Saturday, April 23, 2011

Throckmorton Discovers David Barton's Distortions

And doesn't like what he sees. Warren Throckmorton is a psychology professor at the evangelical Grove City College and holds the standard view on sexuality issues that one would expect from a conservative evangelical. Yet, he's taken some out of the box positions against anti-gay demagoguery that often comes from religious right corners. That's as much as I know about him.

Check out Throckmorton's analysis here, here, here, here, and here.

I've got mixed feelings on continuing to bash Barton. Part of me wants wants to move on; he's been hammered enough. On the other hand, three big national figures keep pushing his work into the spotlight: Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. Barton has lost some followers, especially among conservative evangelicals who don't want to be sold a bill of goods. As John Fea points out, the anti-Barton criticism is causing some conservative evangelicals to "lose confidence" in some of Barton's claims. And Barton has, apparently, lost former big time promoter of his Brannon Howse, of Worldview Weekend, completely.

There is no question that the social and legal order of Founding era America was friendlier to orthodox Christians and evangelicals than it is today. And there are some notable Founders -- Witherspoon, Sherman, and others -- who would probably pass evangelicals' "Christian" test. But men like the first four Presidents and Ben Franklin were the liberal, ecumenical, universalistic "Christians" of their day, not "Christian" enough to be considered "real Christians" by evangelicals.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers that were "universalistic" would of course think that education was the "salvation" or the "savages". It was a civilizing force to maintain order.

The Catholic Church has understood education to be the work of the Church, as it was the protector of history, during the Middle Ages. But, the Church also had the agenda of protecting its power, thus the divinization of Jesus, as the "Son of God", Trinitarian development.

David Barton is the heir of the revivalism movement, which was the foundation of evangelicalism. Revivalist believed that apart from a "warm heart" towards God, there could be no "fruitful" social reformation. The "preachers" preached to the "outsider", those not part of the educated class. There was no need for education because "the HOly Spirit" was given to the indivdual, as the day of Pentecost to reveal the "hidden things of God".

Social transformation did happen when revivalist "did their work". But, the question today, is whether such a revival is really what will change the global. Global needs are pluralistic and furthering the view that religion is exclusive only hinders any communicative efforts.

I didn't think the Founders were really desirous of committing themselves to relgion, per se, as they wanted to create a nation that was "free". Relgion promotes a certain view at the expense of individual conscience.

Conscience is the "rationale" a man "creates" through his encounter with all aspects of his environment and innatedness. But, it is primarily his reason that addresses or forms these "convictions". Education trains man's reason to be rational about his understanding of being in the world.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

But, conscience will not resolve conflicts unless conscience is also held freely, in diversity.
Problem is, what happens when another's conscience does damage to what we consider "holy"? Should we limit our liberty because another is offended by it, such as with Islam's blapehmy laws? Where, then will the limitations on liberty end, and will we end up with an authoritarian regime in the end?

Laws protect and define for a reason, but how can we respect another's law, when it is in opposition to ours, as a nation-state? And those that undermine human rights? Does culture have a right over and above human rights? I don't think so, if one believes that the indivdual is of any importance or value!

Tom Van Dyke said...

The sophistical/ideological tactic of course is that if David Barton's wrong about the Kaskaskia Indians, America isn't and never was a "Christian nation."

And it's also Barton's own fault, stubbornly holding onto errors that don't even amount to much.

The Kaskaskia Indians, of whom few have heard and fewer care? Chris Rodda, et al., have him dead to rights on this, and the other half-dozen errors they harp on without fail as "evidence" he's totally delegitimate.

I've gone through the website, and while there's much that's contentious, the lion's share is factual enough to be arguable.

In fact, his claims for what "Christian nation" might mean are rather modest, although I doubt few of his critics have actually read them.

And why he trumpets a form letter that Jefferson signed with "In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ" is beyond me. In public life, most suspected, and afterward in private life everyone knew, Jefferson was no Christian in any recognizable sense.

Indeed, in 1833, Rev. Jasper Adams wrote [to much praise] that

What must have been the strength of the conviction of Christian Truth in the American mind, when the popular names of Franklin and of Jefferson among its adversaries, have not been able much to impair its influence.

For the record, I'd like someone to compare Barton's batting average with Howards Zinn's, Zinn of course sometimes even used in our schools. This door of scholarly and academic establishment outrage seems to mostly only swing one way.

Still, on the whole, Barton's emergence as a whipping boy [and his own stubbornness] make him a detriment to his own cause.

bpabbott said...

Tom, Even if Zinn were wrong on the whole it wouldn't add any credibility to Barton. I consider both to be activists and antagonistic to history.

That said ... Welcome aboard! ... we each seem to have navigated to a similar perspective.


Tom Van Dyke said...

"Add any credibility..."

I admit he's damaged his credibility beyond repair with his critics. However, if you read his "Christian nation" argument URLed above, there's plenty of live ammo in there.

King of Ireland said...


King of Ireland said...

I think all on this site agree that Barton has outlived his usefulness in the "Christian Nation" discussion.

With that said, I have to agree with Tom that most of what he, and others that work with him have written is correct and at worst debatable.

He has harmed his own cause by clinging on to irrelevant nonsense that has been soundly refuted. It seems that he is in a pissing contest with his critics and we all know that no one wins a pissing contest.


I will have to continue to point out that the pot is calling the kettle black in that a group of supposed rationalists seem to be just as blinded by their passions and have turned from truly intellectual discussion and clung to activism as well.

Ben states that Barton is an activist not a Historian. I agree. Nonetheless, I would say that the rationalist crowd are activists not intellectuals.

In other words, they need to stop cloaking themselves in the intellectual garb that they feel allows them to dismiss the idiot Christians.

For the most part they take on the chaff of Barton's argument and ignore the wheat. It is honestly pathethic.

My hope is that they live up to what they claim to be and begin to tackle the wheat of Barton's claims.

That is to say at the very least. I will lose my sincere disappointment in otherwise brilliant people(not the rabble that worships them but really do not have a clue) when tackle the best of the Christian World like Brian Tierney, not the low hanging fruit.

The anti-Barton movement needs to watch the video Jon posted on George Washington. He, and other founders, were very leery of men whose passions overuled their reason.

It all starts with the man in the mirror and I know I have discredited myself at times as well.