Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Is the United States a “Christian Nation”?

From Stephen Wolfe:
In the next few weeks or months, I plan to review the book The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution, chapter-by-chapter. It is written by Gregg Frazer, a Master’s College professor of history and political science. The book has caused a stir among those who have an interest in the United States being a “Christian nation” and those on the other side who claim that it is a “secular nation.” His central thesis is that most of the Founders were religious yet unorthodox. The dominant view among the Founders was what he calls “theistic rationalism.” …

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In my own study, I’ve noticed that the shift from Calvin’s more conservative understanding of social and political inequality, gave way in England to an emphasis on equality and social contract, leading ultimately to John Locke and Algernon Sidney. The shift, to my mind, concerns reason and revelation. Calvin, in his Institutes, argues that revelation, far from being opposed to reason, is a further accommodation to man’s fallenness. In other words, revelation is, in a sense, right reason. Revelation serves as spectacles to show what ought to have been in the world through reason alone. In this sense, revelation is not to be privatized in a secularized state. It is not to be relegated to personal, individual opinion. Revelation gives us principles for a pubic (or political) theology.

Part 1 is here.

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