Friday, February 20, 2009

Founding Era Republican Enlightenment Clergy & Theology, Part III

This post focuses on the notion oft-repeated in Founding era political pulpits that the Ancient Israelites had a "republic." The Biblical record does not teach this. Such a notion is wholly a product of Enlightenment rationalism, not of historic orthodox biblical Christianity. And that's because the concept of liberal democratic theory-republicanism is chiefly a product of Enlightenment (not the Bible). Liberal democratic theory-republicanism holds universal rights are discovered through reason. It wasn't just the deists, but also unitarians and orthodox Christians who embraced this. As such, if the Bible is true (which many of them believe it was) its truth had to conform to liberal democratic theory-republicanism. Hence a major rewriting of the Bible took place in the political pulpits of the Founding era. In fact, I would argue the embracing of Locke's state of nature theory, combined with excessively using natural law reasoning and arguing the Ancient Israelites had a "republic" were all part of an ideological movement that terminated in the French Revolution. Indeed, as I have shown in pasts posts, many of these ministers and theologians believed the French Revolution would user in a millenial republic of liberty, equality and fraternity that fully vindicated the universal rights of man.

And with that, let us turn to Samuel Langdon's "The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the United States." (Langdon was the President of Harvard from 1774-80.) I am going to bold everything that is not biblical in Langdon's revisionist sermon.

As to every thing excellent in their constitution of government, except what was peculiar to them as a nation separated to God from the rest of mankind, the Israelites may be considered as a pattern to the world in all ages; and from them we may learn what will exalt our character, and what will depress and bring us to ruin.

Let us therefore look over their constitution and laws, enquire into their practice, and observe how their prosperity and fame depended on their strict observance of the divine commands both as to their government and religion.

They had both a civil and military establishment under divine direction, and a complete body of judicial laws drawn up and delivered to them by Moses in God’s name. They had also a form of religious worship, by the same authority, minutely prescribed, designed to preserve among them the knowledge of the great Creator of the Universe, and teach them to love and serve him; while idolatry prevailed through the rest of the world: and this religion contained not only a public ritual, but a perfect, though very concise, system of morals, comprehended in ten commands, which require the perfection of godliness, benevolence, and rectitude of conduct.

[...]

But the great thing wanting was a permanent constitution, which might keep the people peaceable and obedient while in the desert, and after they had gained possession of the promised land. Therefore, upon the complaint of Moses that the burden of government was too heavy for him, God commanded him to bring seventy men, chosen from among the elders and officers, and present them at the tabernacle; and there he endued them with the same spirit which was in Moses, that they might bear the burden with him. Thus a senate was evidently constituted, as necessary for the future government of the nation, under a chief commander. And as to the choice of this senate, doubtless the people were consulted, who appear to have had a voice in all public affairs from time to time, the whole congregation being called together on all important occasions: the government therefore was a proper republic.

And beside this general establishment, every tribe had elders and a prince according to the patriarchal order, with which Moses did not interfere; and these had an acknowledged right to meet and consult together, and with the consent of the congregation do whatever was necessary to preserve good order, and promote the common interest of the tribe. So that the government of each tribe was very similar to the general government. There was a president and senate at the head of each, and the people assembled and gave their voice in all great matters: for in those ages the people in all republics were entirely unacquainted with the way of appointing delegates to act for them, which is a very excellent modern improvement in the management of republics.

Moreover, to compleat the establishment of civil government, courts were to be appointed in every walled city, after their settlement in Canaan, and elders most distinguished for wisdom and integrity were to be made judges, ready always to sit and decide the common controversies within their respective jurisdictions. The people had a right likewise to appoint such other officers as they might think necessary for the more effectual execution of justice....

But from these courts an appeal was allowed in weighty causes to higher courts appointed over the whole tribe, and in very great and difficult cases to the supreme authority of the general senate and chief magistrate.

A government, thus settled on republican principles, required laws; without which it must have degenerated immediately into aristocracy, or absolute monarchy. But God did not leave a people, wholly unskilled in legislation, to make laws for themselves: he took this important matter wholly into his own hands, and beside the moral laws if the two tables, which directed their conduct as individuals, gave them by Moses a complete code of judicial laws.


Langdon's injecting words and concepts into the biblical record reminds me of Elizabeth Clare Prophet, a cult leader I used to watch for fun, who mixed all world religions into a New Age synthesis with ultra right wing politics. As someone who believed in the Truth of both Hinduism and Christianity, Ms. Prophet said Jesus said in John 8:7 "Let he who is without KARMA cast the first stone." Langdon does something similar with the Ancient Israelites and republicanism.

As Dr. Gregg Frazer reacts:

The sermons seem to depict God's role as something similar to Rousseau's legislator; He disinterestedly established the foundational law for the benefit of society, but did not live under it. In their version and consistent with democratic theory, God established it all [quoting Langdon's sermon] "for their happiness" rather than to achieve the fulfillment of a sovereignty determined plan. By their account, God submitted the laws to the people for their approval and acceptance (as per Rousseau's legislator).

-- Frazer, PhD thesis, pp. 393-94.


As for the actual politics of the Ancient Israelites, Dr. Frazer notes:

First, as [Robert] Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.” Second, “(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….There is nothing voluntary or consensual about the biblical covenant; and the most severe punishments are threatened by God for disobedience.” Third, “insofar as the covenant with Israel sanctions specific forms of government, the main ones are illiberal and undemocratic;” including patriarchy, theocracy, and kingships established by divine right. Fourth, “the Bible shows that God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and supports national liberation, not for the purpose of enjoying their political and economic rights, but for the purpose of putting on the yoke of the law in the polity of Moses.” Fifth, “the content of the divine law revealed to Moses consists, in the first place, of the Ten Commandments rather than the Ten Bill of Rights, commanding duties to God, family, and neighbors rather than establishing protections for personal freedom.” Finally, the combination of judicial, civil, ceremonial, and dietary laws imposed on the people “regulate all aspects of religious, personal, and social life.” The history of Israel, therefore, had to be radically rewritten to provide support for the demands of political liberty and for republican self-government.

-- Ibid, pp. 18-19, quoting Robert Kraynak, "Christian Faith and Modern Democracy," pp. 46-49.

31 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

Wow! Thanks Jon, for the information from Langdon. Langdon's opinion was obviously taught at seminary, and to the framers; that Israel was a Republic ruled by consent of the governed. It all sounds so familiar.

Pinky said...

.
This may or may not be a little off topic; but, I found this statement regarding the French Revolution to be interesting, "The first organized conspiracy against the colonial regime in Venezuela occurred in 1797 and was directly inspired by the French Revolution."
.
I found it here. where I was reading some Venezuelan history in response to a statement made by Brian Tubbs in the "President For Life" blog.
.
I'm wondering if other revolutions were so set off in other colonies around the world.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes, OFT, but as Dr. Frazer notes the idea that Israel had a republic is not an orthodox reading of the Bible but a theistic rationalist reading of the Bible. After Kraynak, he argues this constituted a radical revision of the Bible. As an orthodox fellow who believes the Bible inerrant and infallible, it does you no good to "read in" things to the Bible that aren't there. Rather it makes you like the Mormons or the Muslims, someone who adds things to the Word of God (the OT & NT) and claims they are divinely inspired. Not that I have a problem with that, but I'm sure you do.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, I followed the link and read Samuel Langdon's sermon. It appears to me upon careful reading that his argument is not "theistic rationalism" atall---it's completely biblical!

"Therefore, upon the complaint of Moses that the burden of government was too heavy for him, God commanded him to bring seventy men, chosen from among the elders and officers, and present them at the tabernacle; and there he endued them with the same spirit which was in Moses, that they might bear the burden with him."

Whether or not Dr. Kraynak is right or wrong about how accurately Rev. Langdon reads the Bible is a concern for our times perhaps, but our concern here is what the Founders thought.

Langdon was a classmate of Samuel Adams and appears to have been quite influential in that time. And so, according to Langdon, representative government was ordained by God! As for the content of the laws:

"A government, thus settled on republican principles, required laws; without which it must have degenerated immediately into aristocracy, or absolute monarchy. But God did not leave a people, wholly unskilled in legislation, to make laws for themselves: he took this important matter wholly into his own hands, and beside the moral laws if the two tables, which directed their conduct as individuals, gave them by Moses a complete code of judicial laws."

Now, later on, Langdon says God's devising the content of the laws was necessary because Israel was such an unsophisticated people, prone to idolatry---turning their backs on the true God---and therefore fallen quickly into wickedness.

"Now as to their [Mosaic] ritual; however contemptible, and even ridiculous, it may seem to men whose ideas are all modern, and who proudly contemn divine revelation; and notwithstanding it is now abrogated by a far more glorious revelation of grace and truth by Jesus Christ; no religious institution could be more perfectly accommodated to those early ages of the world, and the situation of the Israelites in the midst of idolaters, or better prepare the way for the truth and mercy of the gospel. In those ages the minds of men were not sufficiently cultivated to receive that religion which is spiritual and simple, detached from sensible objects, and destitute of worldly grandeur."

Armed with the religion of Jesus Christ, then, these new Americans wouldn't need divine intervention to draft laws that were righteous and key to their own survival and thriving. The hand of God was still manifest, and here we see the overriding belief in Divine Providence that marked the Founding era:

"The God of heaven hath not indeed visibly displayed the glory of his majesty and power before our eyes, as he came down in the sight of Israel on the burning mount; nor has he written with his own finger the laws of our civil polity: but the signal interpositions of divine providence, in saving us from the vengeance of a powerful irritated nation, from which we were unavoidably separated by their inadmissible claim of absolute parliamentary power over us; in giving us a Washington to be captain-general of our armies, in carrying us through the various distressing scenes of war and desolation, and making us twice triumphant over numerous armies, surrounded and captivated in the midst of their career; and finally giving us peace, with a large territory, and acknowledged independence; all these laid together fall little short of real miracles, and an heavenly charter of liberty for these United-States. And when we reflect, how wonderfully the order of these states was preserved when government was dissolved, or supported only by feeble props; with how much sobriety, wisdom, and unanimity they formed and received the diversified yet similar constitutions in the different states; with what prudence, fidelity, patience, and success, the Congress have managed the general government, under the great disadvantages of a very imperfect and impotent confederation; we cannot but acknowledge that God hath graciously patronized our cause, and taken us under his special care, as he did his ancient covenant people.

Or we may consider the hand of God in another view. Wisdom is the gift of God, and social happiness depends on his providencial government; therefore, if these states have framed their constitutions with superior wisdom, and secured their natural rights, and all the advantages of society, with greater precaution than other nations, we may with good reason affirm that God hath given us our government; that he hath taught us good statutes and judgments, tending to make us great and respectable in the view of the world."


Plainly, Rev. Langdon isn't crediting the "Enlightenment" or "theistic rationalism" with the auspicious conditions that led to the drafting and eventual ratification of the Constitution, but the hand of Providence, the more perfect religion of Jesus Christ, and the gift of using right reason ["Wisdom is the gift from God"] to put it all into play.

Throughout the sermon, Langdon hammers home the point with example after example of how Israel fell into despotism, corruption, and chaos when they turned their backs on God, the source of both law and legal authority. And so, he sums up with a final precaution:

"Will you hear me patiently a little farther, while I say one thing more of very great importance, which I dare not suppress. I call upon you to preserve the knowledge of God in the land, and attend to the revelation written to us from heaven. If you neglect or renounce that religion taught and commanded in the holy scriptures, think no more of freedom, peace, and happiness; the judgments of heaven will persue you."

[We note here also for our resident biblical literalist that Langdon notes that Jesus Christ "abrogated" the Mosaic law; this is not controversial, as Christendom/Western Civilization has set aside the strictness of Mosaic law over a thousand years before, albeit not necessarily its principles. That Jesus also said He came to "fulfill" the [Mosaic] Law is not at issue here: we are not discussing the Bible itself, but the Founding era's understanding of it. What we see here that the Founders---at least Langdon and we assume those like Samuel Adams---viewed America as more than just analagous to the Old Covenant, but a manifestation of the New Covenant. It's a completely biblical argument, and that will have to do.

I myself am continually surprised at how religious and theological these guys were. I'd been under the impression they were all deists or "theistic rationalists" or something!]

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

There's still more of a nuance to this that I think you aren't adequately appreciating:

Plainly, Rev. Langdon isn't crediting the "Enlightenment" or "theistic rationalism" with the auspicious conditions that led to the drafting and eventual ratification of the Constitution, but the hand of Providence,...

I think you are right that Langdon was presenting his case as "biblical" and "Christian." What Kraynak & Frazer argue is they weren't. Rather that Langdon's notion was part of the "Enlightenment" zeitgest. When I saw Gordon Wood lecture at the James Madison Program at Princeton, he noted, the men of that era didn't sit back and say "hey were are going thru an Enlightenment right now," rather that's a construct historians, after the fact, came up with. (Though they did use terms like "enlightened" and "reason" quite a bit as qualifiers and descriptors.) This is what gives Dr. Frazer the right to term their creed "theistic rationalism" (a term they didn't use) or you the right to term it "Judeo-Christian" (ditto).

The notion that the Ancient Israelites had a "republic" was part of this Enlightenment-theistic rationalist zeitgeist, as was the notion that the French Revolution would "end history" and bring on a biblical millenial republic of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Jefferson & Franklin -- the poster boys for the "Enlightenment" that actually impacted the Founding --read the biblical record as saying "rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" and used the imagery of Moses & Exodus to support such a reading. These were men who clearly believed reason trumps revelation and consequently the biblical record was "malleable," fit for "reading in" republican ideals.

I think Frazer & Kraynak argue this is what Langdon et al. did when they argued the Ancient Israelites had a republic.

It really stretches the biblical record to claim rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God as biblical. Yet so does trying to claim the compatibility between evolution and the Bible. And yet again, Langdon was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian, like my friend Jim Babka who also believes in both the Bible and evolution. So, I would conclude, if Langdon's ideals are "biblical" or "Christian" it's that "open" form of Christianity Babka endorses (indeed the one that is "open" to natural law truths not contained in the Bible), not the "closed" Sola Scriptura, the Bible is the infallible word of God kind of Christianity that OFT, Dr. Frazer and most of the "Christian Nation" crowd believe in.

If that's the standard for "biblical" or "Christian" Langdon's ideas about Ancient Israel having a "republic" are not.

Tom Van Dyke said...


It really stretches the biblical record to claim rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God as biblical.


Jon, that idea and argument goes back at least to the 1100s and John of Salisbury, well before the Enlightenment and "rationalism."

Further, these are NOT secular ideals gussied up in religious language. The essential arguments are religious, God as the source of law and of legal authority.

I'm afraid I'm far more concerned with what Rev. Langdon actually said than what Messrs. Kraynak and Frazer think of it. Neither am I concerned about what fundamentalists in the 21st century might make of sola scriptura. The use of "orthodoxy" as "prevailing interpretation" here does not apply---especially after the Reformation, the Bible was re-read and reinterpreted on its face, and Langdon's argument is a novel one, but one well within any plain reading of scripture and consistent with sola scriptura.

I understand Kraynak's and Frazer's "nuance" just fine but reject their use of hindsight [or revisionism], and explicitly addressed it with my counterargument---in that our sole concern is how the Founders understood the compatibility of the revolution and the Founding with God's will and the Bible.

According to Langdon and his ilk, America was God's work, not man's, every step of the way, an explicitly religious argument.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Jon, that idea and argument goes back at least to the 1100s and John of Salisbury, well before the Enlightenment and "rationalism."

Dr. Frazer might remark that "non-biblical" ideas trace back well before the "Enlightenment." Remember they believe that natural law, Aristotelian theory that it is, is not "biblical."

Further, these are NOT secular ideals gussied up in religious language. The essential arguments are religious, God as the source of law and of legal authority.

That's why Frazer, Kraynak, et al. don't use terms like "secular," but "theistic" or "religious," not "biblical" or "Christian," or "Judeo-Christian."

[T]he Bible was re-read and reinterpreted on its face, and Langdon's argument is a novel one, but one well within any plain reading of scripture and consistent with sola scriptura.

I agree with this first clause in your sentence. Whether Langdon's theory is consistent with a plain reading of scripture and sola scriptura is debatable.

...in that our sole concern is how the Founders understood the compatibility of the revolution and the Founding with God's will and the Bible.

Why should this be our "sole concern"? It's certainly telling, but not what this inquiry is all about. For instance, Mormons believe that the Founders believed Scripture and revolution were entirely compatible. And they have an entire additional Testament to the Bible to help them prove their case.

I do concede (after Dr. Frazer) that the FFs thought reason & revelation "generally" agreed (some kind of meaningful consensus is to be found in there). However that does NOT answer questions as to whether the Bible is infallible or whether reason trumps revelation or vice versa.

According to Langdon and his ilk, America was God's work, not man's, every step of the way, an explicitly religious argument.

I agree and I think Jefferson, Franklin, and J. Adams (and other notable "key Founders") agreed. They also thought God was the perfection of man's reason and that no revelation from this rational God could contradict the findings of man's reason. This was all part of an idea/project that was at once very religious and enlightenment rationalistic at the same time.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: This post focuses on the notion oft-repeated in Founding era political pulpits that the Ancient Israelites had a "republic." The Biblical record does not teach this.

If Republican Government is rule by Law, (God's Law) with consent of the governed, why isn't ancient Israel Republican? Each republic may differ from one another, but the framers (Thomas Paine, Noah Webster, et.al) believed the Bible does teach Israel was a Republic.

Law is supreme in a Republic:

"No good government but what is republican...the very definition of a republic is'an empire of laws, and not of men.''

John Adams, "Thoughts on Government" January, 1776

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: Whether Langdon's theory is consistent with a plain reading of scripture and sola scriptura is debatable.

Orthodox Christians like Langdon and the rest of the framers, would not have theorized this if it wasn't in the Bible.

Tom Van Dyke said...


OFT: Orthodox Christians like Langdon and the rest of the framers, would not have theorized this if it wasn't in the Bible.


Well, it seems Langdon's arguments are consistent with the Bible, without requiring much "stretching." We shouldn't discount the possibility that they were influential precisely because they actually were good, solid arguments!

JR: However that does NOT answer questions as to whether the Bible is infallible or whether reason trumps revelation or vice versa.

True. That would be far beyond our poor ability to add or detract.

But I haven't found a single example of reason "trumping" revelation in some area of conflict at the Founding. [Except for slavery, of course, which is sui generis.]

If we had such an example, that would take us out of the realm of rhetoric and the abstract.

Pinky said...

.
Congregationalism was a form of republicanism.
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Langdon was a congregational minister for nearly thirty years before he was appointed president of Harvard College.
.
The argument regarding the authority of government had been going on for hundreds of years by the time Langdon gave this sermon and it was focused on the ideas of where authority for governance originates.

Of course, Langdon as a Congregational minister, would teach the movement was biblical in origin.
.
So, can we say congregationalism played an important role in the development of American Republicanism?

Our Founding Truth said...

First, as [Robert] Kraynak pointed out, “the biblical covenant is undemocratic: God is not bound by the covenant and keeps His promises solely out of His own divine self-limitation.” Second, “(t)he element of voluntary consent is missing from the covenant with Israel….>

This is why Kraynak, Frazer, and the other secular theorists that promote this blatant revisionism should be ignored:

Joshua 24

15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

16And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;

19And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. [bold face mine]

20If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

21And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

22And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

23Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.

24And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. [bold face mine]

26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

27And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

Deuteronomy 4:31
(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. [bold face mine]

Deuteronomy 5:2
The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. [bold face mine]

Deuteronomy 5:3
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

Deuteronomy 7:2
And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Deuteronomy 7:12
Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:

Deuteronomy 8:18
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 9:9
When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:

Deuteronomy 9:11
And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 9:15
So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.

Deuteronomy 10:8
At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.

Deuteronomy 17:2
If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant,

Deuteronomy 29:1
These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

The covenant was started with
Abram:
Genesis 15;18:
"In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: As Dr. Gregg Frazer reacts:

The sermons seem to depict God's role as something similar to Rousseau's legislator; He disinterestedly established the foundational law for the benefit of society, but did not live under it.
-- Frazer, PhD thesis, pp. 393-94
.

The Divine Law was not established for the benefit of Israel or any society. The Moral Law is the representation of the Divine attributes of God Himself! (emphasis added)

Matthew 5:18
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

It appears John Adams believed Israel was a republic, and Natural Law was an immutable attribute of God.

"Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system."

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
Quincy, 28 June, 1813.

Jonathan Rowe said...

If you look in the body of the argument you see that both Kraynak and Frazer (neither of whom are secularists by the way) answered your claim by noting a biblical covenant with God is not the same thing as a "social contract" between man & government.

In a liberal democracy (i.e., the Declaration of Independence) men freely CONSENT to be bound by the social contract. The Israelites did not "freely adopt" the law of Moses. That's where Langdon was being revisionist.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The Divine Law was not established for the benefit of Israel or any society. The Moral Law is the representation of the Divine attributes of God Himself!

And Samuel Langdon claimed the divine law was established for the "happiness of Israel," NOT for the purpose of representing the divine attributes of God. Now you see why Drs. Frazer and Kraynak term Langdon a revisionist. Perhaps you should join them and agree.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system."

And these were the general principles of Christianity which united Deists, Atheists and Protestants who believe in nothing along with Unitarians and orthodox Christians.

Jonathan Rowe said...

And btw OFT, your definition of republic v. democracy is self serving and revisionist. BOTH democracies AND republics believe in rule of law and democracy v. republic has NOTHING to do with God. In a direct democracy it's "the will of the people" that is most important. A republic has certain "checks" on the will of the people. Representatives instead of "the people" and making laws, and separation of government powers and limitations on thereof are the main republican checks on majority democratic rule in a democratic-republic. "Republicanism" has absolutely nothing to do with God's law in the Bible. This is an example of David Barton's malign, revisionist influence.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: The Israelites did not "freely adopt" the law of Moses. That's where Langdon was being revisionist.

The Israelites did adopt the covenant freely, the contract is the same as a social contract, with God being the best government.

That's where Langdon was being revisionist.>

Kraynak and Frazer are obviously wrong, based on the consent of the Jews to abide by the covenant. Langdon was not revisionist one bit.

And Samuel Langdon claimed the divine law was established for the "happiness of Israel," NOT for the purpose of representing the divine attributes of God.>

The omission does not support your assertion, especially coming from a Pastor. Just google "Divine Law" and Langdon.

And these were the general principles of Christianity which united Deists, Atheists and Protestants who believe in nothing along with Unitarians and orthodox Christians.>

Adams' subjective intention means nothing. How the people (with Langdon), believed the eternal priniciples as biblically defined, is what matters, and the Bible says the Divine Law by exposing sin (error), is Love, manifested in Jesus Christ.

republic has NOTHING to do with God.>

John Adams believed God's people (Israel) formed a type of Republic, so a republic does have something to do with God.

Representatives instead of "the people" and making laws, and separation of government powers and limitations on thereof are the main republican checks on majority democratic rule in a democratic-republic. "Republicanism" has absolutely nothing to do with God's law in the Bible.>

Israel's Republic was the greatest Republic there ever could be. Representatives picked by God Himself, through Moses (Ex 18:21), rather than by a sinful majority. God mandated the separation of powers doctrine in 750 BC (Is 33:22). Israel, slightly different than modern republics, nevertheless, a republic. God's Law is the basis of Republican Government! Without it, there is anarchy. Man's reason must be written down to become Law, and once it's written down it's null and void if contrary to the Bible. This proves Reason and Revelation are the same thing, and cannot be divided.

David Barton appears to have it right.

Tom Van Dyke said...



Congregationalism was a form of republicanism.
.
Langdon was a congregational minister for nearly thirty years before he was appointed president of Harvard College.
.
The argument regarding the authority of government had been going on for hundreds of years by the time Langdon gave this sermon and it was focused on the ideas of where authority for governance originates.

Of course, Langdon as a Congregational minister, would teach the movement was biblical in origin.
.
So, can we say congregationalism played an important role in the development of American Republicanism?


This seems to be a very strong point, Pinky. Langdon explicitly claims republicanism [representative government, anyway], is biblical.

As for Langdon being a "revisionist," that's an intramural Christian theological argument. Fact is, he was there at the Founding, and for our purposes, the study of religion and the Founding, he is definitive.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Israel's Republic was the greatest Republic there ever could be. Representatives picked by God Himself, through Moses (Ex 18:21), rather than by a sinful majority. God mandated the separation of powers doctrine in 750 BC (Is 33:22). Israel, slightly different than modern republics, nevertheless, a republic.

You are as bad as the Mormons & the Muslims, claiming to believe in the Bible but then adding things to the OT & NT that clearly aren't found within the biblical record.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Israel's Republic was the greatest Republic there ever could be. Representatives picked by God Himself, through Moses (Ex 18:21), rather than by a sinful majority.

According to America's Founding "republican" order, the sinful majority wouldn't "make laws," but rather would elect representatives who would "make laws." And btw, your fradulent agenda is showing. You hem and haw about how the "sinful majority" are the "ratifiers" of the law for one purpose that suits your agenda, and then deny the legitimacy of the "sinful majority" for other purposes. Your argument is one big, indefensible, contradiction. This is one reason why nobody but nudnicks takes the "Christian Nation" theory seriously.

Keep it up and we will have to term you OFN or "Our Founding Nudnick."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Representatives picked by God Himself, through Moses (Ex 18:21), rather than by a sinful majority.

Pure nonsense, OFT, contradicting Samuel Langdon---the topic at hand---and as Mr. Rowe notes, contradicting yourself. What you describe here now is not republicanism but rule by God---"theocracy" in its purest definition.

Your argument is one big, indefensible, contradiction. This is one reason why nobody but nudnicks takes the "Christian Nation" theory seriously.

JR, please the "corollary to the straw man fallacy" remark elsewhere. Mr. Goswick proposes an extreme version of the Christian nation theory and is far more easily refuted than say, Joseph Story and John Marshall, who were not nudnicks. Mr. Goswick does not quit when he's ahead.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: You are as bad as the Mormons & the Muslims, claiming to believe in the Bible but then adding things to the OT & NT that clearly aren't found within the biblical record.

Come on Johnny, I don't think you know the Bible quite like I do.

Jon: According to America's Founding "republican" order, the sinful majority wouldn't "make laws," but rather would elect representatives who would "make laws."

So when did you believe our 18th century representatives were sinless?

Our Founding Truth said...

Representatives picked by God Himself, through Moses (Ex 18:21), rather than by a sinful majority.

Pure nonsense, OFT, contradicting Samuel Langdon---the topic at hand---and as Mr. Rowe notes, contradicting yourself. What you describe here now is not republicanism but rule by God---"theocracy" in its purest definition.>

Was Moses inspired? Did Moses choose the leaders of groups of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands? Did the people consent? Yes. The people had freedom of conscience with God as the authority, and they could leave their tribe whenever they wanted. Israel was a theocracy under a Republican order, that's why Langdon called it a Republic. So where is the contradiction with Langdon?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sophistry, OFT, and already asked and answered. "Theocracy under a Republican order" is a blatant contradiction of terms, and using a capital "R" in "republican" brings the political party into further disrepute.

We're finished here.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom: "Theocracy under a Republican order" is a blatant contradiction of terms,

You will have to tell that to Langdon, Thomas Paine, Noah Webster, and John Adams. Adams believed the key to a Republican government was that Law was King, in that sense Israel was a Republic, ruled by God:

"No good government but what is republican...the very definition of a republic is'an empire of laws, and not of men.'' [bold face mine]

John Adams, "Thoughts on Government" January, 1776

Thomas Paine said the same thing:

"Near three thousand years passed away, from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of Republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven." [bold face mine]

-Common Sense.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:Nudnick

What's a nudnick?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Google the term and then click on one of the Dictionary websites.

Our Founding Truth said...

A pest! Come on Johnny, I'm making you think. By the way, I found a great many preachers of the founding, such as Samuel Cooper believed Israel was a Republic.

The only place the founders could learn this was seminary. If Israel was a Republic, Republicanism started at least 1100 years before Plato.

God ruled the most important decisions, but the representatives decided the others, as Langdon said, there was a Senate.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes,

I am going to blog on Cooper. He was, as far as I know, a unitarian, and his beliefs were just as "novel" as Langdon's. (Dr. Frazer writes about Cooper by the way, just after he writes of Langdon in his thesis.) I don't have a problem with "open" Christianity that takes a "loose approach" to the text and reads things in there. But YOU should have a problem with it.

Langdon and Cooper are the equivalent of "Let he who is without KARMA cast the first stone."

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon: Yes,

I am going to blog on Cooper. He was, as far as I know, a unitarian


I think he was too.

Jon: I don't have a problem with "open" Christianity that takes a "loose approach" to the text and reads things in there. But YOU should have a problem with it.

I would have a problem with it if I could find it, or it was presented. The main component of a republic, that John Adams says, is in there. The secondary components are there too, evidenced by Representatives chosen by God (Moses) ruling for the people, and consent of the governed, however, I'm not sure about the other aspects of republicanism.

I think Langdon was highly influential, being the President of Harvard during the Revolution.