Can one man change the world? The life and work of Martin Luther prove the answer to that question is an unqualified, “yes.” Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary details the rebellion that fractured a centuries-old religion and changed the course of history.
God’s Ideal Should Be Mine
Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583), a sixteenth century German theologian, born Zacharias Baer in Breslau (now Wroc?aw, Poland). Like all young scholars of that era he gave himself a Latin name from ursus, meaning bear. He is best known as a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg and co-author with Caspar Olevianus (1536-1587) of the Heidelberg Catechism…. (THEOPEDIA)
The Heidelberg Catechism is a document used in Reformed churches to help teach church doctrine. It takes the form of a series of questions and answers to help the reader better understand the material. It has been translated into many languages and is regarded as the most influential Reformed catechism.
Elector Frederick III, sovereign of the Palatinate from 1559 to 1576, appointed Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, to write a Reformed catechism based on input from the leading Reformed scholars of the time. One of its aims was to counteract the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding theology, basing each statement on the text of the Bible…… (THEOPEDIA)
“[T]he paradox is that God must destroy in us, all illusions of
righteousness before he can make us righteous…”
~ Martin Luther
(Click To Enlarge – More About This Painting Below)
Luther LOVED Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this letter we find a battle of this “two-kingdom” idea (7:14-25[a]), which surely made him meditate on these things listed below.
More about the painting. Be aware that the text below may be imperfect as it was “Google Translated” ~ via WIKI
This extended quote picks up a few points into Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, enjoy the suffering…
- Michael Reeves and Tim Chester, Why The Reformation Still Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2016), 99-105.
In case one is wondering, I highly recommend this book as well as Reeves other book, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. It is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation… for God’s sake learn about it.
Preparation for the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (During the Fourth War, 1868) ~ Painting by Kārlis Hūns
See more on “war,” here:
- Causes of Wars;
- The Spanish Inquisition Was Bad, and Yes, Mostly Secular;
- The Crusades vs. The Three Caliphates (Moral Equivalence).
Couple things to keep in mind as you read. Firstly, while this is an example of a “religious war, most wars are not:
The other thing to keep in mind, “religious wars” is often over-used by atheists… one honest atheist notes the following:
These people were part of the influence (among others) in early America and Canada:
- Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, there occurred the greatest migration of peoples in the history of the world. More than 600,000 went to Holland, Belgique, England, Ireland, Austria, Russia, South and North America. The largest numbers came to Canada and the American Colonies; and of this number, the largest came to New England and New Netherlands. (HISTORY BOX)
Here is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of War on the “Religious War” #’s 1-9:
- Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars, Vol II (New York, NY: Facts On File, 2005), 931-936.
Huguenots Fight To Survive
On March 1, 1562, supporters of the Catholic duke Francois de Guise (1519-63) killed a congregation of Protestants at Vassy. This massacre was instigated by the granting of limited toleration to the Protestants by Catherine de’ Medici (1519-85), the queen mother who took control of the throne at the death of King Francis II (154460). The Catholics, under Francois de Guise, the Constable de Montmorency (Anne, duc de Montmorency; 14931567), and Prince Antoine de Bourbon (1518-62), king of Navarre, and the Protestants, under Louis I de Bourbon, prince of Conde (1530-69), and Comte Gaspard de Col-igny (1519-72), admiral of France, were soon pitted against each other in a battle known as the First War of Religion. Louis de Conde and Gaspard de Coligny ordered the Huguenots to seize Orleans to retaliate for the Vassy massacre and called on all Protestants in France to rebel. In September 1562, the English sent John Dudley (fl. 16th century) of Warwick to help the Huguenots, and his force captured Le Havre. About one month later, the Catholics defeated Rouen, a Protestant stronghold. One of the leaders of the Catholic movement, Antoine de Bourbon, was killed during the attack. The Huguenots continued to rise in rebellion, and in December 15,000 Protestants under Conde and Coligny marched north to join the English troops at Le Havre. En route, they encountered about 19,000 Catholics at Dreux. The Catholics under Guise were victorious, but one of their leaders, Montmorency, was captured, as was the Protestant leader Conde. On February 18, 1563, Guise was killed while besieging Orleans. Peace was finally secured in March when Montmorency and Conde, both prisoners since the Battle of Dreux, negotiated a settlement at the request of Queen. Catherine. The Peace of Amboise stipulated a degree of tolerance. The opposing sides then combined forces to push the English from Le Havre, which fell on July 28, 1563.
The Peace of Amboise (July 28, 1563), which stipulated a greater degree of tolerance between the Catholics and the Huguenots in France, ended the First WAR OF RELIGION. However, peace lasted only four years. On September 29, 1567, the Huguenots under Louis de Bourbon, prince de Conde (1530-69), and Comte Gaspard de Coligny (1519-72) tried to capture the royal family at Meaux. Although they were unsuccessful, other Protestant bands threatened Paris and captured Orleans, Assent, Vienne, Valence, Nimes, Montpellier, and Montaubon. At the Battle of St. Denis, a force of 16,000 men under Constable de Montmorency (Anne, duc de Montmorency; 1493-1567), attacked Conde’s small army of 3,500. Despite the long odds, the Huguenots managed to remain on the field for several hours. Montmorency, aged 74, was killed during the fray. This war ended on March 23, 1568, with the Peace of Longjumeau by which the Huguenots gained substantial concessions from Queen Catherine de’ Medici (1519-85).
The Third War of Religion broke out on August 18, 1568, when Catholics attempted to capture Louis de Bourbon, prince de Conde (1530-69), and Comte Gaspard de Coligny (1519-72), the primary Protestant leaders. The Royalist Catholics continued to suppress Protestantism. Sporadic fighting occurred throughout the Loire Valley for the remainder of 1568. In March 1569, the Royalists under Marshal Gaspard de Tavannes (1509-73) engaged in battle with Condes forces in the region between Angouleme and Cognac. Later in March, Tavanne crossed the Charente River near Chateauneuf and soundly defeated the Huguenots at the Battle of Jarmac. Although Conde was captured and murdered, Coligny managed to withdraw a portion of the Protestant army in good order. About three months later, help for the Huguenots arrived in the form of 13,000 German Protestant reinforcements. This enlarged force laid siege to Poitiers. Then on August 24, 1569, Col-igny sent Comte Gabriel de Montgomery (c. 1530-74) to Orthez, where he repulsed a Royalist invasion of French-held Navarre and defeated Catholic forces arranged against him. Royalist marshal Tavanne then relieved Poitiers and forced Coligny to raise the siege. The major battle of the Third War of Religion occurred on October 3, 1569, at Moncontour. The Royalists, aided by a force of Swiss sympathizers, forced the Huguenot cavalry off the field and then crushed the Huguenot infantry. The Huguenots lost about 8,000, whereas Royalist losses numbered about 1,000. The following year, however, Coligny marched his Huguenot forces through central France from April through June and began threatening Paris. These actions forced the Peace of St. Germain, which granted many religious freedoms to the Protestants.
A massacre of 3,000 Protestants and their leader Louis de Bourbon, prince of Conde (1530-69), precipitated the outbreak of the Fourth War of Religion between Catholics and Protestants in France. After the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve in Paris, August 24, 1572, Prince Henry IV of Navarre (1553-1610) took charge of the Protestant forces. Marked primarily by a long siege of La Rochelle by Royalist forces under another Prince Henry, the younger brother of Charles IX (1550-74), this Fourth War of Religion resulted in the Protestants’ gaining military control over most of southwest France. However, at least 3,000 more Huguenots were massacred in the provinces before the war ended.
The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre outraged even Catholic moderates, who, seeking to counter the extremes of the Catholic Royalists, formed a new political party, the Politiques, to negotiate with the Protestants and establish peace and national unity.
Protestants and Catholics in France had been fighting sporadically since 1562 in the First War of RELIGION, the Second War of RELIGION, the Third War of RELIGION, and the Fourth War of RELIGION when violence again erupted in 1575. In the most important action of this war, Henry, duc de Guise (1555-88), led the Catholic Royalists to victory at the Battle of Dorman. Aligned against Guise, however, were not only the Protestants under Henry IV of Navarre (1553-1610) but also the Politiques, moderate Catholics who wanted the king to make peace with the Protestants and restore national unity. Henry III (1551-89) was not wholeheartedly in support of Guise, and he offered pledges of more religious freedom to the Protestants at the Peace of Mousieur, signed on May 5,1576. Guise refused to accept the terms of the peace and began negotiating with Philip II (1527-98) of Spain to organize a Holy League and secure Spain’s help in capturing the French throne.
The Sixth War of Religion between the Catholics and Protestants in France included only one campaign and was settled by the Peace of Bergerac of 1577. During this period, Henry III (1551-89) tried to persuade the Holy League, formed in 1576 by Catholic leader Henry, duke de Guise (1555-88), and Philip II (1527-98) of Spain, to support an attack on the Protestants. Henry succeeded in subduing the Protestants but wavered in his determination to carry out the terms of the Peace of Bergerac.
The Seventh War of Religion in 1580, also known as the “Lovers’ War,” had little to do with hostilities between the Catholics and Protestants. Instead fighting was instigated by the actions of Margaret, the promiscuous wife of Henry IV of Navarre (1553-1610). Over the next five years, Catholics, Protestants, and the moderate Politiques (see RELIGION, FOURTH WAR OF; RELIGION, FIFTH WAR OF) all engaged in intrigue in their attempts to name a successor to the childless Henry III. Although Henry of Navarre was next in line by direct heredity, the Holy League maneuvered to ensure that Henry, duc de Guise, would gain the throne after the reign of Charles de Bourbon (1566-1612), proposed as the successor to Henry III.
Battle of Coutas (October 20th, 1587 ~ During the Eight War)
The Eighth War of Religion, also known as the “War of the Three Henrys,” pitted the Royalist Henry III (1551-89), Henry of Navarre (1553-1610), and Henry de Guise (1555-88) against each other in a struggle over succession to the French throne. The war began when Henry III withdrew many of the concessions he had granted to the Protestants during his reign. At the Battle of Coutras on October 20, 1587, the army of Henry of Navarre, 1,500 cavalry and 5,000 infantry, smashed the Royalist cavalry-1,700 lancers—and 7,000 infantry. More than 3,000 Royalists were killed; Protestant deaths totaled 200. Especially effective against the Royalist was the massed fire of the Protestant arquebuses, primitive muskets.
Despite the Protestant victory at Coutras, the Catholics under Henry of Guise prevailed at Vimoy and Auneau and checked the advance of a German army marching into the Loire Valley to aid to Protestants. Henry’s next victory was in Paris, where he forced the king to capitulate in May 1588. In subsequent intrigues, Henry de Guise and his brother Cardinal Louis I de Guise (1527-78) were assassinated. Fleeing the Catholics’ rage over the murders, Henry Ill sought refuge with Protestant leader Henry of Navarre. The king failed to find permanent safety and was assassinated, stabbed to death, by a Catholic monk on August 2, 1589. On his deathbed, the king named Henry of Navarre his successor. The Catholics refused to acknowledge him king, insisting instead that Cardinal Charles de Bourbon (1566-1612) was the rightful ruler of France. This conflict sparked the NINTH WAR OF RELIGION.
The naming of Henry of Navarre (1553-1610) as successor to the French throne sparked the final War of Religion between Protestant Huguenots and Catholics in France. Insisting that Charles, duke de Bourbon (1566-1612), was the rightful successor to Henry III (1551-89), the Catholics enlisted the aid of the Spanish. Charles, duke of Mayenne (1554-1611), the younger brother of Henry of Guise (1555-88), led the Catholic efforts.
At the Battle of Argues on September 21,1589, Henry of Navarre (1553-1660) ambushed Mayenne’s army of 24,000 French Catholic and Spanish soldiers. Having lost 600 men, Mayenne withdrew to Amiens, while the victorious Navarre, whose casualties numbered 200 killed or wounded, rushed toward Paris.
A Catholic garrison near Paris repulsed Navarre’s advance on November 1, 1589. Not to be daunted in his quest for the throne, Henry withdrew but promptly proclaimed himself Henry IV and established a temporary capital at Tours.
Henry of Navarre won another important battle at Ivry on March 14, matching 11,000 troops against Mayenne’s 19,000. Mayenne lost 3,800 killed, whereas Navarre suffered only 500 casualties.
Civil war continued unabated. Between May and August 1590, Paris was reduced to near starvation during Navarre’s siege of the city. Maneuvers continued, especially in northern France until May 1592; however, in July 1593 Henry of Navarre reunited most of the French populace by declaring his return to the Catholic faith. His army then turned to counter a threat of invasion by Spain and the French Catholics allied with Mayenne.
On March 21, 1594, Henry of Navarre entered Paris in triumph and over the next few years battled the invading Spanish: at Fontaine-Francaise on June 9, 1596, at Calais on April 9, 1596, and at Amiens on September 17, 1596. No further major campaigns ensued.
On April 13, 1598, Henry of Navarre ended the decades of violence between the Catholics and the Protestants by issuing the Edict of Nantes, whereby he granted religious freedom to the Protestants. Then on May 2, 1598, the war with Spain ended with the Treaty of Vervins, whereby Spain recognized Henry as king of France. The next major conflict between the Catholics and Protestants in France occurred 27 years later when the Protestants rose in revolt in 1625 and the English joined their cause in the ANGLO-FRENCH WAR (1627-1628).
➤ Further reading: R. J. Knecht, The French Civil Wars, 1562-1598 (New York: Pearson Education, 2000); R. J. Knecht and Mabel Segun, French Wars of Religion (New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, 1996).
I got a response to a Tweet that included the link to this video painting an Islamic Reformation (a future event) as different from a Protestant Reformation. The author of the video wants an Enlightenment influence and not a Reformational style influence as happened between Catholics and Protestants. Here is the video followed by my initial Tweet in response:
Here is my Tweet[s]:
You have a picture of Luther, but then talk about a Catholic invasion? Me, personally, I would like the moderate Muslims to rise up enough to cause a war where the moderates win, and influence (over a few centuries) … the radicals to reform (like the Catholic Church has, and [has] apologized for [past actions]). (edited a tad for readability)
I am going to deal with this two-fold. On the Reformation, and how Christianities understanding of contract and humanity endowed with the Image of God (Hebrew: צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים tzelem elohim, lit. “image of God”, often appearing in Latin as Imago Dei). Secular Humanism is the Enlightenment’s fruits:
The later enlightenment rejected ultimately any reference to the metaphysical, which means the rejection of the Imago Dei ~ which ultimately devalues any change towards liberty.
Would I want a Protestant “type” Reformation to take place in Islam. Yes, but as you will see… I am very skeptical any reformation is possible within Islam (last comments of the post). The video brings up a specific battle. Let me talk a bit about this battle and the resultant influence of it. I will first post an excerpt from The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths, with some more commentary:
A crucial role in the transmission of the theory of resistance was played by Magdeburg, which was the first city in northern Germany to claim the Reformation faith. It became a model of Lutheran resistance. In fact, it was the last pocket of military defiance in the Smalcald War, which followed the failure of a series of attempts to reconcile the differences between the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran side. In this war, two powerful Protestant princes, Hans of Kustrin and Maurice of Saxony, joined the emperor. The causes for that conflict, which are highly relevant to our subject, will be discussed below At a time when the Protestants throughout the country faced almost certain defeat, it was Magdeburg’s fierce opposition that turned the tide of the conflict and thus presumably preserved the Lutheran faith in Germany. This is how Olson describes the situation in the city in 1549 when it was under siege by the superior forces of the Saxon elector, who were fighting for the emperor’s cause:
The tense situation, in which it seemed that Luther’s movement was about to be crushed, helped form an ecclesiastical party that in one guise or other has persisted within Lutheran tradition ever since, a party claiming to preserve Luther’s true intent. Thus Melanchthon’s observation that “these absurd persons consider themselves the only gnesio [true] Lutherans” had a kernel of truth.125 Their convictions were expressed by the soldiers of the city’s garrison. Outnumbered six to one, they defended Magdeburg as the Saxon elector, in a mopping-up operation after the Schmalkaldic War, mounted a siege against the city on the emperor’s behalf. Under constant fire, they sang about themselves as the last faithful remnant of Luther’s cause—mod-ern Maccabees).126
Olson adds that “in 1550 Magdeburg theologians allied with Matthias Flacius Illyricus, the staunchest among the Gnesio-Lutherans, signed a 1550 Confession, Instruction and Warning.” It claimed not to be original but simply a rehearsal of Luther’s own thought, now stripped of its cautious, pastoral, prewar ambiguity.
A key paragraph of this Magdeburg Confession127 states clearly that subjects of authority, even children and servants, do not owe obedience to those rulers, parents, or employers “who want to lead them away from true fear of God and honorable living.” Those authorities and parents “will become an ordinance of the devil instead of God, an ordinance which everyone can and ought to resist with a good conscience.”128
The center of the lengthy document is a definition of four degrees of injustice and recommendations for appropriate responses to each of them. These are the degrees:
1. Authority, because of human weakness, has its vices and sin and often knowingly or deliberately does injustice in small mean things. At this point of the argument we do not want the lesser magistracy to use force to resist the superior magistracy… .
2. Authority does great and public violence and injustice to its subjects as when a prince, a town, the Emperor, attacks a prince who is innocent in an unjust war against his own oath, duty and law and wanted thus to deprive him of body and life, wife and child, his liberties or of his land and people… . In this case, just as we do not want to order anyone to defend themselves as in accord with God’s command… so too we do not want it to weigh on anyone’s conscience if he does do so… .
3. When the lesser magistracy is forced by superior magistracy to certain sins, and when it can not tolerate such injustice without sin so it raises opposition and also bears its sword… . We have to pay careful attention here that… in resistance to public forces some higher law or command of God is not broken which would make the resistance unjust… .
4. When tyrants become so mad and crazy that they persecute with weapons and war not only the persons of the lesser magistracy and subjects in a legitimate case, but also (attack) in these persons the highest and most necessary rights and also our Lord God himself… if say a prince or emperor were to become so reckless or mad as to suspend the law of marriage and discipline and set up another law… permitting all sorts of shameful misbehavior… we and other Christians can resist with calm confidence.
This document helped provide the theoretical basis for one of the most celebrated events in the history of resistance—the fourth Huguenot war that began after the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572 and ended in 1598 with the Edict of Nantes that guaranteed the French Protestants the freedom to practice their religion.
The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre prompted Theodore Beza, who was then Calvin’s successor as “Moderator of the Venerable Company of Pastors of Geneva,” to formulate arguments in favor of armed uprising. Beza, who had repeatedly served as chaplain to Huguenot forces in France, completed his work in June or July 1573 and first distributed it with a title page that made it appear to be the Magdeburg Confession. The title read: Of the Right of the Magistrates Over Their Subjects. A very necessary treatise in these times to advise the magistrates as well as their subjects of their duties: published by those of Magdeburg in the year 1550 and now revised and augmented by several reasons and examples. The purpose of this cover was to bypass Geneva’s municipal authorities, who feared reprisals from the king of France, according to Robert M. Kingdon.129
Beza had already shown great interest in the Magdeburgers. In his treatise De haereticis a civili magistratu puniendis (1554), he favorably mentioned their defiant attitude.130 To be sure, Du Droit des Magistrats is anything but a copy of the Magdeburg Confession. Kingdon writes: “It is longer and more elaborate; its examples stem from different sources, and finally the reasons on which he bases the treatise, are markedly different.”131
But the key phrase in Beza’s treatise has a distinctly Magdeburg flavor. Chapter 10 carries a title that reads like a summary of the fourth degree of injustice.132 as described by the Gnesio-Lutherans: “Si estant persecute pour la religion, on se peat defendre par armes en bonne conscience” (“If one is persecuted because of one’s religion, one may in good conscience defend oneself with arms”).133
125. Melanchthon and the Gnesio-Lutherans opposed each other over the question whether the terms of the Augsburg Interim should be observed, e.g., whether liturgical practices demanded of the Lutherans by the other side should be considered adiaphora (indifferent) and therefore observed. Melanchthon and his followers, the Philippists, favored this. The Gnesios, led by Matthias Flacius Illyricus, opposed it. Flacius, who had come to Germany from the area formerly called Yugoslavia, coined the famous phrase “In casu confessionis et scandali nihil est adi-aphoron” (“When provocations demand an act of confession there is no such thing as an indifferent practice”).
126. Oliver K. Olson, “Matthias Flacius Illyricus,” in Shapers of Religious Traditions in Germany, Switzerland, and Poland, 1560-1600, ed. Jill Raitt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), 4.
127. I used an unpublished translation by A. M. Stewart of Aberdeen University, which is in my possession.
128. Olson, “Matthias Flacius Illyricus,” 38.
129. Robert M. Kingdon, introduction to Theodore de Beze, Du Droit des Magistrats (Geneva: Droz, 1970), mi.
130. Beze, Du Droit des Magistrats, 69.
131. Kingdon, Du Droit des Magistrats, xiii.
132. Beze, Du Droit des Magistrats, 69.
133. Beze, Du Droit des Magistrats, 63.
Uwe Siemon-Netto, The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths, 2nd edition (St. Louise, MO: Concordia Publishing, 2007), 93-96.
The book goes on to connect the confessions and evolution of Lutherian theology that came from and out of this conflict to having given Bonhoeffer theological animus (as well as other confessing Lutheran’s) to stand against Hitler. Even to the point of Bonhoeffer being involved in the plot to kill Hitler (the Bomb under his desk attempt). So, as much as we would like to package history like the Law of Excluded Middle (an either-or-scenario, no third scenario allowed) in a belief in some Utopian “goodness” within man that can guide him through an “a” or “b” choice… we know this is not the case. And our government was founded on this Reformational view of the nature of man.
Here is an understanding of just how much the Reformation influenced America’s founding, followed up by Thomas Sowell referencing this understanding implicitly. First, and exceprt from a seminary paper I wrote entitled, “Reforming America” (p. 3):
The founding of America is complicated, but one thing that is not is the influence of religion on her founding. Let us be clear about something beyond the belief that America’s founding was simply “religious,” it would have been impossible without it. Not only impossible, but the type of government and documents that were produced by the pre-American zeitgeist are unique in history. Is it possible to believe that a theological system had an effect on the founding of the United States? The answer, according to John Eidsmoe, is “A great deal:”
Calvinism, like any theological system, encompasses both a world view and a view of human nature. The way one views the world and human nature will determine one’s choice for effective government. As James Madison asked in Federalist No. 51, “What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?”
And it is this view of mankind’s nature taken from the ideas of Luther and Calvin that paint the picture of the “total depravity of human nature — that man is by nature sinful and unable to please God.” Another author makes the point that the political circumstances of Luther and Calvin seem to have become incorporated into fundamental beliefs of their theological systems. Ergo, when the Puritans came to the New World “they brought with them not merely a religion, but a social vision, whose roots lay in a small town in modern-day Switzerland.”
 John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), 19.
 Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1999), 233.
While not explicitly referencing this influence, Thomas Sowell distinguishes between progressive worldviews in their political and economic stances. Contrasting it with a more conservative worldview affecting those same areas. This comes from the first chapter of my book entitled, “Technology Junkies” (see pp. 6-8):
Christianity is closely tied to the success of capitalism, as it is the only possible ethic behind such an enterprise. How can such a thing be said? The famed economist/sociologist/historian of our day, Thomas Sowell, speaks to this in his book A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. He whittles down the many economic views into just two categories, the constrained view and the unconstrained view.
The constrained vision is a tragic vision of the human condition. The unconstrained vision is a moral vision of human intentions, which are viewed as ultimately decisive. The unconstrained vision promotes pursuit of the highest ideals and the best solutions. By contrast, the constrained vision sees the best as the enemy of the good— a vain attempt to reach the unattainable being seen as not only futile but often counterproductive, while the same efforts could have produced a more viable and beneficial trade-off. Adam Smith applied this reasoning not only to economics but also to morality and politics: The prudent reformer, according to Smith, will respect “the confirmed habits and prejudices of the people,” and when he cannot establish what is right, “he will not disdain to ameliorate the wrong.” His goal is not to create the ideal but to “establish the best that the people can bear.”
Dr. Sowell goes on to point out that while not “all social thinkers fit this schematic dichotomy…. the conflict of visions is no less real because everyone has not chosen sides or irrevocably committed themselves.” Continuing he points out:
Despite necessary caveats, it remains an important and remarkable phenomenon that how human nature is conceived at the outset is highly correlated with the whole conception of knowledge, morality, power, time, rationality, war, freedom, and law which defines a social vision…. The dichotomy between constrained and unconstrained visions is based on whether or not inherent limitations of man are among the key elements included in the vision.
The contribution of the nature of man by the Judeo-Christian ethic is key in this respect. One can almost say, then, that the Christian worldview demands a particular position to be taken in the socio-economic realm.* You can almost liken the constrained view of man in economics and conservatism as the Calvinist position. Pulitzer prize winning political commentator, Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), makes the above point well:
At the core of every moral code there is a picture of human nature, a map of the universe, and a version of history. To human nature (of the sort conceived), in a universe (of the kind imagined), after a history (so understood), the rules of the code apply.
A free market, then, is typically viewed through the lenses of the Christian worldview with its concrete view of the reality of man balanced with love for your neighbor…
 See for instance: R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000 [originally 1926]); Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003 [originally 1904]); Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York, NY: Random House, 2005); Thomas E. Woods, Jr., How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2005).
 Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (New York, NY: basic Books, 2007), 27.
 Ibid., 33, 34.
 Walter lippmann, Public Opinion (New York, NY: Free Press, 1965), 80.
Another item worth noting is WHERE the Founders of these Great States got the bulk of their influence or philosophy from, many are surprised about this:
Where, then, did our Founding Fathers acquire the ideas that produced such longevity? Other nations certainly had access to what our Founders utilized, yet evidently chose not to. From what sources did our Founders choose their ideas?
This question was asked by political science professors at the University of Houston. They rightfully felt that they could determine the source of the Founders’ ideas if they could collect writings from the Founding Era and see whom the Founders were quoting.
The researchers assembled 15,000 writings from the Founding Era—no small sample and searched those writings. That project spanned ten years; but at the end of that time, the researchers had isolated 3,154 direct quotes made by the Founders and had identified the source of those quotes.
The researchers discovered that Baron Charles de Montesquieu was the man quoted most often by the Founding Fathers, with 8.3 percent of the Founders’ quotes being taken from his writings. Sir William Blackstone was the second most-quoted individual with 7.9 percent of the Founders’ quotes, and John Locke was third with 2.9 percent. ” Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that the Founders quoted directly out of the Bible 4 times more often than they quoted Montesquieu, 4 times more often than they quoted Blackstone, and 12 times more often than they quoted John Locke. Thirty-four percent of the Founders’ quotes came directly out of the Bible. “
The study was even more impressive when the source of the ideas used by Montesquieu, Blackstone, and Locke were identified. Consider, for example, the source of Blackstone’s ideas. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws was first introduced in 1768, and for the next 100 years America’s courts quoted Blackstone to settle disputes, to define words, and to examine procedure; Blackstone’s Commentaries were the final word in the Supreme Court. So what was a significant source of Blackstone’s ideas? Perhaps the best answer to that question can be given through the life of Charles Finney.
Charles Finney is known as a famous revivalist, minister, and preacher from one of America’s greatest revivals: the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s. Finney, in his autobiography, spoke of how he received his call to the ministry. He explained that—having determined to become a lawyer—he, like all other law students at the time, commenced the study of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws. Finney observed that Blackstone’s Commentaries not only provided the laws, it also provided the Biblical concepts on which those laws were based. Finney explained that in the process of studying Blackstone’s, “he read so much of the Bible that he became a Christian and received his call to the ministry.” Finney’s personal life story clearly identifies a major source of Blackstone’s ideas for law.
So while 34 percent of the Founders’ quotes came directly out of the Bible, many of their quotes were taken from men—like Blackstone—who had used the Bible to arrive at their own conclusions.
Numerous components of our current government can be shown—through those early writings—to have their source in Biblical concepts. For example, the concept for three branches of government can be found in Isaiah 33:22; the logic for the separation of powers was based on Jeremiah 17:9;t the basis of tax exemptions for churches was found in Ezra 7:24.
- David Barton, America’s Godly Heritage (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press, 1993), 9-10.
In other words, the Reformation and all it’s streams of influence, weighed heavily on the Founding documents of our nation. Again, from my seminary paper and contractual understandings (pp. 11-12):
Even the idea of social contract and the implementing of such a contract is applied by Calvin [pre-Lockian]:
The theory of social contract is generally traced to seventeenth-century philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. But a century earlier, Calvin had asked the entire people of Geneva to accept the confession of faith and to take an oath to obey the Ten Commandments, as well as to swear loyalty to the city. People were summoned in groups by the police to participate in the covenant.
Again, without the like of Calivin, Wycliff, Luther, and others, the Bible that so stirred the political thought of our founders and whom they read in turn, America would not be here today. This public understanding of many of the precepts of the Bible caused Luther, and subsequently Calvin, to “maintain that all believers shared in the priesthood, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of the priesthood as a separate class unto itself.”
 Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 564-565. The author mentions a book as well on page 565: See J. T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York, 1957), p. 142. See also Chapters 2 and 12 of this study, where the theory of social contract is traced to the Papal Revolution and the formation of cities as sworn communes.
 W. Andrew Hoffecker, Revolutions in Worldviews: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2007), 233.
Also take note of how the Reformation influenced Locke’s philosophy versus the progressive understanding via Rousseau’s influence: Locke vs Rousseau.
Now, onto the second part of this “enlightened” critique of the opening video of this post. What about the enlightenment? What did it lead to ultimately? Did the Protestant Reformation influence the American experience versus the Enlightenment influencing another “Constitution”?… in France:
Let us quickly show a humorous take of the French Revolution, as, this is where this discussion is headed:
That quote from Jefferson is expanded on a bit by a wonderful post at What Would The Founders Think?, and deals with the animus behind the French Revolution inspired by the Enlightenment:
Now, let compare the above to some Kirk’ian understanding of Burke:
That real Jacobinism never has come to Britain or America is in some considerable measure the work of Edmund Burke’s conservative genius. He first succeeded in turning the resolute might of England against French revolutionary energies; and by the time of his death, in 1797, he had established a school of politics founded upon the concepts of veneration and prudence, which ever since has opposed its talents to the appetite for innovation. “We venerate what we cannot presently understand,” he taught the rising generation. His reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, through which works the design of Providence, is the first principle of all consistent conservative thought.
Burke knew that economics and politics are not independent sciences: they are no more than manifestations of a general order, and that order is moral. He applied his great practical intellect to a glowing delineation of this principle of order, and his work is suffused with the imagination of a poet and the keenness of a critic. Greatly though he disliked an easy familiarity with metaphysics, he saw that the struggle between order and innovation in modern times has its cause in a metaphysical and religious problem: as Basil Willey points out to us, Burke perceived that the root of evil in society “lay in the meddling instinct which presumes to interfere with the mysterious march of God in the world. Burke was of the company of those who are continually conscious of the weight of all this unintelligible world; he was more aware of the complex forces which hem us in and condition all we do, than of any power in us to act back and modify the very environment that limits us.” Men never will be gods, Burke was convinced; all their will and virtue is required if they are to attain mere genuine humanity; and (as Aristotle said) a being that can exist in isolation must be either a beast or a god. Radical innovations would cut us off from our past, destroying the immemorial bonds that join generation to generation; they would leave us isolated from memory and from aspiration; and in that condition, we would sink to the level of beasts, “We have not (as I conceive) lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century; nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into savages.” But how are we to be saved from the fierce tide of demoniac energy, the flood of unprincipled aspiring talents and ferocious envy, which is called Jacobinism?
Our hope for safety against the consequences of intellectual fallacies lies in our steadfast adherence to right opinion. Taken as a whole, Burke’s accomplishment is the definition of a principle of order; …. His system is an anticipatory refutation of utilitarianism, positivism, and pragmatism, as well as an attack on Jacobinism. Burke’s almost unparalleled talent for social prediction informed him that the Revolution in France was no simple political contest, no culmination of enlightenment, but the inception of a moral convulsion from which society would not recover until the disease, the disorder of revolt against Providence, had run its course. To check it, he adapted the reverential view of society, the idea of Aristotle, Cicero, the Schoolmen, and Hooker, to the conundrums of the modern world.
An order in society, good or evil, just or tyrannical, must always exist. We have been “marshalled by a divine tactic” to unite in a state which recognizes the true idea of justice. Men are saved from anarchy by veneration of the divine and fidelity to prescriptive wisdom. They are saved by prejudice and gradation.
- Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Elliot, 7th Revised Edition (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc., 1995), 65-66.
One of the main points I am trying to get across is that a strict Enlightenment understanding of change makes things worse, and it is the influence on Western (esp. American) culture of the Reformation coupled with Enlightenment advances that has made the understanding of a proper “Reformation” or “Revolution.” In other words, the end result of the Enlightenment was massive death by guillotine for rejecting the new “tradition” that was secular:
With the Jacobins in control, the “de-Christianization” campaign kicked into high gear in 1793. Inspired by Rousseau’s idea of the religion civile, the revolution sought to completely destroy Christianity and replace it with a religion of the state. To honor “reason” and fulfill the promise of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen that “no one may be questioned about his opinions, including his religious views,” Catholic priests were forced to stand before revolutionary clubs and take oaths to France’s new humanocentric religion, the Cult of Reason (which is French for “People for the American Way”).
Only a bare majority of clergy, called “nonjurors,” refused to take oaths to the republic. About 20,000 priests did so and another 20,000 left the country. Many ex-priests publicly denounced their religion, swearing they had never believed it, and “vied with each other in ribaldry and blasphemy.” Vicar Patin stood in front of a revolutionary club and said the “earmarks” of a priest were: “To bestialize humans in order to better enslave them, to make them believe that two plus one is one and a thousand other absurdities, to enter into a compact with our former tyrants to share with them spoils taken from the people.”
Revolutionaries smashed church art and statues. One explained that he had broken the noses off church statues because they were “hideous apes” that deserved to be crushed and used for pavement. At the Cathedral of Notre Dame, hundreds of medieval sculptures of prophets, priests, and kings were yanked from their pedestals and decapitated or hurled in the Seine. The cathedral’s priceless thirteenth- and fourteenth-century stained-glass windows were smashed.
Notre Dame fared better than the Third Abbey Church at Cluny, once the most magnificent monastery in the world. Revolutionaries torched the archives and sacked the Romanesque building, leaving behind nothing but a pile of rubble.
The word “vandalisme” had to be invented to describe the wanton destruction of the abbey church of Saint Denis…
- Ann Coulter, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America (New York, NY: Crown Publishing, 2011), 116.
The Founders knew well that the new country they were forging rejected the enlightenment, not as a whole, but in part. There would — never be a comparison like the one found in Robert Morris’s video on comparing the Reformation with the Enlightenment. History laughs at such rudimentary understandings. Like it does at the simplistic understanding in pop-culture of “religion” causing war[s]… see:
- “Causes of Wars,” Concepts (ISIS Compared to Christianity)
- Religious & Political Extremism Motivated Violence ~ Concepts
- The Crusades vs. The Three Caliphates (Moral Equivalence)
All the above being said, do I think Islam CAN BE reformed? Ultimately I do not. This reformation would require a few things, for instance, in an old discussion about Mosques, there was a Muslim man that joined the conversation. I have expanded a bit on what a truly moderate Muslim would look like (like Dr. Qanta Ahmed or Dr. Zuhdi Jasser), they would have to:
1) reject the Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (Life of the Messenger of God; Arabic: سيرة رسول الله), the biographical sketch of Muhammad’s life;
2) as well as the rejection of the Hadith (the Hadith literature was compiled from oral reports that were in circulation in society around the time of their compilation long after the death of Muhammad);
3) change positions on the Qur’an as descriptive (descriptions of historical events and battles that are not prescriptive to attitudes and modern culture ~ like Jews and Christians understand large portions of the Old Testament);
4) reject the reading of the text so that the al-Madīna suras (verses) do not supersede the Meccan suras, which are peaceful;
5) allow for manuscript and literary criticism that is allowed in Jewish and Christian discussions:
▼ For instance, manuscript evidence shows clearly that Mark 16:9-20 is known to be a later insertion into the Biblical text. Biblical critics as well as faithful believers can acces thie historical record to say this is fact. A well-known critic of the text is Bart Ehrman who notes this as well as a well known conservative Christian scholar like Daniel Wallace… as well as most Bibles noting this (for instance one of my study Bibles notes this ~ a: http://tinyurl.com/mg3oove and b: http://tinyurl.com/lx2mn2w). THIS is not allowed in any Muslim nation. I have many books written by modern and classical Greek atheists in my library. THIS is not allowed in Muslim nations. Nor is textual criticism. And when such things are noted, fatwas are put out on the heads of those who say as much about verses added to Qur’an. (Example: Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.)
So, we see from the following examples of how this would be a real tough road to ho:
So do I really think Reformation or Enlightenment is possible in Islam. No. I don’t. The only Reformation that can encroach on the Muslim is one of the truth of Jesus Christ being the Way.
Graham reached out to Muslims and invited them to convert to Christianity (via Gateway Pundit):
“I want to say something to all the Muslims that may be watching this that are confused and are afraid themselves. I want them to know that God loves them and that Jesus Christ died for their sins — and Christ will forgive them and heal their hearts… And they don’t have to die in a jihad, they don’t have to kill somebody else to please God. God loves them and he will accept them through faith and through his son, Jesus Christ.”
More than five centuries ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was the darling of the Catholic Church. The Papacy commissioned him to create many of its most important pieces, including the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. He spent his life glorifying the Church, etching Catholic ideals into masterpieces that defined religion for the masses. Yet when he died, his body was secretly shepherded off to Florence, and the Church was denied the opportunity to honor him with a grand funeral in Rome. Historians have long wondered about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, but now, art historian Antonio Forcellino believes he has pieced together evidence of a deep rift between the Church and the esteemed artist. The cause: Michelangelo’s belief in Protestant ideals, and his involvement with a clandestine fellowship trying to put an end to the decadence and corruption of the Clergy and reform the Church from within.