Saturday, May 17, 2014

McDurmon on John Adams' Blasphemy

Check it out here. A taste:
Folks, this is utter blasphemy. In regard to Adams’ thought, it exposes him as an enlightenment rationalist and humanist. He is not only hostile to the incarnation of Jesus Christ, he wants it eradicated from society. He believes there can be no true progress of knowledge in the world unless it is Christ-free.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Who is this McDurmon guy? We care what he thinks because...?

His analysis is sound [except for his opinion that non-Trinitarians shouldn't hold office], but the best part was in the comments section by one Kevin Craig:

It doesn't matter what theological outbursts Adams the curmudgeon shared with Jefferson in private in 1825.

Consider Adams' official proclamation as President in 1799, in which America "as a national act" would:

• call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence,
• implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions,
• and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come;

That is Trinitarian language. It is official and objective.

Jonathan Rowe said...

A lot of the folks on the American Vision website are a bit cranky in their extremism. Kevin Craig -- a "Libertarian" -- had a bit of a run in with our Jason Kuznicki a while back. (We have interacted with him, a little bit over the years.)

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not a fan of how the latter gentleman does business.

Craig's arguments are pretty sound, although the child molestation bit was a fatal blunder. For which he was quite efficiently lynched.

The irony is that at the Founding, "liberty" had to comport with natural law. My brief against modern libertarians such as Randy Barnett and his "presumption of liberty" is that he has hollowed out "liberty" of all its moral content, something virtually all the Founders would have found unthinkable ["liberty is not license"].

wsforten said...

I think McDurmon goes too far in his condemnation of Unitarians. Jesus Christ Himself said that the statement which Adams made was forgivable.

In the third chapter of Mark, we read that the scribes from Jerusalem said that Jesus was casting out devils by the power of the spirit of Beelzebub (another name for Satan). Jesus first criticized the scribes for being illogical and asked "How can Satan cast out Satan?" Then He said:

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

And the very next verse explains that Jesus said this "Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit."

A similar statement made by Christ and found in Luke 12:10 reads:

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Now, while John Adams did say many things that I think were erroneous, there is not a single instance that I can think of in which he blasphemed the spirit of Christ by attributing His power to Satan. In fact, when we read Adams' diary we find that he recognized Jesus as the Savior sent from God.

The great and Almighty author of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the world, can as easily suspend those laws whenever his providence sees sufficient reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles of Jesus Christ. Although some very thoughtful and contemplative men among the heathen attained a strong persuasion of the great principles of religion, yet the far greater number, having little time for speculation, gradually sunk into the grossest opinions and the grossest practices. These, therefore, could not be made to embrace the true religion till their attention was roused by some astonishing and miraculous appearances. The reasoning of philosophers, having nothing surprising in them, could not overcome the force of prejudice, custom, passion, and bigotry. But when wise and virtuous men, commissioned from heaven, by miracles awakened men's attention to their reasonings, the force of truth made its way with ease to their minds.

In his letters to his wife, Adams often referred to Jesus as “our Savior.”

Our Saviour taught the Immorality of Revenge, and the moral Duty of forgiving Injuries, and even the Duty of loving Enemies. Nothing can shew the amiable, the moral, and divine Excellency of these Christian Doctrines in a stronger Point of Light, than the Characters and Conduct of Marius and Sylla, Caesar, Pompey, Anthony and Augustus, among innumerable others.

They shewed Us their Church which is hung round with Pictures of our Saviour from his Birth to his Death, Resurrection and Ascention. It is done with very strong Colours, and very violent Passions, but not in a very elegant Taste.

But how shall I describe the Picture of our Saviour in a Frame of Marble over the Altar at full Length upon the Cross, in the Agonies, and the Blood dropping and streaming from his Wounds.

wsforten said...

And in his proclamations for days of prayer, Adams specifically identified Jesus as both the Redeemer and as one who was in possession of the Holy Spirit.

For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of April next, be observed, throughout the United States of America, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens, on that day, abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offences against the most high God, confess them before him with the sincerest penitence, implore his pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that, through the grace of his Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come.

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of mercies, agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation; beseeching him at the same time, of his infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, by his Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction

wsforten said...

By the way, this view of Jesus was common among the Unitarians of the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was expressed quite plainly in the December 10, 1831 edition of the Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate:

But, Sir, notwithstanding I deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and the supreme Deity of Christ, because not taught in, but directly opposed to the Bible, and maintain the dependence and inferiority of the Son to the Father, I nevertheless maintain and firmly believe that his doctrine is the doctrine of God; his authority, the authority of God; his miracles, the miracles of God; and his salvation, the salvation of God. For God gave the world the doctrine, through him, commissioned him ‘to bear witness to the truth,’ to work miracles in his name, and to accomplish the great work of salvation. Acts ii : 22-24. xii : 23. Luke i : 68, 69. John xviii : 37. Isaiah xlix : 6. Therefore I hold that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father, i. e. they should honor the Father through the Son. For to dishonor the Son, would be to dishonor God; for God sent him ... It therefore detracts nothing, either from the authority or efficacy of the Gospel dispensation, to deny the absolute Deity of Christ, any more than it detracts from the authority of the law, given to the Israelites, to deny the absolute Deity of Moses, by, or through whom that law was dispensed

… That Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and men, the promised Messiah, ‘declared to be the Son of God with power,’ and ‘the Saviour of the world,’ ‘the image of the invisible God,’ (of course not that God, of whom he is the Son and the image,) ‘the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person’ – that to him the divine spirit was given without measure, and hence God ‘hath made him both Lord and Christ,’ and given him power over all flesh. That it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and hence he is called the beginning (or chief) of the creation of God, the first born of every creature, the first begotten of the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence – that these exalted titles, and this high authority and power were given him for a specific purpose, i. e. that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father had given him, bring many sons and daughters to glory, and reconcile all things unto God; and that when this glorious work shall be accomplished, he is again to resign that authority and power into the hands of him who gave it, deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, and God to become all in all. (I Cor. xv : 28.) This, sir, is a scriptural, consistent, glorious, and consoling view of this subject.

wsforten said...

This view was also expressed by Joshua Toulmin in his 1801 book, The Practical Efficacy of the Unitarian Doctrine:

I then accompany Peter before the tribunal of the high-priest, and I again listen, to hear his doctrine: not disgusted with the simplicity of his former discourses, but impressed with their simplicity and the energy with which they acted. Such was that energy, that I see no occasion that there was for him to introduce, in a future discourse, any other, new principles to aid its operation on the human mind. I wait, however, to hear what he will say' and how far he will pursue the same strain of address or deviate from it. The same strain is adopted, and the same principles as before, alone are urged. ‘Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man (i.e. the lame man of whom we read in the former chapter) stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner: neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ I can discover here, also, no other doctrines but the unity of God, the humanity of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, and salvation through him. Peter speaks as would an Unitarian.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Probative stuff, Mr. Fortenburger. Let's not forget Samuel Barrett's 1835

These guys weren't "orthodox" Christians, but sola scriptura Protestantism, in rejecting Rome's ecclesiastical authority to interpret the Bible, opens the door to all sorts of theologies that claim to originate in the Bible alone.