Saturday, October 27, 2012

David Rittenhouse: Rational Christian-Theistic Rationalist-Unitarian

If you are familiar with Philadelphia, you know Rittenhouse Square is (probably) the most affluent part of town.  It was named after David Rittenhouse, not a "key Founder" but one of the all but forgotten names from America's Founding era.

Rittenhouse was mentioned in Timothy Dwight's Triumph of Infidelity as one of those "infidels" who presented his system under the auspices of "Christianity" but in reality was too man centered/humanistic to qualify as "real Christianity."

But anyway here is a passage from an old book where Rittenhouse's widow describes his creed:
[D]ated August 20th 1797. "'That you were sufficiently authorized to assert what you did respecting Mr. Rittenhouse's religious principles, I now add my testimony to what you have said, for well I know the great truths of religion engaged much of his attention, and indeed were  interwoven with almost every important concern of his life. I do not recollect, if in any of the conversations I have had with you, I informed you, what I now do, that Dr. Price's opinions respecting Christianity were more in unison with his own, than any others of the divines; that Dr. Price's sermons was the last book he requested me to read to him, and that the last morning of his life, he reminded me that I had not finished one of the Doctor's discourses , which I had began the proceeding evening."
The Dr. Price referred to is the Arian heretic, "rational Christian," Richard Price. 


JMS said...

Jon - excellent find and post, once more confirming the strong influences of Richard Price and Joseph Priestley on various theistic rationalist founders.

Also, it is fitting that AC acknowledge science (and scientists) as another important manifestation of human reason during the founding era. A great book on the subject is "Science and the Founding Fathers" by I. Bernard Cohen.

Tom Van Dyke said...

OTOH, Benjamin Rush begged Price to keep his anti-Trinitarianism to himself so that it wouldn't turn people off to his opinions on education.