Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Theistic Rationalism: Is it a Theological or Historical Term? II

In the comments section of a recent post by Jon Rowe Dr. Gregg Frazer stated the following:

"So, my statement stands irrespective of Tom's claim that unitarians, who worshiped an entirely different god than did Christians, were Christians."

To which I responded:

"I see a lot of Calvinists state this but find it absurd. If they are worshipping the God of Exodus 34:5-7 then that is the God of the Bible. Do you maintain that Jews that had no concept of the Trinity were worshipping a different God? "

This is an interesting theological debate but it is just that: theological. Why does it come up at all in a conversation about the use of the term Theistic Rationalism? I would have to propose because it is a theological and not a historical term. Not to mention one built on a rather extreme view of who is, and is not, worshipping the God of the Bible.

Theistic Rationalism: Is it a Theological or Historical Term?

A recent post by Jon Rowe quoted Dr. Gregg Frazer as stating the following:

"[Eighth, Mr. Knapton accuses me of “unintended sophistry” in pointing out that the theistic rationalists did not believe that Jesus was God and he suggests that there was “a strain of Christian thought” which taught that Jesus was subordinate to God. Methinks the sophistry is one the other foot, however. Mr. Knapton refers, apparently, to the Arian or Socinian heresies, which the church had declared to be heresies — and not Christian doctrine — centuries before. On page 10 of my dissertation, I have a chart which outlines the basic core beliefs of the Christian denominations in 18th century America as expressed in their own creeds, confessions, and catechisms. Every Christian denomination in 18th century America affirmed the deity of Christ and the Trinity as basic core "Christian beliefs. Mr. Knapton’s suggestion might appeal to groups which came along later and who CLAIMED to be Christians, such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses; but it doesn’t stand up to 18th century scrutiny. There were, of course, those who denied the deity of Christ and the Trinity (including the theistic rationalists), but they were considered “infidels” by 18th-century Christians."

Tom Van Dyke responded in the comments section with the following:

"'Every Christian denomination in 18th century America affirmed the deity of Christ and the Trinity as basic core Christian beliefs.'
Except the Christian unitarians.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Collectivism vs. Individualism Explained

This is a great interview that cuts through all the crap and gets down to the two sets of beliefs that have shaped the world for centuries: Collectivism and Individualism. The former is at the heart of every totalitarian form of government there is and is at the heart of Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is the Tea Party Really Serious About a Return to the Founding?

In 1793, in reaction to the French Revolution, much of Europe broke out into war. At the time, there was also an intense internal battle going on between the Hamiltonian Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans that was turning nasty and venomous. In fact, both men deplored one another and sought to sabotage the efforts of each other whenever possible. Nonetheless, even in the midst of this nasty rivalry that almost tore Washington's cabinet apart they were able to agree on one thing: Neutrality in the conflicts of Europe. A founding era foreign policy that lasted the better part of 150 years.

Here is the text of Washington's Proclamation:

The Scholastics: A Forgotten History III

This blog post entitled, "The Late-Scholastic and Austrian Link to Modern Catholic Economic Thought" by Rev. Robert A. Sirico gives some great insight into the economic thought of the late scholastics and its underlying principle that the economic interactions of people were more important to study than an analysis of the things produced. Simply put it makes people more important than things. A novel idea whose time to re-emerge may have come in light of the economic debacle before us.  Here is the taste:

The Scolastics: A Forgotten History II

This essay by Lew Rockwell highlights some of the roots of free market ideology as expounded on by the late Scholastics at the School of Salamanca in the 16th Century. I understand that since most of the founders were anti-papists that many seem to doubt the influence of Roman Catholic thinking on American Creation. Nonetheless, the fact that much of this thought was produced in famous European universities would seem to point to it being in the air when many of the ideas that finally took root in the founding were being formulated. Either way, this essay directly challenges Goldstone's view of what the central characteristics of European history and culture were as quoted in one of my recent posts.

Here is a taste:

The Scholastics: A Forgotten History

This essay by Leonard P. Liggio of the Acton Institute highlights some important parts of European history that seem to be absent in the modern classroom as I alluded to in my last post. Here is a taste:

"The Yucatan was the center point of one of the most im- portant moral debates in history. It can be summarized in the title of the book, In Defense of the Indians: The Defense of the Most Reverend Lord, Don Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, of the Order of Preachers, Late Bishop of Chiapa, Against the Persecutors and Slanderers of the Peoples of the New World Discovered Across the Seas. The Friar and Bishop, Bartolome de Las Casas, defended the Native Americans against the charge of those who wished to enslave them and kill them in the process–the charge being that Native Americans were not fully human, that they lacked the intellectual and religious capacity of Europeans.

A Good Discussion About the Foundation of Rights

A good and productive discussion about the foundation of rights has broken out in the comments section of my last post. The following is a comment that was left by Chris that sparked the discussion:

"I don't think it's surprising that, at least in primary and secondary schools, the Schoolmen are "forgotten." They have two things going against them: 1.) They were writing within a fairly narrow context (everything was Christian and Paripatetic, and not necessarily in that order since their Christianity was so distinctly Greek), making their work somewhat esoteric to contemporary readers and 2.) While they were undoubtedly influential among the early moderns, the early moderns either altered their ideas or expressed them in a way that is much easier for non-experts today to make sense of; certainly easier than it is for them to make sense of Scotus or Bonaventure directly.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More "Extremes" from the Harvard Narrative?

In his last post Jon Rowe cited Paul Sigmund, of Princeton, reviewing John Marshall, of Johns Hopkins on John Locke. That piece contained this statement:

"Locke believed that Christ died not to atone for Adam's sin, but to show us the way to eternal life."

In the comments section I proposed changing that to the following:

"Locke believed that Christ died not to atone for Adam's sin, but for the sin of each individual."

I went back and read his notes on Romans 5:12-19 from The Works of John Locke, Volume 8 and it seems clear that he did not believe in original sin. You can read it for yourself, but in my reading I found no dispute with the first half of this statement quoted above from Jon's post.

Nonetheless, I do dispute the second half of the quote. I base this on reading Locke's notes on Romans 3:24 in which he stated this:

"For it is to God we are redeemed, by the death of Christ"
Thus my contention that Locke believed that Christ died for our personal sins.

Here is more from Locke on the topic of redemption from The Reasonableness of Christianity that brings some context to my quote above:

"IT is obvious to any one, who reads the New Testament, that the doctrine of redemption, and consequently of the gospel, is founded upon the supposition of Adam's fall. To understand, therefore, what we are restored to by Jesus Christ, we must consider what the scriptures show we lost by Adam. This I thought worthy of a diligent and unbiassed search : since I found the two extremes that men run into on this point, either on the one hand shook the foundations of all religion, or, on the other, made Christianity almost nothing : for while some men would have all Adam's posterity doomed to eternal, infinite punishment, for the transgression of Adam, whom millions had never heard of, and no one had authorised to transact for him, or be his representative ; this seemed to others so little consistent with the justice or goodness of the great and infinite God, that they thought there was no redemption necessary, and consequently, that there was none ; rather than admit of it upon a supposition so derogatory to the honour and attributes of that infinite Being ; and so made Jesus Christ nothing but the restorer and preacher of pure natural religion ; thereby doing violence to the whole tenour of the New Testament."

I think this says it all and gives us a true picture of what Locke taught about original sin and redemption. It also makes me wonder if the modern Locke scholars just ignore the things that do not align with their preconceived notions of Locke that do not fit with the "extremes" Locke warned against found in the Harvard Narrative? Locke seems to have had a problem with Augustine and Calvin, not the Bible.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Does it Really Matter if Washington Took Communion or Not?

The following was left by D.G. in the comments section of one of Jon Rowe's previous posts on Lilliback and "Sacred Fire" that seems to echo the question that Brad Hart recently asked in his post about Gordon Wood:

"Not to take issue with my friends, Mark David Hall or David Hall (should they form band, Hall & Hall?), I'm not sure what the point of this work of historical excavation. So, what if the American Revolution was Calvinist? What does that prove? That somehow America was Christian, or that liberals or secularists have no legitimate place in the U.S.? Or does it mean, as Barry Shain might argue, American liberalism is different from its 20th century version? I have no trouble telling the difference between John Adams and FDR. Do I need to know the Calvinist resistance literature to spot that difference?

This is what I don't get. There seems to be an agenda -- that if we get the founding right with its respect for religion, then we'll get X right today. What is the X?"
What we get wrong about the founding is highlighted in this statement from Ed Brayton yesterday at Dispatches From the Culture Wars:

"There isn't a single provision in the Bill of Rights that has any concept even remotely analogous in the Bible. The Bible does not say a word about political liberty or political rights."
Ed stated this in the context of Cynthia Dunbar's clever use of a prayer offered by Chief Justice Earl Warren that implied that the Bill of Rights came from the Bible. Ed is correct in that the Bill of Rights is not found in the Bible. What he ignores is that the chief concept that Western Christian thought ties inalienable rights to, imago dei, is in the Bible.