A friend asked the following: “Question… Can you tell me what Liberal Christian means. In short form so Lisa can understand….”The Gospel Coalition defines it thus:
Liberal theology is rooted in modern, secular theories of knowledge and has moved towards participation in the work of the church as the priority for Christians at the expense of delineating theological belief, which has led to the abandonment of many orthodox beliefs in many mainline denominations.
Likewise, a friend noted, “I understand liberal theology as subscribing to the Enlightenment presuppositions concerning naturalism. Thus, liberal theology is skeptical concerning supernaturalism. Like Occam, they look for a logical/natural explanation for everything, including the 10 plagues of Egypt, the virgin birth, and the resurrection.”
But this seemingly short definition is followed by a larger article discussing it’s origins. The enlightenment and the differing forms it took were also heavily influential on liberalism both in religious and political reals, as well as “critical theory” stressed by Jacques Derrida:
Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architectural theory, and in political theory. Indeed, Derrida’s fame nearly reached the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and televisions programs devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his thinking. Beside critique, Derridean deconstruction consists in an attempt to re-conceive the difference that divides self-consciousnes (the difference of the “of” in consciousness of oneself). But even more than the re-conception of difference, and perhaps more importantly, deconstruction attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve.
The following quotes by the author who put a warning shot across the bow of the modern “liberal” attack of the church… J. Gresham Machen. However, these quotes can in some sense be applied to the Constitutionas well (more on this in a bit).
The chief modern rival of Christianity is “liberalism.” An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition.
Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity–liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.
It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.
The movement designated as “liberalism” is regarded as “liberal” only by its friends; to its opponents it seems to involve a narrow ignoring of many relevant facts.
According to the Christian conception, a creed is not a mere expression of Christian experience, but on the contrary it is a setting forth of those facts upon which experience is based.
But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.
Faith is essentially dogmatic. Despite all you can do, you cannot remove the element of intellectual assent from it.
So here is a “Basic” rundown… but a good definition comes from IMPACT 360 INSTITUTE (a long article):
Theology matters because beliefs are connected with behavior. In addition to this fact, one’s theology also reveals the true source of authority serving as the ultimate foundation. Am I going to be faithful to Scripture or conform to what is culturally comfortable? A recent example of this is the book, Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, which is #1 on Amazon’s “Christian self-help” category and currently #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. It is written from a loosely Christian perspective, utilizes Scripture, and speaks about God, faith, Christianity, and morality. It also teaches that you can find God within yourself, promotes moral relativism, teaches that sexuality and gender are fluid, and blames the Bible for creating a culture that oppresses women.
Blogger, speaker and apologist Alisa Childers (author of the IMPACT 360 article [linked] above) talks to us about a dangerous form of Christianity invading our churches. (Alicia has a YouTube Channel HERE)
Liberal Christianity does not mean a “politically leftist form” of the Christian Faith. Although, the same “sickness” applies that lead to similar outcomes, whether in religious beliefs or political beliefs.
That is, true conservatives conserve ideas born from natural rights, as immutable and objective — written in stone so-to-speak… the liberal progressive sees things not “in situ” (situated in the original, natural, or existing place or position) but in flux.
Changing in that, modern definitions and understandings supersedethe previous outdated ideas and definitions as applied by those earlier thinkers. Dennis Prager talks about a popular saying when he was going to college in the 60’s/70’s, it was, “don’t trust anyone over 35 [years old].”
What do I mean about the same sickness?
Here is a must read (a bit long) for the avid fan of Dr. Norman Geisler who enumerates the founding “in situ” nature of the political conservationist. He deals with our countries Founding ideas:
Take for instance Joe Biden’s saying that he won’t be “satisfied” until half of the U.S. Supreme Court is filled with women who hold a “living document” view of the Constitution. To wit, a poll taken by C-SPAN a few years back notes “that 48 percent of voters overall agree that ‘the Constitution is a living document which should evolve to recognize ‘new rights’ and changing circumstances.’ That includes 80 percent of liberals and 66 percent of Democrats — but only 22 percent of conservatives and 26 percent of Republicans. Another 42 percent of voters overall say that the Constitution “should be interpreted according to its original words and meaning.” The survey found that 15 percent of liberals and 23 percent of Democrats agree with this, compared to 68 percent of conservatives and 64 percent of Republicans.”
To read the Constitution through an originalist framework means we seek to interpret and apply it in the way people understood it at the time of ratification. Human nature was no different or advanced then as now. In other words, we look at what supporters said each provision meant as they were “selling” the Constitution to the people and trying to overcome intense opposition to ratification. The assertions of supporters served as the basis upon which the ratifiers – the elected representatives of the people – agreed to adopt the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution is essentially a contract forming a union of states. In any contract, provisions have a fixed meaning. [One author notes that The U.S. Constitution is a Contract, Not a Rule Book] When you sign on the dotted line, you expect them to remain constant over time. When disputes arise, you always attempt to ascertain what the parties believed they were agreeing to. The ratifiers acted with this expectation.
James Wilson was a Pennsylvania lawyer and politician. He was a key member of the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the Constitution, and one of its most influential supporters during the ratification process. His State House Yard Speech laid the foundation for the ratification effort. In 1790 and 1791, Wilson delivered a series of lectures titled Of the Study of Law in the United States. In one of these lectures, he asserted this was the proper way to interpret legal documents.
✦ “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”
Think about it. Would you sign a living, breathing mortgage? Would you enter into a living, breathing employment contract? Would you sign a living, breathing agreement with a builder to build an addition on your house?
Of course not! Because you would have no idea what that contract really means. And you certainly wouldn’t agree that the other party to the contract gets to decide how it will be interpreted.
Progressives want a living, breathing Constitution because they want to mold society into their own image. They crave power. Originalism constrains power. And despite their lip-service to constitutional fidelity, conservatives want the same thing – power.
But the rule of law requires consistency. Otherwise, government becomes arbitrary. When the limits on government power become subject to reinterpretation by the government itself, it becomes limitless in power and authority…..
Essential Christian doctrines are open for re-interpretation….
Historic terms are re-defined….
The heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice.
We are living in a day when liberal theology has made deep inroads in the church. Many professing Christians and even ordained ministers no longer believe in the authority of Scripture or the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How can people deny these essential doctrines and still call themselves Christians? In this message, Dr. Sproul explains that liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is nothing more than unbelief.
In this in-person interview, I sit down with Alisa Childers to discuss “Progressive Christianity.” Is this new movement dangerous to Christianity?
What was the infectious inroad into Democrats thinking about the Constitution being alive and breathing? Darwinism and his evolutionary view of biology, via Woodrow Wilson’s impact on progressivism. This is a large excerpt from Gary Demar’s article, Charles Darwin, Woodrow Wilson, And The Evolving Constitution
“In Wilson’s book, Constitutional Government (1908), he came out in favor of implementing a Darwinian view of evolution to civil government.
“Constitutional Government praised the presidency as the central political office: head of the party. This was a self-conscious break from the Constitution’s view of the office. The Constitution does not mention political parties, and the Framers had hated political factions in 1787. Wilson, having switched to Progressivism, had to undermine this older political faith. He turned to Darwin as the solution.
“The framers had been Whigs because they had been Newtonians, he correctly argued. This Newtonian Whig worldview is incorrect, he insisted, and so is the Constitutional order that assumes it. ‘The government of the United States was constructed upon the Whig theory of political dynamics, which was a sort of unconscious copy of the Newtonian theory of the universe. In our own day, whenever we discuss the structure or development of anything, whether in nature or in society, we consciously or unconsciously follow Mr. Darwin; but before Mr. Darwin, they followed Newton.
Some single law, like the law of gravitation, swung each system of thought and gave it its principle of unity’ (pp. 54-55). The checks and balances built into the Federal government by the Constitution are now a hindrance to effective political action, he said. This language of balances reflects mechanism. We need to overcome this mechanical way of thinking, Wilson wrote.
“The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day of specialization, but with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without leadership or without the intimate, almost instinctive, coordination of the organs of life and action” (pp. 56-57).
Does any of this sound familiar? The Constitution is a “living, evolving document” to be directed in its evolutionary development by leaders who believe that government is the divine force for change.
So the next time you hear someone talk about how the Constitution is a living document, think of Woodrow Wilson, but more specifically, think of Charles Darwin.
The European Enlightenment of the 18th century introduced the world to modern science, economics, medicine, and political freedom – or so we’re told. But is what we’re told accurate? Political philosopher Yoram Hazony explores this question and offers some surprising answers in this truly enlightening video.
A previous PragerU video by Dennis Prager himself discusses the idea of evil being reasonable: IS EVIL RATIONAL?
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:
Early humanists saw no conflict between reason and their Christian faith (see Christian Humanism). They inveighed against the abuses of the Church, but not against the Church itself, much less against religion. For them, the word “secular” carried no connotations of disbelief – that would come later, in the nineteenth century. In the Renaissance to be secular meant simply to be in the world rather than in a monastery. Petrarch frequently admitted that his brother Gherardo’s life as a Carthusian monk was superior to his own (although Petrarch himself was in Minor Orders and was employed by the Church all his life). He hoped that he could do some good by winning earthly glory and praising virtue, inferior though that might be to a life devoted solely to prayer. The methods of the humanists, however, combined with their eloquence, would ultimately have a corrosive effect on established authority.
Yet it was from the Renaissance that modern Secular Humanism grew, with the development of an important split between reason and religion. This occurred as the church’s complacent authority was exposed in two vital areas. In science, Galileo’s support of the Copernican revolution upset the church’s adherence to the theories of Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic adherence to Jerome’s Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were then understood. (Os Guinness, The Dust of Death: A Critique of the Establishment and the Counter Culture and the Proposal for a Third Way [Intervarsity Press, 1973] p. 5.)
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.132as 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.
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.
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:
Fact: The American Revolution was not like the French Revolution
The Americans defended their traditional rights. The French revolutionaries despised French traditions and sought to make everything anew: new governing structures, new provincial boundaries, a new “religion,” a new calendar—and the guillotine awaited those who objected. The British statesman Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism and a man who did understand the issues at stake in both events, considered himself perfectly consistent in his sympathy for the Americans of the 1770s and his condemnation of the French revolutionaries of 1789.
In a certain sense, there was no American Revolution at all. There was, instead, an American War for Independence in which Americans threw off British authority in order to retain their liberties and self-government. In the 1760s, the colonies had, for the most part, been left alone in their internal affairs. Because the colonists had enjoyed the practice of self-government for so long, they believed it was their right under the British constitution. The British constitution was “unwritten”—it was a flexible collection of documents and traditions—but by an American conservative’s reading, the British government had acted unconstitutionally in its restrictive acts and taxation.
While Americans sought the self-government to which they believed they were constitutionally entitled, the colonists did not seek the total transformation of society that we associate with other revolutions, such as the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, or the Russian Revolution. They simply wished to go on enjoying self-rule when it came to their internal matters and living as they always had for so many decades before British encroachments began. The American “revolutionaries” were conservative, in the very best sense of that word
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:
Marxism-Leninism is also expansionist and internationalist. One has only to look at the famous slogan “Workers of the world unite!” or Marx’s contention that the world’s proletariat has “a world to win.” In Marx’s own words:
It is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far — no only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world.
This international focus and quasi-religious belief in the inevitability and superiority of communism justified almost any action, and hearkens back to the events of the French Revolution. Thomas Jefferson, in a famous letter to William Short was willing to accept, if not condone, the wanton violence that marked the French Revolution:
The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is.
In 1793-1794 Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins beheaded 40,000 French citizens. Lenin himself made the comparison with the violence of the French Revolution. “It will be necessary to repeat the year 1793. After achieving power we’ll be considered monsters, but we couldn’t care less.” He and his cohorts described themselves as “glorious Jacobins.”
Communism has never concealed the fact that it rejects all absolute concepts of morality. It scoffs at any consideration of “good” and “evil” as indisputable categories. Communism considers morality to be relative, to be a class matter. Depending upon circumstances and the political situation, any act, including murder, even the killing of thousands, could be good or could be bad. It all depends upon class ideology.
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.
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…
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:
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.”