Monday, January 30, 2012

Gregg Frazer's Book

As John Fea noted, Dr. Gregg Frazer has a new book coming out, published by University Press of Kansas. It is based on his much discussed PhD thesis. I plan to much discuss the book when it comes out. And, cross your fingers, I may be involved in a very cool public event on this book in late spring/early summer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gary Cass Contradicts Himself

Ed Brayton makes a point I/we have been hammering for years. If you want to claim Mormons aren't Christians because they deny the Trinity/gospel of grace as Cass does, fine. Just don't then claim America's Founders as "Christians." Certainly NOT the Declaration of Independence whose three principle authors were theological unitarians.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

James Wilson & the Scottish Enlightenment

Keeping with our James Wilson theme, I just found this what looks to be very cool article from U. Penn. on James Wilson. I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

James Wilson - Philosopher Jurist

James Wilson’s philosophy of law and nature shows an powerful intellect at work as is evident from the published lectures. While ethics, political philosophy, and law are his main focus, he has an extensive discussion of epistemology. It’s clear that he assumes the reader knows his Locke, Hume, and Reid. Here’s a sample of his complex thought:
Having thus stated the question ― what is the efficient cause of moral obligation? ― I give it this answer ― the will of God. This is the supreme law.
Such forceful exposition and clarity could leave little doubt of Wilson’s conviction. However, a few sentences later he says:
If I am asked ― why do you obey the will of God? I answer ― because it is my duty so to do. If I am asked again ― how do you know this to be your duty? I answer again ― because I am told so by my moral sense or conscience. If I am asked a third time ― how do you know that you ought to do that, of which your conscience enjoins the performance? I can only say, I feel that such is my duty.
Oh, now it’s just a feeling! (Emphasis his.) Perhaps others feel otherwise? Wilson doesn’t go there. Wilson is confident that the “first principles of morals, into which all moral argumentation may be resolved, are discovered in a manner more analogous to the perceptions of sense than to the conclusions of reasoning.” “... right and wrong are ultimately perceived by the moral sense, yet reason assists its operations ...” He continues to explain that our fundamental knowledge of moral law is innate:
That law, which God has made for man in his present state; that law, which is communicated to us by reason and conscience, the divine monitors within us, and by the sacred oracles, the divine monitors without us. ... As promulgated by reason and the moral sense, it has been called natural; as promulgated by the holy scriptures, it has been called revealed law. ... But it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same divine source: it is the law of God. ...

Nature has implanted in man the desire of his own happiness; she has inspired him with many tender affections towards others, especially in the near relations of life; she has endowed him with intellectual and with active powers; she has furnished him with a natural impulse to exercise his powers for his own happiness, and the happiness of those, for whom he entertains such tender affections. If all this be true, the undeniable consequence is, that he has a right to exert those powers for the accomplishment of those purposes, in such a manner, and upon such objects, as his inclination and judgment shall direct; provided he does no injury to others; and provided some publick interests do not demand his labours. This right is natural liberty. Every man has a sense of this right.
If it is implanted in us does everyone just know what is right? Locke would argue that there is no universal innate knowledge as is evident from different cultures and degrees of civilization. Wilson says:
In the most uninformed savages, we find the communes notitiƦ, the common notions and practical principles of virtue, though the application of them is often extremely unnatural and absurd. These same savages have in them the seeds of the logician, the man of taste, the orator, the statesman, the man of virtue, and the saint. These seeds are planted in their minds by nature, though, for want of culture and exercise, they lie unnoticed, and are hardly perceived by themselves or by others.
Seeds? Is an acorn an oak tree? Well, yes, potentially as Aristotle might say. And yes, Wilson is right that the potential is there. But does that get us far? Is it not trivial to say we have the potential to be good men? If we examine Wilson's hints, it is clear where he gets his ethical thought. Here he agrees with Addison.
"It is impossible," says the incomparable Addison, "to read a passage in Plato or Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read some modish modern authors, without being, for some time, out of humour with myself, and at every thing about me. Their business is to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appearances. ...”
Wilson quotes many gems from Cicero including my favorite on universal natural law from The Republic. However, here’s one on civil society:
To civil society, indeed, without including in its description the idea of civil government, the name of state may be assigned, by way of excellence. It is in this sense that Cicero seems to use it, in the following beautiful passage. "Nothing, which is exhibited on our globe, is more acceptable to that divinity, which governs the whole universe, than those communities and assemblages of men, which, lawfully associated, ― jure sociati ― are denominated states."

How often has the end been sacrificed to the means! Government was instituted for the happiness of society how often has the happiness of society been offered as a victim to the idol of government! But this is not agreeable to the true order of things: it is not consistent with the orthodox political creed. Let government ― let even the constitution be, as they ought to be, the handmaids; let them not be, for they ought not to be, the mistresses of the state.

A state may be described ― a complete body of free persons, united together for their common benefit, to enjoy peaceably what is their own, and to do justice to others. It is an artificial person: it has an understanding and a will peculiar to itself: it has its affairs and its interests: it deliberates and resolves: it has its rules; it has its obligations; and it has its rights. It may acquire property, distinct from that of its members: it may incur debts, to be discharged out of the publick stock, not out of the private fortunes of individuals: it may be bound by contracts, and for damages arising quasi ex contractu.
He jumps from Cicero to Locke! Impressive! As much as he pays respect to an innate sense and God's "seeds" he still loves to read his Cicero and Locke.

While I haven’t read every line, it is clear that Wilson had an impressive intellect which he applied to every branch of philosophy. He applied a critical eye to Descartes, Hume, Locke, and Reid--making many excellent criticisms along the way. Quite an enjoyable read!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Church and State: A Humanist View by Vern L. Bullough

Here. A taste:

There have been two conflicting traditions in the United States about the relationship between church and state. The first is exemplified by the holiday of Thanksgiving, which emphasizes the religious foundation of the United States. The Pilgrim fathers set out in the New World not only to worship as they wanted but to establish God's kingdom. They had the truth and all others were wrong; church and state were one. The second tradition comes from the time of the writing of the American Constitution, when our deistic, freethinking Founding Fathers (no mothers) embodied in the Constitution the principle of separation of church and state.

The conflict between the two traditions should be obvious, and it was neatly finessed by our Constitution makers by more or less ignoring what states did. Although technically the last established religion was eliminated in 1833 in Massachusetts, the lack of an established religion did not mean real separation of church and state. States later admitted to the union had to adopt statutes about religious freedom, but, since most Americans nominally came from a European Christian background, religious observances played an important role in American history. One current example is the delivering of a prayer that opens up Congress, a practice that Free Inquiry's editor, Paul Kurtz, attempted to stop by a lawsuit, which he lost.

I was never more struck by the contradictions in our concepts of separation of church and state than when I lived in so-called emancipated New York State. I appeared several times in court in New York as an expert witness, and each time I was required to swear an oath on the Bible to tell the truth so help me God. I objected to the attorneys for whom I was testifying but they asked me not to call attention to the issue since it could negatively affect their client. I complied. In the university at which I taught in New York, the commencement ceremonies were opened and closed with prayers, although there was a real effort by the clergy doing the invocation and benediction to keep their remarks general and platitudinous. Most secular schools in the United States have Christmas and Easter breaks, although the Easter break is somewhat less common than it was a few years ago. The most secular school I attended was the University of Chicago, at one time a Baptist school, which ignored religious holidays of all kinds but did have its quarter session usually end about December 22.

Mormonism Obsessed with Christ

From Stephen H. Webb at First Things.

A taste:

After all, what gives Christianity its identity is its commitment to the divinity of Jesus Christ. And on that ground Mormons are more Christian than many mainstream Christians who do not take seriously the astounding claim that Jesus is the Son of God.

Mormonism is obsessed with Christ, and everything that it teaches is meant to awaken, encourage, and expand faith in him. It adds to the plural but coherent portrait of Jesus that emerges from the four gospels in a way, I am convinced, that does not significantly damage or deface that portrait.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK, Aquinas, & James Wilson

William Allen of Michigan State University ties them together here.

A taste:

We define civil rights in the context of the founding of the United States Constitution, and in many respects they are best understood in that light. The first place in which to find that context is the Declaration of Independence, which declares the meaning of civil rights.[1] Secondly, we have the best indigenous articulation of civil rights from that founding father who also best explained the relation between civil rights and natural law: James Wilson. Thirdly, reviewing illustrative Supreme Court defenses of civil rights can quickly reveal how far the decisions of the justices were regulated so as to tie advances in civil rights to an advance in understanding natural law (even for persons who would disavow reliance upon natural law). Finally, the seminal statement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” clearly expresses the fundamental ground of equality identified by James Wilson (and the Declaration of Independence) as essential to civil rights; it also invokes the entire sweep of Western reflection on the meaning of justice in such a way as to show the pursuit of civil rights as nothing less than perfecting civil relations in light of natural law.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sandefur on Substantive Due Process and Milton

Timothy Sandefur has a new article out in Harvard-JLPP arguing the case FOR substantive due process on philosophical and originalist grounds. It is not, he argues, something judges just made up.

He has a fascinating passage on John Milton. Milton was a notable Whig thinker who greatly influenced America's Founders and whose influences has been much neglected.

From JOHN MILTON, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates in THE STUDENT’S MILTON
758 (Frank Allen Patterson ed., rev. ed. 1936) (1650):

[T]o say kings are accountable to none but God, is the overturning of all law and government. For if they may refuse to give account, then all covenants made with them at coronation, all oaths are in vain, and mere mockeries; all laws which they swear to keep, made to no purpose: for if the king fear not God (as how many of them do not,) we hold then our lives and estates by the tenure of his mere grace and mercy, as from a god, not a mortal magistrate; a position that none but court parasites or men besotted would maintain! Aristotle, therefore, whom we commonly allow for one of the best interpreters of nature and morality, writes in the fourth of his Politics, chap. x. that “monarchy unaccountable is the worst sort of tyranny; and least of all to be endured by free‐born men.” 

And surely no Christian prince . . . would arrogate so unreasonably above human condition, or derogate so basely from a whole nation of men, his brethren, as if for him only subsisting, and to serve his glory, valuing them in comparison of his own brute will and pleasure no more than so many beasts, or vermin under his feet, not to be reasoned with, but to be trod on . . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Historiography of Bernal Diaz and the Conquest of "New Spain"

490 years ago, a group of ambitious Spaniards ascended the southeastern slope of the Sierra de Ahualco, a large mountain that overlooked the lush Mexican landscape. Upon reaching the stony top, these men gazed upon a civilization unlike anything that existed in Europe. Tenochtitlan, the native “Aztec” people called it, was a prosperous city nestled neatly into the beauty of the Mexican valley. The panorama of cultivated fields, irrigated by complex water networks was no doubt a charming sight to behold. Towering buildings adorned with gold glistened in the sunlight, enhancing the Spaniards thirst for plunder. Led by the ambitious Hernan Cortes, these Spaniards would stop at nothing in order to seize the riches that lay before them. Unfortunately for the people of Tenochtitlan, these first "explorers" from Spain would turn out to be the beginning of the end for their civilization. Their subsequent conquest and subjugation to the Spanish eventually led to the demise of the Aztec world and the continued rise of Spanish colonization in the "New World."

Over the years the story of Hernan Cortes has been both praised and scrutinized by a wide range of critics. Even his contemporaries were divided over the achievements Cortes had accomplished. Many considered him to be one of Spain’s greatest villains, while others were quick to call him a national hero. Amongst those that rose to defend the acts of Cortes and the conquest of "New Spain" was a poor peasant Spaniard turned conquistador named Bernal Diaz del Castillo. As a loyal soldier in Cortes’s army, Diaz became an eyewitness to the Spanish conquests of Mexico. In the latter years of his life, Diaz wrote his life experiences as a conquistador in his infamous history, The Conquest of New Spain. Though not always kind to Cortes, Diaz gives a predominantly favorable view of Spain’s most legendary conquistador, and the actions of the men that followed him. Over the years, however, the history of Bernal Diaz has been interpreted from many different perspectives. To understand the historiography of Bernal Diaz, a general inquiry into his motivations for exploration, combined with an analysis of how Diaz’s record was perceived by his contemporaries vs. its current historical significance, are essential components in appreciating the historical significance of Diaz’s work.

To understand the record of Bernal Diaz, one must first understand his motivations for becoming a conquistador. Spanish society in the sixteenth century was a world deeply divided by social and economic inequality. A massive number of Spaniards lived in the depths of poverty, expecting little chance to improve their social or economic status. As J.S. Elliot points out, "Cortes, along with the vast majority of explorers, belonged to an overpopulated social class for whom Spain had little to offer." Bernal Diaz also belonged to this low social class. Born in Medina del Campo, Diaz’s childhood was full of scenes of poverty and violence. Having been raised in such an environment, Diaz became acclimated to many of the violent struggles he would face in Mexico. Like Cortes, Diaz longed for the opportunity to make something of himself. The lure of New World conquest became the opportunity he longed for. Historian Rolena Adorno points out that for Diaz, "His primary goal was to achieve economic prosperity for himself and his heirs, and he was fairly successful."

Diaz, however, was not motivated exclusively by economic factors. Upon his arrival to the "New World," Diaz was overcome by the religious fervor that infected most of the Spanish. "Our desire was to throw their [the Aztecs] idols out of the temples, for they were evil and led them astray...we gave them a cross, which would always aid them, bring them good harvests and save their souls." The Spanish were easily able to justify these actions of religious bigotry and hatred. Since 1493 the Spanish (along with other European nations) lived under the delusion that the New World was in fact divinely theirs. With the discovery of the New World, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal decree that promised Spain all the undiscovered lands 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. As a result, Spain was guaranteed its "legitimate" claim to colonize the New World. Queen Isabella even declared the inhabitants of the New World to be her "subjects and vassals."

With such powerful religious conviction behind them, Cortes and his band of soldiers had all the justification they needed to rationalize their brutality towards the natives. Seeing that the Aztecs "eat the flesh of roasted legs of Indians and the arms of soldiers”, Cortes and his men felt it their Christian duty to "purify" the heathen natives and their lands. Backed by the threats of execution, Cotes and his men obligated many native communities to "give up human sacrifice and robbery and the foul practice of sodomy, and to cease worshiping their accursed idols," or, "be absolutely prepared to fight and die." As a result, entire villages of natives were annihilated. As Diaz wrote, "We found the houses full of corpses, and some poor Mexicans still in them who could not move away. Their excretions were the sort of filth that thin swine pass which have been fed on nothing but grass."

The earliest trends in the historiography of Bernal Diaz and the conquest of Mexico have often praised the conquistadors for their remarkable bravery. In the middle part of the nineteenth century, William H. Prescott published his now infamous book, History of the Conquest of Mexico and Peru in which he stated, "The subversion of a great empire by a handful of adventurers...has the air of romance rather than sober history." Prescott interpreted the works of these early conquistadors (including Diaz) in a quasi-poetic fashion. Though occasionally critical of the conquistadors, Prescott gives a great amount of praise to the conquistadors in his narrative. Prescott also credits Diaz for his objective account of the conquest of Mexico. Many of these early interpretations of Spanish colonization were deeply influenced by a Western superiority complex that negated the concerns of native people. Whether in the fictional works of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, or in the words of the conquistadors themselves, European supremacy was asserted to the highest degree.

Bernal Diaz’s work was also rarely scrutinized. Though not published until after his death, Diaz’s account of the conquest of Mexico was taken virtually at face value by the majority of European readers. Even William Prescott rarely challenged the accuracy or prejudice of Diaz. After all, Diaz was "among the writers who defined what was unique about Spain’s early experience in America." His work was seen as central to the historiography of Cortes and Mexican conquest. Questioning Diaz’s work seemed like a ridiculous suggestion for the early scholars of Spanish colonialism.

For the most part, the history of Bernal Diaz remained unchallenged even into the early parts of the twentieth century. Though often harangued on various mundane issues, Diaz’s history rarely received any direct attacks. The only disputations over Diaz’s history centered on various comments that were found to be, "exaggerated or misplaced." The only major issue in the historiography of Bernal Diaz had to do with his clash against the records of Bartolome de Las Casas and Francisco Lopez de Gomara. Both Las Casas and Gomara asserted that the actions of Hernan Cortes and his soldiers were utterly reprehensible, due to their barbaric acts of cruelty during the conquest of Mexico. Diaz’s record, however, seemed to eclipse the histories of Las Casas and Gomara by suggesting that the acts of Mexican conquest were never as destructive as some suggested. In his record, Diaz repeatedly mentioned how he and the other men "tired of war," almost suggesting that they fought because they had no other choice. Diaz also tried to diffuse the notion that he and his fellow soldiers reaped huge economic gains from their plunder. "We captains and soldiers were all somewhat sad when we saw how little gold there was and how poor and mean our shares would be." Of course Diaz neglected to mention the fact that he and others received enormous estates, titles and slaves upon the completion of their murderous rampage.

Recent scholarly inquiry into Bernal Diaz and the conquest of Mexico has made some significant changes to its historiography. As stated before, for centuries the conquistadors rarely received any direct challenge to their legacy. It was not until the latter parts of the twentieth century that the first major attacks to the historiography of the conquistadors were made. The initial question historians made concerning the conquest of Spain was, "is the conquest of Mexico justified?" For the first time historians began to read the words of Diaz in a new light. Instead of interpreting their actions through the lens of European prejudice, the conquistadors were exposed for what they truly were. The conquest of the Aztec civilization was no longer appreciated for its ability to spread Christianity or subdue the "heathens." Instead of being honored for their bravery in battle or glorified for their defense of Christianity, men like Bernal Diaz were recognized primarily for their greed. Though Cortes and his men, "delighted in their new great fortune," which came at the expense of the native people, and after "all the gold and silver and jewels in Mexico had been added together," the conquistadors still could not escape the fact that they were, in the end, thieves and murderers. For the first time, Diaz’s account was subjected to scholarly investigation and genuine criticism. Historians began to suggest that much of Diaz’s work was, "an attempt to keep abreast of the paste of events that profoundly threatened his economic well being." In other words, much of what Diaz wrote was done to defend his social and economic status, not to mention his reputation.

To be certain, Bernal Diaz’s The Conquest of New Spain has played an essential role in the overall historiography of Mexican conquest. It has provided us with an eyewitness account of the destruction, subjugation and assimilation of the native people in and around Tenochtitlan. Though clearly prejudicial and xenophobic in his approach to this historical event, Diaz’s record still remains an important (and hotly debated) primary source document of Spanish conquest. As the interpretation of Diaz’s work has changed over the years, scholars have been able to make significant changes to the historiography of Spanish conquest. Instead of being seen as stalwart Christian heroes, the greedy motives of the conquistadors have been exposed, and the true nature of Spanish conquest revealed. One can only imagine what future historical inquiry will reveal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New-Old Article By Me

Some time back (2004 or 05 I think), I submitted this article to Liberty Magazine, no not THAT Liberty Magazine which also published me, but the one affiliated with the Adventists.

Well they finally published it. My name is "Jon" not "John" and I no longer teach at Philadelphia University. But I can't complain because they did publish it and I did get paid. And they gave me complimentary copies. For these things I will forever be grateful.

On the subject of the article, you are just going to have to read it. What's interesting is to see how my views have changed in years since. I agree with the thrust of what I wrote. However, I no longer think the God of the Declaration was as strictly deistic as Walter Berns (whom I cite) asserts. I still believe the DOI's God is not necessarily the God of the Bible. It could be. But the DOI's God is more Providential or theistic than Berns intimates. The DOI's God, I have come to believe, is the God of generic monotheism, the one that, as much as possible, is all things to all people. It could be the Triniarian God, a non-Trinitarian biblical God (if that's not a contradiction in terms) the Jehovah of the Jewish people who inspired the Old but not the New Testament, a Providential Deist God, Allah, the Mormon God, the Native Americans' Great Spirit, etc.

On the other hand this is what I cited from Walter Berns:

"The God invoked there is 'nature's God,' not, or arguably not, the God of the Bible, not the God whom, today, 43 percent of Americans . . . claim regularly to worship on the Sabbath. Nature's God issues no commands. No one can fall from his grace, and, therefore, no one has reason to pray to him asking for his forgiveness. He makes no promises. On the contrary, he endowed us with 'certain inalienable rights,' then left us alone, and with the knowledge, or at least the confidence, that he will never interfere in our affairs. Moreover, he is not a jealous God; he allows us—in fact, he endows us with the right—to worship other gods or even no god at all."

I think the DOI's God could be Berns' God. His description does have the barest degree of Providentialism to it. However, it's not necessarily or arguably this God.

John Quincy Adams on Protestantism & the French Revolution

I caught this while reading JQA's letter to his mother dated January 9, 1816 (I added paragraph breaks for clarity):

.... Dr. Price was duped by the goodness and simplicity of his heart, by the enthusiasm of his love for liberty, and by his ignorance of the world in which he lived. His ardent zeal in favor of the French Revolution has shed a sort of ridicule upon his reputation, and his opinions upon that and some other subjects have been so completely falsified by events which have happened since his death, that his very name is sinking into oblivion.

Indeed the Dissenters in this country have fallen much into contempt since his time. Their political and religious doctrines have a tide equally strong running against them; and their conduct, which at one time swelled into seditious insolence, and at another sunk into fawning servility, has thrown them into such discredit, that the church may now, if they please, persecute them with impunity. They attempted here a few weeks since to make a stir about the real persecution under which the Protestants are suffering in the south of France. They held meetings, and passed high sounding resolutions, and opened subscriptions, and sent deputations to his Majesty's ministers, and buzzed about their importance, as busily and intrusively as so many horse-flies in dog-days.

His Majesty's ministers put off their deputation with general, insignificant civilities, which they met again, and resolved to give highly satisfactory assurances of support and interference in behalf of French Protestants. His Majesty's ministers then set their daily newspapers to circulate the report that Protestants in France were all Jacobins, and that if they were massacred, and had their churches burnt, their houses pulled down over their heads, it was not for their religion but for their politics.

From that moment Master Bull has had neither compassion nor compunction for the French Protestants. The Dissenters by a rare notion of stupidity and Jesuitism (for there are Jesuits of all denominations) have denied the fact, and vainly attempted to suppress the evidence that proved it; of stupidity for not perceiving that this must ultimately be proved against them, and of Jesuitism for contesting the fact against their better knowledge, because they could produce Protestant invectives against Bonaparte after his fall, and Protestant adulation to Louis 18 after his restoration.

The French Protestants, like the English Dissenters, have been throughout the course of the French Revolution generally time-servers. Like the mongrel brood of Babylonians and Samaritans after the Assyrian captivity, their political worship has been after "the manner of the God of the land." They have feared the Lord and served their graven images. They hated Bonaparte, no doubt, in proportion as they found themselves galled by his yoke, and they had no gratitude for the protection and security which his authority gave them for the free exercise of their religion and the quiet enjoyment of their property.

But the Protestants had unquestionably been from the first ardent supporters and exaggerated friends of the revolution. It was indeed natural enough that they should be, for the revolution had redeemed them from a worse than Egyptian thraldom. My father well remembers from personal knowledge what was the condition of the Protestants in France before the revolution, and in what sort of sentiments concerning them and their religion all the Bourbons were educated.

The revolution gave them equal religious and political rights with those of the rest of their countrymen. They had been twenty years freely and eagerly purchasing the national property, and among the rest, it appears, had purchased two of the old convents at Nismes, and used them for churches. Yet they joined in the hue and cry against Napoleon after he was down. Yet they fawned upon the Bourbons, when from the shoulders of the enemies of France they were turned off upon them, and licked the dust at the feet of Louis le Desire. As if tythes, and monks, and barefoot processions, and legends, and relics, and religious bigotry, had not been the darling and only consolations of Louis and his Bourbons in their exile, and would not inevitably bring back religious intolerance with them.

Now, this is the foundation upon which the Dissenters here have relied, to deny that the present persecution of the French Protestants has been for politics. But now comes a letter from the Duke of Wellington, formally announcing that it was for politics, and henceforth, instead of whining, and resolving, and subscribing for the French Protestants, the churchmen here, if the coal of the Angouleme fires were extinguished, would lend him a fagot to kindle them again. The Duke of Wellington says, too, that he is convinced the French government have done all in their power to protect the Protestants. This is not so certain. But whether they have or not, is held to be perfectly immaterial. The French Protestants were Jacobins or Bonapartists—nothing more just and proper than that they should be hunted down as wild beasts. At the same time, the ministerial prints are teeming with reproaches upon two of the king's sons for having lately attended at a charity sermon preached in a Methodist chapel, and giving broad hints that the church must be strengthened against the Dissenters.

I'm not sure if I would categorize the FR as a "Protestant" event, but Protestantism certainly fueled its flames.

Friday, January 6, 2012

John Quincy Adams Defends small o orthodox small c catholic Christianity to his father

I've posted numerous times the quotation of the elder John Adams to JQA defending unitarianism. For context, I'll post it again below:

We Unitarians, one of whom I have had the Honour to be, for more than sixty Years, do not indulge our Malignity in profane Cursing and Swearing, against you Calvinists; one of whom I know not how long you have been. You and I, once saw Calvin and Arius, on the Plafond of the Cathedral of St. John the Second in Spain roasting in the Flames of Hell. We Unitarians do not delight in thinking that Plato and Cicero, Tacitus Quintilian Plyny and even Diderot, are sweltering under the scalding drops of divine Vengeance, for all Eternity.

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

The quotation indicates that, apparently, John Quincy Adams had embraced a Calvinistic form of orthodox Christianity. I'm less well read in JQA's religion; I've seen that he vacillated between unitarianism and orthodoxy for much of his adult life. I'm not sure where he ended up at death. In 1816, he seemed to be in the orthodox camp.

With that, let us observe JQA defending, to HIS father, orthodox Trinitarianism. We also see JQA defending the small c catholicism of the Christian Church. This is important. Catholicism simply means "universal." The Bible talks about Christ's "Church." As it were, the notion of a "catholic Church" is entirely biblical, and for that reason accepted by the vast majority of evangelicals/reformed Christians. They just don't believe that the Church whose Bishop of Rome is the Pope heads said Church.

All of the orthodox creeds, the Nicene, Apostles and Athanasian invoke the "catholic" church, though some translations might not use that term, but rather opt for "universal" or simply "Christian" before "church."

But do keep this (small c catholic = universal church = orthodox Trinitarian) not only reading JQA's sentiments to his father, but for the sake of context in these matters in general.

Dated, January 5, 1816:

My Dear Sir:

I plainly perceive that you are not to be converted, even by the eloquence of Massillon, to the Athanasian creed. But when you recommend to me Carlostad, and Scheffmacher, and Priestley, and Waterland, and Clerk, and Beausobre—Mercy! mercy! what can a blind man do to be saved by unitarianism, if he must read all this to understand his Bible? I went last Christmas day to Ealing Church, and heard the Reverend Colston Carr, the vicar, declare and pronounce, among other things, that whosoever doth not keep the catholic faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is This: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, etc.—in short the creed of Saint Athanasius; which, as you know, the eighth article of the English Church says, may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture. Now I have had many doubts about the Athanasian Creed; but if I read much more controversy about it, I shall finish by faithfully believing it. Mr. Channing says he does not believe, because he cannot comprehend it. Does he comprehend how the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite, eternal spirit, can be the father of a mortal man, conceived and born of a Virgin? Does he comprehend his own meaning when he speaks of God as the Father, and Christ as the Son? Does he comprehend the possibility according to human reason, of one page in the Bible from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse of the Apocalypse? If he does, I give him joy of his discovery, and wish he would impart it to his fellow Christians. If the Bible is a moral tale, there is no believing in the Trinity. But if it is the rule of faith—

I hope you will not think me in danger of perishing everlastingly, for believing too much, and when you know all, with your aversion to thinking of the Jesuits, you may think I have made a lucky escape, if I do not believe in transubstantiation. During almost the whole period of my late residence in Russia, I had the pleasure of a social and very friendly acquaintance with the Right Reverend Father in God, Thaddeus Brozowsky, then and now Father General of the Jesuits, one of the most respectable, amiable, and venerable men that I have ever known. As I was the medium of communication between him and his correspondents in the United States, he used frequently to call upon me, and I had often occasion to return his visits. We used to converse upon all sorts of topics, and among the rest upon religion. He occasionally manifested a compassionate wish for my conversion to the true Catholic faith, and one day undertook to give me a demonstration of the real presence in the Eucharist. He said it was ingeniously proved in a copperplate print which he had seen, representing Jesus Christ sitting between Luther and Calvin, each of them bearing the wafer of the communion. Each of them had also a label issuing from his lips, and, pointing with the finger to the bread, Christ was saying, "This is my body," while Luther said, "This represents my body," and Calvin, "This signifies my body." At the bottom of the whole was the question, "Which of them speaks the truth?" It was not the worthy Father's fault if I did not consider this demonstration as conclusive as he did. Another day—and it will give you an idea of the simplicity of this good man's heart—we were discussing together the celibacy of the clergy, which he deemed indispensable, that they might be altogether devoted to the service of their Lord and master, and not liable to the avocations of this world's concerns. I did not think it would be generous to remind him of the manner in which the experience of the world had shown that the vows of religious chastity usually resulted, but rather resorted to authority with regard to the principle. I observed to him that not only all the Protestant communities, but the Greek Church also, allowed the clergy to marry. Upon which, after a moment of reflection, he said, "Oui, c'est vrai. II n'y a que l'eglise romaine qui soit encore vierge!" Indeed, you must give me some credit for firmness of character, for withstanding the persuasion of such a patriarch as this.


Jefferson on the Enlightenment

As the Sage of Monticello wrote regarding the 18th century:
It certainly witnessed the sciences and arts, manners and morals, advanced to a higher degree than the world had ever before seen.  And might we not go back to the ear of the Borgias, by which time the barbarous ages had reduced national morality to its lowest point of depravity, and observe that the arts and sciences, rising from that point, advanced gradually through all the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteen centuries, softening and correcting the manners and morals of man?  I think, too, we may add to the great honor for science and the arts, that their natural effect is, by illuminating public opinion, to erect it into a sensor, before which the most exalted tremble for their future, as well as present fame.
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams dated January 11, 1816, taken from In God We Trust:  The Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers, ed. by Norman Cousins (Harper & Bros.:  1958), pg. 266.

[Cross-posted at Culby's Daily Quotebook.]

Thursday, January 5, 2012

George Washington on civic affairs, revelation, and the need to imitate the "Divine Author of our blessed religion"

George Washington's pronouncements regarding civic religion were usually couched in general language.  He rarely referred to God in specific confessional terms, for example, but rather used generalized language that reflects often common 18th century Deistic terminology.  This use of generalized language was often paired with terminology designed to appeal to religious believers of a more orthodox Christian persuasion.  It is this pairing that more often than not leads, I think, to a good deal of the confusion regarding Washington's own religious beliefs and his view of faith in public life.

A good example of Washington's use of language in this regard can been seen in one of his more significant public pronouncements, the Circular Letter to the Governors of All the States regarding the disbanding of the Continental Army in 1783.  In that letter, Washington seeks to reinforce the stability of the early American Republic as the Continentals returned home after winning independence.  In his letter, Washington makes two particularly important points regarding the role of religion in civil life.  The first is that for a variety of reasons, including divine "Revelation," human society is improving.  As Washington writes:
The free cultivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the pure and benign light of Revelation, have a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society.
Note that Washington, while listing many human accomplishments in this process of improvement, he attaches priority to "the pure and benign light of Revelation." It was divine Revelation, in Washington's statement, that was most to account for the progressive improvement in human society. Not a dry and cramped secularism or a humanism operating in a universe where God is simply an inattentive watchmaker, but Revelation proceeding from an active God who was communicating with human beings, moving them constantly forward toward a better future.  Washington argues that because of these many advantages -- both human and revelatory -- the happiness of the citizens of the United States as "a Nation" (and Washington uses both the singular  indefinite article and a capital "N") is for the taking.  If happiness and freedom do not result, "the fault with be entirely" our own. 

Second, Washington further reinforces the importance of God's action in human events by commending the state governors and their respective states to divine care.  "I now make it my earnest prayer," he writes, "that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection[.]"  Washington then states that he hopes that God would move the citizens of the country to "cultivate" a host of proper civic virtues:  obedience to governmental authorities, fellow-feeling for each other -- both fellow citizens and particularly for the returning veterans of the Continental Army -- and, most interesting, to emulate those virtues "which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion[.]" (Italics in the original.)  After including a brief and common list of those virtues, Washington states that without "an humble imitation" of the example of the Divine Author, "we can never hope to be a happy nation."

What one sees in Washington's Circular Letter is language used that is non-confessionally specific, but which takes for granted certain key religious ideas:  1)  God is active in human affairs, moving human beings towards greater goodness and social solidarity;  2) because of the advantages they benefit from, the citizens of the United States are responsible for their freedom and happiness; and 3) human beings are called to imitate the attributes of God as He has revealed them.  

While Washington's Circular Letter is not a fully developed treatise in civic theology, it does manifest the key points of Washington's own views about the role of religion in human society. And Washington's vision in that regard was one that viewed religion as a positive force in human life and civic affairs.  It is not, to say the least, a vision of civic life that is hostile to religious faith.  While couched in language that is not expressly orthodox, it is couched in language that is certainly amenable to orthodox interpretation.  Far from religion ruining everything, to borrow a phrase from the late Christopher Hitchens, to the Washington writing the Circular Letter, religious faith stands as the well-spring for civic virtue and human happiness.

[Cross-posted at my own blog, Libertas et Memoria.]

Enlightenment Deism

Dr. Joseph Waligore has published online some of his what I see as very important research clarifying what the "Enlightenment Deists" believed in.

A taste:

While almost all scholars continually assert that the God of the Enlightenment deists was a remote, uninvolved, watchmaker God that generated no love or warmth in people, none of these assertions are true. A majority of the deists thought God or the angels performed miracles; many of them prayed fervently to a God they adored; some even went into raptures of ecstasy at God’s wonderful benevolence. Some of them believed God or the angels protected people from danger by putting thoughts into people’s minds warning them of danger. Many believed the devil might perform miracles, and so any possible revelation backed by miracles had to be examined to be sure it was not done by the devil. A significant number of them viewed themselves as sincere Christians who spent their lives explaining where and why orthodox Christianity had strayed from Jesus’ simple message. A few were more interesting or featherbrained (depending on your perspective): one believed an angel had given him the key to interpreting prophecy, another said he received a sign from God to publish his first book, and another believed in reincarnation. Enlightenment deism was not modern secularism, or even a halfway house to it; the deists were preaching a religious alternative to orthodox Christianity that they hoped the world would embrace. Their piety and theology has been neglected, but it is due to our misunderstanding of it and not their theology’s lack of interest or influence on our culture’s intellectual history.

The entire article is worth a careful read. I’m not sure if I am comfortable calling this “Deism”: but Waligore’s point is that many of the folks we think of as “Enlightenment Deists" actually believed THIS. If it's proper to term this Deism, it's certainly a form of "Christian-Deism" as David L. Holmes termed it.

A New Year, A Renewed Objective

The new year is in full swing and with it a renewed sense of purpose. As has become tradition, the new year tends to bring with it a "clean slate" of sorts in which people assess their lives and evaluate what they did well and could do better. Resolutions are made and goals set to help bring about the desired changes in one's life.

And such is the case with American Creation. Over the past several days, contributors to this blog have shared a variety of opinions and suggestions on things that we could do to improve AC for our readers. The exchange, which will remain private for the most part, has centered on what I would call concerns about civility, especially in our comments section of this blog. I am not going to point anyone out nor are we going to conduct our own witch hunt here, but I do think it is important that we all reevaluate the comments we make to AC. I have myself been a HUGE offender in this regard. There have been several occasions in which I have been less-than-civil in the comments I have made. Some of this has been due to perceived attacks, but the behavior is still not excusable. I commit to do better.

I know that the subject matter of this blog is oftentimes sensitive in nature. Religion and politics inevitably pop up, and with them comes strong opinions and sensitive feelings. These are delicate waters that we sometimes tread here at AC and we need to be mindful of this fact. I'm not suggesting that people set aside their opinions, beliefs or politics. Just be mindful of a couple of things when commenting:

1.) The overall mission of this blog.
2.) The general thesis of a particular blog post.
3.) The feelings of the contributor and fellow commentators.

In short, let's just try and remember the Golden Rule around these parts...all of us! Everyone brings their own skills, education levels, and yes, even biases to this blog. Our job is not to change those things but insted to arrive at a better understanding of religion and the American founding.

This isn't meant to be a lecture or a warning, but rather a renewal of civility. American Creation is meant to be fun, enlightening and engaging. I believe we can (and for the most part have) accomplish this. If we as commentators disagree on particular issues then no big deal. There's nothing wrong with respectful disagreement. Let's just be mindful of the tone we choose to employ.

Again, a special thank you to EVERYONE who has made AC what it is. I for one look forward to this new year and all it brings. God bless and best of luck to you and yours throughout 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Trenchard & Gordon on Religion: All Government proved to be instituted by Men, and only to intend the general Good of Men. (Trenchard) (NO. 60. SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1722)

America's Founders were Lockeans. But they didn't get their Locke unfiltered. T & G were crucial filters.

See an exerpt here:

Every man's religion is his own; nor can the religion of any man, of what nature or figure soever, be the religion of another man, unless he also chooses it; which action utterly excludes all force, power, or government. Religion can never come without conviction, nor can conviction come from civil authority; religion, which is the fear of God, cannot be subject to power, which is the fear of man. It is a relation between God and our own souls only, and consists in a disposition of mind to obey the will of our great Creator, in the manner which we think most acceptable to him. It is independent upon all human directions, and superior to them; and consequently uncontrollable by external force, which cannot reach the free faculties of the mind, or inform the understanding, much less convince it. Religion therefore, which can never be subject to the jurisdiction of another, can never be alienated to another, or put in his power.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Tempest over a Tea Cup

This post has "nothing to do" with my previous post, Jerry-rigging the Presidential Oath, except to illustrate how much, starting with 1821, the manner of administering an oath by an authorized New York official had changed to accommodate the religious convictions of an oath-taker. Here's a small section from Reports of Chancery Cases, decided in the First Circuit of the State of New York, Volume III, page 243, which is about how an oath was administered in a New York court of justice some fifty years after our nation's first presidential inauguration:
[It is interesting] to add here, (although, it is true, it relates to an idolater's oath) the circumstances attending the examination of a Chinese in the Marine court of the city of New York, on the fifth day of December, 1839 as a witness. It was a suit before Judge Schiefflin in the Marine court; and a young man, about seventeen years old, a native of China, who could speak English tolerably well, was called by one of the parties as a witness. The opposite party objected to his evidence being received on the ground that he was not a Christian nor believed in the existence of God. He was then asked by the court if he believed in Christianity, and he replied in the negative. He was next asked, did he believe in the existence of a God? and he said "I do"; for there are several gods in our temples in China." The court then quoted a section of the [1821] Revised Statutes, "Every person believing in any other than the Christian religion, shall be sworn according to the peculiar ceremonies of his religion," ... .

After the court discussed much to do about the acceptable mode of administering an oath involving this particular circumstance, the following protocol was adopted:
The plaintiff knelt down, and the witness [of seventeen years] took in his hand what he called the Chinese Bible, and the judge, as does the Mandarin, told the witness to tell the truth. The witness then handed the bible to the plaintiff. The witness then handed the Bible to the plaintiff. The witness then took a China cup in his hand, and held it while the plaintiff read a small portion of the Chinese Bible. When the plaintiff stopped reading, the witness handed him the cup, which the plaintiff dashed against the ground with much vehemence of manner, and of course broke it into pieces. The witness then shut up the book, and witness and plaintiff kissed it, and the plaintiff stood up. The plaintiff then required the judge to put his, the plaintiff's, name in that part of the book which he had read, which the Judge did, and the witness then began to give his evidence.

A hat tip to Brad Hart and his recent Shakespearean comment. I, otherwise, would have forgotten all about this 1839 courtroom episode involving a tea cup.

Of Kings, Popes, Ecclesia and Mundus

The Love/Hate Relationship
Between Church and State

210 years ago today, on New Year's Day, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to a group of Connecticut Baptists who had been the unfortunate victims of religious persecution. At the time, Connecticut had established Congregationalism as the official religion of the state, and these Danbury Baptists had asked President Jefferson for aid. In what has become known as the Danbury Letter, President Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists by repeating the words of the First Amendment, which state that Congress shall "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." President Jefferson then added the words, "thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

This "wall" of "separation" between church and state is the fundamental issue at play in many a culture war today. Advocates in favor of a "Christian Nation" reduce the significance of the Danbury letter by revealing the fact that the phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be had in our founding documents. Those opposed to the "Christian Nation" rebuke such a claim by pointing out that many of those same founding documents (particularly the Constitution) make no mention of God. And while both sides make appeals to different influencing factors that helped to bring about the formation of the United States (i.e. Christianity, Enlightenment, etc.) it is important for us to recognize that there is NOTHING uniquely American about this church/state battle.

To better understand the depth and the importance of this church/state conflict let us travel back to a time when it wasn't constitutions and congresses that made law but rather kings and popes. Of course I am speaking of Medieval times. This was a time of passionate religious and political bickering, as heads of state (or kingdoms) and vicars of Christ jockeyed with one another for ultimate control. The question of who possessed ultimate authority became the central theme of almost all Medieval politics. Pontiffs and princes, priests and politicians, spend centuries arguing over this singular issue in the futile effort to seize a measure of control over the other.

The analysis into the origins of this Church/State conflict could, if we let it, take us all the way back to Constantine himself. Ever since the day that Constantine the Great saw his famous vision and heard the voice "En Hoc Signo Vinces", the battle between church and state has been a raging fire throughout the Western world. Constantine's newly endowed Catholic Church, complete with imperial sanctioning and ecclesiastical authority, was a budding juggernaut of power that would eventually monopolize the governments of heaven and much of earth. Unlike its pagan predecessors, which required no major governing bureaucracy, Christianity (at least of the dominant Roman Catholic form) developed a hierarchical, authoritative governing body that eventually came to rival that of the Roman Empire itself (many historians, including the legendary Edward Gibbon, have hypothesized that this development was THE catalyst to the demise of the western Roman Empire). Traditional and simplistic rituals to the various gods and priests of paganism were replaced with dominant and influential representatives of the resurrected Christ who held all the keys to one's salvation.

As Christianity continued to rise upon the ashes of the dead western Roman Empire, various leaders of various lands hitched their wagons to the church in order to add divine sanctioning to their leadership resumes. Gothic lords and Frankish kings all saw the advantages that Christianity provided. It is therefore no surprise that so many of these former "barbarians" eventually became anointed kings and saints of the church. But these perks were not without their costs. As the Medieval world continued to evolve, monarchs found themselves at odds with their religious counterparts. Popes, abbots, bishops and priests demanded more control (and money) from their secular leaders, who were often found reluctant to acquiesce to those heavenly demands. And with Catholicism still in its infancy, secular leaders were able to put the early church in check by integrating themselves in with church authority. For example, most early popes relied upon powerful monarchs for not only protection but also for their nomination to the papacy. For centuries, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire wielded incredible influence over new nominees to the Holy See, and once in power, these same popes relied heavily upon the Emperor's authority. There is no greater example or precedent of this fact than Pope Leo III, who begged Charlemagne for protection and for reinstatement to his seat as Bishop of Rome. Charlemagne obliged Leo and restored him in Rome; a gesture that Leo rewarded by pledging his allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor and by crowning Charlemagne in St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day, 800.

But this reliance upon monarchs was not held in high esteem by everyone within the church. For centuries church authorities had tried, with varying levels of success, to break free from the secular power. From the fraudulent Donation of Constantine to Libertas ecclesiae, examples of Ecclesia's quest to be on equal or superior footing with Mundus fill the archives. The best example of this quest to "break free" and assert the church's ultimate authority is the Investiture Controversy, in which several kings (specifically King Henry IV) and popes (specifically Pope Gregory VII) took center stage in a clash worthy of a Hollywood script. In a nutshell, the Investiture Controversy was a disagreement that arose when church leaders challenged those monarchs who had granted appointments (investitures) to bishops and abbots within their kingdom. Contrary to popular belief, the church did not always exercise its domain over the appointment of local leaders. In fact, almost all local bishops and abbots of the early Medieval period were appointed by their local secular powers. This was due to the fact that these positions were almost always accompanied with a large land endowment. In what became known as the practice of Simony, kings and lords profited substantially from the sale of these church investitures, which were usually granted to secular nobles who could both afford to pay for the post and would remain loyal to the crown. For obvious reasons, church leaders saw this practice as an affront to their sovereignty and authority and looked for ways to change the status quo. This effort, however, proved to be extremely difficult, especially in the wake of ugly affairs like the Rule of the Harlots and the Great Schism of 1054.

An opportunity for change finally presented itself 1056 with the death of Emperor Henry III. Henry's successor, six-year-old Henry IV, was obviously too young to govern, thus opening the door for the church to make its move. During Henry IV's youth, the church made three significant moves to help establish its supremacy: First, in 1059, Gregorian reformers helped to push forward the all-important Papal Bull, In Nomine Domini, which established the College of Cardinals and invested in them the exclusive power of electing future popes. Second, in 1075, Pope Gregory VII created the Dictatus Papae, which, among other things, stated that the Pope alone had the authority to depose an emperor. And third, in a Lantern Council of 1075, church leaders declared that the Pope alone had the power of investitures. With these three new mandates in hand, church authorities were finally armed with the justification for ultimate sovereignty that they had longed for.

But as was often the case with Medieval politics, many within the secular realm were not impressed. Now no longer a child, King Henry IV elected to continue with the status quo and appointed his own bishops and abbots. In addition, Henry revoked his imperial support of Pope Gregory and issued a stern warning to the Holy Father. In a letter to Pope Gregory (in which Henry addressed him as "Hildebrand, at present not pope but false monk") Henry declared that his divine kingship came not from papal decree but from god himself:

And we, indeed, have endured all this, being eager to guard the honor of the apostolic see; you, however, have understood our humility to be fear, and have not, accordingly, shunned to rise up against the royal power conferred upon us by God, daring to threaten to divest us of it. As if we had received our kingdom from you! As if the kingdom and the empire were in your and not in God's hands! And this although our Lord Jesus Christ did call us to the kingdom, did not, however, call thee to the priesthood. For you have ascended by the following steps. By wiles, namely, which the profession of monk abhors, you have achieved money; by money, favor; by the sword, the throne of peace. And from the throne of peace you have disturbed peace, inasmuch as thou hast armed subjects against those in authority over them; inasmuch as you, who were not called, have taught that our bishops called of God are to be despised; inasmuch as you have usurped for laymen and the ministry over their priests, allowing them to depose or condemn those whom they themselves had received as teachers from the hand of God through the laying on of hands of the bishops.
Unfortunately for Henry, his royal rebuking fell on deaf ears. Pope Gregory simply ignored the letter and responded by excommunicating the Holy Roman Emperor. Not only did Henry's excommunication please church authorities but it also excited a number of German lords who had longed for a justification to usurp the king and increase their own wealth and power. Faced with overwhelming opposition from the church and growing hostility from his nobles, Henry finally chose to swallow his pride and appealed to Pope Gregory for reinstatement (legend has it that Henry traveled to Canossa, adorned himself in hairshirt and stood barefoot in the snow). Pope Gregory eventually removed Henry's excommunication but did not declare him king. In 1080 German lords had elected a new king, Rudolf of Rheinfelden, and had petitioned Gregory to anoint him as Holy Roman Emperor. Gregory found himself at a difficult crossroad and decided to not anoint either man as king. This infuriated Henry who proclaimed Clement III as pope (or antipope if you are on Gregory's team). Henry then attacked and killed Rudolf of Rheinfelden and moved on Rome to forcibly remove Gregory from the papacy. Left with no choice, Gregory called on Normon allies to come to his rescue. And though the Normans were successful in driving Henry's forces back, they chose to sack Rome themselves, causing Gregory to flee for his life.

Eventually the Investiture Controversy was resolved by Henry and Gregory's successors. The Concordat of Worms, which essentially granted sovereignty to both the church and the state in their respective realms, became one of the first occasions in which a "wall" of "separation" was created. The Investiture Controversy, though a dramatic mess to say the least, had revealed the fact that mixing matters of church and state together would surely lead to an explosive reaction. Both entities needed a buffer from one another. As the great Medieval historian Norman Cantor put it:

The Investiture Controversy had shattered the early-medieval equilibrium and ended the interpenetration of ecclesia and mundus. Medieval kingship, which had been largely the creation of ecclesiastical ideals and personnel, was forced to develop new institutions and sanctions. The result during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, was the first instance of a secular bureaucratic state whose essential components appeared in the Anglo-Norman monarchy.
And though the tug-o-war between church and state would rage on for several more centuries, the Investiture Controversy was a landmark event for both ecclesia and mundus. It gave religion a greater measure of independence from secular authorities who had for too long meddled in affairs to which they did not belong. The Investiture Controversy also endowed the state with a very clear sense of legitimacy that would, over the next millenia, rely less and less upon ecclesiastical endorsement and divine right authority. In short, the Investiture Controversy became the launchpad for future reformers and revolutionaries, who battled against the powers of church and state, in an effort to legitimize the independent authority of both. While the Investiture Controversy (along with subsequent struggles over the next several centuries) didn't completely solve the church/state debate, it did lay some of the initial mortar for the "wall." And as we have learned, this "wall" is not made of bricks but rather is a semi-permeable membrane through which church and state are able to occasionally cross, though once crossed is navigating through delicate waters.

For me, the church/state barrier is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: though very different in texture and flavor the two were made for one another, so long as they are applied in the appropriate proportions and nobody uses the jelly knife to scoop out the peanut butter (or visa-versa). And as everyone knows, though sticky and often messy, there is nothing better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!