Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Calvinist Enlightenment?

"Calvinist Enlightenment" is an oxymoron, yes?  Calvinism is all Puritan and all.  The Enlightenment is, well, all the cool people.


Hugh Trevor-Roper, "The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment":


Moreover, if we look at the stages of the Enlightenment, the successive geographical centres in which its tradition was engendered or preserved, the same conclusion forces itself upon us. The French Huguenots, we are told—Hotman, Languet, Duplessis-Mornay and their friends—created the new political science of the sixteenth century.

Calvinist Holland brought forth the seventeenth-century concept of natural law and provided a safe place of study for Descartes. Cromwellian England accepted the scientific programme of Bacon and hatched the work of Hobbes and Harrington. The Huguenots in Calvinist Holland—Pierre Bayle, Jean Leclerc—created the Republic of Letters in the last years of Louis XIV.

Switzerland—Calvinist Geneva and Calvinist Lausanne—was the cradle of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in Europe: it was in Geneva that Giannone and Voltaire would seek refuge; it was a Calvinist pastor of Geneva, Jacob Vernet, who would be the universal agent of the movement: the correspondent of Leclerc, the friend and translator of Giannone, the friend and publisher of Montesquieu, the agent of Voltaire; and it was to Calvinist Lausanne that Gibbon would owe, as he would afterwards admit, his whole intellectual formation.

Finally, after Switzerland, another Calvinist society carried forward the tradition. The Scotland of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume, of Adam Smith and William Robertson carried on the work of Montesquieu and created a new philosophy, a new history, a new sociology. Thither, as Gibbon wrote, “taste and philosophy seemed to have retired from the smoke and hurry of this immense capital,” London; and Thomas Jefferson would describe the University of Edinburgh and the Academy of Geneva as the two eyes of Europe.

Calvinist Holland, Puritan England, Calvinist Switzerland, Calvinist Scotland . . .

         Click on map to expand>>>>
If we take a long view—if we look at the continuous intellectual tradition which led from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment—these Calvinist societies appear as the successive fountains from which that tradition was supplied, the successive citadels into which it sometimes retreated to be preserved. Without those fountains, without those citadels what, we may ask, would have happened to that tradition? And yet how easily the fountains might have been stopped, the citadels overrun!
Suppose that the Duke of Savoy had succeeded in subjugating Geneva—as so nearly happened in 1600—and that the Bourbons, in consequence, had imposed their protectorate on the remaining French cantons of Switzerland.   
Suppose that Charles I had not provoked an unnecessary rebellion in Scotland, or even that James II had continued the policy of his brother and perpetuated a high-flying Tory Anglican government in England. 
If all this had happened, Grotius, Descartes, Richard Simon, John Locke, Pierre Bayle would still have been born, but would they have written as they did, could they have published what they wrote? And without predecessors, without publishers, what would have happened to the Enlightenment, a movement which owed so much of its character to the thought of the preceding century and to its own success in propaganda and publicity?

Whose Enlightenment was it, anyway? Whose Calvinism?  Heh heh. Exactly.

34 comments:

jimmiyraybob said...

Is the conclusion that you draw then, that the Enlightenment is fundamentally that of Calvin's (and his Calvinist predecessors') religious doctrine? As in "Calvinist Enlightenment"?

What is the specific religious element that the Enlightenment is founded upon?

Have you formally invited DGH and the OL crew to hang here for awhile? They seem like a lively and fun bunch.

David Brainerd said...

Calvinists love to try and take credit for everything. But this is like Muslims trying to claim they founded America.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Have you formally invited DGH and the OL crew to hang here for awhile? They seem like a lively and fun bunch.

The door is open but their last visit here did not go well.

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2013/06/mark-david-hall-responds-to-dghart.html

The theology of that bunch is "Two Kingdoms" [2k], and they don't consider this sort of political Calvinism to be theologically valid. They oppose Abraham Kuyper, the "neo-Calvinists"

http://kingofgrace.blogspot.com/2009/09/thoughts-on-two-kingdom-theology-vs-neo.html

and of course reject the "Calvinist" [or "Reformed"] resistance theory that helped fuel the revolutions in both England in the 1600s and ours in 1776.

http://www.davekopel.com/religion/calvinism.htm

As a student of history, that theological argument is above my pay grade.

What is the specific religious element that the Enlightenment is founded upon?

That liberty is a natural right. This is contrary to human history to that point.

David Brainerd said...

"That liberty is a natural right. This is contrary to human history to that point."

This is a DEIST position, not a Calvinist one. Remember, the Calvinists don't even believe that human beings have freewill to begin with, and so there is no way they could ever value liberty unless they were influenced by Deist belief. The only reason any Calvinist now values liberty is they are influenced by the Deist beliefs of the founders of America.

But Deism, obviously, is an extreme reaction to Calvinism. One that rejects Calvinism so utterly as to reject Christianity along with it. So the only way Calvinist can be given credit with in any way causing religious liberty or any type of liberty to come about is in the sense that they were such absurd tyrants that ran some people full well out of Christianity and these people highly valued liberty in their opposition to Calvinism. In other words, Calvinism spawned Deism by being tyrannical to other Christians, and the Deists established religious liberty to protect everyone from the murderous and insane Calvinists.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you, Mr. Brainerd. You are invited to read the links provided infra that argue to the contrary. With facts.

You may also find, upon further study, that the "deists" most relevant to America were a lot more "Christian" than many of us have been led to believe.

http://www.enlightenmentdeism.com/?page_id=156

http://www.academia.edu/2451381/The_Piety_of_the_English_Deists_Their_Personal_Relationship_with_an_Active_God

D G said...

tvd, how can theology be above your pay grade and then you use theological terms like "Calvinism"?

Plus, if you think Calvinism responsible for the British revolutions, was it responsible for both 1649 and 1688? Edmund Burke thought 1776 was the reincarnation of 1688 and that France was akin to Cromwell and the Puritans.

jimmiraybob said...

"That liberty is a natural right."

In what sense? Were the Calvinist freedom fighters championing Spinoza and his writings and ideas? Did they reserve an equal place at the table for all?

If libertas is defined as freedom, what kind of freedom were the Calvinist writers advocating? And how does that comport with the broader Enlightenment, or philosophy, movement?

"This is contrary to human history to that point."

Historically dubious. Even Calvin, the lawyer, called upon classic Greek and Roman political, legal and philosophical ideas to make his political case. Not to mention the later Calvinist writers that expanded his less than radical beginnings.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nice to see you Darryl.

tvd, how can theology be above your pay grade

I'm glad you asked. Let's clear this up once and for all. What I'm saying is that publicly--esp with a history hat on--I don't opine on what is valid or invalid theology.

"Calvinist resistance theory" existed, and arguably was a great influence in the Anglo-American world. That's the limit of my opining on it, of my paygrade. I do not know whether God approves or disapproves.

Actually, I was considering deleting Mr. Brainerd's reference to "the murderous and insane Calvinists."

Perhaps you'd like to field that one, to defend your religion.

Or perhaps you agree with him. That's much more interesting than discussion of my "paygrade."

Tom Van Dyke said...

and then you use theological terms like "Calvinism"?

Is it a theological term?

It is used here only as a historical reality. As a "term," it's only somewhat descriptive, not definitive. I believe I was fair in describing your particular brand ["two kingdoms"] of Calvinism, which many or most "Calvinists" don't even agree with.

Whose Calvinism is it anyway?

American Presbyterian Church (founded 1979)
Anglican Mission in the Americas
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Scots-Irish Presbyterians)
Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
Calvin Synod - United Church in Christ
Canadian and American Reformed Churches (Dutch Reformed - Liberated)
Christian Reformed Church in North America (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches
Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church
Covenanting Association of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches
Congregational Christian Churches in Canada
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America
Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in America
Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Evangelical Reformed Church Association (ERCA)
Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church
Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals[15]
Free Reformed Churches in North America - (Dutch Reformed - CGKN)
Free Church of Scotland - has about 9 congregations in North America
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) - has 8 congregations in the USA
Free Presbyterian Church of North America
French Protestant (Huguenot) Church, Charleston, SC——The only French Calvinist or Huguenot congregation still existing in the United States.
Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations
Hungarian Reformed Church in America
Korean-American Presbyterian Church
Korean Presbyterian Church in America[16]
Lithuanian Evangelical Reformed Church in America
Netherlands Reformed Congregations
Associated with the Dutch Reformed (Gereformeerde Gemeenten (Dutch)) churches in the Netherlands.
Newfrontiers in the USA
Orthodox Christian Reformed Church (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Cumberland Presbyterian Church (1810)
Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936 from the Northern PCUSA)
Bible Presbyterian Church (1937 from the OPC)
Presbyterian Church in America (1973 from the Southern PCUS)
Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (1983 from the PCA)
Evangelical Presbyterian Church (1981 from Northern UPC and Southern PCUS)
Presbyterian Reformed Church (Canada)
Protestant Reformed Churches in America (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
Reformed Congregations in North America
Reformed Church in the United States (German Reformed)
Reformed Church in America
The Reformed Church in America
Reformed Church of Quebec
Reformed Episcopal Church
Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery
Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA, Scottish Covenanters)
Reformed Presbytery in North America (Scottish Covenanters)
Southern Baptist Convention
Sovereign Grace Ministries (Credobaptist, charismatic)
United Church of Canada
United Church of Christ
United Reformed Churches in North America (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
Upper Cumberland Presbyterian Church separated from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States

And that's just North America.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Plus, if you think Calvinism responsible for the British revolutions, was it responsible for both 1649 and 1688?

All of a continuum, including Oliver Cromwell's Puritan regime in between, which was a real drag.

I'm certainly interested in your arguments against Hugh Trevor-Roper's essay

http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=719&chapter=77044&layout=html&Itemid=27

or Dave Kopel's.

http://www.davekopel.com/religion/calvinism.htm

if any. That would be interesting. Arguing with me is surely below your

http://www.amazon.com/Calvinism-History-D-G-Hart/dp/0300148798

paygrade.

Tom Van Dyke said...


In what sense? Were the Calvinist freedom fighters championing Spinoza and his writings and ideas? Did they reserve an equal place at the table for all?

If libertas is defined as freedom, what kind of freedom were the Calvinist writers advocating? And how does that comport with the broader Enlightenment, or philosophy, movement?


I think it would be more productive if you argued with the Trevor-Roper and Kopel essays as well. The quick reply is that it's better to consider Calvinist resistance theory in contrast to what came before it, not in contrast to our own 21st century sensibilities.

I do not know what libertas or "freedom" means here. To them it meant "liberty not license," under God and the natural law, a doubtful proposition here in the 21st century West.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"This is contrary to human history to that point."

Historically dubious. Even Calvin, the lawyer, called upon classic Greek and Roman political, legal and philosophical ideas to make his political case.


Which made them "Calvinist," just as Aquinas subsuming Aristotelian thought made it "Scholastic," Catholic/Christian.

Not to mention the later Calvinist writers that expanded his less than radical beginnings.

Exactly. Whose Calvinism is it, anyway? Calvin's? Or his successors, some of whom crafted "Calvinist" ["Reformed"] resistance theory, which Dr. Hart seems to find unbiblical and therefore invalid. You see the problem.

jimmiraybob said...

"...the murderous and insane Calvinists."

This is actually an interesting ironic twist to the discussion. The so called Calvinist resistance writers were much more radical than Calvin for the reason that the Catholic Church's Inquisition and their secular allies were hunting them down and killing them. It was more like the Calvinist Stop Killing Us writers. Resistance by necessity.

It's above my pay grade to determine which side was more murderous and insane through the long years of religious war but my sympathies go to the dissenters and their allies for their part in blowing up the borg....or at least loosening the grip a bit.

But then you have to ask, who were the dissenters? Especially the intellectual dissenters. Were they all pure of heart and faith? It's hard to know when both the dissenters and the Catholic church were equally zealous in shutting down dissent from their positions. If you didn't choose a side, Crips or Bloods, then you were left pretty damned exposed. (I don't know, did the Crips or Bloods ever put someone on a pile of wood and light it?)

"Libertas and toleration for me but not so much for thee if thee createth the waves by openly thinking contrary to our approved thinking," might be a more historically accurate way of viewing the "Calvinist Resistance Theory".

jimmiraybob said...

RE: Hugh Trevor-Roper

As I said, if you wanted to live in the hood you had to choose up sides.

HTR - “It is commonly said that the intellectual, no less than the industrial revolution of modern Europe has its origins in the religious Reformation of the sixteenth century: that the Protestant Reformers, either directly, by their theology, or indirectly, by the new social forms which they created, opened the way to the new science and the new philosophy of the seventeenth century, and so prepared the way for the transformation of the world. Without the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, we are told, we should have had no Enlightenment in the eighteenth century: without Calvin we should have had no Voltaire.

“This theory has often been questioned, but it is hard to destroy. Generation after generation finds in it an irresistible plausibility. It is part of the philosophy of action without which any study of history seems remote and academic.”

At this point the apparent assertion of the title The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment becomes a question for which he concludes,

”Politically, therefore, Calvinism may well have been necessary to the intellectual progress of Europe in the seventeenth century. This we may concede, just as we may concede that politically the Whig party was necessary to the securing of English liberty in the same century. But there is a difference between political and intellectual truth. The fact that Whig resistance broke Stuart despotism does not mean either that the Whig theories of the constitution and of liberty were intellectually right or even, in themselves, progressive. Nor does it mean that such theories, of themselves, entailed the consequences which followed the victory of the party professing them. Similarly, the fact that Calvinist resistance was necessary to the continuation and development of an intellectual tradition does not entail any direct or logical connection between them.

[my break] “A philosopher, in a time of crisis, may have to put on a suit of armour. To that suit of armour he may owe his life, and his capacity to go on philosophizing. But that does not make the armour the source of his philosophy. Indeed, while it is being worn it may well impede free speculation, which can be resumed only when the battle is over and it has been put off. The virtue of Calvinism, in respect of the Enlightenment, may perhaps be reduced to this. As a suit of armour it proved serviceable in battle, and though more uncomfortable to wear, proved easier to discard than the archaic, ornamentally encrusted chain-mail which protected, but also stifled the philosophers of the rival Church.”

Seems reasonable.

And then the intellectual tradition marched on. Some maintained the Protestant or Catholic armour but, slowly, some began discarding the armour for a more open and egalitarian intellectual enterprise.

Tom Van Dyke said...

If you didn't choose a side, Crips or Bloods, then you were left pretty damned exposed.

Calvinists often found themselves the tertium quid between Catholicism and Lutheranism or Anglicanism, which obliged a certain appreciation for "liberty" in the abstract.

HT-R: Similarly, the fact that Calvinist resistance was necessary to the continuation and development of an intellectual tradition does not entail any direct or logical connection between them.

No problem from me there, if we ignore the validity of the theology, which of course a churchman such as Darryl G. Hart doesn't.

But Calvinist resistance theory is important in theological history [and in the real world] because it makes the break from Romans 13 and the Divine Right of Kings, making revolution theologically possible.

For the one thing our modern secular age forgets is that for 99% of these people, the Bible is the Word of God, and they would not willfully be in conflict with it.

Similarly, the Protestant Reformation as a whole makes it possible to interpret the Bible differently than how Rome does, opening the door to intellectual "enlightenment" in general, that is, a questioning and reassessment of natural law and all human wisdom.

This is where the Scottish Common Sense Enlightenment comes in, for Scotland was "Presbyterian," Calvinist. It was the SCCE that influenced America most.

Was such a philosophical freedom possible in a Catholic country? Trevor-Roper thinks it's doubtful; indeed, Rousseau and Voltaire took refuge in Calvinist Switzerland. [Locke also fled to Calvinist Holland in the 1680s, an interesting point to explore.]

And then the intellectual tradition marched on. Some maintained the Protestant or Catholic armour but, slowly, some began discarding the armour for a more open and egalitarian intellectual enterprise.

Well, Locke had some unassailable arguments, that

In the second place, the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God

and

That the thing may be made clearer by an example, let us suppose two churches — the one of Arminians, the other of Calvinists — residing in the city of Constantinople. Will anyone say that either of these churches has right to deprive the members of the other of their estates and liberty (as we see practised elsewhere) because of their differing from it in some doctrines and ceremonies, whilst the Turks, in the meanwhile, silently stand by and laugh to see with what inhuman cruelty Christians thus rage against Christians?

and

And if anyone that professes himself to be a minister of the Word of God, a preacher of the gospel of peace, teach otherwise, he either understands not or neglects the business of his calling and shall one day give account thereof unto the Prince of Peace. If Christians are to be admonished that they abstain from all manner of revenge, even after repeated provocations and multiplied injuries, how much more ought they who suffer nothing, who have had no harm done them, forbear violence and abstain from all manner of ill-usage towards those from whom they have received none!

The first two above are simply logical arguments; the third invokes the Prince of Peace, theologically.

JMS said...

TVD - what a canard! You cannot lift two paragraphs from a lengthy essay, and then state a thesis that is diametrically opposite from what Hugh Trevor-Roper actually wrote later in the same essay.

Here's T-R's conclusion to your point:

"“Not one of the “philosophers” to whom the men of the Enlightenment looked back, and whose names I have quoted, was an orthodox Calvinist. The doctrines of Calvin, as far as we can see, had no direct influence on any of the ideas which led to the Enlightenment. Whatever debt the philosophers of the eighteenth century might owe to Calvinist cities, Calvinist universities, Calvinist societies, we have yet to discover any evidence of obligation to Calvinist Churches or Calvinist ideas. Our problem, the connection between Calvinism and the Enlightenment, is a problem still.


Also, here's a summation on the issue you raised from a London Review review of a bio on T-R:

"T-R denounced another received version: that the intellectual pedigree of the Enlightenment led back to Calvin’s Reformation in Geneva. The European Enlightenment did have religious roots, he admitted, but they lay among heretics, dissenters and independent thinkers of all faiths, not in an Elect obsessed with sin and predestination. This led him to ask another question: how could the Scottish Enlightenment have happened in a country he insisted on describing as absurdly primitive? It was a question that older Scottish historians, darkly suspicious of the Enlightenment as an ‘English import’, had avoided. Remarkably, Trevor-Roper did not take this view, but suggested – on rather daringly slim evidence – that the thinkers who made Hume, Ferguson and Adam Smith possible were Scottish but ‘heretics’ to the Presbyterian mainstream: liberal Catholic exiles, Jacobites and Episcopalian intellectuals from Scotland’s north-east."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Good rebuttal, although I merely labeled "Calvinist Enlightenment" with a question mark, as a conversation starter.

I believe I agreed with your rebuttal when I wrote above

HT-R: "Similarly, the fact that Calvinist resistance was necessary to the continuation and development of an intellectual tradition does not entail any direct or logical connection between them."

No problem from me there, if we ignore the validity of the theology, which of course a churchman such as Darryl G. Hart doesn't.

But Calvinist resistance theory is important in theological history [and in the real world] because it makes the break from Romans 13 and the Divine Right of Kings, making revolution theologically possible.


This is my own take on the matter, adding Calvinist resistance theory to the mix, not just the orthodox Romans 13* interpretation of DG Hart, neo-orthodoxers, and perhaps even Jean Calvin himself.

Whatever debt the philosophers of the eighteenth century might owe to Calvinist cities, Calvinist universities, Calvinist societies, we have yet to discover any evidence of obligation to Calvinist Churches or Calvinist ideas. Our problem, the connection between Calvinism and the Enlightenment, is a problem still.


The question is Whose Enlightenment was it, anyway? The philosophes or the SCCE's?

And whose Calvinism is it anyway? Darryl Hart's or Christopher Goodman's?

We have barely scratched the surface.

__________
*"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

jimmiraybob said...

Calvinist Enlightenment?

One quick thought now - it's a busy work day/week. If you want to see how Calvinism might turn out in relative isolation and relatively unimpeded by the European rise of humanism, secularism and egalitarian spirit, it might be interesting to look at Afrikaner/Boar Calvinism (Dutch reformed and included French Huguenots - 17th century refugees settling in South Africa).

They ended up a minority population completely and nastily subjugating the indigenous peoples ending in Apartheid. The head of the National Party that ushered in Apartheid was Daniel Francis Malan who had obtained a M.A in philosophy, a Doctorate in Divinity and was an ordained minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.

This would likely be a good master's level project if not more. If I were just 10 yea...20 years... let's just say younger, I'd approach a history department.

jimmiraybob said...

I should clarify that Malan was head of the National Party and Prime Minister of South Africa during the initiation of Apartheid (the political institution of white superiority and indigenous racial discrimination).

Tom Van Dyke said...

I should clarify that Malan was head of the National Party and Prime Minister of South Africa during the initiation of Apartheid (the political institution of white superiority and indigenous racial discrimination).

That's not quite how they saw it. They wanted to live "apart," hence the name. According to them, the land was empty, they settled it, and the "indigenous" weren't indigenous atall, but unwelcome intruders.

Take out our 21st century moral condemnations, and there's a useful truth in here in that the Pilgrims/Puritans similarly wanted to live as a community autonomous and "apart" as well*, apart not just from the indigenous, but from the various Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, etc.

These days, we see the Anabaptists [Mennonites, Amish] with the same aspiration, to live "apart," preserving their "purity" from a corrupt outside world. But we think they are kind of cute.

___
*That of course is Barry Alan Shain's thesis again, The Myth of American Individualism

https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=1258

jimmiraybob said...

"Take out our 21st century moral condemnations..."

Well, how about just looking at the contemporaneous moral condemnations then.

Tell you the truth though, my eyes are more a mid 20th century model than 21st century.

Anyway, how one rationalizes the Afrikaner's actions isn't what I had in mind. There was one European branch of the Dutch Reformed and a more isolated South African branch of the Dutch Reformed and I think that there might be some interesting compare and contrast action with respect to Enlightenment influences that were more humanistic and secular and, frankly, set in a more civilized and economically viable setting (I'm particularly thinking of the affluent Dutch trading economy of the 17th-19th centuries).

One question that immediately pops to mind is what is the effect of historical contingency with respect to molding, understanding, and actualizing theological doctrine?

In truth, it would be nice to hear DGH's input.





jimmiraybob said...

"...the effect of historical contingency with respect to molding, understanding, and actualizing theological doctrine..."

Not that I'm trying to initiate a discussion of theology, per se. So I'll name it the theology black box model/question.

Historical contingency goes in and history happens. And, what happens in the theological black box stays in the box. If possible. [I hope I don't get sued by the Vegas people.]

Tom Van Dyke said...

Basically, these discussions tend to turn into a framing issue, in this case where "Calvinist" turns into a catchall for the least admirable and hyper-orthodox among them and the "liberal" dissenters--say Hugo Grotius--aren't "Calvinist" atall.

But as a student of history, I see the whole battlefield, liberal and reactionary alike. And where to put Calvinist resistance theory, my primary theologico-political interest in all this?

http://www.davekopel.com/religion/calvinism.htm

They're not orthodox on Romans 13, see above, but not all that "liberal" either if you read say, John Knox.

It's all "Calvinist" to this student of history. But to Dr. Darryl G. Hart, a history scholar but also an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the "framing" seems quite different. Please let me know about any answers you may be able to pry out of him.

Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?
_____________

Enlightenment influences that were more humanistic and secular and, frankly, set in a more civilized and economically viable setting (I'm particularly thinking of the affluent Dutch trading economy of the 17th-19th centuries).

And I think more of the Reign of Terror. There are things worse than Calvinism, like humanism and secularism. =:-O

jimmiraybob said...

" There are things worse than Calvinism, like humanism and secularism. =:-O"

I'm torn on whether you'd have been a better Medieval Inquisitor or Bishop. I guess it's never too late....if modernity gets repealed. =:-(

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'll take that as an attempt at wit, although I suspect it's more a surrender of whatever point you thought you were making.

Again, we're into the "framing" tactic: Although Christianity is the greatest civilizing force in human history, from some quarters all we get is "B-b-but the Inquisition!"

All man's folly ascribed to "religion," all human progress attributed to "secular enlightenment." So it goes.

jimmiraybob said...

I'll take that as an attempt at wit...

A little levity is good for the soul. Think George C. Scott in Patton and the born in the wrong age thingy. No surrendering anything.

"All man's folly ascribed to "religion," all human progress attributed to "secular enlightenment." So it goes."

Well, I didn't say this. You must be talking to one of those red straw herrings.

For a much broader view of the Enlightenment (and anti-Enlightenment) than Kopel (or G. Himmelfarb), one that fully develops the author’s thesis of the enlightenment as having moderate (think Locke) and radical (think Spinoza) elements (often at odds with each other), I’d recommend looking into Jonathan Israel’s work, including:

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (2009).

Or his more massive trilogy effort (my winter reading project):

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 (2002)
Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752 (2009)

Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790 (2013)

Or, for a video presentation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBcP7TAVkNQ

Israel presents the religious as well as the more radical secularizing and skeptical elements (think Spinoza and spinozism) within the larger moderate-radical thesis.

For more on Spinoza (and 17th century Dutch Republic) - last summer I finished Steven Nadler's A Book Forged in Hell(2011), which I thought very engaging and insightful with respect to founding political ideology. [Just after that I was sitting next to Jack Rakove at a history conference regarding founding era political thought and he brought up Spinoza.]

Both Nadler and Israel summarize there views in a panel discussion here (it's worth getting through a slow opening):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v29FVZ0rry8

jimiiraybob said...

”… Aquinas subsuming Aristotelian thought made it "Scholastic," Catholic/Christian.”

There’s no doubt that Aquinas commented on and made the natural law amenable to Medieval orthodox Christianity and his work was/is still important in the modern world, but he did not supplant the originals.

A large part of the Enlightenment intellectual effort (moderate and radical), certainly the radical element of the project, was contra the stale and stiflingly rigid Scholasticism. All of the classical authors “subsumed by Aquinas” – and more, such a Lucretius’ ode to Epicureanism, De Rerum Natura, which was widely influential in the Medieval to modern western intellectual tradition – were available in unsubsumed translation via text hunters such as the 14th century Petrach (the "Father of Humanism")(1) and the 15th century Poggio Bracciolini (see Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve (2012) for a very interesting read).

1) And I'm not talking a modern version of secular humanism.

Daniel said...

I'm jumping in this pretty late. I generally confine myself to lurking because saying something intelligent takes time and trying to process what I read here takes more time than I have. But, I can't resist

An historical thread that is worth tracing is the effect of Calvinist institutions and thinkers on the spread of Enlightenment. Thinkers like John Reid claimed to be Calvinists and produced work consistent with orthodox Christianity, but used Enlightenment methods and ignored Total Depravity (and produced moral philosophy that was probably inconsistent with it). Much of the Scottish Enlightenment could be described in the same way, maybe including Adam Smith.

Much of the Enlightenment bloomed in Scotland, where Calvinists studied next to freethinkers because they were unwelcome in the Anglican Universities of England. Some of them created a very interesting synthesis, but, while the synthesis was Presbyterian, it is debatable whether it was Calvinist (although it claimed to be, their synthesis required a 'Calvinism' without Total Depravity).

In this country, Harvard was established in strict Scholastic principles and within a generation had a curriculum with focused on Descartes. In reaction, to Harvard's adoption of Enlightenment thought, Yale was established on Calvinist principles and made the same transition, leading to Princeton, with similar results. Those on the strict Calvinist side of these struggles saw the transition as betrayal of faith; but those on the Enlightenment side, most (or all) in those institutions claimed to be Calvinists -- John Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and theologian.

(Even Jonathan Edwards, in his philosophical works, used Enlightenment methods and tried to reconcile Enlightenment with Calvinist theology, but he is a different category since he was a TULIP kind of guy. Although his synthesis is intellectually interesting, it was the Scottish version that prevailed in the universities.)

But as for Reid, Witherspoon, Wilson, and all of the other Calvinists on the Enlightenment side of things, did they create a Calvinist Enlightenment or did they simply put the entirely secular Enlightenment into terms that were more palatable?

Tom Van Dyke said...

But as for Reid, Witherspoon, Wilson, and all of the other Calvinists on the Enlightenment side of things, did they create a Calvinist Enlightenment or did they simply put the entirely secular Enlightenment into terms that were more palatable?

Again, the "framing" issue. Enlightenment is the opposite of Christianity.

Secularists want to credit "secularism," whatever that is, for human progress. There are also orthodoxers such as our pals DG Hart and Gregg Frazer who reject "liberal" Christian thought [or Calvinist resistance theory] as authentically Christian. [The secularists LOVE that, using Christians against Christianity.]

But we see that the SCCE types were part of the Western tradition, which was identical to the Christian thought--up until the age of the French philsophes, etc., who indeed rejected God and metaphysics in the name of Reason.

That's where Whose Enlightenment was it anyway? and Himmelfarb's take on it enter into the picture, where the American revolution of Witherspoon and Wilson differed from the French revolution. There is no "French" Witherspoon or even Locke.

Basically, the argument is that you couldn't be a true Calvinist or a Christian unless you were a dogmatic cementhead. But that's truly bogus.
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Some of them created a very interesting synthesis, but, while the synthesis was Presbyterian, it is debatable whether it was Calvinist (although it claimed to be, their synthesis required a 'Calvinism' without Total Depravity).

Although there was indeed a current of belief in human improvement, I think you'll find quite a suspicion of unassisted human reason sprinkled through the era as well.

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence."--Madison, Federalist 55

Calvinists accuse Aquinas of a "semi-Pelagianism," but it's also the basis of Natural Law Theory acc to Romans 2, "the law written on man's heart."

A mixed bag on this one.

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JESUS AND THE TERMS OF PARDON BY STEVE FINNELL

What are the terms for pardon under the New Covenant? Did Jesus give us the terms of forgiveness from sin before He died or after His death and resurrection?

WHAT DID JESUS SAID WHILE HE WAS ALIVE?

1. Luke 18:18-22 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? .....20 "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' Do not murder,' Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' ' Honor your father and your mother.'" 21 And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." 22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "you still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come, follow Me."(NKJV)

Would the rich ruler have been saved had he obey Jesus? Yes. Was Jesus giving the terms for pardon under the New Covenant. No, He was not.

2. Mark 2:1-5....5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic,"Son, your sins are forgiven you."(NKJV)

Were the sins of the paralytic forgiven? Yes. Was Jesus saying that under the New Covenant men will have their sins forgiven because of the faith of friends? No. He was not.

3. John 8:3-11....10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the women, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."(NKJV)

Was the woman condemned by Jesus? No, she was not. Was Jesus saying that under the New Covenant if no man condemns you that I will not condemn you? No, He was not.

4. Luke 23 39-43 .....Then one of the criminals who was hanged blasphemed Him, saying , "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us". 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying , "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds ; but this Man has done nothing wrong."42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."(NKJV)

Was the thief saved? Yes. Was Jesus giving the terms for pardon under the New Covenant? No, He was not.

WHAT DID JESUS SAY AFTER HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION?

Mark 16:14-16 After He appeared to the eleven...16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.(NKJV)

Jesus gave the terms for pardon, under the New Covenant, after He was resurrected.

Luke 24:36-47 ....."and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.(NKJV)

Peter gave us the terms for pardon under the New Covenant at Jerusalem on 33AD. Acts 2:22-41
Peter preached the terms for pardon under the New Covenant.

Faith: John 3:16
Confession: Romans 10:9
Repentance: Acts 2:38
Water Immersion: Acts 2:38

Jesus never told one person that under the New Covenant they did not have to be baptized in order to be saved.

Jesus never told one person that under the New Covenant they did not have to repent to have their sins washed away.

Acts 2:38 And Peter replied, "Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift , the Holy Spirit. (The Living Bible -Paraphrased)


YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com