Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revolutionary Christianity

[What follows is a modified version of an email I sent to an historian.]

Whether a revolutionary mentality is compatible at all with social conservatism and traditional Christianity is seriously disputed. I don't think the Tea Party types are aware, however.

Revolutionary thought did present itself under the auspices of Christianity. But it's not clear whether the Right or (social gospel) Left wing liberation theologians are true heirs to revolutionary Christianity. Lino Graglia once cynically remarked:

"What [the Declaration of Independence] is, of course, is a document meant to justify revolution -- that is, illegal action. Having no human law to rely on -- being in defiance of authority -- revolutionaries necessarily come to rely on the law of God, who, happily, rarely issues a protest."


There is a profound truth here. Marx's atheism can't rally the poor and working class to economic revolution. Paul E. Sigmund, Prof. Emeritus at Princeton, is one of the foremost Locke scholars AND scholar of Latin American liberation theology. I'm pretty sure he's a liberal Christian who supports the social Gospel cause (I've informally chatted with him on a number of occasions at Princeton). He's friendly with Robert P. George's conservative bunch and Sigmund seems pretty anti-atheist in his sentiments because he realizes you need God to support his politics. Those Marxist Latin American revolutionaries are/were theists who call themselves Christians.

18 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

But it's not clear whether the Right or (social gospel) Left wing liberation theologians are true heirs to revolutionary Christianity.

Our former colleague Lori Stokes once posited that the New England Puritans have somehow mutated into today's left-liberal [let's call it "Harvard"] establishment. I thought it was an interesting trope.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Since we have a Constitution, then, are you saying that American's should "appeal" to the laws that protect our "rights"? Wasn't this what Burke did in supporting the Revolution before the British Parliamant?

I think that Unions can be just as cumbersome in representing local needs, as centralization of a government. So, when the worker cries for his "rights' in revolt to corporate greed, the unions seek their opportune moment, just as the 'Church" does theirs!

I think one possibel solution is "The Right to Work" legislation that gives the worker the right to deny the union membership.

I know those that are members of unions that don't gain any benefit, for themselves personally, or their local company. Unfortunately, these workers had taken the Union over stock benefits, and options of buying into the corporation. I find that certain mind-sets lend themselves to the instant gratification (more money now) and deny the risks that might come from other sources, other than hourly wage (stocks, investments, etc.)...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Also, Jon, are you suggesting that the American Revolution was a Marxist type revolution because it was based on economic issues? I'd never thought of it that way...

Jonathan Rowe said...

Angie,

No that's not what I'm suggesting. You can trace the AR to Marx though, but not directly. The AR influenced the FR. The FR added some Rousseau that the AR didn't have. And the subsequent Marxists Revolutions were influenced by the FR.

Jason_Pappas said...

Since left to right is a continuum, I’m sure you can go from any one point on the spectrum to any other. We could start with the totalitarian Plato, proceed to the moderate Aristotle, forward to Cicero, onto Aquinas, Hooker, Suarez, Grotius, and finally Locke. Starting from Locke we can reverse the process to lead us to the worse of the 20th century. It’s all a question of “adding here” and “subtracting there” until one arrives at a good place or ghastly place. I don’t think moving in either direction is inextricable.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Jason,
I would certainly love to understand what you're saying....I need an education....

Tom Van Dyke said...

Interesting proposition, Jason.

I think the dividing line was it was the French, which makes sense since it was in France that the Roman church was strongest. When the dam broke, it broke!

I wish I'd saved it, Jason, but it was a textual analysis that claimed that---as radical as he became on behalf of the French Revolution---you can't find any of Rousseau's thought in Jefferson's seminal writings. Dang. Wish I'd have saved it. [I don't find any Rousseau in Jefferson either, but who cares what I think.]

_______________

Angie, in my view, this is a cutting-edge blog. Or we're all full of shit: we're amateurs. We don't get paid for writing this or studying this or teaching this---I spent my Sunday afternoon with John Winthrop trying to crawl into his head and the Puritans on the boat listening to his speech, going over to a New World where godknowswhat awaited them.

The people at this blog don't accept what we've been told about religion and the Founding, and are just checking it all out for themselves. And we disagree a lot!

When I turned 50, Angie, I realized my "education" and college degree had taught me not a lot. Time to get to work!

"I never let my schooling interfere with my education."---Mark Twain

It's fun. Spend an afternoon with Winthrop or Franklin or Twain or Thomas Aquinas. And if you don't get it at first, competing explanations are just a google away. [Just read them all, not one. That's the trick.]

So don't feel bad. We've all been undereducated and miseducated. You gotta educate yrself. There's not one Founder who wouldn't tell you the same thing: they all hit the books, AFTER they got out of school.

THEN, you start thinking.

Anyway, the point is that this here American Creation blog is the deep end of the pool. [And admittedly, we may be full of shit.]

But college professors have come here in the comments, gotten their asses kicked, and never returned. Which makes me think we're onto something.

;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Tom,
Thank you for the personal encouragement! And obviously, the contributors on this blog have taken the time to investigate, instead of being spoon-fed, and that has brought a challenge to the prevailing "truth" or understanding in the Academy! Hoorah, for you guys!!! Everyone should use their brains, espeically when we live in a free country1!! Otherwise, it won't be free for long!

Pinky said...

.
Sometimes a person can get so caught up in the details that they are unable to see the truth. And, I've heard that the Devil is in the details.
.
Anyway the American Revolution came abut as a result of oppression. The majority of America's Colonists felt the oppression. Madison, in Federalist 10, speaks about oppression.
.
The oppression was coming down on the people from the prevate powers of the English monarchy. There was nothing in the American Colonies that belongs to the public sector--there was no public sector--no public squares, no public parks, no public media, nothing belonged to the public. It was the King's square, the King's parks, everything that wasn't held by a private person other than the king belonged to the king.
.
Thing about private power--it never gives up. The fight continues in America today.
.

Pinky said...

ERATA

This line: The oppression was coming down on the people from the prevate powers of the English monarchy. should have read:
.
"The oppression was coming down on the people from the private powers of the English monarchy.

Sorry about that.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
Good to hear from you again! Thinking about you lately!

Yes, the Devil is in the details! Healthcare is being "debated" by "the colonies" in our courts. Will the "balance of power" work and function like it should?

The "Tea Partier" are alive and kicking.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I have been wondering whether the Founders view of "order under God" was structured in their understanding in line with the empiricism of Newton in mind, as much as "God"/scripture. And if this has played out in coservative Christiandom.

OR, did the Founders believe that they were "creating" in actuality a "new frontier"?

In mathmatical theory, the question is whether we discover the "laws of nature" or whether we create them to describe nature more effectively....

Pinky said...

.
I don't know.
.
Were the Founding Fathers out to create anything other than a republican form of government as an alternative to the oppressive rule of the English monarchy? Wasn't their driving interest to divest themselves and their fellow American Colonists of the oppressive and powerful force of the king?

Was not the Founding Era definition of a republic a system of government that recognizes the public interests rather than the private inbterests of wealth and power as vested in a single person as a monarch?
.
Wasn't any imposition of religiosity a byproduct of the rebellion against that oppression?
.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yes, and yes, Pinky.

As you say, "the Devil is in the details".

public/private

oppression/liberty

These will be understood differently depending on one's political philosophy.

Unions don't believe in private industry/corporatons, as they defend economic equality (supposedly). And yell that oppression comes from private riches that are rightfully earned by these corporations.

So, when the individuals find themselves oppressed by union dues with little to show for it. Do they usurp "union rights" so their private interest is divested from union control/oppression?

Does government guarauntee a public education for all its citizens at taxpayer expense? Are vouchers, charter schools good options for private individuals to maintain a sense of liberty of consceince concerning the education of their children?

There are so many issues, but you get my drift...how we understand and put together what government is to be and do, and where the lines should be drawn in public policy/private interests is "the Devil"....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Is the Defense of Marriage Act as legislation passed by our Representatives an important issue to uphold, IF we want to protect our nation's "rule of law". We are not a nation ruled by MEN but a nation ruled by Law?

Pinky said...

.
We might be getting a little off coursde discussing unions except for the First Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."

Seems to me the idea of association was primary in the minds of the Founding Fathers.
.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
I don't have anything against unions, if someone wants to assossciate with them, but demanding that each and every individual become a member to work in a certain company is co-ercive, I think. Why not give the employee the right to negotiate his own terms of contract, and then the option of benefits, stock, etc. instead of union membership. That sounds like freedom of association, to me...

Pinky said...

.
I think your comments take us far off course.
.
It's not that your questions aren't legitimate. Yet, perhaps they are on course in the abstract?
.
The question of our national union was settled with the Civil War. It's what the Civil War was all about.
.
In order for a union to bve effective, it must be total; otherwise, it's purpose is defeated.
.
The Federalist gets into the idea of union. That would make a good subject for blogging as it has much more to do with America's Creation than does any religiosity.
.