To unlocking a certain strain of the "Christian" political theology of the American Founding.
While William Livingston was associated with a number of different denominations, he described himself as "more than half a Quaker." He did a satire on the 39 articles of faith of the Anglican church which amounts to an attack on orthodoxy, creeds and clericalism. He also slammed the Athanasian creed which led me to conclude Livingston was a unitarian. But that might have been a bridge too far on my part.
it's more of a reductio ad absurdum of the individualism of biblical
Protestantism that leaves it up to him to decide on what the
faith means. The concept of Priesthood of all believers. But
unlike many evangelical Protestants of today who pick an understanding and
then claim all true believers will understand "this" is what the Bible
means, and then they endlessly squabble, Livingston understood his approach would naturally lead to
dispute and he embraced that reality.
He didn't care
what other people believed on the "finer" points of Christianity. That
is, he didn't care about "orthodoxy." No need to squabble.
It also "fits" with the individualistic nature of
Enlightenment liberalism. Garry Wills' book
that dealt with the matter had many inadequacies. But one strength was
it noted Quakerism and unitarianism as the kinds of faiths that "fit"
the age of Enlightenment which birthed the American Founding.
least "fit" from the from the perspective of prevailing intellectual thought,
ideals, and so on. There were plenty of unthinking masses who belonged
to churches with not just orthodox creeds, but orthodox ministers who
may have defended them.
Livingston, for instance,
became associated with the Presbyterians. But it would be a mistake to
conclude he was a TULIP Calvinist who defended the creeds and
confessions of that church. In fact, he rejected all of it.