Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Microcosm? Justice Blackmun and theology

Internet Arminians wear tinged bifocals. They see themselves through rose-tinted glasses while they view Calvinists through jaundice-tinted glasses. For instance:
July 3 at 3:05pm · Edited ·
As we approach July 4 where we celebrate freedom, I have been pondering this historical tidbit. John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were contemporaries who lived at a time when many Christians accepted slavery. Wesley, however, was an outspoken critic of the practice, and his last letter was to Wilberforce, encouraging him in his fight to end it. Edwards, by contrast, owned a slave. Of course, we cannot read too much into this and I am sure both opponents of slavery as well as supporters can be cited on both sides of this theological divide. Still, I wonder if it is suggestive.
On paper, Walls is a philosopher. And a basic feature of philosophical reasoning is to test your hunches by considering counterexamples. But where Calvinism is concerned, Walls is a demagogue first and a philosopher last. Since he insinuates a link between Calvinism and slavery, let's consider some links between Arminianism and slavery (or analogous evils):
The Methodists split over slavery:

And here's Frederick Douglas on Methodists of his acquaintance:

Conversely, John Newton was a Reformed pastor and abolitionist. 

Finally, the architect of Roe v. Wade was a devout Methodist:

Same denomination as Ben Witherington and Jerry Walls. I guess Blackmun is a microcosm of Wesleyan Arminianism. 

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