and philosophers also
support Wilson:

This ,law of nature, being coeval [existing at the same time - ed.] with mankind, and dictated [1828 edition:
DICTATED, pp. Delivered with authority; ordered; directed; suggested. Reason is discovered, not dictated]
by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original. The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man's felicity.

Blackstone, Hamilton and every Founding Father besides Jefferson.

Here, is John Locke, on reason:

"christianity was, suited to all conditions and capacities; and
in the morality of it now, with divine authority, established
into a legible law, so far surpassing all that philosophy and human reason had attained to, or
could possibly make effectual to all degrees of mankind";

"Whatsoever is divine revelation
ought to over-rule all our opinions, prejudices, and interest,
and hath a right to be received with full assent. Such a submission as this, of our reason
to faith, takes not away the land-marks of knowledge: this shakes not
the foundations of reason, but leaves us that use of our faculties, for which they were
given us."
2nd Treatise

Hooker realized the law of nature [natural law] is from the Bible:

When supernatural duties are necessarily exacted, natural are not rejected as needless. The law of God [Scripture] therefore is, though principally delivered for instruction in the one, yet fraught with precepts of the other also. The Scripture is fraught even with the laws of Nature; insomuch that Gratian defining Natural Right, (whereby is meant the right which exacteth those general duties that concern men naturally even as they are men,) termeth "Natural Right," that which the "Books of the Law and the Gospel do contain."
I,xii,1.

"that one only law, the Scripture, must be the rule to direct in all things."
Hooker Vol I. p. 230

In arguing "the law of nature" doctrinally defines as what's written in the Bible, OFT is arguing something along the lines of 2+2=5 or the sky is red; there is no reasoning with people who hold such erroneous premises. OFT was misled into believing this error by Christian Nationalist sources and is too stubborn to give it up.>

John Locke, and the Founding Fathers refute you and Frazer:

"This is the proper case of miracles, which well attested do not only find credit themselves,
but give it also to other truths, which need such confirmation.
For where the principles of reason
have not evidenced a proposition to be certainly true or false, there clear revelation, as another
principle of truth, and ground or assent, may determine; and so it
may be matter of faith, and be also above reason. Because
reason, in that particular matter, being able to reach no higher than probability, faith gave the determination where reason came short; and revelation
discovered on which side the truth
lay."

And Samuel Adams:

"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature [must be both reason and revelation] for his rule.
Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

John Locke says the Law of Nature is both reason and revelation:

The rules that they make for other men's actions, must, as well as their own and other men's actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i.e. to the will of God [Revelation and Reason], of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it."

- John Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government" - Chapter 11 - Of the Extent of the Legislative Power. (1690).

The Father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason believed the law of nature was both revelation and reason, as usual, he refutes Glenn Frazer and Jon Rowe:

"The laws of nature are the laws of God [Revelation and Reason], whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth."

- George Mason, 1772 [Robin v. Hardaway, General Court of Virginia]

Even Congress says the law of nature is the Bible, they are mentioned always together:

In Provincial Congress,
Cambridge, December 5, 1774.
RESOLVED,
THAT the Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the Fifth of September last, and reported by the honourable Delegates from this Colony, have with the Deliberation due to their high Importance been considered by us, and the American Bill of Rights therein contained, appears to be formed with the greatest Ability and Judgment, to be founded on the immutable Laws of Nature [the Bible, not physical laws] and Reason, the Principles of the English Constitution, and respective Charters and Constitutions of the Colonies; and to be worthy of their most vigorous Support, as essentially necessary to Liberty.

There's way more of this from all the founding fathers:

The Race of Mankind was made in a State of Innocence and Freedom, subjected only to the Laws of God the Creator [both revelation and reason], and through his rich Goodness, designed for virtuous Liberty and Happiness here and forever; and when moral Evil was introduced into the World, and Man had corrupted his Ways before God.

BY THE HONORABLE
JONATHAN TRUMBULL,Esq;
Governor and Commander in Chief of the English Colony of Connecticut in New-England.
A PROCLAMATION.

Our Founding Truth said...

If the law of nature and nature's God was doctrinally dependent on revelation, the strict Deists would never had embraced the concept, as they did.>

Tertullian lived before deists.

James Wilson taught something similar but his Works teach that revelation could NOT supersede the workings of reason and the senses and the proper role for revelation was to support the findings of man's reason (in other words, revelation would be the handmaiden to reason), NOT the other way around.>

You completely distort Wilson's works. What a poor show of scholarship. Wilson believed in miracles, which refutes your theory.

Whether it's a lie or not, OFT doesn't seem to understand the term "ratified" as Sam Adams uses it.>

You have no clue whatsoever what Adams is talking about. You most likely will never find out, until you read my book.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I think you have the makings of a solid argument here, OFT.

However, when you quote an original source, you're not allowed to insert your own words in brackets, in this case "both reason and revelation" and such stuff. In most of the cases, I find your insertions improper.

You can't make the "law of nature" synonymous with the Bible unless the author does, and you must show the smoking gun.

This only weakens your best arguments, which I think your foils should concentrate on if they're truly interested in honest inquiry. Your Pufendorf is good, one of the Locke quotes
["Whatsoever is divine revelation
ought to over-rule all our opinions, prejudices, and interest,
and hath a right to be received with full assent."], and I have always thought that "love your neighbor as yourself" is more Christian than a simple rewording of the Golden Rule.

I also agree with your version of James Wilson---who does tend to equate natural law and scripture---and think Messrs. Rowe and Frazer lean far too heavily on a single word in a single quote [That scripture does not "subsume" reason] to advance a Wilson that simply doesn't jibe with the rest of his works.

And the dispute over whether the D of I was "ratified" is semantics. The colonists united and fought under it, and if they didn't strictly "ratify" in 1776, they ratified it in their hearts through the long years of war and countless references to it thereafter.

It was the Founding ethos, and a nation is an ethos as much as it is its laws.

Our Founding Truth said...

However, when you quote an original source, you're not allowed to insert your own words in brackets>

Really? Barton has countless in his books.

And the dispute over whether the D of I was "ratified" is semantics. The colonists united and fought under it, and if they didn't strictly "ratify" in 1776, they ratified it in their hearts through the long years of war and countless references to it thereafter.>

Bro, I have the real reason of what Adams is talking about. Trust me, it was ratified. I'm not going to leak this out. You have to dig a little and you will the answer.

You can't make the "law of nature" synonymous with the Bible unless the author does, and you must show the smoking gun.>

I did that because the laws of God are both, unless indicated.

and I have always thought that "love your neighbor as yourself" is more Christian than a simple rewording of the Golden Rule.>

And Adams called that the law of nature. There's no way Rowe's quote can be what he thinks it says.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I stand by what I wrote on January 1, 2009 10:08 AM and nothing that OFT vomited up in his post from January 1, 2009 9:03 PM contradicts this. TVD correctly noted that OFT puts his own conclusions in brackets that are not part of the original sources and thereby poisons his argument.

I don't deny that many (but certainly not all) of these philosophers did argue something along the lines of "and it's the biblical God who is the author of Nature after all" or "since God is both the author of nature and revelation, the two will agree." However that doesn't change the fact that "nature" doctrinally defines as what is discoverable by man's reason, not necessarily what's written in the Bible.

Even Blackstone proves my point. He begins by doctrinally defining the law of nature as what's discoverable by reason period, because that's how "nature" defines in a 2+2=4 sense. Only AFTER doing that does he say things like it was the biblical God after all that authored nature and the law of revelation is superior because man's reason is fallen.

If the FFs wanted to make revelation the chief focus of the DOI, they would have invoked it by name, which they did not.

Our Founding Truth said...

If the FFs wanted to make revelation the chief focus of the DOI, they would have invoked it by name, which they did not.>

The Law of Nature and Nature's God is revelation and reason. Your mind can't reconcile it.

I don't deny that many (but certainly not all) of these philosophers did argue something along the lines of "and it's the biblical God who is the author of Nature after all" or "since God is both the author of nature and revelation, the two will agree." However that doesn't change the fact that "nature" doctrinally defines as what is discoverable by man's reason, not necessarily what's written in the Bible.>

You're hopeless. Revelation and reason cannot be separated, period. James Wilson and John Adams proved it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, you didn't answer OFT's best arguments, which I helpfully identified. There is a conflation or semi-conflation of natural law and scripture by many major figures, and there is a condemnation of reason as corrupt by many of them too.

OFT, if you keep using brackets, you are mixing fact and opinion, and if David Barton does it, it supports the dismissals of him.

So keep doing it if you want to be disqualified from scholarly discussion, because you're breaking the rules.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT says:

Your mind can't reconcile it.

It's not just my mind. It's the mind of the overwhelming majority of experts with bona fide credentials of whatever political stripe. For instance, as conservative Christian former President of University of Dallas, Bob Sasseen, put it:

The theology of the Declaration is a natural theology grounded in both the laws of nature and the laws of nature's God. [The latter "laws" could be a reference to Revelation and the laws knowable only by Faith ( e.g., in "The Gospel of Jesus Christ"). But I doubt it. More probably it is a reference to the fact that the natural law is not morally obligatory if not rooted in Divine command (which is law to his creatures), or in what St. Thomas [Aquinas] called "the eternal law."] I believe that the Declaration's principles and argument refute the claims of the Secularists who would kick God out of our politics, laws, and customs. Nor do they support the claims of those Christians who proclaim that our regime is founded on the Gospel or its Christian principles. Compatibility is one thing; identity is another.

Our regime does not recognize a triune God whose essence is love. Our regime is ordered to freedom and justice, not to the advent of the Kingdom of God. Nor does our regime command either love of God or love of neighbor as does the Gospel. Finally, Christ founded a Church, not a polity. Salvation is to be found only in Christ and through Christ. It is not to be found in politics, or through politics, or through the founding or reconstitution of the political and social order. That belief is idolatry.


So whose interpretation are we going to believe, OFT? Yours alone or the rest of the world's? Maybe the problem is with you.

Jonathan Rowe said...

There is a conflation or semi-conflation of natural law and scripture by many major figures, and there is a condemnation of reason as corrupt by many of them too.

I think I did answer this when I noted that even for those philosophers/figures who did do this (and not all of them did, for instance the Deists accepted the laws of nature and nature's God while rejecting revelation entirely) they nonetheless defined "nature" doctrinally as what man discovers from reason, not necessarily what's written in the Bible. As Blackstone put it:

UPON these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.

He's identifying these as two separate concepts. Blackstone also says:

The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man's felicity. [Bold mine.]

I put "upon comparison" in bold because it proves my point. "Nature" doctrinally defines as what man discovers from reason and even Blackstone (and every other natural law philosopher who believed God's Truth could be Found in reason and revelation) defined "natural" truth as that which is discoverable from reason, and "revealed" truth, from the Bible. You'll find James Wilson does the same. Only later (when comparing your results) do you find whether they agreed or not.

Now to the smoking gun. The FFs did not invoke reason and revelation in the DOI. If they did, they would have said something similar to Blackstone's passage here:

UPON these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.

Notice they ONLY invoked the law of nature, which defines as "discoverable by reason," and ignored ENTIRELY "the law of revelation." They chose to invoke only ONE of those TWO Foundations that Blackstone thought were so important.

This makes sense: The FFs formed a consensus that Truth could be found from natural reason but differed on how exactly reason and revelation were situated vis a vis one another, which trumped what or whether *any* truth could be found in revelation, which the strict deists, who also assented to the natural theology of the DOI, did not believe could.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Let me add one more clarification. I wrote:

"Only later (when comparing your results) do you find whether [reason and revelation] agreed or not."

And at THAT point ("upon comparison") the philosophers determined exactly how reason and revelation agreed or if they agreed at all. Blackstone apparently thought they'd always agree, but, if they seemingly didn't, that revelation was superior because man's reason was fallen. This was Aquinas' position. Wilson, I still stand by my analysis, said they'd both agree, but revelation's chief role was to support the findings of man's reason, and that revelation could not supersede the findings of man's reason and the senses. Jefferson, Franklin and J. Adams believed the Bible was errant and that man's reason determined what parts of the partially inspired Bible were legitimate (they believed in BOTH reason AND revelation, but clearly believed reason trumped revelation). And the strict deists like Paine, Allen, and Palmer believed NONE of the Bible was inspired and that Truth could be found ONLY via nature-reason.

ALL of these groups were agreed that God existed and His Truth could be found at LEAST through reason. And that's why they invoked the laws of nature and nature's God because it formed a lowest common denominator among the different groups who differed on the proper relationship between reason and revelation. "Nature" = what man discovers from reason period. And, accordingly, the laws of NATURE and NATURE'S God (a double invocation of reason) puts the focus of politics on reason and ignores (or consigns to the private sphere) revelation.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You keep saying that, Jon, but not proving it.

Blackstone: "The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man's felicity."

I took your boldface out. Blackstone plainly puts revelation as part of the original law of nature.

As do James Wilson and Pufendorf, and even the Locke quote OFT provides leads in that direction as well.

You can't just push the panic button and lean on Jefferson and Adams' private writings, or God forbid, Thomas Paine.

As a matter of fact, before we started kicking all this around the past few weeks and I saw all these quotes for myself, I was under the impression that all these guys kept scripture and natural law a lot more separate than they actually did.

I expected to find a more Thomistic view, which draws the distinction closer to where you do, but instead I find the truth of the Bible taken more as a given, and the Enlightenment reification [deification!] of reason sublimated to an understanding of man's "fallen" nature, that his reason is easily corrupted by his passions, and therefore is less trustworthy.

So that's what I've got out of the discussion, Jon, and where the evidence [especially James Wilson's whom I've read a lot of now] leads me.

What is interesting is that this "Bible in the air" was not cited as authority, but simply as self-evident truth, a baseline if you will. Therefore, quoting the Bible as authority was unnecessary---and unnecessarily provocative, as interpretations differed on this or that---because reason could do the trick.

And if you can find a single Founder or Founding influence who says publicly that the Bible is wrong about x because reason says so, please provide it.

At some point you're going to have to make an affirmative argument for the endlessly-repeated assertion that reason was put at the top of the pile. I don't see it, in fact I see just the opposite.

Pinky said...

.
I don't claim any superior knowledge of history. I'm here to learn--not teach.
.
BUT, it does appear there is a looming spectre of paradox in the Christian Nationalist proposition. IF a nation were begun on basic Christian principles then there must be some documentation regarding the idea of obedience to, and fear of, the Biblical God in its founding documents. Instead, in America's case, just the exact opposite is true.

There may be great agreement between Deism and what is called the Judeo Christian tradition in that there is a "Divine Law"; but, it seems the argument between the two is settled on behalf of Deism in America's Founding.
.
I am sure there are those who can address this paradox more clearly--on both sides.
.
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well Tom I am probably then going to have a write a new front page post on this very topic. But I think I am making more than just assertions, rather speaking from the record. Since Wilson has become a focal point, I'll AGAIN quote him:

IV. That law, which God has made for man in his present state; that law, which is communicated to us by reason and conscience, the divine monitors within us, and by the sacred oracles, the divine monitors without us. This law has undergone several subdivisions, and has been known by distinct appellations, according to the different ways in which it has been promulgated, and the different objects which it respects. As promulgated by reason and the moral sense, it has been called natural; as promulgated by the holy scriptures, it has been called revealed law. [Bold mine.]

He's clearly DEFINING natural law as that which is promulgated by reason and the senses, and DEFINING revealed that as that which is written in scripture. THAT'S what I mean when I write "nature" doctrinally defines as what man discovers from reason. It's because it does.

I realize he then goes and says they come from the same source, that you shouldn't separate them, that they'll work together and otherwise gives his opinion on how reason and revelation should work together. But the point is, the FFs and philosophers, while they ALL agree that there was a God given natural law that could be discovered from reason, disagreed on the exact proper relationship between the two.

Here is another quotation of Wilson's:

We discover it by our conscience, by our reason, and by the Holy Scriptures. The law of nature and the law of revelation are both divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is, indeed, preposterous to separate them from each other. The object of both is ― to discover the will of God ― and both are necessary for the accomplishment of that end.

Notice how he's talking about TWO different channels for discovering God's will.

Jefferson, Franklin and J. Adams in appealing to the NATURE channel only in the DOI, IGNORED or left alone "the law of revelation." They didn't deny it; they just left it alone.

And regarding Wilson's finding reason to be deficient, he finds the Bible deficient as well. They are BOTH deficient, and they BOTH, therefore, need one another. But he also makes clear that revelation's role is to SUPPORT reason, not the other way around.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Sorry, I forgot to put [Bold mine.] after my second quotation of Wilson's. Anyway here is where Wilson notes the role of revelation is to support the findings of man's reason NOT the other way around.

III. 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. [Bold mine.]

In the very first sentence of this passage Wilson notes the role of revelation is to "assist" and "support" man's reason.

Here is the passage where Wilson also notes REVELATION to be deficient:

Thus it is with regard to reason, conscience, and the holy scriptures. Where the latter give instructions, those instructions are supereminently authentick. But whoever expects to find, in them, particular directions for every moral doubt which arises, expects more than he will find. [Bold mine.]

Next Wilson says something again which supports the contention that reason is primary, revelation is secondary.

[The scriptures] generally presuppose a knowledge of the principles of morality; and are employed not so much in teaching new rules on this subject, as in enforcing the practice of those already known, by a greater certainty, and by new sanctions. They present the warmest recommendations and the strongest inducements in favour of virtue: they exhibit the most powerful dissuasives from vice. But the origin, the nature, and the extent of the several rights and duties they do not explain; nor do they specify in what instances one right or duty is entitled to preference over another. They are addressed to rational and moral agents, capable of previously knowing the rights of men, and the tendencies of actions; of approving what is good, and of disapproving what is evil.

This entirely comports with what we've seen from Franklin defending Hemphill from heterodoxy where he notes that Christianity is a SECONDARY revelation founded upon the FIRST which is the law of nature discoverable from reason.

And then Wilson winds up his conclusion:

These considerations show, that the scriptures support, confirm, and corroborate, but do not supercede the operations of reason and the moral sense. The information with regard to our duties and obligations, drawn from these different sources, ought not to run in unconnected and diminished channels: it should flow in one united stream, which, by its combined force and just direction, will impel us uniformly and effectually towards our greatest good.

I don't see how Wilson, like Franklin before him, could any more clearly explain that reason comes from revelation comes second, without getting himself into trouble.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But he does. You bold one sentence

The law of nature and the law of revelation are both divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source.

but argue around the following sentence

It is, indeed, preposterous to separate them from each other.

And note he use of "appellation": the two laws are called by different names, but

That law, which God has made for man in his present state

plainly says that the two are but one law.

Look, I expected to find something different ala Suarez and Grotius, but that's not what's being said here.

There is a difference between the Bible's "deficiency" in not formulating every twist and turn of human life, and the corruption of the human faculty of reason by his passions, which Wilson refers to elsewhere.

At some point you're going to have to illustrate where reason trumped the Bible in the eyes of the Founders, because here's the thing: the "law of nature" as described by Hobbes is completely different than the Christian version that guarantees equality and liberty.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I know you don't like me quoting their private letters. But Jefferson and J. Adams spoke at length on how reason trumped the Bible. I think Franklin did too -- I was just rereading our debate vis a vis Franklin and Hemphill which has striking parallels. Franklin's defense of Hemphill is strikingly similar to what Wilson is arguing in Works here. And both were public documents. They weren't exactly free to openly declare how reason proves certain parts of the Bible wrong, which I'm sure they privately believed and I think Franklin's example of the Old Testament Jael is apt. I saw how you wrote about it in a post that you saved for later.

I think we need to explore more of what it means that reason/the light of nature is the first revelation God gave to man. And that the Bible/scripture is secondary, and an improvement on the first (natural reason).

I understand this as saying figure out truth chiefly from reason and the Bible's role is to provide a secondary support and pick up some of the slack. And I see both Wilson AND Franklin making this claim in their public arguments.

This is about as public as the theistic rationalists could go in asserting reason trumped revelation. If they denied the infallibility of the Bible and asserted how reason trumped revelation publicly (as they did privately) they would have gotten in trouble with the forces of religious correctness.

Instead, in their public arguments, they chiefly concentrated on what man can discover from natural reason and tipped their hats to the scripture (while privately engaging in biblical criticism).

You have to wonder, though, with the utter lack of quoting the Bible as authority and (Wilson hardly does it all) and their excessive engaging in philosophical reasoning, whether they really took their caps off in the presence of the biblical God, as Gary North put it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Speak of the Devil. I see you just posted it.

Gregg Frazer said...

When you quote someone (in this case, Locke), it is intellectually dishonest to put together two sentences which are 40 PAGES APART in the original without an ellipsis!!! This is what OFT did in the Locke quote partially addressed to me. By doing so, he wrenched Locke's words completely out of context and completely changed their meaning.

I do not have time to explain here Locke's WHOLE argument IN CONTEXT to those who are unlikely to be open to what he really said. I simply encourage interested and open readers to investigate the broader context of the quotes taken out of context from Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," Vol. II, chapters XVI-IX.

Locke summarizes his own argument thusly in italics for emphasis: "REASON MUST BE OUR LAST JUDGE AND GUIDE IN EVERYTHING." He then addresses revelation. Speaking of reason, he says: "consult it we must, and by it examine whether it be a revelation from God or no; and if reason finds it to be revealed from God, reason then declares for it as much as for any other truth, and makes it one of her dictates."

For Locke, the ultimate standard is always reason -- even for revelation.

And for -- watch out, I'm about to mention it again -- the theistic rationalists, the same was true. They believed that there was some revelation legitimately from God (part of what separated them from the deists) -- but that was to be determined by reason.

To an unnamed (in case this ends up outside the comments section) participant in the discussion: you say "if you can find a single Founder or Founding influence who says publicly that the Bible is wrong about x because reason says so, please provide it." This is a very clever tactic on your part -- knowing that public men living in a nominally Christian environment and dependent upon public approval for their positions of power could not "publicly" say that the Bible is wrong. No politician will even do that TODAY, much less in the 18th century.

If you'll admit private correspondence (where one can see what people REALLY believed -- not what they said for public approval), you'll discover John Adams saying of the Fall of man in Genesis that it "is either an allegory, or founded on uncertain tradition, that it is an hypothesis to account for the origin of evil, adopted by Moses, which by no means accounts for the facts."

Adams likewise questioned the reliability of the Ten Commandments -- saying that "authentic copies" of the original were lost. Speaking of the coming millennial kingdom of Christ, which he identified as being founded on revelation, he said to Jefferson: "You and I hope for splendid improvements in human society .... Our faith may be supposed by more rational arguments than any of the former ...."

Adams further said: "Philosophy, which is the result of reason, is the first, the original revelation of the Creator to his creature" and that "no subsequent revelation, supported by prophecies or miracles, can supersede it." [i.e. the Bible]

Also remember that Adams said that he would not believe revelation delivered DIRECTLY to him BY GOD on Mt. Sinai if it contradicted what his reason told him about the Trinity.

Jefferson said of the Old Testament: "the whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful, that it seems vain to attempt minute inquiry into it." His favorite word for the New Testament aside from the words of Jesus was "dunghill." Even with the words of Jesus, he used his reason to separate what "genuine, and his own" from what was "attributed" to him.

If taking a pair of scissors to the Gospels and cutting out whatever one considers irrational is not saying that "the Bible is wrong about x because reason says so," then it would seem to be impossible to provide such proof.

Just in case, I'll add that Jefferson said of the rest of the New Testament that it was full of "superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications" along with "so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth" and "trivialities and imbecilities."

Like Locke, Jefferson said: "Whether the particular revelation which you suppose to have been made to yourself were real or imaginary, your reason alone is the competent judge. For dispute as long as we will on religious tenets, our reason at last must ultimately decide, as it is the only oracle which God has given us to determine between what really comes from him and the phantasms of a disordered or deluded imagination."

And he told his beloved nephew to "keep your reason firmly on the watch in reading" and to judge the "pretensions" of biblical writers "by your own reason."

And on and on and ....

Their standard tactic was to deny the legitimacy of the parts of the Bible (most of it) that they considered to be irrational -- that is, to deny that it was legitimate revelation from God.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"if you can find a single Founder or Founding influence who says publicly that the Bible is wrong about x because reason says so, please provide it." This is a very clever tactic on your part...


No, it's essential to my argument. You guys are going to have to make a case without Jefferson and Adams' secret mumblings, with which I'm quite familiar by now. We are discussing the "public religion" of the Founding, are we not?

Gregg, it's a pity that you don't catch everything I write here, especially per Locke, where I favor the view that he was up to something [per Strauss and Voegelin].

However, I also argue that the public understanding of Locke was as a Christian, and James Wilson explicitly writes this. I've posted the quote and will dig it out again if you can't find it.

Gregg Frazer said...

Tom, in my Locke comments, I was scolding another participant -- not you. I do read everything you write during the times that I'm involved in the discussion. I respect your opinion -- that's why I answer you and try to persuade you.

Of course James Wilson considered Locke a Christian, because he and Locke were of the same camp and shared the same view concerning what constituted Christianity. But their view was not that of the 18th century churches.

Also, if you're talking about someone being a Christian in the members of a club sense (identified with a Christian denomination), then both Locke and Wilson would count. But if you're talking about what they believe ....

But let me get something straight: you do not have to produce anything said in favor of Christianity or the Bible as a source for the public documents -- the default position is that you're right. Plus, any (of dozens) statements we quote must be PUBLIC statements or they don't count.

And you call my position idiosyncratic and narrow!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, I wish I had more of your work to go on, which is why I've postponed my threatened rebuttal. However, your recent clarification of your pet term still states that reason was held as primary, even while allowing a Christian influence.

I'm still unconvinced, although a year ago, I'd have assumed and allowed for a greater role for the "Enlightenment."

I don't see Locke and James Wilson as peas in a pod.

As for my default position that I'm "right," that the Bible was in the air, the other side argues its position is the default. I believe I provide more affirmative argument than the skeptics who ask for chapter and verse of Biblical influence. Besides Jefferson and Adams post-presidential private letters, I hear little if any evidence that reason is put above the Bible.

So yes, I certainly do insist that public statements be the proof for the Founding of America's "public religion," a point it looks like I'm going to have to insist upon everytime somebody pulls out an 1813 letter from Jefferson or Adams.

And neither am I a strict Bible guy---I favor looking at the 1700-odd years of Christian thought in between Jesus and the Founding that teased out the notions of liberty, equality, and "rights." These things were also "in the air," and I find it obtuse to ignore them, as if the Founders and the KJV were dumped off a turnip truck one day in 1776.

Gregg Frazer said...

Franklin in a PUBLIC essay "On the Providence of God in the Government of the World": "I intend to offer you nothing but plain Reasoning ... unsupported by the Authority of any Books or Men how sacred soever; because I know that no Authority is more convincing to Men of Reason than the Authority of Reason itself."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, Gregg, but I previously acknowledged that the Bible was not argued from authority, which is what makes it interesting. Franklin does here what I'd expect him to do, that he can make the arguments via reason, because reason and the Bible were adjudged to not be in conflict.

I requested examples of how reason was asserted over the Bible in an area of conflict.

Look, these arguments I'm making are not where I started with all this. I expected to find copious examples of what I'm asking for, I just haven't.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

The fact that when publicly speaking, the key Founders left the Trinity and their exact views on the Bible alone was part of their gentlemanly code and was key to getting the orthodox to assent to their republican plan.

But the fact that when articulating their political principles, they ignored the Trinity and didn't appeal to the Bible as the infallible "trump," but rather excessively engaged in natural reasoning talk, I think speaks volumes on how "orthodox Christianity" or the Bible was NOT the foundation of their politics. Rather a more generic philosophical Providentialism was.

On reason, revelation & public consensus. There probably was a consensus that the two generally agreed. But the populace and the Founders split on how exactly one should be situated vis a vis the other. Was the Bible infallible? Partially inspired? If so how much? Which passages weren't inspired? Was the Bible inspired at all? (There were some Deists like Paine, Allen, and Palmer who didn't think so). These were issues that were too divisive to be involved in politics; so they ignored them and instead founded American on natural reason. There's plenty of quotations that you have seen -- from Adams' the governments of the US were founded on "reason and the senses" to Noah Webster's "Empire of Reason" -- that demonstrate this.

Tom Van Dyke said...

These were issues that were too divisive to be involved in politics;

I agree, but not with your bifurcation of "the Founders" and the people. We could [and should in my view] simply say that since even the "orthodox" disagreed with each other, best to use the neutral language of reason.

As a case in point, have you ever seen me do otherwise? Why would I argue the Bible to either a fundamentalist like OFT or an atheist like Mr. Abbott?

so they ignored them and instead founded American on natural reason.

Well, here's the problem, and why Christianity and the Bible can't be elided---there was a competing version of "natural reason" out there, and a perfectly valid and logical one---Thomas Hobbes'. But Hobbes was held in very low esteem by the Founding generation and was even exoterically rebuked by John Locke himself. [Regardless of whether Locke was up to some Hobbsian sneakiness himself.]

bpabbott said...

TVD: "Why would I argue the Bible to either a fundamentalist like OFT or an atheist like Mr. Abbott?"

Thank you for that, btw! ;-)

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT, if you keep using brackets, you are mixing fact and opinion, and if David Barton does it, it supports the dismissals of him.>

Dude, I just looked up what can be done on brackets, you must be thinking of parentheses. In Original Intent, Barton uses brackets to explain words over one thousand times. And I have other books where authors do it. It's common practice. I'm explaining what "the laws of God" is.

More probably it is a reference to the fact that the natural law is not morally obligatory if not rooted in Divine command (which is law to his creatures),>

Tom did you read this? A conservative Christian former President of University of Dallas, Bob Sasseen?

The Bible makes it clear, reason is a divine command, in the heart of every man.

[The latter "laws" could be a reference to Revelation and the laws knowable only by Faith ( e.g., in "The Gospel of Jesus Christ").>

Thank God, this guy isn't in leadership anymore. You cannot separate reason from revelation, they are a package deal.

The FFs did not invoke reason and revelation in the DOI. If they did, they would have said something similar to Blackstone's passage here:>

Again, logically, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Glenn Frazer and Jon Rowe to be correct, period! It's them claiming 2+2=3.

Our first Professor of the law of nature said they (revelation and reason) cannot be separated
A little girl could understand that. Where reason is, revelation must be.

Reason in the DOI cannot be by itself. Mr. Frazer, Whoever gave you the Dr. label has no clue about the founding fathers.

Wilson, I still stand by my analysis, said they'd both agree, but revelation's chief role was to support the findings of man's reason, and that revelation could not supersede the findings of man's reason and the senses.>

Again, another virtual impossibility! Wilson believed in miracles by affirming the flood. So he believed revelation could supercede reason. It is impossible for your nonsense to be correct!

And then Wilson winds up his conclusion:>

Since I already proved you are misinterpreting Wilson, but more important, you are perverting Wilson's work!

J. Adams spoke at length on how reason trumped the Bible.>

After he retired. Bro, do you have a comprehension problem? Read this slowwwwwwwly:

The great and almighty Author of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the World, can as easily Suspend those Laws whenever his providence sees sufficient reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles of J [Jesus] C [Christ]. Altho' some very thoughtfull, and contemplative men among the heathen, attained a strong persuasion of the great Principles of Religion, yet the far greater number having little time for speculation, gradually sunk in to the grossest Opinions and the grossest Practices.
John Adams diary March 2, 1756
http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/cfm/doc.cfm?id=D1&numrecs=6&archive=all&hi=on&mode=&query=%20MARCH%202%2C%201756&queryid=&rec=2&start=1&tag=text#firstmatch

It is clear Adams believed the ENTIRE Bible inspired. After he retired, means nothing.

Locke summarizes his own argument thusly in italics for emphasis: "REASON MUST BE OUR LAST JUDGE AND GUIDE IN EVERYTHING.">

Would you bet your Dr. label on it?

And for -- watch out, I'm about to mention it again -- the theistic rationalists,>

You have one guy [Jefferson] who believed this nonsense.

If you'll admit private correspondence (where one can see what people REALLY believed -- not what they said for public approval), you'll discover John Adams saying of the Fall of man in Genesis that it "is either an allegory, or founded on uncertain tradition, that it is an hypothesis to account for the origin of evil, adopted by Moses, which by no means accounts for the facts."

This shows you haven't done your homework on Adams, because he didn't believe what you wrote until he retired, which means nothing:

"Thus we are equally obliged to the Supream Being for the Information he has given us of our Duty, whether by the Constitution of our Minds and Bodies or by a supernatural Revelation. For an instance of the latter let us take original sin. Some say that Adams sin was enough to damn the whole human Race, without any actual Crimes committed by any of them. Now this Guiltis brought upon them not by their own rashness and Indiscretion, not by their own Wickedness and Vice, but by the Supream Being. This Guilt brought upon us is a real Injury and Misfortune because it renders us worse than not to be, and therefore making us guilty upon account of Adams Delegation, or Representing all of us, is not in the least diminishing the Injury and Injustice but only changing the mode of conveyance."
John Adams diary August 15, 1756.

Adams understood the injury, but never acquired the remedy; Grace through Faith.

Franklin in a PUBLIC essay "On the Providence of God in the Government of the World": "I intend to offer you nothing but plain Reasoning ... unsupported by the Authority of any Books or Men how sacred soever; because I know that no Authority is more convincing to Men of Reason than the Authority of Reason itself.">

Franklin is a contradiction; not to be used.

Tom Van Dyke said...


Dude, I just looked up what can be done on brackets, you must be thinking of parentheses. In Original Intent, Barton uses brackets to explain words over one thousand times. And I have other books where authors do it. It's common practice. I'm explaining what "the laws of God" is.


You're wrong. Brackets may only be used for clarification, as I did in my recent post on Franklin, and I also used my initials to denote they weren't Franklin's words. You use them for argument. You can't bracket "revelation" everytime you see the words "law of nature."

You must do that in the paragraph afterword, separate from the quote itself, as it's your argument, not the original quote.

If David Barton does it, it's no wonder he's vilified by scholars. He's the worst example you could possibly follow.

You also need to append "bold face mine" or "italics mine" when you want to emphasize something in an original quote. These are the scholarly rules, and you flout them at the destruction of your own point and credibility. The next time you get called out for it, I'm not going to help out, and neither will I respond when you address your remarks to me, as you do frequently. You call my own credibility into question if I countenance your breaking the rules. So give me a break here.

bpabbott said...

TVD: "If David Barton does it, it's no wonder he's vilified by scholars. He's the worst example you could possibly follow."

8-) ... Welcome aboard Tom!

Jonathan Rowe said...

"REASON MUST BE OUR LAST JUDGE AND GUIDE IN EVERYTHING."

Would you bet your Dr. label on it?


LOL. This is an exact quote of Locke's.

OFT, you are over your head here in this discussion and quite frankly you are embarassing yourself.

Our Founding Truth said...

You can't bracket "revelation" everytime you see the words "law of nature.">

I didn't write that, I put both.

Then I better re-post them:

In Provincial Congress,
Cambridge, December 5, 1774.
RESOLVED,
THAT the Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the Fifth of September last, and reported by the honourable Delegates from this Colony, have with the Deliberation due to their high Importance been considered by us, and the American Bill of Rights therein contained, appears to be formed with the greatest Ability and Judgment, to be founded on the immutable Laws of Nature and Reason, the Principles of the English Constitution, and respective Charters and Constitutions of the Colonies; and to be worthy of their most vigorous Support, as essentially necessary to Liberty. [bold face mine]

This is the Congress of the United States claiming our Bill of Rights are based on rights from the law of nature and reason. The law of nature cannot be referring to physical laws of nature, such as: laws of gravity, etc. The law of nature must be refering to the Bible.

This one quote refutes Glenn Frazer and Jon Rowe's nonsense. I don't even need the quotes of Locke or Adams, etc.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT, you are over your head here in this discussion and quite frankly you are embarassing yourself.<

Rowe, You should at least be reprimanded or banned for spewing this nonsense; perverting James Wilson's, and John Adams' words. It must be intentional. Like I said, how can you have a law degree?

bpabbott said...

OFT: "The law of nature cannot be referring to physical laws of nature, such as: laws of gravity, etc."

How is it that the laws of nature are not physical laws?

They appear to be one and the same to me. By what principle do you make this claim?

OFT: "Rowe, You should at least be reprimanded or banned for spewing this nonsense."

Now that is nonsese. This forum is intended (I think) to be a place of scholarly discussion and debate. It is not a place for the propgation of lies, deceit, and fraud perpetrated in the pursuit of some ideological goals.

Jon's participation more than anyone embodies that purpose. There are other excellent contributers as well, but you are not of them.

In any event, if you'd like to participate in a honest manner, I suggest you might begin by answering my inquiry above.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

Nothing that you quoted from the "Provincial Congress, Cambridge, December 5, 1774" has anything to do with the Bible. You are simply reading in to the record something that is not there to suit your wishful thinking.

"Like I said, how can you have a law degree?"

Not only do I have a law degree (JD) but I have an advanced law degree (an LL.M.) and an MBA.

My First Amendment professor (JD Harvard University) from law school is an absolutist on separation of Church & State grounds, thinks the Establishment Clause bans "under God" in the pledge, "So Help Me God" from the President's inaugural and demands "In God We Trust" off our currency. He certainly thinks Congressional Chaplains are unconstitutional, as well as vouchers to religious schools, any kind of government prayer or any government money aid going to religious entities.

Jonathan Rowe said...

And pardon me for noticing the contradiction in OFT's quotation. It purports to be from 1774, but it is discussing the Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution?!? They weren't ratified until 1791.

Our Founding Truth said...

Plus, any (of dozens) statements we quote must be PUBLIC statements or they don't count.>

How about this one sir:

"The Congress...desirous...to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty devoutly to rely.... on His aid and direction... do earnestly recommend...a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life,...and through the Merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain His pardon and forgiveness."

Journals of Congress (1905), Vol. IV, pp. 208-209, May 17, 1776.

Do unitarians believe in a mediator to the Father? [emphasis mine]

The FF's were not theistic rationalists! [emphasis mine] Give it up!

But their view was not that of the 18th century churches.>

Let's see their words supporting your accusation.

You have a lot of nerve refuting direct quotes from John Locke. You have no basis whatsoever for distorting John Locke's views on miracles and reason. Here Locke affirms raising the dead:

Thus, that part of the angels rebelled against God, and thereby lost their first happy state; and that the dead shall rise, and live again; these and the like, being beyond the discovery of reason, are purely matters of faith; with which reason has directly nothing to do.

CHAP. XVIII.: Of Faith and Reason, and their distinct Provinces. - John Locke, The Works, vol. 2 An Essay concerning Human Understanding Part 2 and Other Writings [1689]
http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=762&chapter=80844&layout=html&Itemid=27

The entire work is about reason inferior to revelation, because reason cannot attain it.

Our Founding Truth said...

How is it that the laws of nature are not physical laws?

They appear to be one and the same to me. By what principle do you make this claim?>

Have you ever heard of the Bill of Rights?

bpabbott said...

OFT: "The entire work is about reason inferior to revelation, because reason cannot attain it."

You'll have a tough time applying a reasoned argument to convince anyone that revelation trumps reason.

bpabbott said...

BPA: How is it that the laws of nature are not physical laws? They appear to be one and the same to me. By what principle do you make this claim?>

OFT: Have you ever heard of the Bill of Rights?

Sure, have you ever bothered to answer a question?

How do you define; (1) laws of nature, and (2) physical laws?

How are they different?

Our Founding Truth said...

How is it that the laws of nature are not physical laws?

They appear to be one and the same to me. By what principle do you make this claim?>

Read it again, slowwwwwwly, especially the bold:

In Provincial Congress,
Cambridge, December 5, 1774.
RESOLVED,
THAT the Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the Fifth of September last, and reported by the honourable Delegates from this Colony, have with the Deliberation due to their high Importance been considered by us, and the American Bill of Rights therein contained, appears to be formed with the greatest Ability and Judgment, to be founded on the immutable Laws of Nature and Reason, the Principles of the English Constitution, and respective Charters and Constitutions of the Colonies; and to be worthy of their most vigorous Support, as essentially necessary to Liberty. [bold face mine]

This is the Congress of the United States claiming our Bill of Rights are based on rights from the law of nature and reason. The law of nature cannot be referring to physical laws of nature, such as: laws of gravity, etc. The law of nature must be refering to the Bible.

Ben, have you figured out that our unalienable rights can't come from physical laws? Do you have it yet?

And pardon me for noticing the contradiction in OFT's quotation. It purports to be from 1774, but it is discussing the Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution?!? They weren't ratified until 1791.>

You see Tom, this is ignorance. Jon Rowe has no idea what he's talking about, so he claims the quote is bad. And I'm not going to tell him what the congress means. I will leave him in his ignorance.

How can you not reprimand ignorance like that?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Actually OFT, I didn't claim the quote was bad. I don't think you understand what "Bill of Rights" they were talking about, because the one that we claim as "our" Bill of Rights, the First Ten Amendments, didn't exist in 1774.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

To everyone else here, I'd imagine, you are coming across like a raving homeless person who sells pencils from a tin cup and wears strange messages on his shirt.

Raven said...

79 posts! WOW!

You guys all seriously need to get girlfriends...or boyfriends if you lean that way.

Can we PLEASE call it like it is here. OFT, NOBODY ON THE ENTIRE DAMN PLANET CARES ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY! Go back to your church and don't come out until the Rapture!!! We'll call you when it comes!

People, you are listening to a delisional hypocrite here. Would you pay attention to a scitzophrenic person in a mental ward? Well, that is basically what you are doing here. OFT is the same guy who tried to convince me that snakes can talk, simply because there are ancient carving in Egypt of talking snakes (he believes that this proves the B.S. Genesis story). He's also of that group which finds INCREDIBLE ENLIGHTENMENT from the stupid-ass Creation Museum, where "scientists" prove the Bible to be PERFECTION!!!

OMG, OFT!!! Are you really serious? I am beginning to think that you are an employee with Candid Camera!

Raven said...

"A discussion is an enlightening exchange of knowledge; an argument is an exchange of stupidity."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1961)

"And listening to a person rant on how the Bible does not contain ONE SINGLE Flaw is retarded! I mean, even Jesus wouldn't be that stupid!"

-Raven, (2009).

bpabbott said...

OFT: "Ben, have you figured out that our unalienable rights can't come from physical laws? Do you have it yet?"

sigh ... no.

You're making the claim, please provide the evidence. Why is it that liberty is inconsistent with physical laws?

bpabbott said...

Raven: "OFT, NOBODY ON THE ENTIRE DAMN PLANET CARES ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY! Go back to your church and don't come out until the Rapture!!! We'll call you when it comes!"

With any luck he and those like him will go and leave us in peace ;-)

Pinky said...

.
As before, I side with Raven.
.
This present and ongoing argument about roots has been raging for somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 years, It has to do with the mixing of the ancient Athenian and Jerusalemic ideas of reality.
.
The longer the argument goes on the more all those involved are able to articulate their perspectives. My personal opinion is that we must be careful not to limit ourselves to the historical perspective so much so that we forget we've come a long ways in the overall argument.
.
Which is to say there are other ways of couching the terms. That should almost go without having to say it. But, when participants find they are dealing with the main antagonist, they sometimes allow themselves to be suckered in.
.
Two lines come down in history connected to those separate roots and they meet head on in 1776 with a great conflagration! I cannot imagine that the intellectuals of the day did not know that they were dealing with the basic idea of how human beings should be governed. Will it be by a ruler that gets his or her authority from God who sits on a throne on high or will it come from the governed?"
.
It has always been this way; but, humanity has not always been able to articulate it; there are (1) believers, (2) unbelievers, and (3) those in between.
.
The argument that the Revolution settled was about how men should be ruled: will God be the ruler or will men rule themselves?
.
OFT seems to think, if he wins this argument, then he and his cohorts will be able to impose their "sharia" on all America.
.
To Hell with that!!
.

Anonymous said...

This forum has promise, but you really need to improve your policies on honest debate and ultimately when to deny access to certain commenters given the dysfunctional dialogue that is constantly going on here. Bloggers and commenters at this forum are continuously having to fisk OFT's dishonest assertions which is a self-defeating exercise in itself since it doesn't move the debate forward. Get rid of him, then your debates can be more centered on honest assertions.

Pinky said...

.
Obviously, we don't know who you are, Anonymous.
.
But, to exclude someone because they don't get in line? I think that would be worse than letting them be. Once we bridle speech, we are set on a course to our own destruction. Who gets to stay? That was what puritanism was all about, right?
.
OFT provides the participants and other followers with a valuable lesson.
.

Our Founding Truth said...

I don't think you understand what "Bill of Rights" they were talking about, because the one that we claim as "our" Bill of Rights, the First Ten Amendments, didn't exist in 1774.>

You don't understand! I never said FEDERAL Bill of Rights. You assumed it, because you don't have a clue what you, and most everyone on this blog is taking about.

Oh, but your one, disputed, quote, 18 years after the fact, to his brother, supercedes the will of an entire people, an entire Christian educational philosophy, expounded by Thomas Aquinas to William Blackstone.

That you reject the foremost authority, and our first professor of the law of nature, who claimed reason and revelation cannot be separated, thereby destroying your entire theory, proving you can't even comprehend what the meaning of the term,

laws of nature (reason) and the laws (Hooker's: that which the books of the law and Gospel do contain) of Nature's God mean.

The fact that lonang is both reason and revelation, and cannot be separated proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, reason cannot be left alone in the Declaration of Independence.

Your steadfast pride and refusal to admit you're in error, is the definition of ignorance!

Our Founding Truth said...

Raven, Pinky, Anonymous, bpabbott,>

This blog isn't about learning the will of the founding fathers, it's about reading the rants of buggling monkees, jumping behind their chief gorilla.

Pinky said...

.
You might have a point, OFT; but, getting frustrated, calling names, and throwing tantrums just makes you look like a sore loser.

On top of that, you are being had.
.
Don't be so recalcitrant. When you goof, admit it.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The question of the relation of God or revelation to natural law [not technically the same thing as the "law of nature," either] was openly contested back in the day, and remains contested today. No one can claim absolute truth of what they thought back then, because there was no unanimity.

Homework. Peace, I'm out:

http://mcu.edu/papers/grotius.htm

Brad Hart said...

OFT writes:

"This blog isn't about learning the will of the founding fathers, it's about reading the rants of buggling monkees, jumping behind their chief gorilla."

Up until now I intentionally chose to stay out of this argument because of how ridiculous it has become. But OFT's recent temper tantrum is out of line. If you don't like the blog PLEASE feel free to not visit. It's that simple.

Nice spelling, BTW! "buggling monkees." I like that. Try spell check next time. It's free and harmless.

bpabbott said...

Pinky: "OFT seems to think, if he wins this argument, then he and his cohorts will be able to impose their "sharia" on all America. To Hell with that!!"

Pinky, thanks for the comment. Personally I find you to represent the constructive middle ground.

You rarely critique anyone. I'm sure it is uncomfortable for you.

My respects!

bpabbott said...

OFT: "You don't understand! I never said FEDERAL Bill of Rights. You assumed it, because you don't have a clue what you, and most everyone on this blog is taking about."

correction: "[*I*] don't understand! I never said FEDERAL Bill of Rights. [*I*] assumed it, because [*I*] don't have a clue what you, and most everyone on this blog is taking about." ... "*I*" == "OFT"

For what it is worth, we're talking about how "the religious history of America's founding." (check the top of the page). You are being dishonest (again) in projecting your error upon another. The Federal Bill of Rights is of principle importance. The prior variant of Virginia is of a lesser significance to this blog.

OFT ends his rant with: "Your steadfast pride and refusal to admit you're in error, is the definition of ignorance!:

I assume you were looking at in a mirror when you made that remark.

OFT: "This blog isn't about learning the will of the founding fathers, it's about reading the rants of buggling monkees."

Make that "monkey" and I'll agree ;-) ... opps did I miss the ellipses again?

Our Founding Truth said...

Raven, Pinky, Anonymous, bpabbott, and Jon,>

This blog isn't about learning the will of the founding fathers, it's about reading the rants of buggling monkees, jumping behind their chief gorilla.>

Sorry about this post, you guys. I apologize to you and anyone else for the comment, it was classless. We can all agree to disagree.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Apology accepted from my end.

Let's wipe the slate clean start over on civility grounds.

Brad Hart said...

I second Jon's sentiments. Thanks for the apology. In addition, I apologize for any of my comments that may have offended you as well. I look forward to future disagreements that are based on the history and not just darts thrown at one another.