Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Van Dyke Responds to Frazer's Response to Van Dyke's Response to Frazer on Hall

[68th in a series.]*

Gregg Frazer writes:
The critical issue is not who was first to come up with ideas, but who the rebels were actually influenced by. They cited Locke. And Lockean “resistance theory” is not the same as “Reformed” resistance theory; the “patriot” preachers reflect Locke’s argument, not Beza’s.
The problem exhibited over and over in Gregg's method in this discussion is that he doesn't quote John Locke directly. Gregg asserts in his book God Against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy's Case against the American Revolution (American Political Thought) that "Mayhew's premises were Lockean." 

The reader should assess this claim for himself. While Jonathan Mayhew is credited for getting the theological ball rolling, it is important to realize that that famous sermon, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers* was given back in 1750, and his source authority is not John Locke, but the apostle Paul. In the text, God is mentioned 27 times, "the apostle" [Paul] 21 times, and the Devil/Satan 5 times. Locke is invoked zero times! Gregg is prudent to say Mayhew's "premises" are Lockean, but the text suggests that the premises are theological.
Mayhew's arguments here may have "ignited" the American revolution, but this was decades before the Intolerable Acts and the Boston Tea Party and Lexington and Concord, and the arguments are the same as 100 years before during the Puritan Revolution and 60 years since the Glorious Revolution--both of which occurred before Locke's Two Treatises were even published!

For all his criticism of Hall's use of "Christian," it is nowhere stated exactly what Gregg means by "Lockean," except by implication, non-Biblical. But this will not do: Even among the religious, the purpose of theology is to "tease out" what the Bible means, wants, permits, and bans.

And for the scholar with no sectarian dog in the fight, these are subjective judgments, injudiciable by scholars. It can only be said that John Calvin says x, but Theodore Beza and the rest say---well, even that's up for debate!!

Gregg already concedes [here, infra] that the prior Reformers "influenced" Locke, but it's time to get your Locke on, Gregg, and hit the source texts. Merely repeating the summaries and conclusions of the Straussians about what Locke said simply will not suffice.

For his thesis to get anywhere, Gregg must provide argument and evidence somewhere what was uniquely "Lockean," what was not part of the growing stream of what we are calling "Reformed Resistance Theory."

Gregg doesn't do it here at American Creation among his tens of thousands of words on this topic, and he doesn't do it in his book either. This is the lacuna in his thesis. He may be right about Locke and the Reformed preachers, but he hasn't begun to prove it.

*more or less

** subtitled "[W]ith some reflections on the resistance made to King Charles I. and on the anniversary of his death: in which the mysterious doctrine of the Princes' saintship and martyrdom is unriddled: the substance of which was delivered in a sermon preached in the West Meeting-House in Boston the Lord's-day after the 30th of January."  The occasion is relevant in that it initiates a religious argument having no relevance to John Locke or "Lockean" thought.

† I broached this in a previous response to Gregg, and it is even more crucial to the discussion now:

As I often ask about Locke, the "real" Locke [say of the "Straussians"] or the Locke the Founders fashioned out of his writings for their own purposes?...
Thus: Whose Luther? Whose Calvin?
Milton's Luther and Milton's Calvin were quite sufficient to their project and I expect most others were satisfied with them too. This is why I have found the "Straussian" scholars like Michael Zuckert fairly useless to the actual historian. What Luther and Calvin actually thought is a curiosity. How the Founders appropriated them is the historian's task at hand.

Re Locke, Gregg himself here invokes Tom Pangle and Michael Zuckert, who are prominent "Straussians"-- which is to say scholarly readers who believe that most philosophers were circumspect in their writings for fear of persecution--think Socrates and the hemlock, and indeed Algernon Sidney who was beheaded for his unpublished works, which is no doubt why John Locke published his famous Two Treatises anonymously!

I have no problem with Zuckert's interpretation of the "real" Locke buried underneath the exoteric one, but do not accept that the Founding-era readers took him that way. To the Straussians, Locke's fulsome praise of the "judicious" Rev. Richard Hooker is merely cover for his disagreement with him. But to the great mass of men--even perhaps the foremost intellectual among the Founders, James Wilson--that praise was taken at face value.

In any case, the Straussians are completely uninterested in theology--Calvin, Beza, Ponet. In fact. it appears that few have done more than leaf through Aquinas and the Schoolmen as undergraduates. They cannot be of any real help to Gregg's case, since they don't know John Calvin from Adam! They cannot tell us wherefrom in pre-Lockean Christian political theology Locke departed.

Gregg objects:
I find it interesting that despite Mark’s (and Mr. Van Dyke’s) repeated insistence that the proper identification is not “Calvinist,” but “Reformed/Reformers”, Mark uses the terms interchangeably – not just in these posts, but also in his book on Sherman (e.g. pgs. 26, 27, 29 etc.). It is interesting that Mr. Van Dyke doesn’t “call” Mark on it.
Previously asked and answered in a previous comments section. I wrote
The proper term is "Reformed," but when read without context, it means little on its face. [Just as Gregg Frazer's trademark "theistic rationalism" means little without Gregg there to explain what he means by it.]
When we say "Calvinist" the meaning is clear even if it's a bit inaccurate.
So yes, I do not object when Mark Hall uses the terms interchangeably. I have asked Gregg to show us the Founders citing Calvin directly. I take his silence to be agreement that they did not. He is technically correct here, but for historical purposes re the American Founding, Gregg is making a distinction without a difference. To the general reader, "Calvinist" is far more helpful. Indeed, "Reformer" is a more generic term that applies to numerous non-Calvinist figures such as Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Tyndale, etc.

1 comment:

Sharon Wayne said...

I want to thank Dr Emu a very powerful spell caster who help me to bring my husband back to me, few month ago i have a serious problem with my husband, to the extend that he left the house, and he started dating another woman and he stayed with the woman, i tried all i can to bring him back, but all my effort was useless until the day my friend came to my house and i told her every thing that had happened between me and my husband, then she told me of a powerful spell caster who help her when she was in the same problem I then contact Dr Emu and told him every thing and he told me not to worry my self again that my husband will come back to me after he has cast a spell on him, i thought it was a joke, after he had finish casting the spell, he told me that he had just finish casting the spell, to my greatest surprise within 48 hours, my husband really came back begging me to forgive him, if you need his help you can contact him with via email: Emutemple@gmail.com or add him up on his whatsapp +2347012841542 is willing to help any body that need his help.
For more details about Dr Emu visit his Website: http://emutemple.website2.me/