[CS-FSLUG] A view on US founding

R. Thompson ron.t at sasktel.net
Sun Jul 18 22:03:53 CDT 2004

An interesting read, thanks.  Maybe I should be reading more of your
posts :-)

        Ron T.

On Sun, 2004-07-18 at 15:53, Clawman wrote:
> >
> >
> >    It has been increasingly recognized by historians of American
> >    culture and thought that behind the political philosophy of the
> >    American Revolution, as it found its expression in Locke and the
> >    Declaration, there lay a view of God and of human nature which was
> >    not Christian but Deist, which was not orthodox and conservative but
> >    radical. It thus follows that the American Revolution in its basic
> >    philosophy was not Christian, and the democratic way of life which
> >    arose from it was not, and is not, Christian, but was, and is, a
> >    Deistic and secularized caricature of the evangelical point of view.
> >    ["The Roots of American Democracy,"
> > <http://www.christiancounterculture.com/articles/american_democracy.html>
> >    C. Greg Singer, ChristianCounterculture.com.]
> >
> > We American Evangelicals have been so deeply versed in the righteousness
> > of our national birth that only secularists, liberals, and other cranks
> > dare to question it. The article linked above turns the tables on that
> > assumption. It is quite long and heavy reading, yet I can assure you
> > that the arguments were immediately recognizable to me. It's one thing
> > to absorb a lot of historical data; it's quite another to interpret that
> > data, especially in light of Scripture. The author has a wealth of data
> > behind his assertions, and his analysis of that data is reasonable. I
> > had not previously seen it in this light, but I can't simply shoot it
> > down. When I apply the analytical tools of the historian's and the
> > theologian's crafts, I find his contention is far too solid.
> >
> > While discussing Deism as a major influence, Singer does not flatly
> > claim that the majority of our national architects consciously held such
> > a religious identity, but that those men were moved by beliefs derived
> > from the sort of Deist philosophy that arose from the Enlightenment. He
> > traces the rather new concept of individual human rights to a clear
> > departure from the Puritan theology of the day. To invest the power of
> > consent to rule in the citizens was a revolutionary concept, quite
> > literally, which figures dominantly in the Declaration of Independence
> > and other organic documents. This contradicts the biblical concept that
> > the ruler is primarily responsible to God first. God's Word does not
> > absolve the ruler from being responsible for having a regard to the
> > genuine needs of those he rules, but it also does not automatically vest
> > those ruled with a right to revolt if he fails. Indeed, under the
> > secularist/Deist philosophy ascendent during the Colonial Period, with
> > the assumption that man is good and just from birth, it becomes his duty
> > to revolt on the slightest provocation. There is no reference to seeking
> > God's direction first, as is the consistent standard in the Bible.
> >
> > The distinction between the biblical and the Deist view arises from
> > opposite assumptions. The Deists placed Reason over Scripture, but did
> > not wholly reject the latter. The result was an ethic that bore some
> > resemblance to Christianity. Scripture permits revolution when there is
> > strong evidence of God's favor on it; Deism encourages such decisions
> > based on Natural Law. It is this Natural Law assumption that was behind
> > Jefferson's comment that he hoped there would be a bloody revolt every
> > 20 years or so. The seductive power of this seemingly biblical principle
> > was enough to seduce even Jonathan Edwards on some points. Edwards and
> > Jeffereson could convince themselves they were still believers in the
> > Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet they depart from Scripture because the areas
> > of departure seemed so plausibly right and holy.
> >
> > It was this near lawless zeal that caused the failure of the Articles of
> > Confederation. One might deduce that a bit of this was cynically spurred
> > on by Deists to ensure their justification for doing away with them.
> > Singer notes that the original radical democracy was displaced later by
> > a more sober nationalist feeling. Singer is somewhat gentler in dealing
> > with the writing of the Constitution, and fails to note fully that it
> > reflects but the next stage in the secularist philosophical development
> > of our Founding Fathers.
> >
> >
> > The US Constitution
> >
> > Indeed, the US Constitution itself contains strong anti-Christian
> > elements, dressed up in high language. Those who promoted it most
> > strongly were consciously adhering to Deist philosophy, and it was
> > soundly rejected by true men of the Word
> > <http://www.ismellarat.com/chapter.htm>. It was itself a revolt against
> > the Articles of Confederation, which they saw as too much beholden to
> > the Puritan legacy here in the US. These signers of the Constitution, if
> > true to their stated beliefs, would not be so alarmed by modern
> > interpretations as some have claimed. "Original intent" is not so holy
> > and righteous as some believe. The current dominant anti-Christian
> > culture and philosophy in the US is pretty much what they hoped to
> > create, though they could hardly have predicted how uncivilized it would
> > become. The real revolution in America -- against Christian faith as the
> > source of political thinking -- had already taken place before 1776.
> >
> > When we examine the composition of our US Constitution, we naturally
> > hear the raucous debate as to whether it shall be regarded as a
> > Christian document, or whether it is at least founded on Christian
> > motives, or is just so much noise expressing popular sentiments of the
> > time. So much of this is clouded by a powerful assumption that the US is
> > somehow a special creation of God, rather like Israel was in the Bible.
> > Such an assumption is based on a rather shallow analysis. In the
> > founding of Israel, we have a clear statement that here was a covenant
> > with God, who becomes the titular ruler of all. There is an equally
> > clear statement that this covenant is given by God Himself, not produced
> > on any human initiative. God did not send prophets announcing He had
> > bound Himself to us. Further, to the degree that God is not also the /de
> > facto/ ruler, there is a distinct expectation of consequences from His
> > hand. Our Constitution offers no such assurances. Indeed, it clearly
> > states in its opening lines that God is excluded. The document is purely
> > secular, founded on the authority of the people alone.
> >
> >    The problem is that there is no neutrality with God. Jesus said that
> >    "he who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather
> >    with me scatters" (Matt. 12:30). The founders were correct in
> >    refusing to establish a particular denomination at the federal
> >    level. However, they were not correct in using this as a pretext to
> >    evade the covenant responsibilities of the national government to
> >    God. By transferring this central issue to the states and refusing
> >    to deal with it, the federal government was in effect revoking the
> >    national covenant with God. That oath had been sworn before God
> >    years earlier in the Mayflower and renewed in many of the colonial
> >    constitutions....
> >
> >    Because they don't understand God's covenant dealings with mankind,
> >    most Christian writers speak approvingly of the social contract, or
> >    gloss over it. Some will state in passing that it is simply a
> >    secularized version of the covenant as though this was of no
> >    consequence. However, this theory is in direct contrast to the
> >    biblical covenantal model, which invokes God as the primary
> >    Participant and involves a direct appeal to His Law as the Standard
> >    and Source of authority. The Constitution has none of this. It is
> >    "We the People", not God ordaining "this Constitution for ourselves
> >    and our posterity" and there is no reference at all to His Law.
> >
> >    Some have excused this on the grounds that the civil authority of
> >    God was assumed by nearly all of the leaders of this country in the
> >    eighteenth century. That is the crux of the problem. We assume that
> >    they assumed this based on a profusion of religious language and
> >    fail to deal with the precise nature of what they actually produced;
> >    i.e. a Lockean social contract in all its particulars that overtly
> >    excluded the religious authority of God (not the church) over the
> >    state. This may not have been self-conscious on the part of the
> >    founders: they may not have understood the extent to which they were
> >    departing from the biblical, covenantal model that was embodied in
> >    many of the colonial constitutions.
> >
> >    [Quoting Otto Scott] Far from being the ideal document hailed and
> >    heralded in a sea of campaign oratory, the Constitution was a
> >    lawyer's contract that claimed no higher law than its managers, who
> >    represented themselves as reflecting the will of the people. Since
> >    such a will was undefined and undefinable, lawyers made up the rules
> >    and procedures of government as they went along, within limits that
> >    were often ignored, slyly subverted, or poorly guarded. In effect,
> >    the Founders had recklessly placed the government in the position of
> >    what ancient Greeks called a "tyrant" which, in its original sense,
> >    meant a rule without divine authority.
> >
> >    Constitutional Defects <http://www.ismellarat.com/chapter.htm>
> >
> > While the US may at one time have been dominated by true believers, that
> > condition quickly passed. The elite political class formed immediately
> > wherever there were enough people to justify any government at all.
> > Aside from that brief period of enlightened government under the various
> > state and local covenants, where the ultimate authority was expressly
> > placed with God, the rich and powerful were largely Deist and Unitarian.
> > They attended church because it was fashionable. Their work shows they
> > claimed a loyalty to the will of the people, not God, and even there it
> > was a smoke screen. While individual states may have been Christian in
> > character, the US was never a Christian nation. Once it became a
> > singular republic, it had no higher authority than the will of fallen
> > men. The written words of the Constitution don't even give the pretense
> > of putting God first.
> >
> > Now, what does this require of us today as servants of Christ? First,
> > let's acknowledge that we cannot find redemption in political activity.
> > Such activity is not inherently sinful, but it cannot possibly be
> > inherently righteous, either. Neither party has a valid claim on
> > furthering the cause of Christ. Stating or implying otherwise is
> > blasphemy. A particular legislative issue may overlap in places known
> > principles of biblical righteousness, but a given law cannot make any
> > claim to assert the will of God. This nation turned her back on God from
> > the start, just like every other secular national government in the
> > world today. There is no unique covenant claim on His favor. Our only
> > hope is to delay His hand of judgment by our individual faithfulness 
> > to Him.
> >
> > Second, while we may seek to hold others accountable for sin, there is
> > nothing in the mechanism of government that stands for God. We are
> > admonished to obey in a broad sense, but holiness cannot be found in
> > anything approaching slavish subservience to the civil law. It is not
> > sacred; civil religion is pagan idolatry. God is not the state, and the
> > state is not God. One can be quite godly and orderly in refusing to
> > submit to evil requirements <resistancetheology.html>. That generally
> > sensible laws can become evil in certain applications is a clear
> > indication that one cannot craft human laws to cover all possibilities.
> > When the demands of civil law point to transgressing the Law of Love
> > from Jesus Christ, we are bound to obey Him and disregard such civil
> > law. We do so knowing it may well cost us something.
> >
> > Third, by the Lord's guidance and power, we are to build up the Kingdom,
> > with no regard to borders of men. Our true citizenship is in the Kingdom
> > of Christ. Patriotism for one's nation is no sin, but it certainly can
> > be carried to sinful excess. Patriotism for the Kingdom cannot be a sin,
> > regardless of our depth of devotion to it. My closest brothers in the
> > Spirit may well be at work against the interests of my worldly nation,
> > and we cannot call that sin. We may well fight their actions, but we do
> > not fight the brothers. Just as Jeremiah warned Israel not to resist the
> > conquering Babylonians (Jeremiah 21), because of their rejection of
> > God's authority over them, so we too will face the day when
> > righteousness will mean capitulation. Lacking Israel's covenant
> > protections, who are we to expect God will not likewise one day turn our
> > nation over to her enemies? It is approaching blasphemy to level the
> > charge of sin against a brother in Christ who does not support every
> > aggression our government takes against other lands. True believers can
> > be found in every uniform, and every military action is likely to send a
> > Christian home to Heaven. To prevent doing so by our hands may not be in
> > our power. Combat survival calls for zealous and quick action. Success
> > calls for celebration. It does not call for dancing on the graves of the
> > fallen.
> >
> > To live in peace does not mean "go along to get along." It means having
> > the peace of God that comes from careful reflection on what He requires
> > of us, and a deep desire to stand before Him with clean hands. It will
> > almost certainly bring us into conflict with our world.
> >
> >    For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against
> >    Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You
> >    have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Hebrews
> >    12:3-4 (NKJV)
> >
> >
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Ron G. Thompson, |^|
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
www.petomai.org   ron at petomai.org
"Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their window?" Is

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