Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mark David Hall Responds to D.G.Hart

Dr. Hall sent me the following note:
Jon Rowe sent me the following post [here] by D.G. Hart and asked me if I wanted to respond on AC.  I read it several times, but am not sure what to say.  Based on earlier conversations with Hart, I suspect he objects to Gutzman’s suggestion that I think Locke and Calvin had a  “consistent” approach to resisting tyrants.  This is a contested question, which I try to finesse as follows:
“Calvin, one of the most politically conservative of the Reformers, contended that in some cases inferior magistrates might resist an ungodly ruler. However, Reformers such as John Knox (1505–72), George Buchanan (1506–82), and Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) of Scotland, Theodore Beza (1519–1605) of France and Switzerland, David Pareus (1548–1622) of Germany, and Christopher Goodman (1520–1603) and John Ponet (1516–1556) of England argued that inferior magistrates must resist unjust rulers and even permitted or required citizens to do so” (15). 
I address Calvin’s views in a bit more detail in the notes, but I am more interested in political ideas that developed within the Calvinist tradition.   My contention is that Sherman and other Reformed founders were significantly influenced by the Calvinist political tradition, not Calvin per se.  Similarly, I contend that Reformed thinkers played a major role in developing the idea that an important (but not the only) role of government is to protect natural rights.
To summarize a chief complaint of the book, I argue that “[a]lthough the days of Locke et praeterea nihil should be long gone, students of politics, law, and history are still too wont to attribute references to natural rights, religious liberty, consent, and the right to resist tyrannical governments to John Locke.  In doing so, they neglect the reality that for many founders, these and other political principles were derived from Calvinist thought—and that in each case that they were present in Reformed communities long before Locke wrote the Second Treatise” (5). 
---------
Best,

Mark 

105 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Similarly, I contend that Reformed thinkers played a major role in developing the idea that an important (but not the only) role of government is to protect natural rights.

Mark, DG Hart appears to contest this, at least

. I know about Witherspoon (who according to Fea and Frazer followed Locke more than Calvin — he didn’t confess Calvin either; and when he revised the Confession of faith he didn’t mention a magistrate’s duty to protect rights).

http://oldlife.org/2013/06/john-clarifies-confusing-johns/#comment-87977

D G said...

Tom, as the quotation from me shows, I am following the work of John Fea and Gregg Frazer. You may try to turn this into a debate between Mark and me, but why don't you enlighten us all?

Erik Charter said...

One thing that's tricky about Calvin is reconciling him with himself. I am reading Van Drunen's "Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms - A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought" and am about 1/4th of the way through. I haven't reached the section on Reformed Resistance Theory. Anyway about Calvin, Van Drunen establishes pretty thoroughly that Calvin held to the idea of Two Kingdoms, but in his work in Geneva with the civil magistate he did all kinds of things than ran afoul of Two Kingdoms thinking. He was writing the City's constitution (using his legal training, no doubt), The Consistory was serving as a kind of lower court, the Magistate was punishing offenses that probably should have been dealt with through church discipline, and on and on. Van Drunen attempts to deal with these contradictions in the book, but for me it's a reminder that we are all to some degree captive to the time and place in which we find ourselves. We have our ideals and our convictions, but when the rubber meets the road we often act differently than people might expect. Likewise on the issue of revolution. Our Confessions might say one thing, but when revolutionary fervor is in the air it's hard to resist.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, as the quotation from me shows, I am following the work of John Fea and Gregg Frazer. You may try to turn this into a debate between Mark and me, but why don't you enlighten us all?

Actually, Darryl, I think yours is a valid challenge and brought it to the table. I anxiously await Dr. Hall's answer.

I don't make Mark's claim so I'm not interested in defending it at the moment, nor am I particularly interested in your tying the 1788 American revision of the Westminster Confession to natural rights. I'm moderating here, trying to provide you both with an honest hearing.

Nice to see you here in neutral ground.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Van Drunen establishes pretty thoroughly that Calvin held to the idea of Two Kingdoms, but in his work in Geneva with the civil magistate he did all kinds of things than ran afoul of Two Kingdoms thinking.

Why, thank you, Erik, for allowing my point. And I'm not opposed to theonomic government in principle, it's just that Geneva and New England [and Cromwell's England] certainly decided they didn't like the Calvinist stripe. And Roger Williams took his show down the road.

However, anarchy [or the tyranny of a Stalinism/Maoism] is far worse than theocracy, so the question isn't easily closed.

I did find this Charles Hodge piece interesting, What is Presbyterianism?

http://www.pcahistory.org/documents/wip.html

which draws a necessary link between religious and civil liberty, but I wonder if its call for pluralism isn't a necessary reflection of the Reformation and its resultant 100s of sects. Of 1720s London,

Voltaire ended his most-quoted letter, “On the Presbyterians,” by observing: “If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily together in peace.”

Erik Charter said...

Voltaire's comment has a ring of truth to it, which is why I am not opposed to pluralism. The only sects we can't tolerate are those who say their faith requires them to kill other people (i.e. the 9/11 hijackers and the Boston Marathon bombers). Anyone who is content to let their God deliver these punishments after this life I can live with. I would have no toleration for a Christian Magistrate putting people to death for violations of most of the Ten Commandments (everything but murder and there had better be really solid evidence even for that.)

Tom Van Dyke said...

I would have no toleration for a Christian Magistrate putting people to death for violations of most of the Ten Commandments (everything but murder and there had better be really solid evidence even for that.)

Sure. Thing is, back in the day, blasphemy and heresy were seen to pose a threat to the civil order, and were punished by the civil, not church, authorities.
Famous case in NY in the early 1800s, People vs. Ruggles. Dude called Jesus a bastard since Mary and the Holy Spirit weren't married.

Heh. Imagine yelling 'Mohammed sucks' in the middle of Tehran. Something like that. Forget the theology, you just yelled 'fire' in a theater.

As for heresy, there was indeed the Romans 13 belief that God put the king in place, so to threaten the Christian religion was a threat to the state.

They could put down various outbreaks of heresy until 1517, but once Luther lets the theological toothpaste out of the tube, it's lock the barn door, Nellie.

Ooops, too late. Plan B--religious pluralism. :-O

wsforten said...

Let me add some documentation to Tom's comment. According to James Wilson:

"Profaneness and blasphemy are offences, punishable by fine and by imprisonment. Christianity is a part of the common law."

http://books.google.com/books?id=iEJKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA112

Mark Hall said...

I don't think Calvinist political thought ended with John Calvin. Calvinist political thinkers developed and defended many of the political ideas often associated with John Locke well before Locke wrote the Second Treatise. These ideas were transmitted to the 50-75% of white Americans in the founding era who can reasonably be labled as part of this tradition.
To turn the question a bit, what political idea did Witherspoon embrace that hadn't been embraced by Reformed thinkers who wrote before Locke?

I flesh out these arguments and have more to say about Locke in my book on Sherman. I don't expect many people to buy the book, but perhaps you could ask your local library to order it. The first two chapters are particularly on point.

I should perhaps note here that DG Hart was kind enough to read one of my earlier essays on this subject and he offered helpful feedback. We have some disagreements, but if there wasn't plenty of room for interpretation this wouldn't be such a fun field!



Tom Van Dyke said...

Mark Hall:

These ideas were transmitted to the 50-75% of white Americans in the founding era who can reasonably be labeled as part of this tradition.

This assertion was challenged by DG Hart, if not ridiculed:

http://oldlife.org/2013/06/confusing-johns/comment-page-2/#comment-87364

Tom, Hall doesn’t give a cite for his stats*. Don’t tell the smart folks at UVA.

Head on my butt.


Re Hall, Mark D *http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/2011/06/did-america-have-a-christian-founding

The objection of Darryl Hart's head and butt is sustained, Mark.

wsforten said...

Mark,

I'm curious as to why you stopped with Calvin and did not trace Sherman's ideology further back through the writings of the church fathers. Is that a project that you would be interested in pursuing for your next book?

Erik Charter said...

Mark,

Not to be rude, but in an article Tom has linked to you cite 75% as the figure for the prevalence of "Calvinists" at the time of the Revolution. Now above you cite 50-75%. What is your source for this? How do you count Congregational churches who were moving toward Unitarianism? Are you saying 50-75% of all colonists or only church going Calvinists. If only church going Calvinists what does that take the overall percentage down to?

sean said...

TVD, I still don't quite understand all you're driving at. It's been fairly clear in Calvin that resistance and in this case having specific reference to the Huguenots situation, if pursued, was to be pursued through the inferior magistrates as this was part of their God-given role; to check the power of the monarchy. What John Calvin seems to have been abundantly clear about, was that private persons were NOT to resist the God ordained rule, in this case, of the King. God availed a means to the individual; representative magistrates and the individual's 'resistance' was to terminate there. There is also a further distinction that plays out between the marian exiles and the huguenots, with the marian exiles;John Knox for example, abiding a more beligerent and 'biblically informed' emphasis in their resistance theories. Keep in mind however, that for the Marian exiles, no doubt inflamed by Queen Mary, was a rather misogynistic(by our standards) justification for their principled resistance; 'it's not right for a woman to rule'. Having said all that, all of these 'calvinistic' resistance theories, particularly for the French, find much of their footing in humanistic authors and 'natural' reasoning(literally arguments from nature and or sociological observation of people living in community).

wsforten said...

Sean,

Your final comment is not true of all "resistance theories" within the Christian tradition. Aquinas, for example, based his concept of resistance on a study of the Scripture.

Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. If they be just, they have the power of binding in conscience, from the eternal law whence they are derived, according to Prov. 8:15: "By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things." Now laws are said to be just, both from the end, when, to wit, they are ordained to the common good---and from their author, that is to say, when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the lawgiver---and from their form, when, to wit, burdens are laid on the subjects, according to an equality of proportion and with a view to the common good. For, since one man is a part of the community, each man in all that he is and has, belongs to the community; just as a part, in all that it is, belongs to the whole; wherefore nature inflicts a loss on the part, in order to save the whole: so that on this account, such laws as these, which impose proportionate burdens, are just and binding in conscience, and are legal laws.

On the other hand laws may be unjust in two ways: first, by being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things mentioned above---either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory---or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him---or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence rather than laws; because, as Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5), "a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all." Wherefore such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, according to Mat. 5:40,41: "If a man . . . take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two."

Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because, as stated in Acts 5:29, "we ought to obey God rather than man."


Source: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.FS_Q96_A4.html

sean said...

wsforten,

I wasn't trying to be exhaustive nor including Aquinas as consideration for Calvinistic resistance theories. Still, there is much in Aquinas as regards natural law that is obviously formative. As regards the last part it's rather obvious that the divine right of kings was to be violated should it impinge upon cultic fealty, i.e. the emperor's cult. Martyrdom was/is always on the table.

Erik Charter said...

In my comment above:

"Are you saying 50-75% of all colonists or only church going Calvinists."

Should say:

"Are you saying 50-75% of all colonists or only church going colonists."

jimmiraybob said...

wsforten - "Aquinas, for example, based his concept of resistance on a study of the Scripture."

As you well know, scripture was not his only source. You'll find as much Cicero and Aristotle in his work regarding government and the state as Biblical reference. And, much of what Aquinas writes sounds or is verbatim of Cicero's writing - and he does give attribution.

Erik Charter said...

One of the ironic things about this discussion is that, from what I can tell, those arguing for "Reformed Resistance Theory" are not Calvinists, or at least are not members of Presbyterian & Reformed Churches. As I peruse your list of contributors I see at least one Mormon, Tom seems to be agnostic, Dr. Hall teaches at a Quaker college, etc. Meanwhile D.G. Hart's guys are members and officers in Presbyterian & Reformed churches and eat, live, and breathe this stuff. Hart has a forthcoming global history of Calvinism coming (next month, I think) and was editor (with Mark Noll) of the "Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America." He wrote his dissertation on J. Gresham Machen and has written a 300 year history of Presbyterians in America (with John Muether, official historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). None of this guarantees he/we, are right, but come on, give us some credit for at least having the wherewithal to be in the ballpark. If you listen to Tom you would think we were a bunch of Pentecostals who had no more education on these matters than having gone to snake handling school.

Mark Hall said...

From chapter 2: "Sydney Ahlstrom, in his magisterial history of religion in America, estimates that the Reformed tradition was “the religious heritage of three-fourths of the American people in 1776.” Similarly, Yale historian Harry Stout states that prior to the War for Independence “three out of four colonists were connected with Reformed denominations (mostly Congregational and Presbyterian).” These figures may be high—neither scholar explains or defends them—but a plethora of studies make it clear that Calvinist churches dominated New England and were well represented throughout the rest of the nation. In 1776, 63% of New England churches were Congregationalist, 15.3% were Baptist, and 5.5% were Presbyterian. Thus 84% of the region’s churches were in the Reformed tradition, and these tended to have larger and more influential congregations. This estimate corresponds well with the 1790 U.S. Census Bureau’s finding that only 20% of Connecticut citizens were dissenters (most of whom were Anglicans or Baptists)."

See p. 27-28. See the footnotes for complete citations and discussion of various issues.

I hesitate to argue with Ahlstrom and Stout, but the 75% figure seems high to me, whereas 50% is a very reasonable minimum. Hence I usually use 50%-75%.

I also devote several pages to church-attendance rates. I won't go into it now, but will suggest that anyone who still uses Finke and Stark's figures must read James Hutson's great essay, "The Christian Nation Question" (Forgotten Features of the Founding, 2003).

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you, Mark. We wanted to give you the opportunity to address what was a valid request for your source, but which some readers may have taken as a charge that you had no source.

Tom Van Dyke said...

One of the ironic things about this discussion is that, from what I can tell, those arguing for "Reformed Resistance Theory" are not Calvinists, or at least are not members of Presbyterian & Reformed Churches. As I peruse your list of contributors I see at least one Mormon, Tom seems to be agnostic, Dr. Hall teaches at a Quaker college, etc. Meanwhile D.G. Hart's guys are members and officers in Presbyterian & Reformed churches and eat, live, and breathe this stuff. Hart has a forthcoming global history of Calvinism coming (next month, I think) and was editor (with Mark Noll) of the "Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America." He wrote his dissertation on J. Gresham Machen and has written a 300 year history of Presbyterians in America (with John Muether, official historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). None of this guarantees he/we, are right, but come on, give us some credit for at least having the wherewithal to be in the ballpark. If you listen to Tom you would think we were a bunch of Pentecostals who had no more education on these matters than having gone to snake handling school.

Argument from authority as well as genetic fallacy, if not simply ad hom. So we will note here that you are all churchmen, and see and argue things as churchmen with theological skin in the game, not dispassionate historians.

To the facts: there is more to "Calvinism" than the "Confessions" approved by your church officials. That you continually argue only from your official church documents proves that point.

We will note that it was Rev. John Witherspoon who was the moderator in revising the Westminster Confession for use in the United States in 1788. We will also note that John Witherspoon signed the Declaration of Independence, which asserted we hold it's "self-evident" that God gave us rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that governments are instituted by men for their safeguarding.

If a negative inference is to be argued here at all, the 1788 Westminster Confession revisions should have refudiated the concept of natural rights and the government's purpose in protecting them. If Calvinism disputes the sky is blue, which is also otherwise held to be self-evident, the Westminster Confession revisions would be obliged to assert that the sky is instead actually green.

sean said...

TVD, I'm still not tracking with what you're overall point is? We all agree that history isn't neat and tidy. Natural law theory through the medieval church has long been argued to not be merely raw 'nature' but, in fact, divine law. A divine law, however, in distinction from cultic statute, piety and practice. (See the Israelite theocracy or the NT cultic practice posited in something like 1 Cor. 5.) As regards Witherspoon why is it not possible to affirm God given rights to all creatures as imago dei consideration, but still have a distinct charter for the cult(church) which the WCF served to bound? In reformed theology this would be a theological distinction between God as creator and God as redeemer. He's a creator to all, but not a redeemer to all. As a further point of clarification Hart and others have done some extensive work on the theological and ecclesiastical concept of 'reformed' that points to the illegitimate use of the term apart from it's particular or cultic(church) practice. You can pick up these nuances in Hart's 'The lost soul of American Protestantism' or 'Secular Faith' or R.S. Clark's 'Recovering the Reformed Confession'. This sort of distinction would come into bold relief in the stats that Hall cites as regards congregationalists representing 63% of the population but presbyterians 5.5%. There's a whole swath of reformed theological or even calvinistic understanding of the faith being glossed over when those figures don't give you pause in painting the whole picture with the 'calvinistic' brush. Finally, since you've seen fit to distinguish yourself as distinct from biased churchmen, what are your dispassionate historical bona fides?

Tom Van Dyke said...

No delegitimization game, thx, Sean. This is neutral ground and ideas and arguments rule. The better question is that since John Knox was the major founder of your church, why should we ignore him and listen to you?

As a further point of clarification Hart and others have done some extensive work on the theological and ecclesiastical concept of 'reformed' that points to the illegitimate use of the term apart from it's particular or cultic(church) practice

Only your church can speak of your church? Ridiculous, and that's the problem here--you speak as churchment, not as dispassionate socio-historians. This is the problem we run into with so-called and self-described "Christian" historians, that they arrogate to themselves what may or may not be called Christian.

Unitarian Christianity isn't Christianity? Sez you.

So one of the points is that when a "Christian" historian arrogates the study of history for his theology, we're not doing history anymore, but something else.

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2011/05/mark-noll-when-historians-attack.html

And "the point" isn't just about you and your religion and your church. The larger point is that natural rights, liberty, and the American Revolution itself are part of the larger Western tradition that includes Aristotle and Cicero, is absorbed by Aquinas and the Scholastics, is put into action by the Reformation and specifically Calvinism, and is not merely the product of John Locke and the Enlightenment dropping to earth one day in 1689.

It's not all about you. It's not all about Calvinism. But our story cannot be told without it--and it usually is these days. Jefferson attempts to skip from Cicero to Sidney and Locke, but that's not how it went down.

sean said...

TVD, I'm sorry, were your dispassionate historical bona fides in that response somewhere? We don't confess John Knox. We subscribe a confession that subjugates itself to the scriptures, which means our confession ultimately has to reconcile to the scriptures not our tradition. The 1788 revision was just such an accommodation as the revision was enacted to prune an historical circumstance(erastianism) and not a scriptural tenant.

No question that in the american scene there's been quite a bit of syncretism. But to associate Hart or Clark or Muether with Marshall isn't so much ferreting out bias, as much as poor critical analysis, lack of historical aptitude or simply unfamiliarity with the subjects. What kind of historical analysis ignores Josephus when it comes to 2nd temple jewish history because he was a jew living at the time in the service of Titus? Hart, and Clark's association don't taint their historical analysis. As long as they are found trustworthy where the facts can be verified, they are in fact deemed varyingly authoritative.

Mark Hall said...

Sean writes: "Hall cites as regards congregationalists representing 63% of the population but presbyterians 5.5%..." Note that the denominational figures I give above are limited to New England. As one moves south one finds a lot more Presbyterians and far fewer Congregationalists. And there are plenty of other Reformed folks floating around. Here are some national statistics:

"According to Charles O. Paullin, 56% of churches in America in 1776 were in the Reformed tradition. Paullin, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1932), 50. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark rely heavily on his study when they discuss denominations in the era in The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 25. According to Edwin Gaustad and Philip Barlow, 63% of the churches in 1780 were in the Reformed tradition. Gaustad and Barlow, New Historical Atlas of Religion in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 8. The two estimates for 1776 (56% and 75% [referring to Stout's figure]) are not necessarily contradictory if Reformed churches had larger congregations than non-Reformed churches."

Lots more where this came from in the footnotes of the Sherman book...

Tom Van Dyke said...

TVD, I'm sorry, were your dispassionate historical bona fides in that response somewhere? We don't confess John Knox.

Neither did the Calvinists who fought the American revolution*, but Knox was part of what got them there. Your insistence on arguing your official church documents keeps proving the point that you're arguing on behalf of your church in the 21st century, not doing history. Sorry.
______
*Mark Hall reports locating only 2 Calvinist clergy who actively opposed the Revolution, which is enough to swing the preponderance of evidence to his side.

If you're going to argue a "side," it's time for you to start offering up some concrete evidence for your position, rather than playing the argument from authority/delegitimization game.

You're on neutral ground, where all men are created equal.

sean said...

TVD, now I'm really confused. How is citing the 1788 revision and the surrounding historical circumstances NOT history and not concrete? I think you're confused about who's arguing the 21st century perspective here?! Neutral ground? Yeah OK.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You're arguing post-Revolution ecclesiology, not revolutionary history, Sean. If that's your only line of argument, it is noted.

Anonymous said...

Mark,
Two-thirds of churches may have been reformed, but 100% of people weren't committed to a church. The number I remember being thrown around was something like 1/3. That would imply something like 20% of the population was engaged and committed to a "Calvinist" outlook. Are the attendance numbers I recall incorrect? Do you have an updated source?
sdb

Anonymous said...

Tvd,
I still have a methodological problem with your approach here. It is not sufficient to show all "Calvinists" believe something to demonstrate that the view was "Calvinist". If Anglicans, Unitarians, Baptists, and Methodists agree then the view may be consistent with Calvinism, but it isn't Calvinist. If the view predates calvinism I'm not sure it makes sense to call it Calvinist.

Since Calvinism is a confessional faith, it makes sense to restrict it to those confessions. Quotes from Hodge, Edwards, or even Calvin aren't dispositive. There was a lot of intellectual energy in the air, just because an idea influenced people who also were theologically Calvinist does not mean those ideas were part of calvinism.

The 1788 change to the confession may or may not be relevant. To determine this, you need to look at the conversation surrounding the change. Was there a call to repent for their involvement in the war? Did the conversation leading to the change start in 1785? 1775? 1765? Clearly the role of the magistrate as it pertains to rek igios issues was reeled in. Why? Was the embrace of resistance theory by Calvinists seen as a betrayal of reformed principals or scripture?


It seems to me that these questions need ti be answered in an intellectual history of the influence of Calvinist theology on the justification for the revolution. Maybe I've missed it but I don't think these have been answered. Ignoring revision of the confession because it was ratified five years after the war is not a good method. Either is confusing the views of Calvinists with Calvinism proper.

JMS said...

I respect Professor Hall’s scholarship, but how does he explain away Calvin's thinking that to seek to overthrow an unjust ruler contravenes the sovereign will of God?

18th century Atlantic world &American civil and religious liberty were not derived from a religious doctrine of human depravity.

As Milton noted in his famous poem “On the New Forcers of Conscience,” they planned to use “… the civil sword To force our consciences that Christ set free.”

Tom Van Dyke said...

Since Calvinism is a confessional faith, it makes sense to restrict it to those confessions.

You say it's a "confessional faith," but that's a term of your own choosing.

Professor, tell our readers why the Presbyterian Church in the United States revised its "Confession" in the first place [1788]. Let's get the facts on the table instead of this foggy exchange of terms and categories.

Ignoring revision of the confession because it was ratified five years after the war is not a good method.

Of course it is--in fact it's a fatal rebuttal: Discussing the Calvinist resistance theory leading to the American revolution in terms of a "Confession" revised 5 years after its conclusion is what's the poor method.

Either is confusing the views of Calvinists with Calvinism proper.

Further, there is no "Calvinism proper." There are 100s of sects embracing "Reformed theology."

What is relevant is discussing Calvinism in colonial America at the time of the Revolution--MD Hall finds only two Calvinist clergy opposing revolution, one of them John Joachim Zubly--and the people of Savannah threw his stuff in the river and chased him out of town!

I do appreciate your formal objections, but the timeline is wrong, and so is arrogating the definition of "Calvinism" for your own church's ecclesiology rather than the neutral ground of "history."

Tom Van Dyke said...

I respect Professor Hall’s scholarship, but how does he explain away Calvin's thinking that to seek to overthrow an unjust ruler contravenes the sovereign will of God?

Because there's more to "Calvinism" than John Calvin. The correct term is "Reformed theology," and includes hundreds of years and hundreds of other thinkers, as Hall notes*.

Further--to add me own two pence-- the theological question re the English civil wars AND the American Revolution is not just that the English crown was being unjust, but that its claim to rule was illegitimate.

Legitimacy is the key, not just the king being a dick.

[And in America's case, that goes double for the british Parliament's claim to authority over the colonies.]

_____
*Hall:

“Calvin, one of the most politically conservative of the Reformers, contended that in some cases inferior magistrates might resist an ungodly ruler. However, Reformers such as John Knox (1505–72), George Buchanan (1506–82), and Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) of Scotland, Theodore Beza (1519–1605) of France and Switzerland, David Pareus (1548–1622) of Germany, and Christopher Goodman (1520–1603) and John Ponet (1516–1556) of England argued that inferior magistrates must resist unjust rulers and even permitted or required citizens to do so” (15).

I address Calvin’s views in a bit more detail in the notes, but I am more interested in political ideas that developed within the Calvinist tradition. My contention is that Sherman and other Reformed founders were significantly influenced by the Calvinist political tradition, not Calvin per se. Similarly, I contend that Reformed thinkers played a major role in developing the idea that an important (but not the only) role of government is to protect natural rights.


TVD: [I still would like to hear more from Mark on the last sentence.]

Mark Hall said...

Anonymous,

The 17% "churched" rate come from an obsolete study by Finke and Stark. Please see the Hutson essay cited above. There are other better studies as well, for instance Bonomi and Eisenstadt's important W&M Quarterly article that argued that 56% to 80% of the white population was churched. I am away from the office, but all cites (and more) are in the Sherman book.

I leave tomorrow for a trip so may not be able to continue in this conversation on a regular basis.

On rights in the Reformed tradition, see John Witte's The Reformation of Rights.

MH

Tom Van Dyke said...

I leave tomorrow for a trip so may not be able to continue in this conversation on a regular basis.

Oh, heck. It was just getting interesting.

all cites (and more) are in the Sherman book.

Since your book is in limited production*, I think some sort of web page access to at least your footnotes would be helpful, if not necessary, MDH. There are many academic frauds out there, and indeed DGH's original [and legitimate] challenge of your stats and sources on this matter continues to be echoed by his fellow churchmen, to the exclusion of your larger argument and thesis.

*http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2013/06/mark-david-hall-on-religion-and-founding.html

D G said...

The numbers of "Calvinists" in the churches are debatable. Finke, Stark, and Butler (Awash in a Sea of Faith) all make church membership lower than the Heritage essay by Mark.

The role of Calvinism on the Revolution is also much debated and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It is striking after reading these comments and other interaction with Tom that we are only talking about Witherspoon and Sherman, as if Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Madison were all Calvinists.

What I can't understand is why some folks like Mark and Tom are so committed to a Christian/Calvinist founding or motivation for resistance. Can someone please explain in the light of 220 years of U.S. history what difference it makes. Do we really think that proving Calvinism's influence will return the country to Christian roots? That's more like the argument of Peter Marshall.

Plus, no one has still figured out a way to reconcile Calvin and Locke. Sure, Calvin is not the last word but he gets some words and so far the Calvinist origins argument basically ignores Calvin. That sure seems fishy.

wsforten said...

Jim,

You said that: "much of what Aquinas writes sounds or is verbatim of Cicero's writing - and he does give attribution."

This is only partially correct. Aquinas does cite Cicero in about 50 places in his Summa Theologica, but he does so only in the areas of that work dealing with the distinction between virtue and vice. He does not cite Cicero in the political sections of his book, and in many of the virtue/vice sections, he cites Cicero in order to disagree with him.

jimmiraybob said...

wsforten

Since I started out referencing Cicero and Aristotle I should have seen this through - "...sounds or is verbatim of Cicero's and Aristotle's writing..."

Some he may disagree with, some he doesn't. I'll see if I have time this week to come back to this.

D G said...

One more thought: for all those who want to write Calvinism into the American founding, what about all the Calvinists in what would be Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands who opposed revolution. Some of them even formed an Anti-Revolutionary Party.

If you have Calvinists outside America who opposed revolution and Calvinists in America who supported it, a plausible interpretation is that American Calvinists read their political circumstances into their theology.

I believe that historians are supposed to help historical subjects understand themselves better (see the Locke in their arguments) rather than simply taking them at their word (Calvinism supports revolution).

Erik Charter said...

Mark,

Chapter 2 in my 1979 "A Religious History of the American People" is on "Western Catholicism".

He covers "The Revolutionary Era" in chapter 23 and says, "By the end of the period, church membership had dropped both relatively and absolutely, so that not more than one person in twenty or possibly one in ten seems to have been affiliated; in many churches membership itself became increasingly nominal."

It's been awhile since I read the chapter (I used it for an American church history Sunday school class along with Patrick Allitt's Teaching Company course), but I certainly don't recall Ahlstrom crediting Calvinism as a factor in the Revolution to the extent that Tom does. Maybe you can point me to more passages.

Erik Charter said...

Tom,

You started this conversation with us by making the case that our Old School Presbyterianism is somehow invalid in light of Calvinist thought and influence at the time of the Revolution. When we try to point out to you that what some have called generic "Calvinism" (New England Congregationalists on the way to Unitarianism, for instance) is not part of our heritage, you accuse us of retreating to our own peculiar church tradition and documents. This raises the question of why you started the conversation with us in the first place. If we are consistent with a strain of Presbyterianism going back hundreds of years (before the Revolution, in fact) we are immune from your critiques based on what other "Calvinists" did during the revolution. Ultimately you need to make theological, not historical arguments to dissuade us, which does not seem to be your forte.

Erik Charter said...

Tom - Mark Hall reports locating only 2 Calvinist clergy who actively opposed the Revolution, which is enough to swing the preponderance of evidence to his side.

Erik - Allitt points out in his Teaching Company course that there was a small minority definitely for the Revolution, a small minority definitely against it, and a vast majority somewhere in the middle. You can't really argue that clergy who weren't outspoken against the were necessarily for it in light of this. I'm sure it was like today where we have 10% very conservative, 10% very liberal, and everyone else just wanting to live their lives in peace.

Obviously Anglican clergy would have been the one most likely to be adamantly against the Revolution.

Erik Charter said...

D.G. - as if Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Madison were all Calvinists.

Erik - Franklin said he had a hard time going to hear Whitefield preach because he knew he would always end up giving him money against his will (because the preaching was so compelling). Surely this makes him a Calvinist (ha, ha).

Erik Charter said...

D.G. - What I can't understand is why some folks like Mark and Tom are so committed to a Christian/Calvinist founding or motivation for resistance. Can someone please explain in the light of 220 years of U.S. history what difference it makes.

Erik - Because Tom opposes Two Kingdoms Theology / Spirituality of the Church as they are a hindrance to his political agenda. I don't know about Mark. It's the same reason David Barton makes the arguments he does. He believes they are relevant for contemporary political outcomes.

Mark Hall said...

DG, have you read the Hutson essay? I would be surprised if you will still cite the Finke and Stark number after doing so.

My argument (from the preface):

In speaking of the Reformed political tradition, I do not mean to suggest that all Calvinists approached politics in the same way or that the tradition did not develop over time. Moreover, I recognize that America’s founders were influenced by practical concerns, including self-interest. As well, they read non-Calvinists, were affected by their arguments, and often used their works for rhetorical purposes. I am not arguing that Calvinism was the only influence on Sherman and his colleagues, simply that it was a very important influence that needs to be taken more seriously if we are to appreciate the political theory and actions of many of America’s founders.

From SLC, about to board a plane. Goodby for now.

jimmiraybob said...

wsforten

Also too, are you familiar with Aquinas' de Regno?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, You started this conversation with us by making the case that our Old School Presbyterianism is somehow invalid in light of Calvinist thought and influence at the time of the Revolution.

Actually, I'm saying your sub-sect [OPC's] condemnation of the American revolution as being contrary to Calvinism may be theologically true [only God knows], but was certainly not normative in America.

Fer crissakes, bro, John Witherspoon led the American revision of the Westminster Confessions.

Rev. John Witherspoon, man, signer of the Declaration. You guys live in some other universe.

Tom Van Dyke said...

One more thought: for all those who want to write Calvinism into the American founding, what about all the Calvinists in what would be Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands who opposed revolution. Some of them even formed an Anti-Revolutionary Party.

Well, Darryl, you have to account for the English civil wars of the 1600s, including the "Puritan revolution!" It's that British Calvinism that paved the way for the American revolution, not the other countries you name.

Erik Charter said...

Only in America (and on the internet) can a guy who uses the Lord's name in vain simultaneously be an expert on the history of Calvinism.

Witherspoon was not Pope Witherspoon.

Erik Charter said...

And I'm not in the OPC. Two Kingdoms / Spirituality of the Church is broader than that, as is the study of Presbyterian & Reformed history.

Erik Charter said...

Tom,

Other than Mark do you have any other allies here that are supporting your point? It's like being invited to the Playboy Mansion and being greeted by Hugh Hefner...and his dad.

Erik Charter said...

One thing to think about in the history of Presbyterianism is the number of instances where there have been splits/disagreements and the "winning" side has not (in my opinion) been the correct side. The New Side/New School wings arguably "won" the debate with the Old Side/Old School wings on revivalism. Additionally, The PCUSA remains larger than Machen's OPC. I don't want to worship in a revivalistic PCUSA church, though. Tom seems to be one of those "scoreboard" guys who is mostly impressed with large numbers. Even if Hall/Tom/Witherspoon were right, it doesn't mean that supporting the Revolution was correct, does it? Are we arguing history alone or are we arguing theology as well?

D G said...

Mark,

What is the Hutson essay? Have you read Butler's Awash in a Sea of Faith?

As for the importance (as opposed to the singularity of Calvinism), how important and more than Locke? Seeing how many Calvinists would have blushed at republicanism (see Noll, America's God) and favored a state church, it's hard to see the founding of the American nation on Calvinist terms.

Tom, so it's British Calvinists, in which case, the Britishness is more important than the Calvinism. That's what I'm saying.

Tom Van Dyke said...

One thing to think about in the history of Presbyterianism is the number of instances where there have been splits/disagreements and the "winning" side has not (in my opinion) been the correct side.

That's fine, Erik. We don't do theological truth claims here at American Creation. They're above our pay grade.

And enough with post after post of ad homs. Please.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, so it's British Calvinists, in which case, the Britishness is more important than the Calvinism. That's what I'm saying.

The Westminster Confession is the foundation of your "confessional" church, according to your co-religionist Erik Charter. It's British.

And the 1788 "revision" is American. Of course we're discussing Anglo-American Calvinism. That's a duh, Darryl.

Mark Hall said...

More on Hutson, Finke and Stark, and Butler below. History is messy, and I don't want to suggest the debate is over. But every once in a while a book or article completely demolishes a commonly accepted idea. I think Hutson does that with respect to Finke and Stark's claim about the extent to which Americans in the founding era were churched. But there is a lot to be admired in their book.

From the Sherman book:

"James Hutson, chief of the Manuscripts Division at the Library of Congress, has demonstrated that Finke and Stark make numerous factual, methodological, and historical errors. For instance, they misstate Ezra Stiles’s estimate of the population of New England in 1760, and they ignore the best calculations of the American population in 1776. Most significantly, by relying on church-membership rates in an era and for denominations where it was exceedingly difficult to formally join a church (particularly in New England), they grossly undercount the number of Americans who were active in their churches. As well, Hutson notes that much of Finke and Stark’s data comes from decades after the era about which they write and that fledgling denominations, such as Methodists, were included. Using their methodology, but the more reliable data offered by Ezra Stiles, Hutson contends that 82% of New Englanders were involved in Congregational churches—and this does not include New Englanders who were active in Baptist, Anglican, or other churches. Patricia U. Bonomi and Peter R. Eisenstadt similarly conclude that in late eighteenth-century America “from 56 to 80 percent of the [white] population were churched, with the southern colonies occupying the lower end of the scale and the northern colonies the upper end.”"

[notes] James Hutson, “The Christian Nation Question,” in his Forgotten Features of the Founding: The Recovery of Religious Themes in the Early American Republic (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2003), 111–132. Hutson, “The Christian Nation Question,” 118. Hutson also provides an excellent critique of historian Jon Butler’s work, which purports to build upon and offer additional evidence for Finke and Stark’s figures (120–125). See Jon Butler, “Why Revolutionary America Wasn’t a ‘Christian Nation,’” in Religion and the New Republic, ed. James H. Hutson (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 187–202; and Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990).

Mark Hall said...

One of several paragraphs on Calvinism and Locke from the Sherman book. Yes, I go on to discuss scholars who believe Locke is radically unChristian.

--
In many instance, academics making claims about Locke’s influence simply attribute any reference by the founders to individual rights, government by consent, and the right to resist tyrannical authority to Locke, apparently unaware that Reformed thinkers had been making similar arguments long before Locke wrote his Second Treatise. In doing so, they ignore the possibility that Locke’s political philosophy is best understood as a logical extension of Protestant resistance literature rather than as a radical departure from it. Obviously, if this interpretation is correct (and I am very sympathetic to it), any amount of influence Locke had on Reformed founders would be unproblematic for the thesis of this book. Locke’s influence would be cooperative with the influence of the Reformed tradition rather than competing with it.
[notes]

See, for instance, Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations in Locke’s Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Joshua Foa Dienstag, “Serving God and Mammon: The Lockean Sympathy in Early American Political Thought,” American Political Science Review, 90 (September 1996): 497–511; Richard L. Greaves, “Radicals, Rights, and Revolution: British Nonconformity and Roots of the American Experience,” Church History, 61 (June 1992): 151–168; John Dunn, The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the “Two Treatises of Government” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 256; Winthrop S. Hudson, “John Locke: Heir of Puritan Political Theorists,” in Calvinism and the Political Order, ed. George L. Hunt and John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965), 108–129; Morgan, Puritan Political Ideas, xli; J. N. Figgis, The Divine Right of Kings, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934), 113–115; Herbert D. Foster, “International Calvinism through Locke and the Revolution of 1688,” American Historical Review, 32 (April 1927): 475–499.

There are indisputably tensions between Locke’s theological views and Calvinism. See, for instance, W. M. Spellman, John Locke and the Problem of Depravity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). The broader literature on Locke and Christianity is far too extensive to review here, but a good overview of it and an excellent account of how religion and politics are related in Locke’s thought may be found in Greg Forster, John Locke’s Politics of Moral Consensus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

wsforten said...

To underscore Mark's statement about the American's view of government by consent no necessarily coming directly from Locke, let me present the following excerpt from a 1777 publication of the prominent Baptist leader, Isaac Backus:

Now the word of God plainly shows, that this way of mutual compact or covenant, is the only righteous foundation for civil government. For when Israel must needs have a king like the rest of the nations, and he indulged them in that request, yet neither Saul nor David, who were anointed by his immediate direction, ever assumed the regal power over the people, but by their free consent. And though the family of David had the clearest claim to hereditary succession that any family on earth ever had, yet, when ten of the twelve tribes revolted from his grandson, because he refused to comply with what they esteemed a reasonable proposal, and he had collected an army to bring them back by force, God warned him not to do it, and he obeyed him therein. Had these plain precedents been regarded in later times, what woes and miseries would they have prevented!

Backus does not cite Locke as the source of the doctrine of government by consent but rather the Bible itself.

jimmiraybob said...

RE: Isaac Backus et al.

It's always interesting to sit back and contemplate the drive to make the American revolution (rebellion) and the Patriot cause all about Christian values and Biblical justification.

What about the colonists loyal to Britain and the British themselves? What were their preachers and ministers sermonizing about?

What deal were the British moms and dads and brothers and sisters trying to work out with their Christian God as their loved ones shipped out to fight a war on another continent; some to give their last measure of devotion for God and country?

When the American patriot let loose a musket ball and his British target fell dead did he thank the same God as the loved ones of the fallen prayed and grieved to?

Is God ever conflicted on whose prayers to answer?

Like I said, interesting to contemplate sometimes. Carry on.

Lee said...

wsforten:

Aside from accuracy of Backus' interpretation of the origins of Israel's monarchy, is it possible that Backus' knowledge of Locke influenced his hermenuetic? I keep getting the impression that many Christians keep reading concepts of the early modern period (rights, separation of powers, social contract, etc) back into the Bible and a culture very different from the moderns. It resembles the way many Christians handle Genesis and modern science. Most understood Genesis to describe a creation period of six 24 hr. days. Once it became pretty clear that the earth was much older than anyone imagined, Christians modified their interpretations to include day-age theories and gap theories.

wsforten said...

That's a good question, Lee. Since Backus lived after Locke, it is certainly possible that he was reading Locke's theory back into the Bible. However, this possibility is offset by the fact that what Backus said about the kingdom of Israel was correct. Anyone could have arrived at the same conclusion that he presented by studying the biblical record. That this is true, can be seen in the fact that Aquinas recorded a very similar observation several centuries before Locke:

Accordingly, the best form of government is in a state or kingdom, where one is given the power to preside over all; while under him are others having governing powers: and yet a government of this kind is shared by all, both because all are eligible to govern, and because the rulers are chosen by all. For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom, since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, i.e. government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen from the people, and the people have the right to choose their rulers. Such was the form of government established by the Divine Law. For Moses and his successors governed the people in such a way that each of them was ruler over all; so that there was a kind of kingdom. Moreover, seventy-two men were chosen, who were elders in virtue: for it is written (Deut. i. 15): I took out of your tribes men wise and honorable, and appointed them rulers: so that there was an element of aristocracy. But it was a democratical government in so far as the rulers were chosen from all the people; for it is written (Exod. xviii. 21): Provide out of all the people wise (Vulg., – able) men, etc.; and, again, in so far as they were chosen by the people; wherefore it is written (Deut. i. 13): Let me have from among you wise (Vulg., – able) men, etc. Consequently it is evident that the ordering of the rulers was well provided for by the Law.

[Aquinas, St. Thomas, Summa Theologica vol 2 – Part 2, First Section, Cosimo Classics, New York, 2007, pg 1092 http://books.google.com/books?id=ycrfCdT6mHMC&lpg=PA1092&pg=PA1092#v=onepage&q=republic&f=false]

Tim Polack said...

On the topic of Calvinistic influence of the founding versus Lockean influence, a book by Andrews University Professor Nicholas Miller, an understudy of both Marsden and Noll, argues that Locke's later views on toleration and thus the freedom of religion (expressed in his Essay on Human Understanding) were influenced by a number of Baptists. In his book "The Religious Roots of the First Amendment," he states a fairly persuasive case that Locke was influenced on church/state views by Sir Henry Vane, the younger, and Henry Stubbe. He says that "While we have no record of it [Locke reading Vane's work], we do know for certain that he was exposed to teh substance of Vane's arguments."

Not sure how much this is helpful in showing some of the roots Calvinist thought played in the founding, but the book points out numerous connections of dissenting Protestant [not necessarily Calvinist of course, but much of it was] thought that influenced both Locke and the American freedom of religious tradition.

Tom Van Dyke said...

OK Tim, how about this lead--Locke, fearing for his life after the execution of Algernon Sidney in 1683, went into self-exile in [Calvinist] Holland, which was dealing with the same tolerance issues.

Kim Ian Parker is of the Jeremy Waldron school of "Christian" Locke interpretation. Here's a relevant Google Books passage from "The Biblical Politics of John Locke":

http://tinyurl.com/lho3pjj

Don't miss it. If I read the timeline right, it's while Locke's in Holland during the winter of 1685 that he writes the famous Letter Concerning Toleration, perhaps more popular than even his Second Treatise.

Lee said...

wsforten:

Alot going on in your notes. I'll try to respond to each point.

First, I may have misunderstood your reference to Mark's comment about "govt. by consent" and the part of Backus' quote regarding "compact or covenant." I had in mind Locke's thoughts on the origins of political societies in order to make our rights more secure. Locke's view of the state as an artificial creation differed significantly form the traditional (and more accurate formulation) by Aristotle that the state emerged naturally from the growth of extended families into villages, etc. and that the purpose of laws was to habituate the citizens with good moral character. And Locke' idea differs from anything found in the Bible.

Lee said...

As to Backus' claim that the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy rested on consent, I am a little skeptical. I dusted of my AV and I read in ISam 10:24, and I read Samuel say at the coronation of Saul, "Do you see whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?" I suppose that instead of replying, "Long live the King!" they could have said, "we will not have this man to reign over us." (Luke 19;14)
And once God established the David Covenant,we have a hereditary monarchy in which consent is pretty much a passive formality displayed at subsequent coronations

Lee said...

As to your quote from Aquinas, consent in that context originated a long time before Locke. As "The Philosopher of the Philosopher," Aquinas builds upon Aristotle's idea of the citizen (one who participates in giving judgement and in holding;ruling and taking turn in being ruled). And the best form of government that Aquinas describes resembles Aristotle's "middle constitution," in which both the rich, the poor, and the "middle citizens" participate.

wsforten said...

Tom and Tim,

I spent the evening searching for baptist influences on Locke, and I think that I have found an irrefutable support of the claim made in Mark's book. In 1678, eleven years prior to Locke's publication of his Two Treatises of Government, John Nalson wrote a book in defense of the concept of Monarchy. The first part of that book defended the authority of the British Monarchy against the claims of the Pope, but the second part was a defense of Monarchy against Calvinism. Here is the introduction to the eighth chapter of Nalson's book:

Let us now come to take a view of the Younger Antagonists of Monarchy, The Popular Supremace of Presbytery, that Lerna Malorum, that revived Hydra of the Lake of Geneva, with its many headed Progeny, Anabaptists, Quakers, Levellers, &c. all which Unnatural off-spring of this Monster are as kind to their Dam as Vipers, and as inconsistent with Monarchy as they pretend to be with the Papacy.

Nalson then proceeds to ridicule and condemn the political doctrines of these sects which seem to be strangely similar to the teachings of Locke. For example, consider this excerpt from pages 209-211:

And that this was the natural and easie consequence, or to speak in their Cant the Use of Exhortation and Encouragement is plain: for it is lawful for all men to seek after Liberty, especially of Conscience; The People of these Nations are a freeborn People: It is the greatest felicity, and they the most happy People who may enjoy this Dear Liberty; all men are bound to promote their own Happiness, they cannot do too much to preserve it, and if they do indeavour most stoutly and constantly to maintain it, by War and Rebellion, they do no more than their duty does command them. The King was a Tyrant, and under the notion of Prerogative, did daily intrench upon the Peoples Priviledge and Liberty, he had a design to enslave them; The Commons were oppressed both in their Civil and Religious Rights; The Parliament were the Peoples Representatives, adn from them had a power to defend their Liberties, and that stoutly with Sword and Pistol, Powder and Bullet, and to call the King to an account and to judge him for these miscarriages as from Calvins own words I shall presently show. The King had rendred himself unworthy to reign, as from his words and Knoxes another of their fiery Doctors I shall shew; Therefore they might in defence and for the preservation of their Dear Liberties, especially Liberty of Conscience and Moderation, and the Rights of the People, make War against him ... they might by the encouragement and prevalency of their prosperous villanies alter the establisht form of Government, Civil and Ecclesiastical, depose the King, take away his Crown and Life, banish his Successor, and the whole Royal Family.

This paragraph is almost immediately followed by another in which we find:

A second Principle of Presbytery is, that Kings have no divine Right to their Crowns, but that the Peoples Election is the only true Title to them, or which is as bad, that only the Laws and Constitutions of the Nation give them their Right.

From these excerpts, it is clear that Nalson recognized in the doctrines of the Calvinists the very same principles which would later form the essence of Locke's Second Treatise of Government.

wsforten said...

Lee,

Thank you for the response. I'll have to get back with you this evening with a response of my own.

Lee said...

Finally, another theological dispute (in theory beyond the primary agenda of American Creation, at least before Jon provoked this "Biblical brouhaha" a couple of days back and then disappeared).

Is Aquinas reading Aristotle back into the Bible?

Moses does not seemed to be a "ruler over all" much beyond being a prophet and a warrior chieftain. Once Moses died, there does not seem to be much centralized authority beyond the other warrior chieftains (judges) that followed him. And while Moses appointed the elders chosen by the people, they obviously did not constitute a lawmaking body--God gave them the law! As best I can tell (feel free to tell me different),they merely served as tribal judges to resolve disputes about the law.

I think Aquinas (and you) are right in noting how all men of every social status participated in some way in the tribal government and even how their tribal arrangements at least superficially resembled the constitutions of other states. But we are still a long, long way from social contracts, natural rights, representation, and republican government.

Lee said...

wsforten:

I'll look for you later. I am confined to the house owing to foot surgery, so I have been able to visit American Creation more frequently than usual. But I,too, have other demands on my time.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The way I see it, "republicanism" and "democracy"are entirely of Greco-Roman origin. Yet, Christianity was birthed in Greco-Romanism (by that time Rome had ceased being the noble republic that it was and transmogrified into an ignoble empire).

So it makes sense that from the start, Christianity would "import" Greco-Roman ideas.

The Hebrews did NOT have a republic but a theocracy. But that didn't stop a whole lot of figures from "revising" the record to claim that the Hebrews had a republic.

Lee said...

I can't find the "like" button on your post, Jon.

We cannot even call it a theocratic republic.

Maybe a theocratic Chiefdom.

See "The Chieftains of the Highland Clans" at Amazon. I tried to link it, but I got one of those unimaginable long https.



Followed by a theocratic monarchy that experienced a dynastic split and eventual conquest before it ever became a "state" in the modern sense.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Thanks Lee. One reason why I haven't been around as much is new work responsibilities.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Lee: As to Backus' claim that the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy rested on consent, I am a little skeptical. I dusted of my AV and I read in ISam 10:24, and I read Samuel say at the coronation of Saul, "Do you see whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?" I suppose that instead of replying, "Long live the King!" they could have said, "we will not have this man to reign over us." (Luke 19;14)
And once God established the David Covenant,we have a hereditary monarchy in which consent is pretty much a passive formality displayed at subsequent coronations...


Lee, the Israelites ask God for a king. God is not pleased, anoints Saul, and warns them that they are not going to like having kings. 1 Sam 8. Paine covers it all in

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/04/thomas-paines-common-sense-as-heard-by.html

Tom Van Dyke said...

"A second Principle of Presbytery is, that Kings have no divine Right to their Crowns, but that the Peoples Election is the only true Title to them, or which is as bad, that only the Laws and Constitutions of the Nation give them their Right."

WF: From these excerpts, it is clear that Nalson recognized in the doctrines of the Calvinists the very same principles which would later form the essence of Locke's Second Treatise of Government.
____________

For the purposes of this discussion, Mr Forten, you have nailed it. the connection to Locke is superfluous; our focus is Calvinist resistance theory, which must begin with God giving sovereignty to the people, not the king. [The rest follows.]

muhammed waqar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonathan Rowe said...

"which must begin with God giving sovereignty to the people, not the king."

Tom,

Forgive me if you answered this and it slipped by me.

This is not how I understand Calvinist resistance theory. It certainly wasn't Calvin. And I think you understand this.

However, I don't see it as Rutherford either. "Lex Rex" means "law is king." As I understand it, it doesn't necessarily mean sovereignty vests in people; rather, that even the KING is bound to the "law." And if the King doesn't follow the law, then use the law to force the King to follow it.

Hence the legal resistance of lower authorities to higher authorities.

Perhaps some other Calvinist resister said something about sovereignty vesting in the people?

Tom Van Dyke said...

The sovereignty of the people is definitely the key. It's right in Bill's killer link. This is an awesome find, man.

http://books.google.com/books?id=zmAKAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA201#v=onepage&q&f=false

It's further supported biblically in the Isaac Backus quote--the Israelites ask G-d for a king, and He complies. This is a big theological deal. Until that time, G-d was their ruler, but if He does not have their consent, King Saul it shall be.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I still would like to see the notion that sovereignty vests in people in the words from one of those Calvinist resisters.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Here is Gregg Frazer on the "republican" argument for King Saul etc.

"....Regarding I Samuel 8...the primary point is that Israel rejected God as their king and that any human regime which follows will inherently be inferior. Second, a warning about kings is not equivalent to support for political liberty. Before this time, Israel was ruled by a series of judges and before that by Moses. All of them, like the first two kings to follow, were appointed by God – not expressions of political liberty. The reason rule by the kings would be worse was that they had rejected God – not because they would lose political liberty. They had no less political liberty under the kings than they did under Moses. In fact, they ended up with more “liberty” (in the libertarian sense) under the kings because the kings abandoned the Law of God which regulated every aspect of their lives! As Jonathan Boucher pointed out, God does not express concern about political liberty in the Bible. God is concerned about spiritual liberty – freedom from the bonds of sin."

http://jonrowe.blogspot.com/2008/11/babka-v.html

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, that frazer passage addresses something other than the point here, which is that God gave the people their sovereignty, to be ruled by God or by a king---their choice.

Jonathan Rowe said...

It actually addresses a related point if you view political liberty and republicanism as related concepts.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, you really need to read Mr. Forten's link to Nalson's "The common interest of king and people"

http://books.google.com/books?id=zmAKAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA201#v=onepage&q&f=false

citing Calvin that men being corrupt, it's more safe to have "reins of government committed to more hands than one" [p. 204] and that the Calvinists' principles are "anti-Monarchal."

I don't think arguing Gregg Frazer second-hand is a good method. It's like watching fundies play duelling Bible verses and the context teeters this way and that.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Is Nalson quoting Calvin? And if so, does that quotation appear in Calvin's authenticated works?

Who is this Nalson guy anyway? How did he influence anyone?

If we are looking for non-Lockean sources, maybe we should look to someone who actually influenced the Founders like Algernon Sidney.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Is Nalson quoting Calvin? And if so, does that quotation appear in Calvin's authenticated works?

Dunno. Our visiting Calvinists are very unhelpful when it comes to anything Calvin that challenges their Romans 13/Two Kingdoms theology. And when people such as Mark David Hall have the calvinistic goods, all they do is deny it's "true" Calvinism--even when it's Calvin himself!

The problem is that only Calvinists seem to study Calvin, and they ain't tellin'.

Jonathan Rowe said...

It's also interesting to trace the lineage of ideas. Roger Williams was a kind of Baptist (he was a fundie sect unto himself really). And he did, I think, influence Baptists contemporaries of America's Founders like Backus. Yet, Williams who coined "Separation of Church and State" had no identifiable influence of Jefferson (or other notable Founders). He did, I believe influence (the unitarian) Whig James Burgh who in turn influenced Jefferson. That's how you get from Williams to Jefferson. Through Burgh.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well to sum up, I don't see Calvinist resistance in the more revolutionary parts of the DOI. But I do see (if it's a "concession" so be it) it in the parts of the DOI that argue the extant legal case for the colonist doing what they did.

Whatever Jefferson's position as an outlier, I think his summation of the American Revolution as imbibed in “the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.” is accurate.

You posted this:

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2010/06/algernon-sidney-and-classic-natural.html

I think we could do much more. What were Sidney's views on religion and government. What was his affiliation and views?

Jonathan Rowe said...

One other thing, Dreisbach & I had a brief one on one private conversation. He said Mayhew didn't explicitly cite Locke in "The Snare Broken." I don't think he cited the Calvinist resisters either. This was back in the day when you could cite other folks ideas without crediting them.

He left the notion open that it wasn't Locke but others who may have influenced Mayhew's position.

"State of Nature"/Contract & Rights. That's Locke speak as far as I can tell. The Calvinist resisters didn't talk like this. I confess I haven't parsed Mayhew's words close enough. (But perhaps that's a future project we can embark on).

Though I know Simeon Howard (Mayhew's successor) did use those Locke terms. And I'm pretty sure Witherspoon used those Locke terms as well.

D G said...

Mark, thanks for the references on membership and Calvinism and Locke. It is plausible to argue that Locke was influenced by resistance theory (as was Hobbes), but I'd like to see how Locke's ideas were received by his Calvinist contemporaries. I don't see the Mathers embracing Locke any more than Samuel Rutherford. A secularized Calvinism is one thing. An ecclesial Calvinism is another.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Whatever Jefferson's position as an outlier, I think his summation of the American Revolution as imbibed in “the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.” is accurate.

Jefferson lies. He skipped 1500 years of Christian/Western thought [and in those 1500 years, they are synonymous].

Jefferson also sophistically denied that Christianity was part of English common law, contra Blackstone [and later, SC justice and constitutional scholar Joseph Story.]

Well to sum up, I don't see Calvinist resistance in the more revolutionary parts of the DOI. But I do see (if it's a "concession" so be it) it in the parts of the DOI that argue the extant legal case for the colonist doing what they did.

In the very first comment in this thread, I did uphold DG Hart's objection to MD Hall's assertion that "Reformed thinkers played a major role in developing the idea that an important (but not the only) role of government is to protect natural rights."

MD Hall honorably answered Dr. Hart's other challenge about the % of Calvinists, so we hope for further edification.

I did point out that Rev. John Witherspoon signed the Declaration, and the "self-evident" truth that rights are God-given and governments are formed to protect them, and Witherspoon went on to chair the 1788 Presbyterian revision of the Westminster Confession [to get rid of the references to the king, etc.].

This is not a direct theological link, however, although there is also zero evidence that Calvinists a) deny the existence of natural rights or b) that it's the government's duty and purpose to protect them.

Whoever manages to avoid the burden of proof wins the debate, I reckon, although winning a debate by default is not the same as finding the truth.

Jonathan Mayhew's famous speech is pretty incoherent to me. He does attempt to argue that honoring Charles I [executed by the Puritan Revolution in 1649] is some sort of infringement on religious liberty. I think it's a sophistic argument, though.

More:

http://archive.mises.org/6122/mayhews-case-for-revolution/

"“There is an essential difference between resisting a tyrant and rebellion¦ King Charles’ government was illegal, and very oppressive¦ therefore, to resist him, was no more rebellion, than to oppose any foreign invader, or any other domestic oppressor.

“[King Charles] died an enemy to liberty and the rights of conscience..."

But it sure does illustrate that the ghosts of the English civil wars were very much alive in colonial America over 100 years later. Unfortunately, many of our historians begin their studies with America.

wsforten said...

I promised Lee that I would post a response tonight, but I'm afraid that I will need to delay that post for a little while. I am gathering together all of my research on the political theory of the Bible, and the developing article is turning out to be much longer than I had anticipated. I'll work on it over the next couple of days and then post it on my website, IncreasingLearning.com. Maybe I can convince Jon or Tom to share a link to it as a separate post at American Creation.

Jonathan Rowe said...

WS: I'll link to it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

But it's not just Jefferson who "skipped." The other Founders didn't cite Aquinas or cool stuff that was going on during the medieval period either either. Again, whatever thoughts we may have as Jefferson as an outlier (or not), he accurately summed up the zeitgeist with those sources.

They did cite Locke and Sidney. And Locke did cite Hooker who traces to Aquinas. And Sidney did briefly invoke the "schoolmen." So that's the connection with the Founders' sources.

Lee said...

Good morning, wsforten:

I'll visit your website and check out your response and whatever other interesting things that have there.

Lee said...

Good morning, TVD-

I guess we are separated by denominational differences, because I am not seeing the sovereignty of the people or consent of the governed in 1 Sam.

If they ever had it, they gave it up when Yahweh brought them under his protection in the Mosaic Covenant back in Exodus.

The establishment of the monarchy was not an exercise in consent of the governed. They asked for a king and Yahweh gave HIS consent.

Then HE chose the king.
Then later HE changed his mind and chose a different king.
Then HE continued to operate as the power behind the throne, issuing directions, advice, and threats.
Then HE finally enforces the sanctions of the covenant by destroying them.

Its difficult to see how this really is a rejection of Yahweh as king. But it does provide a good story to later generations of Hebrews about the rise of their monarchy vis-a-vis the Levitical priesthood.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Lee, how the Founding era viewed the Bible is all that's important. Their argument is that when the people asked for a king, God said OK. God did not install a king without their consent. Sovereignty rested with the people, not the king.

Tom Van Dyke said...

IOW, arguing our interpretation of the Bible against theirs is the sort of thing our "Christian" historians do---but that's not history, it's theology.

Lee said...

yes TVD I know I know.

That's why I prefaced my last remark to wsforten about this theological dispute being beyond the scope of AC. wsforten is going to post his piece on political philosophy at his own website. Maybe we'll take it over there. In the mean time, Guzman's review is up at the other AC--American Conservative.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Via Hall's Sherman book:

http://tinyurl.com/knsuxk7


Thomas Hooker was a leader in the area of government as well. In May of 1638 he was asked to address the General Court of Connecticut which apparently had been given the responsibility of drafting a constitution. It was there he preached his famous sermon on Deuteronomy 1:13: Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you." In this sermon he laid down three doctrines:

Doctrine I. That the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance.

Doctrine II. That the privilege of election which belongs unto the people must not be exercised according to their humour, but according to the blessed will of God.

Doctrine III. That they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power also to set the bounds of the power and the place unto which they call them."


In January 1639 the "Fundamental Orders" were adopted, serving as the constitution of Connecticut. Thomas Hooker's leadership and influence in the final document has been recognized by historians.

http://www.intoutreach.org/hooker.html

Tom Van Dyke said...

That's why I prefaced my last remark to wsforten about this theological dispute being beyond the scope of AC.

Ah, thank you, Lee, I missed that, sorry. Yes, BillF's contributions here are invaluable, but his interest in theology in its own right is indeed beyond the scope of this blog.

wsforten said...

Just an update to let everyone know that I'm alive: I am still working on an article on the political theory of the Bible. It's about 75% completed and is currently 12 pages in length. I'm looking forward to some very helpful feedback once I'm done.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Cheers, Bill.

wsforten said...

I have finally completed my article on biblical political theory and its teaching among Christians during the 1700 years leading up to the revolution. The conclusion that I have come to is that the principles of popular sovereignty, popular election and the right of resistance have been taught by Christians throughout the entirety of their history. The article is available at this link: http://www.increasinglearning.com/we-the-people.html

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