Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Robert Kraynak: "Catholicism and the Declaration ..." Part VII, Final.

Last month I ran a series of posts which reproduced the first half of this article by Robert P. Kraynak about Roman Catholicism and the Declaration of Independence, with minor edits (omission of footnotes and a few ellipses [...]) and my sparse commentary.

I stopped somewhere in the middle of page 17 out of 30. This will be my final post on the matter. Those interested in a careful reading can read the entire article. These pages are where the article goes deep into the philosophical weeds to explain why the natural law the Roman Catholic Church endorses is not the same thing as the natural rights encapsulated in the Declaration and the tension between the two. I'm just going to post one short excerpt from the rest of the article.
Applied to the American situation, Thomistic natural law requires one to judge the work of the American founding fathers by the objective hierarchy of ends which God has ordained for man. Here, the decisive question would seem to be whether the natural law doctrine of the Declaration of Independence which guided the Americans contains some of the elements of a true natural law found in original Thomism~ The answer, we now must admit, is that the Declaration contains only a partial or incomplete version of true natural law, because it does not provide sufficiently for the perfection of the rational soul. The Declaration of Independence asserts a right to pursue happiness, but does not provide sufficiently for the higher goods of temporal and eternal happiness, ·leaving them more to personal choice than to corporate responsibility or leaving them to the larger culture which surrounded the Declaration and the Constitution that still contained vital remnants of classical and Christian culture and of the English common law tradition. Yet, if the American founders had been more attentive to preserving these traditional elements, they might have been Tories rather than revolutionaries. Or, since they themselves were gentlemen politicians of quasi-aristocratic character, they might have waged a war of independence on less sweeping principles than natural rights and established a more hierarchical regime than a constitutional republic.

However, a Thomistic approach to politics requires prudence, which counsels statesmen to seek the best approximation of the true hierarchy of goods in the given circumstances. After the American Revolution occurred and the regime was settled in favor of republicanism, Catholic Thomists could be American republicans-they could have acted like Alexander Hamilton, who favored constitutional monarchy while accepting constitutional democracy or republicanism as the only practical option in the circumstances. Within that basic acceptance and loyalty to of the American natural rights republic, Catholic Thomists could hold reservations about the natural rights basis of the regime and hope to move it in a ·more hierarchically ordered and less individualistic and less materialistic direction. ... 
 As I mentioned in an earlier post, Kraynak would later write an entire book on this topic entitled "Christian Faith and Modern Democracy." Those who enjoyed books such as "The Search For Christian America," "Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction," and "The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution" will surely enjoy this book.

And I especially recommend Kraynak's book for those who enjoyed Patrick Deneen's current best seller "Why Liberalism Failed" as the two make similar arguments.

56 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

I still need to finish the entire article, however it's my view that Kraynak is neglecting the influence of James Wilson, the foremost expert on the laws of nature and of Nature's God, among the founding fathers.

Especially, as Wilson is repeating Hooker and Aquinas through Hooker and the Catholic tradition; the very tradition Kraynak quotes.

It was Wilson who wrote:

"Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine."

--Of the General Principles of Law and
Obligation, reprinted in 1 James
Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson104-105 (Bird Wilson,
ed., Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804).

Hooker and Aquinas specifically wrote Divine law is the law and the gospel. Does this not claim what the DOI and the Constitution is based?

It's interesting Kraynak writes "because it does not provide sufficiently for the perfection of the rational soul."

How is anyone to acquire perfection this side of heaven, yet alone through human law? Moreover, salvation coincides through the scriptures and the divine law; the divine law of Wilson.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Given Wilson wasn't on the drafting board of the DOI, I don't think he gets any more weight than any of them and arguably gets less.

But to get to the point, Kraynak would argue that it's about Locke and his idea that we have an unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (yes I know the original said "property").

Such is neither biblical nor Thomistic. That's Kraynak's claim.

Our Founding Truth said...
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Our Founding Truth said...

It's doubtful being part of the DOI drafting board is that relevant, given TJ said the principles were common knowledge anyway (to R Henry Lee 1825) and JA wrote that all the principles were "hackneyed out" in congress in 1774. Besides, Wilson was on the committee that reviewed the draft before it went to the committee of the whole. 

Further, TJ attended Wilson's lectures, when he was the first professor of the laws of nature at an American college. With that in mind, many historians and professors view Wilson was the foremost expert in law among the founding fathers. In fact, there's evidence TJ borrowed from Wilson's tract of 1774 for the DOI. 

IF Kraynak is concerned about unalienable rights, Wilson is the expert, even though I happen to disagree with that claim. Finally, Wilson was a tragic figure that died in debt, although he had a few hundred thousand dollars in property at the time of sale. Not to mention he never graduated from St Andrews. Sadly, liberty fund notes that "literally, no one had a good word to say about him."
oll.libertyfund.org

If unalienable rights are all inference from the mind, then by default, there is more evidence of those rights in the written word.


Tom Van Dyke said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...

But to get to the point, Kraynak would argue that it's about Locke and his idea that we have an unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (yes I know the original said "property").

Such is neither biblical nor Thomistic. That's Kraynak's claim.


Well, here's the thing--Aquinas is not the last and only word. The "Catholic" theology of his successors, called Scholasticism, is part of the theo-philosophical chain that leads to Locke and natural rights theory of the Founding.

http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/542

This essay is an analysis of the theory of human rights based on the writings of Thomas Aquinas, with special reference to the Summa Theologiae. The difference between a jus naturale found in Aquinas and the theory of human rights developed by the sixteenth century scholastic philosophers is articulated. The distinction between objective natural rights—“what is right”—and subjective natural rights—“a right”—is discussed noting that Aquinas held the former position and that later scholastic philosophers beginning with the Salamanca School of the Second Scholasticism developed the latter position. The subjective theory of rights evolved into the modern and contemporary account of individual human rights. The essay ends with an argument suggesting that Aquinas’s theory of objective human rights can serve as the ontological foundation for a robust theory of both positive and negative subjective natural rights.

Daniel Shinkle said...

Wilson, or ideas that he brought to the revolutionary discussion, was certainly part of the process. "Self evidence" was a key term of Thomas Reid's philosophy, which was heavily referenced by Wilson. I think the term was coined by Reid, who did not cite Aquinas, but knew Hooker and developed a theory of Natural Law (although he didn't call it that) to fit the Enlightenment sensibilities.

The use of the term "self evident" is a strong indicator of a Reid, and therefore Hooker, influence. But Thomist or Scholastic sources do not a Catholic theology make. Reid was a Presbyterian, and a Lockean. As was Wilson. I have to leave it to Catholics or Thomist scholars to decide whether that re-working a Natural Law remained consistent with the core of Catholic Natural Law.

OFT: Perhaps perfection is not achievable on this side, but the Catholic goal is perfection and one must be seeking perfection, even if it is not likely to be achieved in the short term. As I understand Kraynak, his criticism is that the vision of the DoI fails to present a vision of the good and perfect and fails to propose a means to encourage people to pursue that vision. Each individual is left alone to define the good and to wander about seeking it

Reid's Natural Law did have a vaguely defined notion of the common good. Among other things, he was an abolitionist. Whether Jefferson's DoI incorporated notions of the common good is an interesting question. My own sense of Jefferson is that he pulled together ideas and phrases and mixed them up to suit his purposes at any given moment. So I think the DoI should be judged by it's words and it's results, without much reference to the philosophy of those who likely had some influence over its composition.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you, Daniel.

Re the origin of "self-evident"--and this is more academic than meaningful, I leave it to you.


“For to make nothing evident of itself unto man’s understanding were to take away all possibility of knowing anything.”--Richard Hooker

"This equality of men by nature, the judicious Hooker looks upon as so evident in itself, and beyond all question..."---John Locke, Second Treatise



In my view, this essential equality is the beginning of rights theory ["By what right does one man rule another?"]; the rest is corollary.



see also

https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/catholic-sources-and-the-declaration-of-independence.html


Declaration of Independence: Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government...Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons.

Bellarmine: For legitimate reasons the people can change the government to an aristocracy or a democracy or vice versa (De Laicis, c. 6). The people never transfers its powers to a king so completely but that it reserves to itself the right of receiving back this power (Recognitio de Laicis, c. 6).

St Thomas: If any society of people have a right of choosing a king, then the king so established can be deposed by them without injustice, or his power can be curbed, when by tyranny he abuses his regal power (De Rege et Regno, Bk. I, c. 6).



This is the Declaration's argument, that the king had "abdicated" his right to rule by making war on the colonies.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, and Daniel, from what I have gathered from philosophy types, Thomas Reid is criminally understudied even by philosophy types. He was at the heart of the Scottish Common Sense Enlightenment [SCSE], and did a masterful job of rebutting or even refuting David Hume, who remans a god in the pantheon of the secular left who control our academic establishment.

As a result, our historians--who are already largely deficient in theology and philosophy both in their own rights but in their effect on history--are largely dependent on their epigones like Jefferson and Adams, fakers both.

I myself will confess to an ignorance of Reid's work, but then again I don't get paid for this stuff. At least I know he was a big swinging dick of SCSE and that James Wilson was born and educated in Scotland. ;-)

Our Founding Truth said...

Daniel,

I highly doubt Reid ascribed to the reformed doctrines of Presbyterianism, but indulge me with the evidence. From what I remember, his beliefs were similar to Francis Hutcheson.

"As I understand Kraynak, his criticism is that the vision of the DoI fails to present a vision of the good and perfect and fails to propose a means to encourage people to pursue that vision. Each individual is left alone to define the good and to wander about seeking it"

To me, it doesn't seem plausible this is Kraynak's idea. It's completely out of place and irrelevant. The DOI is a statement to the other nations, listing encroachments by the King. Besides, a vision of good is in the DOI. Hooker, Wilson, Aquinas and maybe Reid; if you can find the smoking gun, were Trinitarians, therefore Nature's God is Christ.

Jon Rowe said...

I could be mistaken; but I think Franklin was responsible for the use of the term "self evident"; I seem to remember Jefferson used the word "sacred"; Franklin suggested "self evident" and the board agreed to the change.

Daniel said...

TVD: Please don't take me as saying I think the concept of self-evidence was original to Reid. I think it was his term. He was largely taking what he received from others and tweaking it for a Newtonian world. He wrote that his approach was Newtonian, but I see little that he owes to Newton and much that he owes to Thomists who preceeded him. Certainly the concept that some things are self evident can be found in Aquinas, Aristotle, and probably Plato. Reid developed the concept a great deal in response to the extreme skepticism of Hume.

Reid probably deserves more attention. He is cited by Thomists and by legal scholars interested in the framing of the Constitution. But the thinkers who get the most attention are the ones who are useful in teaching Sophomore Philosophy classes. Hume is great for questioning the pre-suppositions of just about anyone's system of thought. But other than the Thomists (and those who embrace a messy complexity) Reid doesn't really fit well into anyone's preferred narrative

OFT: Although Reid explicitly affirmed the need for revelation, I don't think he said much about theology beyond statements that just about anyone who claimed to be Christian would probably affirm. But his reliance on an innate moral sense is probably impossible to reconcile with total depravity. And yes, he owed a great deal to Hutchenson. Others in his Aberdeen Society (particularly Beatty) dug into theology from an Reformed perspective, but I doubt that you could find a fully Reformed perspective among them. 'Common Sense' to them, meant that there is a set of perceptions common to humanity (sensory as well as moral) that is reliable. (I have greatly oversimplified a complex and nuanced position but even with nuance, it doesn't fit well with TULIP).

Reid seemed to identify as reformed and Presbyterian, but I agree that he didn't fit the tradition as it developed in this country.

For a sense of how Common Sense Realism fits into this country's theology, it's worth considering John Witherspoon, who was brought in as president of Princeton because he did not fit with the traditionalists or with the Cartesians. He was brought in to moderate a dispute that burned very hot, but he lead Princeton in a third (natural law) way and much of the academy in the country followed for the next half century.

JR: I think I had heard before that 'self evident' was proposed by Franklin. I probably didn't remember that because it doesn't fit my preferred narrative.

Our Founding Truth said...

Daniel wrote: "But his reliance on an innate moral sense is probably impossible to reconcile with total depravity."

However, the founding fathers believed in both total depravity and the moral sense. Both do not contradict each other. Rather, they both inform natural law (1 Cor 2:14-15). Moreover, Scottish "Common Sense" is scriptural and therefore Christian. If there was a discrepancy, the Scottish Calvinists would have said so.

I don't see a difference in Colonial Presbyterians and Scotch Presbyterians.

I disagree with your assessment of Witherspoon and see no theological difference with Calvin's Geneva, besides church/state relations. In fact, Witherspoon taught James Madison, Stanhope Smith, William Bradford and the others, predestination. The natural law way is the same thing Calvin taught at his academy.

Daniel said...

OFT: I should begin by confessing that my knowledge of Calvin and of Jonathan Edwards is second hand and was never deep, and my reading of the Puritans is pretty limited. So I may have been guilty of relying on over-simplification.

My understanding is that the Puritan understanding of moral depravity included the implication that the human moral sense is totally depraved. Am I mistaken on this? Certainly the more conservative of the Puritans and American Congregationalists opposed the teaching of Descartes in the universities

Jonathan Rowe said...

America's Founders didn't necessarily believe in Total Depravity. Madison's comments in the Federalists suggest partial, not total depravity.

Our Founding Truth said...
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Our Founding Truth said...

Daniel,

Biblical total depravity, of the Reformers and Edwards, means in relation to the Divine Being, no one can do anything to achieve their salvation or do anything good at all in the eyes of God. This is what TULIP is based on. God will only accept good works to those who He has given faith, since faith is a gift. Every good deed is still sinful, but, mixed with faith that comes with conversion, at least God accepts them.

The moral sense of right and wrong (doing the right thing) is always there and it appears people do good works, and the right thing. This is what the founding fathers are referring to when speaking of "right reason." It doesn't mean people are as bad as they could be either, only that the capacity for the worst is there.

Madison appears to be the most orthodox in regard to total depravity by quoting the Christian foundation of the doctrine; that the general condition of man's heart is evil:

"Little did I ever expect to hear that Jeremiah's Doctrine that "the heart of man is deceitful above all things & desperately wicked"[Jer 17:9] was exemplified in the celebrated Dr Franklin, & if the suspicions against him be well founded it certainly is remarkably exemplified. Indeed it appears to me that the bare suspicion of his guilt amounts very nearly to a proof of its reality."

-To William Bradford, June 19th, 1775. The Papers of James Madison, Vol. I. 16 Mar 1751 - 16 Dec. 1779. Edited by William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. 1962, by the University of Chicago Press.  

Tom Van Dyke said...

Madison is not necessarily endorsing the passage from Jeremiah as God-given revelation, only as a generally revealed truth. It is true that Madison had a wise and healthy distrust in human nature, but not self-evident that it was the result of any religious faith.

Our Founding Truth said...
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Our Founding Truth said...

If JM is quoting the passage, it follows that he believed it. Why else quote the bible? Besides, he links the conscience to religion or Christianity in my book. In fact, he must be referring to Christianity, since in his Memorial, he calls all other religions false. Below, he's saying the conscience doesn't work in individuals:

"All civilized societies would be divided into different sects, factions...the disciples of this religious sect or that religious sect. In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger. What motives are to restrain them? A prudent regard to the maxim, that honesty is the best policy, is found by experience to be as little regarded by bodies of men as by individuals. Respect for character is always diminished in proportion to the number among whom the blame or praise is to be divided. Conscience, the only remaining tie, is known to be inadequate in individuals; in large numbers, little is to be expected from it. Besides, religion itself, may become a motive to persecution and oppression."

-James Madison, June 6, 1787. Journal of the Federal Convention by Madison

Tom Van Dyke said...

If JM is quoting the passage, it follows that he believed it. Why else quote the bible?

Quoting the Bible to anyone who believes in it is good rhetorical strategy. I would seek common ground with a Muslim via the Qur'an if it were appropriate.

Many nonbelievers quote Biblical wisdom when it makes sense.


I don't think the Madison quote you provide says what you think it says. For one thing Madison was very concerned about any one sect--or even the majority--defining what is and isn't Christian or Christianity. This is what he means by

Besides, religion itself, may become a motive to persecution and oppression."

The Presbyterians persecuting the Baptists, etc., which had already become the norm in the early colonial days and in Europe, as the full quote attests:

Religion itself may become a motive to persecution & oppression. -These observations are verified by the Histories of every Country antient & modern.

Our Founding Truth said...

I think you mean the anglicans persecuting the Baptists, which he witnessed first hand. JM claimed to be a Christian, and so, it seems more bizarre he would be facetious to his best friend, who was an evangelical and not believe the scripture he quoted.

His claim that the conscience is inadequate also supports the same interpretation of Jer 17, rather than lying about it.

JM also claimed he believed in original sin by his notes on Mat 1:

"Mat. Ch 1st Pollution[:] Christ did by the power of his Godhead purify our nature from all the pollution of our Ancestors v. 5. &c."

-Madison's "Notes on Commentary on the Bible" found in The Papers of James Madison, p. 51-59. Vol. I. 16 Mar 1751 - 16 Dec. 1779. Edited by William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. 1962, by the University of Chicago Press.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The James Madison of Federalist 55 endorsed partial, not total depravity.

http://www.law-rva.com/?p=51

Our Founding Truth said...
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Jonathan Rowe said...

Madison was likely a unitarian.

Our Founding Truth said...

Total depravity is about salvation and deeds unto God (tulip). There is always a degree of good a person can do, but not unto God.

Fed 51 is referring to people in large numbers and little is to be expected, which is the small degree. He's not talking about salvation. Government is context.

All we can go by, is the words KM wrote. If he called himself a unitarian, which is possible, I haven't seen it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

George Ticknor said JM personally testified to being one.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Madison's words and actions are consistent with heterodox beliefs. It's really irrelevant since he kept his beliefs to himself, but it's equally unscholarly to attribute Calvinist orthodoxy to him.

Quoting the Bible does not mean you believe it is Divine Writ. Franklin and Jefferson quoted the Bible all the time--it was the lingua franca of the Founding era.

Jonathan Rowe said...

We all quote the Bible here as do atheists to this day as well. They weren't verse and chapter proof texters.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom, explain how defending the trinity (Christ's Deity), total depravity; and Christian salvation (Memorial and Remonstrance) to his evangelical friends at Princeton, is heterodox? If those words make him, heterodox, then I'm heterdox. How else do you determine who's a true Christian, if not for words and deeds?

Did 18th century unitarians believe every word of the bible like evangelicals do? Did they believe in N.T. miracles and did they believe salvation was a gift?

"The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation...Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world... 
it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid...The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift"

-Memorial and Remonstrance

His best friend has to convince him his friend is orthodox not heterodox:

"
"I went yesterday to hear our classmate McCorkle predicate: & I assure you his sermon was very orthodox: The point he chiefly Laboured to prove was "that the Laws of God were superior in wisdom to the Laws of men"; & I think his arguments on this part were in a gr[e]at measure unanswerable; the rest had a great deal of chronology but very little instruction in it."

-To James Madison, Oct 17, 1774.

Also, there is another view of Ticknor's comment about JM

Tom Van Dyke said...

"The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation...Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world...
it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid...The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift"

-Memorial and Remonstrance


Madison is using logic and Christianity's own view of itself to argue against government financing of churches. It is an error to argue this means Madison believes these things. He is using his [Christian] audience's own logic and beliefs in support of his position.

Frankly--and I can't find the quote--I believe Madison's opposition to govt support of churches was that it tends to ossify theology, where only the orthodox--and the more mediocre preachers--get the money and newer [heterodox?unitarian?] theology gets shut out.


Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance,addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]

Our Founding Truth said...

Not only does the evidence support that JM was orthodox; he even tried to prove predestination to S. Stanhope Smith (at my blog), Ticknor's letter would not fly in court or in public opinion because he misinterpreted JM dissing the Athanasian creed and therefore a unitarian, when that wasn't the case.

All of the founders, and probably the catholic founders, rejected the creed, as do I and every evangelical. Here is the beginning of the creed that no true Christian believes:

Athanasian Creed
"Whosoever will be saved , before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly."

And here is the end:

"This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved."

That is bologni. That is why no one liked it, including trinitarians William Livingston, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Rush and the others. That is why JM asked Ticknor how it was received by the Episcopalians; a trinitarian sect. That's the only reason why he would ask that to a trinitarian. JM knew the Episcopalians kept some catholic liturgy within their church and he wanted to know how it was received.

With that out of the way, I don't recall there is any other evidence at all linking JM to unitarianism.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I think you still misunderstand the difference between "Catholic" and "catholic."

What you call "bologni" is something which you apparently affirmed in your comments on in a more recent comment: that in order to be a "Christian" you have to believe in the Trinity.

You have not changed your spots. You are still imagining things into the record that don't exist like what you believe James Madison might have said to James Ticknor.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"I found the President more free and open than I expected, starting subjects of conversation and making remarks that sometimes savored of humor and levity. He sometimes laughed, and I was glad to hear it ; but his face was always grave. He talked of religious sects and parties, and was curious to know how the cause of liberal Christianity stood with us, and if the Athanasian creed was well received by our Episcopalians. He pretty distinctly intimated to me his own regard for the Unitarian doctrines."— TICKNOR, GEORGE, 1815, Letter to his Father, Jan. 21 ; Life, Letters and Journals, vol. I, p. 30.

Emphasis mine.

He said Madison told him he was a unitarian.

Anglicanism/Episcopalianism is interesting in that many, many key and notable Founders were affiliated with it. This includes "orthodox" figures like Patrick Henry and heterodox ones like Jefferson.

The church officially endorsed the Nicene and Athanasian creeds. They did need to further reform when they became Episcopalians to scrub the language of the British monarchy having any special place in its theology, but it retained the rest. (The Athanasian creed tended not to be used for worship because it's too damned long; but the 18th Cen. American Episcopate never stopped endorsing it or otherwise repudiated it.)

But this only applies if one is doctrinaire or "high church." If one took 18th Cen. Anglicanism too literally one would be Tory. And that's a reason why many American Anglicans remained Tory.

The "low church" latitudinarian movement in American AND Britain, on the other hand, did encompass some more reformed Calvinistic types, but it also included deistic and unitarian types as well like Jefferson, like John Marshall until his late in life conversion to orthodoxy. I would argue Washington and Madison too.

Anyway, Ticknor says Madison confessed unitarianism.

Jonathan Rowe said...

By the way I'm fairly certain that the reformed orthodox types in late 18th Cen. America of the Congregational, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches had no problem with the Athanasian creed. Those who believe in the small c catholic Church and that if you don't affirm the Trinity, you aren't a "Christian."

Some of the more unitarian types like John Adams termed this sentiment Athanasianism. See his letter to Jedidiah Morse an orthodox Congregationalist who was an enemy of unitarianism.

--------------------

OFT makes up the fact that William Bradford was Madison's "best friend." He may have been early on (?); but arguably his "best friend" while Madison did his work in VA was Thomas Jefferson. That's when Bishop Meade thought Madison became imbibed in "infidel principles" and when his God-talk became systematically generic.

Likewise I thought OFT even admitted that the "Christianity" referred to in the Mem. and Remon. wasn't necessarily "orthodox."

Remember Madison asking the question in preparing for the Remonstrance, "what is Christianity"? And refusing to answer it as OFT and other orthodox reformed Christians would.

Our Founding Truth said...

I know what Athanasius is doing and I know the point he's making. I've studied it quite a bit. The difference between the person of Christ (Godhead) and ascribing to the rules of the "Catholic" church that Athanasius is referring to is obvious and something catholics have promoted for centuries.

High church/low church has nothing to do with this point. The issue is why JM and all the founders rejected the Athanasian Creed.

"He said Madison told him he was a unitarian."

He did not say that. Ticknor made an assumption of what was said; he didn't quote him at all. And Ticknor's assumption was wrong because of JM's question about the creed. The discriminatory language must be the reason for JM's question of the creed because all the orthodox rejected the creed and JM affirmed the trinity in his prayer book.

"If one took 18th Cen. Anglicanism too literally one would be Tory."

The founding fathers were not tories.

I am interested in seeing what Brad, Prof. Hall and others think of this subject.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"The issue is why JM and all the founders rejected the Athanasian Creed."

There you go again. This could be read as saying all of the founders were in fact unitarians (which they were not).

I think you need to study more on St. Athanasius. It's questionable whether he actually wrote the "Athanasian creed"; but what's not questionable is that he played the leading role in establishing the Nicean creed contra Arius.

Reformed orthodox Christians of the late 18th Cen and today believe in -- or at least TEND to believe in -- the small c catholic church AND the Athanasian creed.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/athanasian-creed/

Our Founding Truth said...

"It is an error to argue this means Madison believes these things." 

I disagree. James Madison affirmed Christ and Christianity many times, which gives evidence that he believed these things, even though you are probably correct that part of his goal was attempting to convince his audience, but it doesn't follow that he disbelieved these things. You would have more support if Madison wrote "contempt for Christ" On the contrary:

"I have sometimes thought there could be no stronger testimony in favor of Religion or against temporal Enjoyments even the most rational and manly than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent Advocates in the cause of Christ, & I wish you may give in your Evidence in this way. Such instances have seldom occurred, therefore they would be more striking and would be instead of a "Cloud of Witnesses."
-to William Bradford (September 1773),

Please explain how someone can say this and not be a believer? If he didn't believe these things, he would have written to not be an advocate for Christ, correct? Why did he go to seminary and want to be a preacher if he didn't believe these things? Were all the seminary students at Princeton disbelievers Christianity?

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon,

Are you trying to say the "protestant" founding fathers believed this:

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic [capitalized] Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." 

This must be the point of contention because trinitarians rejected the creed. What reason did trinitarians reject the creed? That part of the creed is offensive. The context is "The Roman Catholic Church" not small [c]atholic. Ligonier is referring to the universal church of small [c]atholic.

"Reformed orthodox Christians of the late 18th Cen and today believe in -- or at least TEND to believe in -- the small c catholic church AND the Athanasian creed."

Not the part I quoted. It's not small c. It's capitalized.

Again, there should be more opinion on this subject.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

You simply don't understand the history of theology.

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic [capitalized] Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly."

The Athanasian creed is not necessarily about the capital C Catholic Church any more than the Trinity is something that necessarily connects to Roman Catholics (but see below, Protestants would later argue such). Rather it's about the small c catholic church, something the Council of Nicea affirmed; though isn't nearly as specific as the Athanasian Creed. Small c catholic simply mean universal. It doesn't necessarily mean the Church whose Bishop of Rome is the Pope. Unless of course they ARE who they say they are.

It's impossible to speak for what America's "Protestants" or any "Protestants" necessarily believed because by the nature of Protestantism, they are all over the place. Unitarians believed themselves to be "Protestant Christians."

All "protestantism" means is "protesting" Roman Catholic dogma. That's why the "Protestants" like John Adams associated the concept of the Trinity itself and the Council of Nicea with Roman Catholicism.

Our Founding Truth said...

I believe it's more complicated. I want to know precisely why JM was against the creed; was it because of the trinity itself or the Catholic hierarchy or both. I'm not going to assume small because on the catholic encyclopedia it's capitalized. That's not too much ask. Because, this creed came out of the synods, pope and hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Maybe you are correct. If anyone has more information on this, I'm all ears.

God bless

Tom Van Dyke said...

As a Catholic, I can say it's a small "c" in this context. In the early years of the Reformation [and now!], Protestants argued THEY were the true "one holy catholic and apostolic" church of the Nicene Creed, the so-called "Four Marks of the Church." [Rome was in error, thus the necessity for "reformation".]


Here is prominent Reformed theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul on the topic.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/peace-purity-unity-church-2010-pastors/one-holy-catholic-apostolic-church/



You will not see [Roman] Catholicism's truth claims given the theological time of day in the thoroughly Protestant American milieu.

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom,

If there are synods at that time saying salvation is only in the RC Church, would it still be small c?

Tom Van Dyke said...

No.

The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.

The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language. The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council's official documents about the Church herself, and the term was not included.

So the proper name for the universal Church is not the Roman Catholic Church. Far from it. That term caught on mostly in English-speaking countries; it was promoted mostly by Anglicans, supporters of the "branch theory" of the Church, namely, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed was supposed to consist of three major branches, the Anglican, the Orthodox and the so-called Roman Catholic. It was to avoid that kind of interpretation that the English-speaking bishops at Vatican I succeeded in warning the Church away from ever using the term officially herself: It too easily could be misunderstood.

Very early in post-apostolic times, however. the Church did acquire a proper name--and precisely in order to distinguish herself from rival bodies which by then were already beginning to form. The name that the Church acquired when it became necessary for her to have a proper name was the name by which she has been known ever since-the Catholic Church.

The name appears in Christian literature for the first time around the end of the first century. By the time it was written down, it had certainly already been in use, for the indications are that everybody understood exactly what was meant by the name when it was written.

Around the year A.D. 107, a bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch in the Near East, was arrested, brought to Rome by armed guards and eventually martyred there in the arena. In a farewell letter which this early bishop and martyr wrote to his fellow Christians in Smyrna (today Izmir in modern Turkey), he made the first written mention in history of "the Catholic Church." He wrote, "Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" (To the Smyrnaeans 8:2). Thus, the second century of Christianity had scarcely begun when the name of the Catholic Church was already in use.

Our Founding Truth said...

In my opinion it's impossible to know about JM and the Athanasian Creed, since Ticknor didn't quote him. However, Jon could be right because it says "The Catholic Faith is this" and whoever wrote it, quotes the trinity. So, unless he was mistaken, he must knowingly object to the trinity, which is the context of "the Catholic Faith."

Or he could have misread the creed as an attack on Protestantism and all other sects because there was no small c at that time, so it follows that, only membership in the Catholic Church was legitimate.

That could be JM's beef with the creed, but we'll probably never know.

If only JM didn't burn his later correspondence with Bradford. The answer was probably there.

Wonder what Daniel thinks.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The Founders' personal beliefs are of academic interest only, except for however they might have wanted to make room for a wider range of Christian theologies. Madison hit it on the head that the government should not be in the business of deciding which beliefs are or aren't "Christian."

Too many people had died in the persecutions and wars in Europe over theology and heresy, indeed even some in the early colonial days in America. This is why I would say that the American experiment wouldn't have happened in a [Roman] Catholic milieu. You can deny the Trinity and still be a [Protestant] Christian but you can't be a Catholic.

Religious tolerance is inextricably linked to Protestantism.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"because there was no small c at that time"

Who says this? There was a small c catholic church that Protestants endorsed since the very beginning of the reformation.

The only Protestants who reject the small c catholic church are those who don't believe in the Nicene and other ecumenical creeds. Some of them may be Trinitarians.

But creedal Trinitarian Protestants make a good argument that if you reject the creeds in favor of something like "no creed but the Bible," you are likely to get wobbly on the Trinity.

The Trinity also -- let's not forget -- isn't just the Father is God, the Son is God, and the HS is God; it's also that all three are eternally distinct.

The creeds help to clarify this.

Our Founding Truth said...
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Our Founding Truth said...

There was no small c when it was written, and the same for nicea:

"But the Holy Catholic and Apostolic church anathematizes those [i.e. the Arians] who say “There was a time when he was not,” and “Before he was begotten, he did not exist” and “He was made from that which did not exist.”The same goes for those who assert that he is of a different substance or essence from the Father, or that he was created, or can be changed...or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes."

This is a valid explanation why JM rejected the creed.

SA and RHLee most definitely believed that creed had no small c. RC Sproul is wrong on this. That creed and nicea were made by the hierarchy. If you weren't part of them, you were out. I would say many of the founding fathers did not believe it was small c. Just read the resolves of 1774 against Quebec.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"SA and RHLee most definitely believed that creed had no small c."

Where is the evidence for this?

I know that some Trinitarian Protestants either a. don't believe in a small c catholic church and/or b. do indeed credit the Roman Catholic Church for Nicea.

However, they tend NOT to be of the "reformed" (i.e., tracing to Luther and Calvin) tradition. But more independent baptists types.

The Quakers don't believe in any creeds, but they aren't/weren't very strong on the Trinity.

Jonathan Rowe said...

And by the way, it's not just Quakers and independent Baptists who are down on those creeds. It's also oneness Pentecostals, Swedenborgians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians and others for what should be obvious reasons.

t van dyke said...

The Episcopalians are at issue here, since Madison was nominally a member of that sect. there was a movement of northeastern theological liberals to dump the Nicene Creed, but they were defeated.

https://books.google.com/books?id=sYYAAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA568&lpg=PA568&dq=nicene+creed+seabury+virginia&source=bl&ots=uEj9qthTJI&sig=N2I1LzsPjx02Z0LloGX1c2pghws&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwis-P60-uXcAhVJ6Z8KHVYTCn4Q6AEwEHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=nicene%20creed%20seabury%20virginia&f=false


As "Protestantism" and "catholic" [or "catholicity," as one fellow put it], it is impossible to discuss Protestantism as a whole because--almost by definition--there is no "whole." But to call RC Sproul "wrong" on this point makes little sense, as he is an authoritative figure in Calvinism.

As is John Calvin.

https://cwoznicki.com/2016/10/17/john-calvin-the-four-nicene-marks-of-the-church/

Our Founding Truth said...

SA's opinion on catholicism is well-known. His good friend RHLee was on the drafting committee on the declaration of rights. It's safe to say Lee was not impressed with the catholic religion. He is a key founder in my book. He was in charge of the drafting committee for the DOI and would have wrote it, but decided to home to be with his wife. He basically wrote it anyway. It's all the same.

"Also the act passed in the same session for establishing the Roman Catholic religion, in the province of Quebec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and erecting a tyranny there, to the great danger (from so total a dissimilarity of religion, law and government) of the neighboring British colonies, by the assistance of whose blood and treasure the said country was conquered from France."

t van dyke said...

You need to capitalize "Catholic" here. The Founding era's anti-Catholic bigotry is well-documented.

Although there is some rhetorical overlap, you are needlessly conflating it with "catholic" as in the Four Marks of the Church.

It's time to clear up this nonsense now, Jim. It goes without saying that Protestants [or ex-Protestants] rejected Rome as the True Church.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Good point TVD.

Kings Chapel -- Anglican-Episcopalian -- did decide to go unitarian in 1786.

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2009/07/james-freeman-and-kings-chapel.html

Tom Van Dyke said...

The REST of the story on that, Jon. :-)

Pardon my Wiki, but King's Chapel appears to have been captured by a rogue [Unitarian] preacher.


During the American Revolution, the chapel sat vacant and was referred to as the "Stone Chapel." The Loyalist families left for Nova Scotia and England, and those who remained reopened the church in 1782. It became Unitarian under the ministry of James Freeman, who revised the Book of Common Prayer along Unitarian lines in 1785. Although Freeman still considered King's Chapel to be Episcopalian, the Anglican Church refused to ordain him. The church still follows its own Anglican/Unitarian hybrid liturgy today. It is a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association.


It was in the New England Congregationalist churches where the "Unitarian Controversy" ensued. Unitarianism wasn't really an Anglican thing.