Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sekulow, et al. on Story's Unitarian Political Theology

Jay Alan Sekulow is currently one of the most important attorneys in nation (he's one of POTUS's key personal attorneys). In 2005, along with Jeremy Tedesco he wrote a law review article which essentially argues Joseph Story's Unitarian political theology drove the decision of Vidal v. Girard's Executors. A taste:
Joseph Story himself defined and defended his Unitarian beliefs in an 1824 letter to Attorney William Williams. In this letter, Story discussed the Unitarian beliefs that he developed:
The Unitarians are universally steadfast, sincere, and earnest Christians. They all believe in the divine mission of Christ, the credibility and authenticity of the Bible, the miracles wrought by our Saviour and his apostles, and the efficacy of his precepts to lead men to salvation. They consider the Scriptures the true rule of faith, and the sure foundation of immortality.
In his letter to Williams, Justice Story also clearly and unequivocally pointed to the primary theological difference between Unitarians and other Christian denominations: "In truth, they principally differ from other Christians in disbelieving the Trinity, for they think Christ was not God, but in Scripture language 'the Son of God.""
William Story later described his father's conversion at Harvard as being inspired, in part, by the beauty of the Cambridge countryside as opposed to the "sterile rocks and moaning sea of Marblehead."' Walking through the "flower-strewn fields, his heart assumed its natural hue of cheerfulness, and he no longer believed in the total depravity of man." Seeing the goodness of God displayed in creation, Story became convinced of divine beneficence. "And from being a Calvinist, he became a Unitarian."

Story's new religion seemingly recognized that no teaching could be heretical. He rejected any notion of bigotry or even proselytism. Instead, he
gladly allowed every one freedom of belief, and claimed only that it should be a genuine conviction and not a mere theologic opinion, considering the true faith of every man to be the necessary exponent of his nature, and honoring a religious life more than a formal creed. He admitted within the pale of salvation Mahommedan and Christian, Catholic and Infidel. He believed that whatever is sincere and honest is recognized of God; - that as the views of any sect are but human opinion, susceptible of error on every side, it behooves all men to be on their guard against arrogance of belief; and that in the sight of God it is not the truth or falsity of our views, but the spirit in which we believe, which alone is of vital consequence.
Keep the above in mind when we hear, as was referenced in the article, that Story believed Christianity was part of the common law. The above is what Christianity meant to Story. Sekulow et al. then demonstrates how Story's personal theology drove his legal opinions.


Our Founding Truth said...

I doubt what william story said was true.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The Unitarians are universally steadfast, sincere, and earnest Christians. They all believe in the divine mission of Christ, the credibility and authenticity of the Bible

Keep this in mind when you make your sometimes mushy arguments for unitarianism. I have always argued, contra Gregg Frazer's rather lengthy list, that belief in Divine Revelation is the sine qua non of Christianity, or else it is merely a philosophy, like Jefferson's.

This is also the meta-metaphysical question [as it were]--did God explicitly reveal himself to mankind, be it via a burning bush or the Holy Scriptures--breaking the barrier between this world and the next?

All answers about religion's role must flow from this key question. If the Bible is truly the literal Word of God, it cannot be pushed aside. Story would surely agree with that proposition. God is real, and so is his Word.

[As for unitarians of the Unitarian Universal Church today, the Bible is optional, and not considered any more authoritative than any other philosophy. It is important for the reader to know that the unitarian Christianity of Joseph Story and the rest of that generation has little to nothing in common with today's UU Church, which cannot be called Christian by even the most generous of sociologists or historians.]

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