Thursday, October 17, 2013

THROCKMORTON: David Barton: There Are About A Dozen Colleges That Are Right

Check it out here. A taste:
What I get out Barton’s statement is that if you question Barton’s claims, then you are not right biblically, not pro-America, pro-Constitution, or right on American history. Reminds me of his claim that those who question him are just repeating our pagan training.


polymathis said...

What's most curious about Barton and his modern Evangelical cohorts are the number of doctrinal and practical differences between their religion and many of the early church confessions, pastors and even political leaders of that time period. Would Barton be comfortable with a church populace that is mostly Calvinistic in orientation if not confession? Or infant baptism?

Since he pushes for his version of "Christian America" and that Christianity influenced the formation of America, what does he think of the fact that influence is strongly from Calvinist sources? That's a serious question. I don't know him well enough.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Whose Calvinism? Barton's very happy indeed with the Calvinism of the Founding era.

"Hall sets out to correct a serious flaw in the historiography. While prominent accounts of the American Revolution's intellectual underpinnings devote considerable attention to the influence of Lockean, classical republican, Scottish Enlightenment traditions, the influence of Reformed Protestantism--that is, Calvinism--tends to be overlooked. Although the focus is on Sherman's political thinking, Hall tell us, his book shows that the Reformed tradition was central to the thought of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Oliver Ellsworth, Jonathan Trumbull, William Paterson, John Witherspoon, and several other prominent Calvinist politicians as well.


polymathis said...

Sorry, Tom, your clipped style has caused me confusion. What do the links have to do with "whose Calvinism"?

Or let me try it this way: I agree with Hall. My route to his conclusions (from the links you give) is from other books (that I highly recommend) of John Witte Jr (Reformation of Rights), Harold Berman (Law and Revolution II)and Keith Griffin (Revolution and Religion) among other books and essays.

They all write of Calvinism (Reformed) as unified enough not to speak of various Calvinisms (although, there certainly were as is true in any and all worldviews).

As for Barton, if Wiki is accurate (!) then his background is Arminian, Dispensational. But that was just an idle question on my part.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah, you'll enjoy all the denominational skullduggery, then.

Darryl G. Hart, author of a recent history of Calvinism and auteur of this blog

is very unhappy with "Calvinist Resistance Theory," as his own theology is 2K, that is "Two Kingdoms," a rather anti-religious right anti-Kuyperian strict separation of not just church and state, but religion and government.

Thus we had this

Fascinating, Captain.

[I'm familiar with Witte. I shall look up Berman and Griffin. Thx for the recs.]

As for Barton, he's being accused by some evangelicals of going Mormon, what with his relationship with Glenn Beck, whom he affirms is quite "Christian." As you know, many evangelicals don't agree Mormons are Christian. [Hell, some don't even think Catholics are.] So that's the name of that tune. Mostly, theologically Barton's a Republican. ;-P

polymathis said...

Tom, Yes, I know of Hart because we are both in the same denomination. I did not know his views about "Calvinistic resistance" theory. Does "unhappy" mean he does not believe in the doctrine of just resistance to tyrants? Or that is was historically promoted (and strengthened) by the Calvinists? I would find either view historically odd.

My encounter with the Calvinist influence upon the formation of America is mostly from non-Calvinist sources. As for the resistance theory, I've recently read the more famous works of Beza, Goodman, Ponet, Milton, Calvinists one and all with a good dose of natural law to boot.

Tom Van Dyke said...

As a matter of fact, here at American Creation we [mostly Joe Winispringer and meself] came around to the Calvinist influence independently as well, beginning with source texts such as Beza, the Vindiciae contra tyrannos, Ponet, etc.

The battle with my frenemy Darryl Hart has been epic--Dr. John Fea notes that his mention of it remains one of this week's most popular posts at his blog, many months after the fact.

I'm afraid Darryl and his "Old Lifers" aren't very happy with me or my skepticism of their version of Calvinism*. I do occasionally stop by for old times' sake, so if you want to give his anti-Kuyperism some heck, I'll enjoy the show.


polymathis said...

Funny you should tie 2K with Hart's anti-Calvinist resistance theory as his fellow 2K cohort VanDrunen is academically close to Witte, who defends said thesis. And VD's book has an entire chapter on it as proof of natural law use in Reformed tradition.

polymathis said...

Keith Griffin (Revolution and Religion: American Revolutionary War and the Reformed Clergy) is directly related to the Calvinist-resistance thesis, examining the Middle Colonies.

Berman details the development of judicial law and the influence of Lutheran and Calvinist leaders and doctrine.

I forgot another important influence on me: Daniel J. Elazar: The Covenant Connection: From Federal Theology to Modern Federalism.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Your Orthodox Presbyterian Church seems to be at war over David vanDrunen's musings on natural law {"VanDrunen's NL2K."].

Ordained Servant Online

As for VanDrunen's Calvinistic natural law or Hart's anti-Kuyperism [Abraham Kuyper was a major 20th century Reformed theologian and Dutch politician],

the weeds begin to get a little too tall and twisted for my level of interest. The natural law of the Founding era was fairly straightforward, compatible with the Thomistic [particularly Suarez] tradition.

As for Hart's "Two Kingdoms" theology, it's more present in the Baptists of the Founding era than where we'd expect it, the more explicitly Calvinist Presbyterians and Congregationalists. In that he does have a point.

Which is the real "Calvinism"--Jean Calvin himself ruled Geneva with a theonomic/theocratic iron hand

is hard to say. As you note, Clavin's direct successor theodore beza bagan to develop a "Calvinist Resistance Theory." Dr. Hart doesn't seem to think much of Beza on this subject either, so i've kinda given up.

So that's what I mean by "Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?" If not Calvin's, Beza's and Kuyper's, whose??


polymathis said...

Well, I think that depends upon the goal of the historical examination: "whose Calvinism". I think it enough that the goal is to show theological influence under the Protestant label and many historians (that I read anyway!) label that more precisely "Calvinism". Anything more particular is someone debating in-house. On this blog, I'm "out" house (pun intended :-)

I'm not debating Hart, so the fuzzy(yet historically precise-enough) word "Calvinist" is good enough. I'm a Presbyterian pastor who is ecumenical enough in the history department to avoid such intramural debates (I hope!).

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, that was my arg w/Darryl, that his

maybe "a" history, but it's more a ecclesiological one [and one that favors Darryl's brand of Calvinism] than a true history for we civilians on the outside world to read.

See, Polly, on this blog, there's been a similar and endless go-round about who qualifies as "Christian." If we let the orthodox Christians decide, one must believe in the Trinity, Atonement, etc. If we let the historians decide, we might end up more with John Locke's "minimal" Christianity, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Bible the Word of God, and not a whole lot else on the creedal front.

[Hence the applicability of Judeo-Christian, which tables the mystical identity of Jesus in favor of what I'd argue is the monotheistic, providential God of the Founding, Jehovah*.]

Further, my own argument is that Christian thought is inseparable from "Western civilization"

therefore we don't even need to get too deep into the nubs of the theology itself--Christian "political theology" being sufficient for the historian's purposes. In my view.
*"May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors, planted them in a promised land, whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation, still continue to water them with the dews of heaven and make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah."---GWash, Letter to the Jews of Savannah

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men.

And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel..."---"Deist" Ben Franklin


polymathis said...

Yeah, I can see that being a debate. But since many Christians believe in "common grace" and natural law (accessible to all), from a narrow (orthodox) Christian view the orthodoxy of the person in question is not as significant outside of ecclesiastical concerns (eg. discipline). So, I'd lean toward the "minimalist" insofar as they operated in a broadly Christian (trinitarian) civilization to begin with. There is no one-to-one cause and effect of orthodox practice/doctrine to social effect anyway (I'm not a postmill). I'll just sit back and read some more from you all.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You seem well up to speed. The rest of what goes on here is mostly "David Barton sucks" posts. ;-}

polymathis said...

You have anything on education in early America? That's kinda my specialty (if a non-professional historian can have such)in light of many modern claims of homeschooling superiority.

Art Deco said...

As you know, many evangelicals don't agree Mormons are Christian.

Just to point out, the Holy See's contacts with the Latter-Day Saints are undertaken by agencies concerned with 'inter-religious dialogue', not 'ecumenism'. Baptisms undertaken in LDS congregations are considered invalid and converts from the Latter-Day Saints require baptism. This does not apply to converts from presbyterianism.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'd say the argument is [or should be] that homeschooling is superior only because our schools have become seminaries of PC ignorance.

Here's our education files

I actually studied the great Texas Schoolbook Massacre but never really wrote it up. In brief, my opinion is that--despite all the furor about some silly Barton-Marshall proposals that were never incorporated--the final curriculum changes were positive, changing the social studies focus from anthropology/sociology to history/civics.

I would submit that r/c/g [race/class/gender] is the modern, left-liberal, way of analyzing history Marxist or more gently, marxian. Sociology, the study of people and peoples.

The conservatives, including the excellent scholar Daniel Dreisbach, moved the focus more to American ideals, religious influence-- "patriotism," if we must--in the belief that the purpose of education is to inculcate the values necessary for good citizenship.

You may examine the actual line-by-line changes here.

On the whole, I'd say that Founder Benjamin Rush's idea of the purpose of public education

was geared more to our common citizenship than our sociological multiculturalism. I agree.

"I conceive the education of our youth in this country to be peculiarly necessary in Pennsylvania while our citizens are com posed of the natives of so many different kingdoms in Europe. Our schools of learning, by producing one general and uniform system of education, will render the mass of the people more homogeneous and thereby fit them more easily for uniform and peaceable government."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Art Deco said...
>>>As you know, many evangelicals don't agree Mormons are Christian.<<<

Just to point out, the Holy See's contacts with the Latter-Day Saints are undertaken by agencies concerned with 'inter-religious dialogue', not 'ecumenism'. Baptisms undertaken in LDS congregations are considered invalid and converts from the Latter-Day Saints require baptism. This does not apply to converts from presbyterianism.

Nice to see you, Art. Thanks, I didn't know that!

However, it would go back to my prev arg, that even the damn Pope doesn't get to decide who is "Christian" for history purposes. Eminent Presbyterian theologian RC Sproul refused to sign the Manhattan Declaration because he doesn't think the Pope is Christian*.

So like, WTF, you know? We students of history gotta take a pass on all that sectarian theology stuff.


"The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of using studied ambiguity in order to win over opponents. Let me be unambiguous: Without a clear understanding of sola fide and the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, you do not have the gospel or gospel unity (1 Cor. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:21). The ECT initiative repeatedly avowed that the signatories had a unity of faith in the gospel. This included Roman Catholic signers who affirm the canons and decrees of the sixteenth-century Council of Trent, which anathematizes sola fide. I believe there are true and sincere Christians within the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. But these people are Christians in spite of their church’s official doctrinal positions."

Art Deco said...

Cannot help but note that other authorities are skeptical of the future of evangelical colleges.

Maybe Throckmorton is hoping to retire before the whole thing tanks.

Tom Van Dyke said...

O'Sullivan's Law, Art.

"All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."

"All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don't like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over — and the rest follows."

And I just read that,_Jr.

Founder of Sun Oil, was a conservative and big Republican. So natural'y, years after his death, his Pew Foundation leans [albeit mildly] left-wing, not right-wing.

So too with the evangelical colleges, I make it. The story of the victory of "liberal theology" is fascinating. Except that in its triumph, "liberal Protestantism" has emptied the mainline churches it has conquered.

As for Grove City College, I dunno. But Dr. Throckmorton has one of his colleagues from Grove City College write in the other day, one

"Daniel S Brown, Jr., Ph.D"

and he was so snotty I couldn't tell him from MSNBC.

And let's not even get into America's "Catholic" colleges...

Tom Van Dyke said...

To wit, Art, from the comments of your linked article:

Rob says:
JANUARY 13, 2006 AT 7:48 PM
Having graduated from Wheaton in 1981, and taught there from 2002-3, I was able to witness a significant power shift from “conservative” to “liberal”. Like most secular schools I have taught at, liberals are anything but when they come to power. So the Hochschild affair is unfortunately very typical; I would consider myself and several other fired colleagues as standing in a long line of aggrieved conservatives. The fact of his dismissal is the least surprising part of the story. And from an administrative viewpoint, it was quite logical. The increasing arrogance of the liberal power block was alienating both alumni and supporters, so some act was needed that gave the appearance of traditional values. What better way to bump off a conservative and claim tradition? It was a twofer, and quite clever but for the WSJ coverage.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I still don't think you understand my objection to resistance theory. It is you blanket discovery of it in all of Calvinism, your inability to see that many Calvinists were not committed to resistance (see Calvin himself), and your collapsing of Beza in to Witherspoon.

As a historian I do not object to RT. It exists. I get it. As a Presbyterian I object to the way that RT easily becomes civil religion, a form of faith that you seem to admire, hence your willingness to defend Barton.

Tom Van Dyke said...

No, Calvin was more into theonomy/theocracy. Which Barton is accused of.

You just can't win with some people.

And yes, I understand your objection to Abraham Kuyper and w-w "as a Presbyterian." But again, whose Calvinism is it anyway?

Thx for stopping by. Always a pleasure. [I mean that.] Cheers.

Art Deco said...


Tom Van Dyke said...

In fairness to Dr. Brown, Art, I didn't find any reference to MSNBC.

As to your other point, this just came out today

Although my take is that most of these evangelical colleges will just be taken over by liberals per O'Sullivan's Law.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

[One of the comments in your link, from an ex-student and ex-teacher at Wheaton College, had the most interesting riff--when the school officials start getting too much flak for going liberal, they lash out at the Catholics and chill the fundies that way. Brilliant.]