Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Remember? When the Sabbath laws were actually enforced. Blasphemy laws were upheld. And state-sponsored churches existed.
It was a time, you may recall in your Christian history books, when the vast majority of Americans baptized infants. The Congregationalists of New England, Presbyterians of the Middle & Southern areas, Anglicans of the South and all the Germans, Dutch and French in between all baptized infants according to their respective creeds.
Education and religion were intimately tied back then as well. Most children were catechized (question and answer), especially through the New England Primer school book, many of which included Mather's catechism and/or the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Ministers ran or taught in many of the schools. Weekly lectures (bible studies) were common as well as morning and evening worship on Sunday.
Perhaps you recollect that 60-80% of the churches by 1787 were Calvinistic. Remember what Calvinism is? Refresh your memory by looking up the 39 Articles of the Anglican church or the Westminster Shorter Catechism (that one in the New England Primer) or any of the creeds of the various groups: man is totally depraved such that he never even seeks after God, his will being totally bound by sin; God is the only author of salvation, saving his foreordained people.
Naturally, many Evangelicals were not taught that the Geneva Bible (with Calvinistic notes) was mostly used in the early days and not the KJV. Popular writers included Whitefield, Edwards and Mather--all Calvinists. Many political leaders (especially at the local levels) were Calvinists as well: Witherspoon, Patrick Henry, John Jay and Roger Sherman for instance.
Or, perhaps, when such facts make it back to the Evangelical think-tanks, churches and leaders, they might want to reconsider.
Friday, October 24, 2008
What do ghosts and goblins have in common with Luther and Calvin? Both are celebrated on October 31st. Yet only one group had historical significance. The Reformation of Luther and Calvin changed the West, leading to the creation of America. That is something to celebrate. But many today cannot celebrate it because so little is known—our children know more about the origins of blood-sucking vampires than the cultural life-force known as the Reformation. Yet many historians acknowledge the predominate influence of the Reformation on the formation of America (just google the quotes below). George Bancroft, founder of Annapolis Academy and one of the first American historians, asserted, “He that will not honor the memory, and respect the influence of Calvin, knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”
Historically, conscience-anguished Martin Luther found peace through faith in the person and work of Christ. Having nailed the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg on October 31st, he blazed a path which John Calvin followed and expanded. Calvin’s theological system encompassed all of life, and his worldview was carried to the new world: the French Huguenots of the Southern colonies, the Dutch colonists of Manhattan and the English Puritans of New England. Three key foundation-stones of early American culture were laid by the ideas of Calvin and others: church liberty, universal education and the right to resistance. Let the historians speak for themselves.
Yale historian George Fisher wrote: “How is it, then, that Calvinism is acknowledged, even by foes, to have promoted powerfully the cause of civil liberty? The reason lies in the boundary line which it drew between church and State. Calvinism would not surrender the peculiar notions of the Church to the civil authority. Whether the church, or the Government, should regulate the administration of the Sacrament, and admit or reject the communicants, was the question which Calvin fought out with the authorities at Geneva…” This idea was institutionalized in the Puritans of the Presbyterian Church and Congregationalist settlers on the shores of America.
Dedication to education was the hallmark of the Reformers and the settlers in America. A mixture of local schooling initiatives and laisser-faire education formed the basis of American education. Historian Bancroft again asserts: “We boast of our common schools; Calvin was the father of popular education, the inventor of the system of free schools.”
The right to resist unlawful government was furthered by the Reformers. Dave Kopel (of the Independence Institute) wrote in Liberty magazine, October 2008, “The [Reformed] Congregationalist and Presbyterian ministers played an indispensible role in inciting the American Revolution.” The great statesman John Adamsth-century French-Calvinist’s work Vindicus Contra Tyrannus and the English Calvinist work of Ponet (A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power); both books defended the right of the people to rise against tyrants. Modern historians such as Daniel Elazar (of Temple University) have made similar claims: “In all of the places where Reformed Protestantism was strong, there emerged a Protestant republicanism that opposed tyrants even as it demanded local religious conformity.” bluntly acknowledged the wide-spread influences of both the 16
In fact, most of the early American culture was Reformed or tied strongly to it (just read the New England Primer). Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a Roman Catholic intellectual and National Review contributor, asserts: “If we call the American statesmen of the late eighteenth century the Founding Fathers of the United States, then the Pilgrims and Puritans were the grandfathers and Calvin the great-grandfather…”
“So what?” you ask. Well if we are to avoid the errors of the past, are we not also to learn from the victories of history? The least we can do is understand what the Reformation was all about and what elements were so vital to the formation of America. And perhaps, just maybe, America can be renewed to her former glory.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Unlike today, when sermons are mostly entertaining and non-informative, back then preaching was accomplished by the most educated men in the state. The most informed men as well. This was the average man's talking newspaper. This was also the source of public discussion and commonly reprinted into pamphlets, especially election day sermons. Ministers were the leading thinkers and leaders in an age of religion that is foreign to many readers.
Here are some election day sermons preached before governors and representatives and before the Declaration of Independence:
"Unlimited submission is not due to government in a free state. There are certain boundaries beyond which submission can not be justly required, and should not be yielded." Rev. Tucker, 1771.
"If I am mistaken in supposing plans are formed and executing, subversive of our natural and chartered rights and privileges, and incompatible with every idea of liberty, all America is mistaken with me...Let the Governor [Hutchinson] in his chair of state hear it, we not only mourn, but with groanings that can not be uttered, and all because the wicked rule...King George may say the evils that produce this state of things are imaginary, but I tell you and I tell the tyrant to his face, it is because the wicked bear rule." Rev. Hitchcock, 1774.
"Let us praise God for the advantages already given us over the enemies of liberty — particularly that they have been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficacy of our arms in the late action at Chelsea, when several hundred of our soldiery, the greater part open to the fire of so many cannon swivels and musketry from a battery advantageously
situated, from two armed cutters full of marines, and from ships of the line in the harbor, not one man on our side was killed, and but two or three wounded, when a great number were killed and wounded on the other side, and one of the cutters taken and burnt. If God be for us, who can be against us ?" Rev. Langdon, 1775.
"Let us look upon freedom from the power of tyrants as a blessing that can not be purchased too dear, and let us bless God that he has so far delivered us from the idolatrous reverence which men are so apt to pay to arbitrary tyrants, and let us pray that he would be pleased graciously to perfect the mercy he has begun to show us, by confounding the devices of our enemies, and bringing their counsels to naught, and by establishing our just rights and privileges upon such a firm and lasting basis that the powers of earth and hell shall not prevail against it." Rev. West, Spring, 1776
"When Congress appointed a day of fasting and prayer in May, 1776, Dr. Witherspoon preached a discourse, entitled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men," in which he went thoroughly into the great political questions of the day. The sermon being published, it was received with warm encomiums in America, but denounced in Scotland, where it was republished, with notes, and the author stigmatized as a rebel and traitor."
The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution, Headley
Monday, October 20, 2008
I could go on indefinitely, pointing out further illustrations both official and non-official, public and private; such as the annual Thanksgiving proclamations, with their following days of worship and feasting; announcements of days of fasting and prayer; the universal celebration of Christmas ; the gathering of millions of our children in Sunday Schools, and the countless volumes of Christian literature, both prose and poetry. But I have said enough to show that Christianity came to this country with the first colonists; has been powerfully identified with its rapid development, colonial and national, and to-day exists as a mighty factor in the life of the
republic. This is a Christian nation..."
The United States a Christian Nation, p.39
David Josiah Brewer, Supreme Court Justice of the United States of America,
Saturday, October 18, 2008
In a succinct, witty yet hard-hitting manner, Stossel exposed the political nakedness of today's emperors. There is a type of messiah-complex amongst the leaders and followers of the primary presidential runners that Stossel mocks. Campaign finance reform is a joke--creating a layer of forms and instructions 1.5 football-field-lengths long that the average citizen fails to complete. Private housing recovery with the help of Hollywood stars have quickly repaired the infamous 9th district of New Orleans while the government-promised billions have yet to make a significant impact. Rich farmers grow more money with government subsidies while the poor farmers work hard without help. And the coup de grace: it was the government pressuring Americans to take and banks to give out high-risk loans that precipitated the current financial mess.
Although Stossel appears strongly to be a libertarian, most of his economical and social programs on TV bring out an amazing amount of facts conveniently left out by the mainstream media. His interviews actually ask hard questions, stumping politicians (who tend to repeat themselves) and bureaucrats alike.
Compared to most interviewers and news-shows, Stossel is doing America a great service. And for that I salute him.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Running on the Republican ticket, the local news has been very quiet about him. He's running against the Democratic incumbent, DeGette.
Now, there's finally a significant news review on Lilly.
Friday, October 03, 2008
The event was to be televised.
She decided not to show up. The event was cancelled.
And the televised media group decided not to tell anyone about her cowardliness.
Par for the course as far as Denver politics and media are concerned.
Keep George in prayer. God can change things, even if we don't deserve it.