Friday, August 20, 2010

David Kupelian is Not A Christian

A repost to The One Best Way here.

I don't remember if I posted this to AC, but I am going to reproduce the parts which relate to this blog's theme with commentary at the bottom:

I've studied much about religious heretics, most of them prominent Enlightenment figures like John Locke, who faced a similar dilemma: They could be, at worst, executed for their heresy. They thus had to do their best to argue publicly they weren't heretics, while peddling their heretical ideas. Hence lots of beating around the bush, talking in code, stressing common ground with the orthodox, and otherwise trying to argue for compatibility. For instance, in Locke's "The Reasonableness of Christianity" the purpose of which was for Locke to articulate what doctrines are central to Christianity, Locke leaves out original sin and the Trinity! When the orthodox confronted Locke for peddling Socinianism (denial of Trinity, belief that Jesus is 100% human, not God at all) all Locke could say was nothing in his book denies the Trinity. And he was right, by simply not discussing the Trinity he could at once not contradict either his heterodox unitarian views or the orthodox Trinitarian positions of the civil authorities. He focused on common ground. Anyone who, after reading Locke's denial, believes Locke was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian is profoundly naive.


As you see in the post, I note that Kupelian is (or very likely is) a disciple of Roy Masters a non-Trinitarian "Judeo-Christian." The orthodox view Masters, like the Mormons as a leader of a "cult." And again like the Mormons, Masters and his followers are arch-religious conservatives.

The "key Founders" -- the first 4 Presidents -- either bitterly rejected the Trinity and called themselves "unitarians" (Jefferson and J. Adams) or otherwise were not identifiably orthodox Trinitarian (Washington and Madison, who may have been "unitarian by implication" -- one scholar emailed me that term).

For a variety of reasons, everyone wants to claim the Founding, especially its religious heritage. In a strict sense, they were sui generis, that is they believed in such particular things that no one gets them.

But we can make analogies and comparisons. I know Unitarian-Universalists and religiously liberal Christian sects would like to claim the "key Founders." And in a sense they can; the key Founders were liberal Christians of their day and tended to believe in the unitarian and universalist "heresies."

But maybe the conservative heretics, the so called "cults" have good claim to the key Founders as well. After all, like Jefferson, J. Adams and others, Roy Masters and the Mormons reject the Trinity.

The folks I see as NOT being able to claim the political theology of the American Founding are the orthodox Christians, those who believe Jesus was 2nd Person in the Trinity, an Incarnate God.

"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."

-- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816.

7 comments:

bpabbott said...

The question of who is a Christian, or what qualifies a person to be a Christian, currently has some attention in the media.

In Who, exactly, is a 'Christian'? Obama? You?, Cathy Lynn Grossman sums it up as "In short, not only do many people not know Obama's religion, they may not know their neighbor's -- or their own."

Which for the purposes of this blog could rephrased as; "In short, not only do many people not know [the Founder's] religion, they may not know their neighbor's -- or their own."

The disconnect between an individuals personal view of him/herself, the public view they project to the media, and the view constructed by their day-to-day religious actions, makes this discussion very difficult to moderate / navigate.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Perhaps, muddying the waters of defining a Christian is wise, as won't it lead to more tolerance? And America, after all, is a tolerant nation, as it regards religious confession.

The danger today is defining one's religion/God....

Tom Van Dyke said...

That's how they did it at the Founding. It was the clergy who tried to start theological wars. The people didn't care much.
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The folks I see as NOT being able to claim the political theology of the American Founding are the orthodox Christians, those who believe Jesus was 2nd Person in the Trinity, an Incarnate God.

Clearly an old piece of yours, Jon, since it's now clear you must show a necessary link between Christian political theology and its soteriology, and there is no link. You can believe Jesus is God [Samuel Adams] or not [John Adams], and the political theology comes out the same.

Pinky said...

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[Enlightenment figures like John Locke] ... could be ... executed for their heresy.
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Are you serious?
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That put a shadow of prima facie doubt on everything published during that period.
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King of Ireland said...

"Clearly an old piece of yours, Jon, since it's now clear you must show a necessary link between Christian political theology and its soteriology, and there is no link. You can believe Jesus is God [Samuel Adams] or not [John Adams], and the political theology comes out the same."


I am starting to believe the frame of discussion will never shift. The Culture Wars make too many people a lot of money.

Pinky said...

The Culture Wars make too many people a lot of money.

That intrigues me, King. I can see some connection between now and during the Founding Era.
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Will you expound on that?
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King of Ireland said...

Look at all the money the people who right about this stuff make. Not to mention all the organizations on both sides that twist the words of the other to get donations.