October 5, 2010

OUR THEOCRATIC REPUBLIC:

Founding Believers: What were the religious beliefs of the founding fathers? That question is at the heart of many of the most contentious debates about the role of religion in the American public square. (JOE CARTER, September 22, 2010, First Things)

Applying the method to other founding fathers, the list could be roughly delineated as:

Non-Christian Deists: Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen.

Deistic Christians/Unitarians: Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe.

Orthodox Christians: Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Elias Boudinot, John Witherspoon.

The leaders during the revolutionary era may have subscribed to a Judeo-Christian view of morality, but few of them were orthodox believers. The majority subscribed to a religious view that we would nowadays classify as Unitarianism. A rejection of Trinitarianism clearly puts one outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. We should not claim that a historical figure is a Christian when he held heretical views of the central Christian dogma .

However, while we Christians can claim few founding fathers as fellow believers, the atheists and secularists can claim none. Not one of the significant leaders was an atheist, much less subscribed to the modern idea of secularism.

Most – whether they were non-Christian Deists or Deistic Christians – appear to have been held to the classic "five points of Deism": (1) There is a God; (2) He ought to be worshiped; (3) Virtue is the principle element in this worship; (4) Humans should repent of their sins; and (5) There is life after death, where the evil will be punished and the good rewarded.

The views of the Deistic founding fathers would have been as repugnant to the modern secularist as those of the so-called Religious Right. The founding believers considered belief in a deity to be necessary for good citizenship, believed in intelligent design, had few qualms about establishment of state churches, and took a low view of atheists. They might not pass muster as orthodox Christians, but if they were around today they would considered theocrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2010 6:23 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« SING OUT, BROTHER: | Main | IS C.C. UNDER MORE PRESSURE THAN ANY POST-SEASON STARTER EVER?: »