Thursday, August 30, 2012

Triumph of infidelity Rightly Attended An Electronic Edition

By Rev. Timothy Dwight, here.  It's a satirical poem.  It's the kind of thing that you have to read very carefully to understand.  As far as I understand it, the work attacks not just the "deists" but also the "soft infidels" like Rev. Charles Chauncy whose understanding of reason and revelation led him to deny both the Trinity and eternal damnation.  This is important because "the key Founders" -- without question, Jefferson, J. Adams and Franklin, and probably Washington and Madison -- believed in a theological system that was closest to Chauncy's, not Dwight's, and not that of the "hard deists."  Was it a form of "soft infidelity?"  Or was it a kinder, gentler form of "Christianity"?  I won't judge; I'll just throw the issue out there.

Anyway here is a passage from the poem:

There stood the infidel of modern breed,       
Blest vegetation of infernal seed,       
Alike no Deist, and no Christian, he;       
But from all principle, all virtue, free.       

To him all things the same, as good or evil;       
Jehovah, Jove, the Lama, or the Devil;       
Mohammed's braying, or Isaiah's lays;       
The Indian's powaws, or the Christian's praise.       
With him all natural desires are good; 
His thirst for stews; the Mohawk's thirst for blood:       
Made, not to know, or love, the all beauteous mind;       
Or wing thro' heaven his path to bliss refin'd:       
But his dear self, choice Dagon! to adore;       
To dress, to game, to swear, to drink, to whore; 
To race his steeds; or cheat, when others run;       
Pit tortur'd cocks, and swear 'tis glorious fun:       
His soul not cloath'd with attributes divine;       
But a nice watch-spring to that grand machine,       
That work more nice than Rittenhouse can plan, 
The body; man's chief part; himself, the man;       
Man, that illustrious brute of noblest shape,       
A swine unbristled, and an untail'd ape:       
To couple, eat, and die–his glorious doom–       
The oyster's church-yard, and the capon's tomb.

That is Dwight describing the "rational Christianity" of the American Founding, what Gregg Frazer terms "theistic rationalism."


Anonymous said...

No, this is you putting words in someone's mouth.

You could convince that there was not a christian basis to our founding, no even to yourself, evidently, so now your latest dodge is this rational Christianity" hogwash.

What ever makes you think that Christianity was not eminently "rational". Here is a hint: go read Aquinas, for Pete's sake. Christianity is the most rational of faiths, and you would know this if you actually know anything about Christianity.

That word, "rational", does not mean what you think it does.

All you do hear is trot out your prejudices and neuroses, and unwittingly show the shallowness of your understanding of Christianity in particular, and theology, philosophy and history in general.

You literally do not understand your own civilization.

A cultural illiterate who, to the extent he comprehends it, loathes his own civilization--and one who masked his faults and weaknesses in specious and spurious rhetoric, rhetoric that both historical and is culturally semi-literate, not to mention lacking even the slightest bit of common sense.

On purely an argumentative level, this nonsense would not get by a decent high school debate team.

You really need to come to terms with whatever it is in your background that has lead you astray.

Some relationship somewhere? Your family? Ideology? An inability to face your (or mankind's) true nature?

You are making a public fool out of yourself.

Jonathan Rowe said...


You give me and my subjective neuroses far too much credit for what I write here. I only wish I tread such novel ground. I'm only repeating what a lot of far more distinguished academics -- mainly to the right of center and many of whose bona fides as orthodox Christians I'm sure would put yours to shame -- have observed. (Mark Noll, Michael Zuckert, etc.) It may not be good enough for a high school debate club but apparently it's good enough for Notre Dame. And I think they know something about Aquinas, btw.

Jonathan Rowe said...

And, again, btw, anon., I'm sure you are greatly enjoying watching David Barton's ship sink. I'd love for you to write a guest post for the front page of this site defending David Barton's understanding over Mark Noll's (whose understanding of the American Founding isn't too far off from mine). And then we will see who makes a public fool of himself.