Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jared Sparks on British Unitarians

Another repost at The One Best Way here.

A taste from Sparks:

And Locke must still be considered a Unitarian, till he can be proved a Trinitarian ; a task, which it is not likely you will soon undertake. At all events, he had no faith in the assemblage of articles, which you denominate the essence of christianity, and without believing which, you say, no one can be called a Christian. His whole treatise on the Reasonableness of Christianity bears witness to this truth. For the leading object of that work is to show, that “the Gospel was written to induce men into a belief of this proposition, ‘that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah,’ which if they believed, they should have life.”* He says nothing about total depravity, the atonement, the “sanctifying spirit of an Almighty Surety,” nor any of your peculiar doctrines. Yet who has done more to elucidate the sacred Scriptures, or to prove the consistency and reasonableness of the religion of Jesus? Your rule, however, will take from him the Christian name.


Tom Van Dyke said...

And Locke must still be considered a Unitarian, till he can be proved a Trinitarian...

I tend to agree with Sparks, but I've always found this a sophistic shifting of the burden of proof on Sparks' part to grab Locke for his "side," and really no argument atall.

Locke vs. the Bishop of Worcester's accusations of non-Trinitarianism:

Actually his second reply to the insistent Rt. Rev. Stillingfleet. The whole episode is really kind of funny. Whenever there's theological nonsense going on, it's Rev. Sparks writing to some other clergyman, a bishop hassling Locke, the clergy trying to pin down George Washington's beliefs.

I don't think I've ever told anyone my beliefs. I'm not so sure about them myself. Franklin says he never gave the Trinity much study and will die soon and find out the whole deal with little trouble.

Locke, buried in the 50 pages of his first reply to the Stillingfleet, says pretty much the same thing.

There's a famous story in my Irish-Catholic family. My little cousin---mebbe 6 or 8---was making his First Communion. The nun guiding him through the drill asked, "How do you feel about receiving the Baby Jesus for the very first time?"

He sez, "I ain't gave it much thought."

It's famous in the family because it's a very thoughtful reply to a question only clergypersons tend to ask. The rest of us muddle through, and whatever answers we think we have, we mostly keep them to ourselves.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Thanks for reminding me of the link. I've read it before. But it's not the kind of thing you can take it with just one or two readings.

Tom Van Dyke said...

That cool, Jon. I spent several hours today on both Parts I & II as it's an area of interest and am ready to discuss them at your leisure.