Skip to comments.Do the Church Fathers, the Founding Fathers, and Catholic Saints Really Go Together?
Posted on 07/07/2012 3:01:18 AM PDT by iowamark
America's Roman Catholic bishops just completed the "Fortnight for Freedom," a two-week period intended to "support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty." As evangelical and Catholic leaders have spent the past year opposing the Obama administration's so-called contraceptive mandate, the timing, motives, and agenda driving the "Fortnight for Freedom" have prompted widespread commentary. Rather than scrutinizing the Fortnight's agenda, Protestants could examine deeper questions than what took place on the surface.
It's important to consider the Fortnight's placement on the calendarthe significance of the Fortnight's dates, June 21 to July 4to understand the nature of religious freedom and the relationship between what to some mixes like oil and water: the Christian tradition and American liberty.
It's worth considering whether the church fathers and the founding fathers enjoy a deeper conceptual affinityprecisely around the meaning and foundations of religious freedomthan many people (including perhaps the bishops) have noticed.
The Fortnight for Freedom began on June 21, marking the vigil of the feasts of Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More. Fisher and More were both executed because they refused to endorse Henry VIII's claimed supremacy over the English church. The vast majority of English nobles and bishops endorsed the supremacy, while Fisher and More stood virtually alone. Though urged to use mental reservation to endorse the succession while denying its legitimacy in their hearts, the men were convinced that they could not do so without violating their consciences and endangering their salvation. As More declared,
"I could not meet with the Works of any one Doctor, approved by the Church, that avouch a Layman was, or ever could be the Head of the Church."
Fisher was executed on June 22, 1535, and More was executed on July 6, 1535...
(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...
Thanks for posting
Excellent article. Thanks for posting.
As for myself I would have approached the table differently.
Rather than consider the individual elements and their dissimilarities.(Which was attempted at least.)I considered that the Church was focused upon the term “independence” and
the similarities not discussed here —the Saints rebelled against the secular Government control of Church doctrine and discipline. (which in this case seemed to have been a King much like President Clinton —in that he saw himself as a ladies man-and wanted to bed any woman that caught his fancy—divine right of kings and all that) Our founders like Jefferson opposed the British King and his Anti-Christian rule of the Colonies. The church is(or ought be) governed by God(Christ at the head) America was established by men who
saw Christ at the head(Our system of laws and Govt. were
decidedly and by deliberation Christian-a reflection of the most cited —supreme authority of Scripture.) See David Barton on Is America a Christian nation? In Touch Ministries Veterans Day special some time ago.Presented credibly.The author for the hit piece by Christianity Today did precisely what David Barton addressed in that the CT author seems to have shaped his vision of our Founders on the secular reinvention of Thomas Jefferson —Yet I dare suggest even Jefferson probably read the Bible more than most Americans today,and in more languages. And Jefferson did not seem to question the central fact of Church history -as put by his fellow Deist Franklin (I believe Jefferson would agree) God Governs in the affairs of men.” See Franklins speech calling for Prayer June28 ,1787.
ping for later
A resounding “NO”! and here’s why:
About the time Thomas More was proclaiming the supremacy of his conscience over the king's orders, the Catholic church was the driving force in bringing thousands of those it called heretics to their deaths.
Neither Christ nor his disciples took up violence against even their most aggressive opposers.
And the attitude of the founding fathers was a “live and let live” in matters of religion.
"Thousands"? No, that's a gross exaggeration. As the article mentions, More presided over the executions of six heretics (that's *six*, not "thousands") during his time in office. The numbers around the rest of Western Europe are similar.
The real large scale religious persecutions started under Henry VIII *after* he broke with the pope -- read up on the dissolution of the monasteries sometime -- and both sides engaged in bloody atrocities, leading eventually to the massive atrocity of the Thirty Years' War.
It's an historical anachronism to project our ideas about individual freedom of religion back into More's age. Nobody believed it then, not Protestants, not Catholics, not Orthodox ... nobody. Freedom of religion in the West developed in response to the religious wars which followed the reformation, and largely developed on American shores.
The article quite correctly points out that More opposed government control of the church. That's not the same thing as opposing government interference in the religious decisions of individuals, but it is a prerequisite for it. If government controls the church (any church), it's automatically interfering in the religious decisions of individuals who belong to that church.
Give More credit for his correct opinions in the context of his age.
Obviously I made no reference to More's executions. Why the confusion of the two I can only guess.
The figure of thousands is correct as Papal decrees called upon secular authorities on threat of excommunication for lack of proper vigor in their work to prosecute a religious war of extermination against groups like the Waldensians of France.
“Freedom of religion in the West developed in response to the religious wars which followed the reformation, and largely developed on American shores.”
Who did Christ order his disciples to persecute and murder?
When I ask this question then come the justifications, the “other guys were worse”, and all the other hand washing arguments to justify murder.
“It's an historical anachronism to project our ideas about individual freedom of religion back into More's age. Nobody believed it then, not Protestants, not Catholics, not Orthodox ... nobody.”
Really? Even a Pharisee knew better than that. (Acts 5:33-41)
As the articles states,”More presided over the execution of six Protestants for heresy,” as he approved of burning heretics on principle, though this was not really central to his job as Lord Chancellor. An yet some Catholics accuse More of being a heretic himself .
And while he is seen as opposing government control of the church, what Rome favored was the church essentially being or controlling the government.
One (eloquent) critic, who expresses the contrast btwn Utopia and the later mind of More, writes,
Most absurdly, because of Robert Bolt’s screenplay, this barrister of Catholic repression is widely envisioned as modernity’s diapason: the clear, strong note of individual conscience, the note of the self, sounding against the authoritarian intolerance of the Early Modern state. Thomas More died in defense of an authoritarian intolerance much more powerful than a mere king’s, however, for he died believing in God and in the authority of the pope and the Catholic Church. As Lord Chancellor, he had imprisoned and interrogated Lutherans, sometimes in his own house, and sent six reformers to be burned at the stake, and he had not done this just so that he might die for slender modern scruple, for anything as naked as the naked self. This drained, contemporary view of More, which admires not what he believed but how he believed-his “certainty,” only-is thinly secular, and represents nothing more than the retired religious yearning of a nonreligious age. . - http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/wood.htm
As for how many died under the Roman sanctioned or promoted Inquisitions, there are certainly inflated numbers, as well as attempts to minimize them, and to explain it away as being part of the times.
But while the historical context should be understood as regards the degree of guilt, such things as papal advocation of torture of suspected heretics, which was more strictly defined, and even of witnesses, and using such and even killing to deal with theological dissents cannot be excused any more than burning witches could or any declension can be today by invoking the culture.
For we are not be conformed to this world, but to Christ by the Scriptures, which do not sanction the church ruling over those without and taking up the sword of men to subduing souls because of theological dissent.
While the Church can and should influence the State to enact laws that reflect Biblical morality, and punish acts of violation thereof, and to overall reflect a general ethos (as every State will), yet it should not need to be involved in policing the church, nor is the Church to use the State to punish members because of theological dissent from her, much less after some of the manners employed under the Inquisitions.
What a beautiful essay!
Thank you ever so much iowamark for posting!!!
History usually takes a beating under the hands of a screen play.
BB I almost always enjoy reading your posts, but this is one time I will completely disagree.
Now that the RCC has discovered that the alliance with the Rats was a complete mistake I rejoice. However, that doesn't mean that we should rewrite history. I am doubtful that the RCC has embraced free market capitalism, or completely rejected it's "social justice" goals that it wants govt to enact. I think it is more likely that once the RCC, it's hospitals and schools, are given waivers the condemnation of the radical humanists that are the Rat party leadership will die down.
Historically the structure of our govt created by our founders bears remarkable similarity to the structure Moses established in the desert during the exodus and the organizational structure of the Apostolic Era churches. I don't see the founders creating a monarchy like the RCC structure.
The population of our country at the time of the revolution was largely Reformation church members or independent church members that had fled European persecution. The RCC was a persecutor not persecuted.
RC's were blessed that the founders of this country did not establish a State Church and were willing to let anyone freely practice their religion here. If the founders had followed the RCC model the RCC would never have been allowed to establish a church here. IOW, "RC Saints" do not go with the founding fathers.
If the new found conservatism of the RCC is true lets see how it plays out over time. If this is a lasting position I say welcome to the fight, but for now I think it is more likely that the RCC is allies with Evangelical Christians like the allies were in fighting the Axis powers of WWII.
A truism that is esp. applicable if it comes from Hollywood.
Was that under Pope Innocent III?
25 years ago, we had Ronald Reagan, Johnny Cash, and Bob Hope.
If you can't appreciate the pure beauty of the violin after hearing this, something's wrong with your ears.
Or you can get raw with these strings.
How about this gamechanger from America's Got Talent (which they SHOULD have won).
Either way, the violin is sweet yet lethal.
Is this what the Jehovah’s Witness heretics teach? Some odd , perverted moral equivalent view of history that leaves out much?
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“Neither Christ nor his disciples took up violence against even their most aggressive opposers.”
False. You ignore the sword in the Garden of Gethsemane and the throwing our of the Moneychanger from the Temple by Our Lord.
Is all of your history taught from the flawed and heretical rewritten false Bible of the Jehovah’s Witness cult?
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