Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fea on The Light and the Glory:

After my last post on Peter Marshall, coauthor of "The Light and the Glory," John Fea informs me of his article on the 30th anniversary of the book. Check it out. It's a great article and offers a cautionary note to Christians historians. Here is a taste:

For example, Marshall and Manuel interpret the fog that rose in the East River on the morning of August 30, 1776, as God’s direct intervention to aid George Washington’s midnight retreat from the British assault on the Continental Army’s position on Brooklyn Heights. They describe the fog’s rising as “the most amazing episode of divine intervention in the Revolutionary War.” They believe this because Washington, members of his staff, and many Continental soldiers described this event in terms of God’s special protection of the army.

Was God’s providence evident in this event? American Christians certainly believed that it was, but I doubt whether an English Christian would have thought so. Who had the better insight into God’s purposes?


Lindsey Shuman said...

Isn't this always the case? One man's providential intervention is another man's bad luck. Just look at the Puritans. They all proclaimed what a blessing it was to come to a fertile land, while the Indians were dying off from disease. Where is the providence in that?

Phil Johnson said...

A certain characteristic of the way some thinkers handle history might be called the dehumanization of history; that is, the thought that God creates events that affect outcomes.
To the contrary, others see that the larger mass of people are moving in directions that cause society to develop as it does.
But, maybe that goes over the heads of those "historians" with axes to grind?

Phil Johnson said...

I have a hard time believing that a man like Benjamin Franklin did not have heavy influence on the other Founders.
Franklin was an admitted Deist and here are his five principles of Deism:***

1. That there is a God who made all things.

2. That he governs the world by his providence

3. That he ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving, that that the most acceptable service to God is doing good to man.

4. That the soul is immortal.

5. And, that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either here or hereafter..

There is no mention that Franklin believed that God would not intervene in the affairs of humans. In fact, it appears as though he believed God would do so.

***(Source Course Guidebook, The American Mind, Professor Allen C. Guielzo, Gettysburg College, pp 25, 26.)

Brian Tubbs said...

The fact that the British and the Americans may disagree on whether God was in the fog at Brooklyn Heights has no bearing whatsoever on whether God actually had something to do with it.

For my own part, I'm obviously willing to concede it as a 'faith' issue. It can't be proven one way or the other, BUT....let's not just dismiss it because people disagree. That's fallacious reasoning.

bpabbott said...

Brian: "For my own part, I'm obviously willing to concede it as a 'faith' issue. It can't be proven one way or the other, BUT....let's not just dismiss it because people disagree. That's fallacious reasoning."

Outside of math, nothing can be "proven".

Regarding your point on "fallacious reasoning", I agree.

I'll go further and add; that just because an opinion of a claim is agreed upon does not substantiate the claim one way or the other.

In combination; opinions of non-evidenced claims are not evidence.

If there is no evidence, then there is no basis to substantiate the claim, and no reasoned motive to accept it as factual.