Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Primer on Natural Law

by Murray Rothbard

[Editor's Note: Murray Rothbard was an interesting fellow---an atheist, a libertarian...and a Thomist, one who embraces Thomas Aquinas' system of looking at things. As a libertarian, Rothbard takes Thomism to some interesting places, but for now, an excerpt from his explanation of Thomism and natural law. There's a common perception today that "reason" was somehow discovered in the West with the coming of the Enlightenment. But reason had a seat at the table long before David Hume, and although the Founders didn't quote the "Catholic" Aquinas (1224-1274 AD!), his influence carried through the "Schoolmen" to the Protestants Hugo Grotius and Richard Hooker, through Locke, and to the Founding generation.]

From The Ethics of Liberty (read the whole thing!):


AMONG INTELLECTUALS WHO CONSIDER themselves "scientific," the phrase "the nature of man” apt to have the effect of a red flag on a bull. "Man has no nature!" is the modern rallying cry; and typical of the sentiment of political philosophers today was the assertion of a distinguished political theorist some years ago before a meeting of the American Political Science Association that "man's nature" is a purely theological concept that must be dismissed from any scientific discussion.

In the controversy over man's nature, and over the broader and more controversial concept of "natural law," both sides have repeatedly proclaimed that natural law and theology are inextricably intertwined. As a result, many champions of natural law, in scientific or philosophic circles, have gravely weakened their case by implying that rational, philosophical methods alone cannot establish such law: that theological faith is necessary to maintain the concept. On the other hand, the opponents of natural law have gleefully agreed; since faith in the supernatural is deemed necessary to belief in natural law, the latter concept must be tossed out of scientific, secular discourse, and be consigned to the arcane sphere of the divine studies. In consequence, the idea of a natural law founded on reason and rational inquiry has been virtually lost.

The believer in a rationally established natural law must, then, face the hostility of both camps: the one group sensing in this position an antagonism toward religion; and the other group suspecting that God and mysticism are being slipped in by the back door. To the first group, it must be said that they are reflecting an extreme Augustinian position which held that faith rather than reason was the only legitimate tool for investigating man's nature and man's proper ends. In short, in this fideist tradition, theology had completely displaced philosophy. The Thomist tradition, on the contrary, was precisely the opposite: vindicating the independence of philosophy from theology and proclaiming the ability of man's reason to understand and arrive at the laws, physical and ethical, of the natural order. If belief in a systematic order of natural laws open to discovery by man's reason is per se anti-religious, then anti-religious also were St. Thomas and the later Scholastics, as well as the devout Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius. The statement that there is an order of natural law, in short, leaves open the problem of whether or not God has created that order; and the assertion of the viability of man's reason to discover the natural order leaves open the question of whether or not that reason was given to man by God. The assertion of an order of natural laws discoverable by reason is, by itself, neither pro- nor anti-religious.

Because this position is startling to most people today let us investigate this Thomistic position a little further. The statement of absolute independence of natural law from the question of the existence of God was implicit rather than flatly asserted in St. Thomas himself; but like so many implications of Thomism, it was brought forth by Suarez and the other brilliant Spanish Scholastics of the late sixteenth century. The Jesuit Suarez pointed out that many Scholastics had taken the position that the natural law of ethics, the law of what is good and bad for man, does not depend upon God's will. Indeed, some of the Scholastics had gone so far as to say that:

"...even though God did not exist, or did not make use of His reason, or did not judge rightly of things, if there is in man such a dictate of right reason to guide him, it would have had the same nature of law as it now has."


Dutch Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius declared, in his De Iure Belli ac Pacis (1625):

"What we have been saying would have a degree of validity even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God."

And again:

"Measureless as is the power of God, nevertheless it can be said that there are certain things over which that power does not extend. . . . Just as even God cannot cause that two times two should not make four, so He cannot cause that which is intrinsically evil be not evil."

[Maurizio Passerin] D'Entrèves concludes that:

"[Grotius’s] definition of natural law has nothing revolutionary. When he maintains that natural law is that body of rules which Man is able to discover by the use of his reason, he does nothing but restate the Scholastic notion of a rational foundation of ethics. Indeed, his aim is rather to restore that notion which had been shaken by the extreme Augustinianism of certain Protestant currents of thought. When he declares that these rules are valid in themselves, independently of the fact that God willed them, he repeats an assertion which had already been made by some of the schoolmen."


Grotius's aim, d'Entrèves adds, "was to construct a system of laws which would carry conviction in an age in which theological controversy was gradually losing the power to do so." Grotius and his juristic successors—--Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, and Vattel—--proceeded to elaborate this independent body of natural laws in a purely secular context, in accordance with their own particular interests, which were not, in contrast to the Schoolmen, primarily theological. Indeed, even the eighteenth-century rationalists, in many ways dedicated enemies of the Scholastics, were profoundly influenced in their very rationalism by the Scholastic tradition.

Thus, let there be no mistake: in the Thomistic tradition, natural law is ethical as well as physical law; and the instrument by which man apprehends such law is his reason-not faith, or intuition, or grace, revelation, or anything else. In the contemporary atmosphere of sharp dichotomy between natural law and reason—and especially amid the irrationalist sentiments of "conservative" thought—this cannot be underscored too often. Hence, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the words of the eminent historian of philosophy Father Copleston, "emphasized the place and function of reason in moral conduct. He [Aquinas] shared with Aristotle the view that it is the possession of reason which distinguished man from the animals" and which "enables him to act deliberately in view of the consciously apprehended end and raises him above the level of purely instinctive behavior."

Aquinas, then, realized that men always act purposively, but also went beyond this to argue that ends can also be apprehended by reason as either objectively good or bad for man. For Aquinas, then, in the words of Copleston, "there is therefore room for the concept of 'right reason,' reason directing man's acts to the attainment of the objective good for man." Moral conduct is therefore conduct in accord with right reason: "If it is said that moral conduct is rational conduct, what is meant is that it is conduct in accordance with right reason, reason apprehending the objective good for man and dictating the means to its attainment."

In natural-law philosophy, then, reason is not bound, as it is in modern post-Humean philosophy, to be a mere slave to the passions, confined to cranking out the discovery of the means to arbitrarily chosen ends. For the ends themselves are selected by the use of reason; and "right reason” dictates to man his proper ends as well as the means for their attainment. For the Thomist or natural-law theorist, the general law of morality for man is a special case of the system of natural law governing all entities of the world, each with its own nature and its own ends. "For him the moral law . . . is a special case of the general principles that all finite things move toward their ends by the development of their potentialities." And here we come to a vital difference between inanimate or even non-human living creatures, and man himself; for the former are compelled to proceed in accordance with the ends dictated by their natures, whereas man, "the rational animal," possesses reason to discover such ends and the free will to choose.

Which doctrine, natural law or those of its critics, is to be considered truly rational was answered incisively by the late Leo Strauss, in the course of a penetrating critique of the value-relativism in political theory of Professor Arnold Brecht. For, in contrast to natural law,

"positivistic social science . . . is characterized by the abandonment of reason or the flight from reason. . .

According to the positivistic interpretation of relativism which prevails in present-day social science . . . reason can tell us which means are conducive to which ends; it cannot tell us which attainable ends are to be preferred to other attainable ends. Reason cannot tell us that we ought to choose attainable ends; if someone 'loves him who desires the impossible,' reason may tell him that he acts irrationally, but it cannot tell him that he ought to act rationally, or that acting irrationally is acting badly or basely. If rational conduct consists in choosing the right means for the right end, relativism teaches in effect that rational conduct is impossible.


Finally, the unique place of reason in natural-law philosophy has been affirmed by the modern Thomistic philosopher, the late Father John Toohey. Toohey defined sound philosophy as follows: "Philosophy, in the sense in which the word is used when scholasticism is contrasted with other philosophies, is an attempt on the part of man's unaided reason to give a fundamental explanation of the nature of things."

[Ed.---What's interesting is that James Wilson, the key Founder who was second only to James Madison in the drafting of the Constitution, goes even further, tying natural law to "the will of God." But first things first. If one reads James Wilson with Thomism in mind, it's clear that man's reason wasn't sitting on a shelf all those years, waiting for the Enlightenment to arrive.]

32 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

In pertaining to the beliefs of our founders, We've forgotten to take a look at the framers' most quoted Philosopher; Montesquieu. Of the philosophers, I believe Blackstone was the most influential, no doubt to the lawyers, wit
h John Locke, more of an influence to the outliers, such as Jefferson.

Madison quoted often Montesquieu often, as well as Hamilton. Here is a little of what Montesquieu had to say about reason and law:

"Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies governed by invariable
laws. As an intelligent being, he incessantly transgresses the laws
established by God, and changes those of his own instituting. He is left to his private direction, though a limited being, and subject, like all finite intelligences, to ignorance and error: even his imperfect knowledge he loses; and as a sensible creature, he is hurried away by a thousand impetuous passions. Such a being might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion. Such a being is liable every moment to forget himself; philosophy has provided against this by the laws of morality. Formed to live in society, he might forget his fellow-creatures; legislators have therefore by political and civil laws confined him to his duty.

2. Of the Laws of Nature. Antecedent to the above-mentioned laws are those of nature, so called, because they derive their force entirely from our frame and existence. In order to have a perfect knowledge of these laws, we must consider man before the establishment of society: the laws received in such a state would be those of nature.

The law which, impressing on our minds the idea of a Creator, inclines us towards Him, is the first in importance, though not in order, of natural laws. Man in a state of nature would have the faculty of knowing, before he had acquired any knowledge. Plain it is that his first ideas would not be of a speculative nature; he would think of the preservation of his being, before he would investigate its origin. Such a man would feel nothing in himself at first but impotency and weakness; his fears and apprehensions would be excessive; as appears from
instances (were there any necessity of proving it) of savages found in forests,[2] trembling at the motion of a leaf, and flying from every shadow." [bold face mine]

- THE SPIRIT OF LAWS
By Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu

I gather the same idea from Montesquieu, I took from Grotius and Natural Law. We would be in a state of nature even if there was no God.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The law which, impressing on our minds the idea of a Creator, inclines us towards Him, is the first in importance, though not in order, of natural laws...

Contra Locke [who disputed any innate sense or knowledge], and I believe, John Adams, at least the way Mr. Rowe reads Adams [not that I dispute it at this point]. Not Rothbard either. Very much James Wilson's "moral sense" and also "the law written on men's hearts" of the Epistles.

Apt, Mr. Goswick. Regardless of whether it's written on men's hearts, the concept of natural law was universal at the Founding and vital to their baseline of a shared ethos. Rothbard rightly notes that between the secular humanists of today and the sola scripturists of both past and present, "the idea of a natural law founded on reason and rational inquiry has been virtually lost."

Since we touch on natural law so often around here, I thought it would be helpful that we share a common understanding of what it entails. The Founders did. It was in the air they breathed.

King of Ireland said...

I was just reading a post by Ed Brayton talking about David Barton and his quotes. Chris Rodda was pointing out some things and a question hit me? Why does everyone go back to the Enlightenment and try to eliminate God from the founding and not investigate the Protestant Reformation's effect on the Scottish Enlightenment?

Believe me I disagree with Barton's claims too. More because he brings in the Ten Commandments into civil law. This is no wrong it is criminal. If one sets aside the Ten Commandments, the Levitical Law for priests, and the ceremonial law for religion, the civil law actually is very similar to most of what we have today. The other three were obsolete at the time of Jesus. It all pointed to him and he fulfilled the law.

We still need some form of civil law.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom, I agree with you about the conscience God has put in our bodies, however, Montesquieu echoes (sp) the same thing Grotius did. In fact, the most quoted philosophers from Lutz's study, are, in order:

Montesquieu, Blackstone, Locke, Puffendorf, Hooker, and Grotius were consistent that the Law and the Gospel is supreme. Wilson quoted Hooker many times, and Hooker was clear:

"For whereas God hath left sundry kinds of laws unto men, and by all those laws the actions of men are some sort directed; they hold that one only law, the Scripture, must be the rule to direct in all things. [bold face mine]

-Richard Hooker, Works.

Behind Montesquieu in references, is Blackstone, who Hamilton earnestly referred to and quoted.

Justice Iredell said Blackstone's views were relied upon by those who formed the Bill of Rights. Iredell also said "Blackstone's has been the manual of almost every student of law in the United States".

As Montesquieu said the Christian religion is superior to reason, so did Locke:

"[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. [quoting Hooker] [bold face mine]

The experts on the law of nature, Puffendorf and Grotius, said the same thing; that the Divine Law [revealed law] is supreme.

By the way, this is true individually as well as nationally.

It's logically impossible for reason to be superior nationally. Reason must be written down on paper to be law, and once it is, it is null and void to the Divine Law, as Hamilton said in the Farmer refuted, quoting Blackstone:

"[T]he law of nature, "which being coeval 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". [bold face mine]

-Farmer Refuted.

To make sure the law is not contrary to the Divine Law is to check it. The words Montesquieu and Wilson use regarding "importance" of the first revelation refers only to position, because it's inside us. They are referring to priority.

Jefferson said lawyers used Blackstone's with the same dedication and reverence that Muslims used the koran.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, keep in mind that both Jefferson and James Wilson had their disagreements with Blackstone. In fact, Wilson's explicit purpose with his works was to subsume him and become the American Blackstone.

We cannot say America was Founded Locke, Stocke & Barrelle [a little joke there] on Blackstone.

Nor can we say it was Founded on Rev. Richard Hooker. Your quotes are apt, but he was a Reverend afterall, and a Thomist at that. Neither would I say America is Founded on Thomism.

All are bridges too far.

I spent the day with Montesquieu, and all I can say is that he's complex, often intentionally murky, and quote-grabbing from him just won't do. And I made a mistake early on this blog, quote-grabbing Locke quoting Hooker, when reading further on shows Locke disagreeing with the Hooker passage he quoted.

[Yes, oh my fans and stalkers, TVD does make mistakes, and a commenter straightened me out. So keep on poring over everything I write for gotchas! I made a mistake a year or so ago and I might make one this year, too. But I know most of you have given up, as you have a better chance of hitting the lottery, and with a lot less effort.]

Anyway, OFT, you're calling natural law the Divine Law and somehow conflating that with scripture. Blackstone and Hamilton are simply speaking of natural law, and the purpose of posting Murray Rothbard, an atheist, was to take some of the reason-revelation tension out of what should be uncontroversial fact, the pervasiveness of natural law theory in the Founding.

Our Founding Truth said...

And I made a mistake early on this blog, quote-grabbing Locke quoting Hooker, when reading further on shows Locke disagreeing with the Hooker passage he quoted.>

Where would that passage be?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Sometimes you can convince yourself almost hypnotically that you are right and then obstinately follow the erroneous premise until the very end no matter how many further errors in logic this causes you to make.

I see this the case with OFT and the natural law. It's clear that "natural" is something DIFFERENT than scripture. Something man discovers WITHOUT scripture.

The Christian natural lawyers would then say things like, but UPON reflection, we find out that, properly understood, the two (reason and revelation) will always agree. Or things like don't separate the two because both come from the same divine source, thus they will work well together.

But one thing is for sure, natural law does NOT equate with shorthand for scripture. If it did, it wouldn't be necessary. Rather it's what man discovers from reason apart from scripture.

This is elementary. If you don't accept this. You begin being wrong from the first step.

And that's OFT on this issue.

Jonathan Rowe said...

On the matter of "divine," it simply means from God. And does NOT mean scripture. It ONLY means scripture if so specified. The FFs believe you could discern the "divine" through "reason" or "scripture." If an FF uses the term "divine" and "natural" to qualify it; he is speaking of discovering the divine thru reason. If an FF uses "divine" and speaks of "revealed" law, then the FF is talking Bible.

Simply imputing the Bible every time we see the word "divine" used in a natural law philosopher is error plain and simple.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:And that's OFT on this issue.

To use John Locke's words:

"But this gentleman is so much better acquainted with me, than I am with myself; sees so deeply into my heart, and knows so perfectly every thing that passes there; that he, with assurance, tells the world.."

-A Second Vindication

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:On the matter of "divine," it simply means from God. And does NOT mean scripture.

Blackstone, Hooker, and Montesquieu say the Divine Law is Revealed Law, which is the Scriptures.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Divine Law [capital letters] indeed refers to scripture. Natural law does not. To make that distinction clear was the purpose of posting Rothbard here.

bpabbott said...

OFT: "Blackstone, Hooker, and Montesquieu say the Divine Law is Revealed Law, which is the Scriptures"

Let's see some evidence.

bpabbott said...

Tom: "Divine Law [capital letters] indeed refers to scripture. Natural law does not. To make that distinction clear was the purpose of posting Rothbard here."

I don't see it.

What does Rothbard have to do with how Blackstone understood "Divine Law"?

Our Founding Truth said...

I don't see it.>

It's ok.

"The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures."

-Blackstone, Commentaries

"[t]hat which bindeth creatures reasonable in this world, and with which by reason they may most plainly perceive themselves bound; that which bindeth them, and is not known but by special revelation from God, Divine law." [bold face mine]

-Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, book one.

""Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies governed by invariable laws. As an intelligent being, he incessantly transgresses the laws established by God, and changes those of his own instituting. He is left to his private direction, though a limited being, and subject, like all finite intelligences, to ignorance and error: even his imperfect knowledge he loses; and as a sensible creature, he is hurried away by a thousand impetuous passions. Such a being might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion [bold face mine]."

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

I disagree that "divine law" necessary means scripture.

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.

Our Founding Truth said...

""Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies governed by invariable laws. As an intelligent being, he incessantly transgresses the laws established by God, and changes those of his own instituting. He is left to his private direction, though a limited being, and subject, like all finite intelligences, to ignorance and error: even his imperfect knowledge he loses; and as a sensible creature, he is hurried away by a thousand impetuous passions. Such a being might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion [bold face mine]."

-Montesquieu

Tom Van Dyke said...

Gee, I'm sure glad I posted this---if we have this much confusion with natural law here, it was 10 times as much without it.

We haven't even got to Blackstone yet, or Divine Law. Rothbard the atheist on natural law first.

Although as with most attempts at Socratic dialogue on the internet, this is probably over before it starts.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I believe Adams is speaking of natural law there, Jon. What is interesting is how the Founding seemed to read the natural law as "God's will," a step past Suarez and Grotius [and I think, Blackstone]. Even Adams seems to be doing that here.

I didn't even open that door yet, as my final note observes about James Wilson as well.

Hooker makes the proper Thomistic distinction in OFT's quote above between general revelation [natural law] and special revelation [scripture, etc.]. Blackstone, I believe, is quoted here correctly as well as observing that distinction.

After spending Sunday reading Montesquieu, I'm not prepared to claim he claims anything, as he's quite murky and one quote can be contradicted by another.

bpabbott said...

OFT/Jim/Ray: You offered the quote ...

"Human laws are null and void of contrary to the Divine Law [Revealed Law]"

Is that a quote of Blackstone, or is it your interpretation of his words?

I'm not questioning Blackstone's intent, but *your* honesty.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well I think there is a "divine" natural law approach and that is God's will as discovered by reason. That contrasts with the "revealed law" approach which is God's will discovered by revelation. They are two different channels for discovering God's will; but the "Christian" natural law thinkers claimed they could get those channels to work together harmoniously. "Natural" = discovered by reason; "revealed" = in scripture. And "Divine" just means that, God's law without specifying what scripture does or what reason does. It's sloppy thinking and a non-sequitur to equate "divine" with what's written in the Bible every time one sees it. This is especially true given individuals of that era disagreed on how much of the Bible (if any of it) was revealed.

Jonathan Rowe said...

My last words would better read "was LEGITIMATELY revealed."

Madison is a another figure, I think, I could claim for the notion that belief in an errant or partially inspired Bible was important enough to keep in mind in that era when pondering viable forms of Christianity; personally I think Madison when he wrote the Remonstrance believed the Bible only partially inspired. But that's not my specific claim in this comment.

My claim is when he wrote his notes on the Remonstrance and discussed "what is Christianity"? He noted some "Christians" are Trinitarians; some are Arians and Socinians. He also claimed some "Christians" believe the entire Bible inspired. Others only believe "essential parts" inspired. In that case "divine" "revealed" law isn't the ENTIRE Bible, but rather ONLY those PARTS that are divinely inspired.

OFT's erroneous method reads an inerrant infallible Bible into every time one of these philosophers mentiones "divine" law. It's flat out wrong and needs to be called out as such.

I can reproduce Madison quote if you'd like.

Our Founding Truth said...

My bad. Here is just one by Montesquieu:

Book XXVI. Of Laws in Relation to the Order of Things Which They
Determine
1. Idea of this Book.
Men are governed by several kinds of laws; by the law of nature; by the divine law, which is that of religion; [bold face mine]

-Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws

Montesquieu declares reason needs to be checked by revelation, showing what is superior:

"Such a being might every instant forget his Creator; God has therefore reminded him of his duty by the laws of religion."

It also appears Montesquieu says Natural Law is the Christian religion, declaring "principles that do not change" is:

"The Christian religion, which ordains that men should love each other,would, without doubt, have every nation blest with the best civil, the best political laws; because these, next to this religion, are the greatest good that men can give and receive".

-Spirit of Laws.

The principles that do not change, upon which society is based, is Natural Law.

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."


Wow!

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:OFT's erroneous method reads an inerrant infallible Bible into every time one of these philosophers mentiones "divine" law. It's flat out wrong and needs to be called out as such.

The only erroneous method applied, is you rejecting the words of the prime influences of our Founding Fathers.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT: You are incorrigible.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, OFT's last one on Montesquieu is accurate. I ran across the stuff yesterday. However, caution: Montesquieu says other things too.

So too with Blackstone. One could use a syllogism to get Blackstone to say that no laws are valid if they conflict with the divine law [revelation], but then he wouldn't have needed to write volumes on law.

Blackstone is referring to natural law in the quote in question. I parked the full quote in the comments section above this one.

Jon Rowe writes:

Well I think there is a "divine" natural law approach and that is God's will as discovered by reason. That contrasts with the "revealed law" approach which is God's will discovered by revelation. They are two different channels for discovering God's will; but the "Christian" natural law thinkers claimed they could get those channels to work together harmoniously. "Natural" = discovered by reason; "revealed" = in scripture. This is the point I was trying to clear up by quoting Rothbard.

As for the rest of Jon's contentions, especially re Madison, they require more nuance. "Partially inspired" seems to claim the lion's share of scripture for doubt, not belief. This is not a fact in evidence.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Okay Tom. What if the "essentially parts" of scripture meant say, 75% of what's written in the Bible? Then what? Jefferson's "partially inspired" Bible probably was smaller than J. Adams' "partially inspired" Bible. The nice thing about Jefferson's partially inspired Bible is that we can actually read it. But the point I get from certain orthodox Christians, especially of the evangelical bent like OFT, or Dr. Frazer is that if you deny the divine inspiration of ANY part of the Bible -- even one proof text, then you put yourself into the heterodox box -- at least with regard to that tenet of orthodox Christianity.

OFT's blogbuddy "Hercules Mulligan" has said something along the lines of if you reject one part of the Bible you reject the whole thing...and I guess consequently you aren't a "Christian." Well if that's the case then a huge percentage, quite possibly an overwhelming majority of the 200 or some "Founding Fathers" were not "Christians."

This revisionist clown had the gall to say that while George Washington was a "Christian," St. Augustine probably wasn't (meaning GW passed the "born again" Christian standard but Augustine didn't). These folks can't be taken seriously and have to be called out when they spout such nonsense.

After reading something that ridiculous, I don't see how a person could take a word that person has to say on the Founding and religion seriously.

Lindsey Shuman said...

This was an interesting post, Tom. Very enlightening.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx, Chief. [Lindsey, I mean.]

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, I don't want to talk Hercules Mulligan. I don't know the fellow. If he drags his ass over to this blog, then he gets equal treatment. OFT gets my respect and disrespect depending on what he writes. His Montesquieu was OK, although Montesquieu [and Blackstone] say much more that defies quote-grabbing from their prefaces.

Mr. Mulligan writes---according to you---that "if you reject one part of the Bible you reject the whole thing."

Well, OK. Under that standard, the Founders weren't Christian, they "rejected" the Bible, and this is not a Christian Nation and they should STFU, by their own standards.

I'm fatigued by this battle of, or against, the extremes. The Founding was Christian. The only legitimate question is how Christian was it? Mebbe a lot. Mebbe only a little. Nuance, etc.

Raven said...

What in the hell was the point of this? Who cares what this guy believes.

Our Founding Truth said...

He noted some "Christians" are Trinitarians; some are Arians and Socinians.>

Tom, this is intent to deceive as you already know.

http://books.google.com/books?id=o7l6yAIqznQC&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89&dq=%22what+is+xnty%22&source=web&ots=-IVXF8PyeI&sig=Ny7sEvA9gm-R64xYKSG1p1ti-Gs

The context for Madison's words is the interpretation of judges. He is not making definitive statements on what a Christian is. He sounds like David Barton with his intent to deceive.

Pinky said...

.
Thanks for information about Murray Rothbard--one of your better contributions at this site
.
It is so difficult to get down to reason during a time when theological considerations have been at the root of hi-jacking so much about reason.
.