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John Calvin and the American Founding
Worldview Times ^ | Reed R. Heustis, Jr., Esq.

Posted on 07/04/2013 6:28:51 AM PDT by Gamecock

The commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great Geneva Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, took place this past July 10, 2009. Without question, Calvin was a giant among men used by God to rediscover and expound on biblical truth that long had been forgotten and rejected by Rome. His influence on all spheres of life is immeasurable, and today, his understanding of theology is making a huge comeback within certain quarters of the Christian community.

However, what Americans do not realize immediately is that the birth of the American republic is steeped in Calvinist presuppositions, and perhaps it is precisely this fact that leads Secular Humanists into a quest to dismantle every vestige of Christianity from America's heritage.

One of the key presuppositions to which the founding fathers held at the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was the fallen nature of Man. They presupposed that Man's entire capacity was intrinsically evil, and that outside of God's sovereign grace, Man could accomplish no good thing. The Bible makes it plain: "[T]he intent of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen. 8:21)

One of Man's sins is his insatiable lust for power. Unless restrained, a powerful man will stop at nothing to trample the rights of others. He must be restrained both inwardly with the power of the Holy Spirit, and outwardly with mechanistic controls. Therefore, many state constitutions required a belief in Christ as a prerequisite to hold office, while the framers devised a federal Constitution that was intended specifically to check and balance the ambitions of men lest they accumulate tyrannical powers.

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 51, "What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"

Disappointingly, Secular Humanists have uprooted the Constitution from its original presuppositions. Today federal judges constantly adopt the notion that the founding document is nothing but an evolving Constitution that can be reinterpreted to fit every whim and fancy. Instead of allowing the People to amend the Constitution the proper way via the built-in amendment process, judicial activists have taken the golden calf of Darwinism and applied it to constitutional jurisprudence. As expected, many of these same judges reject the Calvinist - and more accurately, biblical - presupposition that Man is a fallen being. As a result, America has been left with a judicial oligarchy rather than a Constitutional republic.

By default, when one rejects Calvin's presupposition, he necessarily adopts that of Karl Marx. Author of the Communist Manifesto, Marx presupposed that Man is inherently good, and that all of Man's problems are the result of a bad environment.

Such a Marxist presupposition inevitably leads to Statism because if Man is inherently good, then there is no need for governmental checks and balances that prevent Man from governing pursuant to his "goodness". Marx recognized this and tried to belittle Christian presuppositions by smearing religion as "the opiate of the masses". Of course, what Marx did not disclose is that his own presupposition is no less religious because it is rooted in the religion of Secular Humanism.

It is ironic when people offer a caricature of conservative Christians as those who would impose a top-down tyranny that forces each and every subject to believe in every jot and tittle of their theology. In reality, it is the other way around: it is the Secular Humanist who lusts for the reins of state power in order to shape society according to his own Christless vision. It is the Statist who is the tyrant, not the conservative Christian who holds to the presuppositions upon which the Constitution is based.

Some readers indubitably will conclude that Calvinism is too negative and pessimistic. On the contrary, Calvinism is extremely positive and optimistic. The true Calvinist recognizes that it is undeniable that Good most definitely is found in Man. Goodness is spotted whenever adults lovingly adopt an orphan into their homes; whenever the rich feed the starving; whenever victims forgive their enemies; or whenever a rescuer sacrifices his life for that of another. Shame on those who would depict the Calvinist as nothing but a doom-and-gloom ogre. The Calvinist not only recognizes the existence of Good in Man, but also celebrates it.

However, it must be remembered that any Good found in Man comes not from Man's inherent nature, but from above. Left to his own devices, Man is depraved and in rebellion against God. If God ever were to withdraw His hand of common grace, the entire planet would transform into a Hell on earth faster than a lightning bolt blasts from east to west.

Constitutional attorney, John Eidsmoe, sums it up in his book, Christianity and the Constitution, The Faith of our Founding Fathers, by writing, "The fact man has a sinful nature does not mean he is incapable of doing good. God bestowed his common grace on all mankind, and it is manifested through human reason and human conscience."

John Calvin's influence upon the American founding cannot be denied. Whereas most Christians in the nascent American republic held to Calvinistic presuppositions, today most people reject them, including - sadly - self-professing Christians who have wandered from their theological roots. Thus, it comes as no shocker that the Constitution has been all but hijacked by Secular Humanists and those who reject Calvinism at every turn.

Many of today's Conservatives wrongly suggest that if the Constitution simply were to be "restored", then most of America's ills would vanish. They miss the point entirely. The problem is not a broken Constitution. The problem is sin.

Unless there is national repentance and reformation, neither the Constitution nor the American republic will ever be restored.

Five hundred years ago, God blessed the world with the birth of John Calvin, and then later blessed the New World with his theological influence. Let us pray that 500 years from now, when it is time to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of Calvin, every nation on earth will embrace the many precious biblical truths championed by Calvin, and proclaim the Kingship of Jesus Christ.


TOPICS: General Discusssion; History
KEYWORDS: calvinism; grpl; predestination; predestintarian; presbyterian; rebellion; sectarianturmoil
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1 posted on 07/04/2013 6:28:51 AM PDT by Gamecock
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...
Happy Presbyterian Rebellion Day!

GRPL Ping

Seems even more true today.

2 posted on 07/04/2013 6:31:01 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Ultimately, Jesus died to save us from the wrath of God." ¬óR.C. Sproul)
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To: Gamecock

Having researched this in the past — and I am not a Calvinist — the Calvinists were far and away the largest group of founding fathers. Anglicans of the day were also largely out of the cromwell Calvinist influence, iirc.

I’m a Methodist Only one or two of the founders were Methodist. Mitigating that, of course, is that Methodism was brand new in America at that time.


3 posted on 07/04/2013 6:40:18 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: Gamecock
By default, when one rejects Calvin's presupposition, he necessarily adopts that of Karl Marx. Author of the Communist Manifesto, Marx presupposed that Man is inherently good, and that all of Man's problems are the result of a bad environment.

Such a Marxist presupposition inevitably leads to Statism because if Man is inherently good, then there is no need for governmental checks and balances that prevent Man from governing pursuant to his "goodness". Marx recognized this and tried to belittle Christian presuppositions by smearing religion as "the opiate of the masses". Of course, what Marx did not disclose is that his own presupposition is no less religious because it is rooted in the religion of Secular Humanism.

It is ironic when people offer a caricature of conservative Christians as those who would impose a top-down tyranny that forces each and every subject to believe in every jot and tittle of their theology. In reality, it is the other way around: it is the Secular Humanist who lusts for the reins of state power in order to shape society according to his own Christless vision. It is the Statist who is the tyrant, not the conservative Christian who holds to the presuppositions upon which the Constitution is based.

Happy Presbyterian Rebellion Day, Gamecock!

4 posted on 07/04/2013 6:40:35 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: xzins
"I’m a Methodist Only one or two of the founders were Methodist. Mitigating that, of course, is that Methodism was brand new in America at that time."

And of course the very first Methodist, the one who coined the term "Methodist", George Whitefield, was a Calvinist.

5 posted on 07/04/2013 6:59:56 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Gamecock; Alex Murphy
Happy Presbyterian Rebellion Day!!!!

Hoss

6 posted on 07/04/2013 7:07:40 AM PDT by HossB86 (Christ, and Him alone.)
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To: xzins

Mitigating that, of course, is that Methodism was brand new in America at that time.”

And (as you know) its day would come soon enough. It would explode across the fruited plan after about 1800, like a prairie fire!

I’m a Calvinist...But I must say, I am very fond of this man:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Asbury


7 posted on 07/04/2013 7:12:11 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: Gamecock

A few years ago, I inserted the significance of the Reformation, and Calvin, and Geneva into a conversation here about the Founding and received a bunch of snide comments like, “where did you learn history?”. I posted links to books and articles and so on, but to no avail.

In any event. The influence on Calvin and his progeny on the founding, while true, and obvious to us, is still way under appreciated in these strangely secular times.


8 posted on 07/04/2013 7:14:22 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: Gamecock
 photo CalvinandHobbes_zps4f173a7b.jpg
9 posted on 07/04/2013 7:20:55 AM PDT by SunTzuWu
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To: circlecity

Yes, Whitfield was the billy graham of America in that era. He was a favorite, iirc, of Ben Franklin He was decidedly Calvinist (which verifies Anglican Calvinism, btw) yet understood the reality of Romans 10...it had to b e teaching universal OUTREACH!


10 posted on 07/04/2013 7:24:01 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: Gamecock

The fallen nature of man is Catholic orthodoxy.

Calvin’s novel doctrine or heresy wasn’t about man’s fallen nature - it was the concept of ‘Total Depravity’. This is the idea that man cannot do anything towards his salvation.

Which is simply not true. We have free will. We can choose God. That power of choice is ours alone - it is God’s gift to us. We had it before The Fall, and we retain it still.

Take away that concept - as Calvin sought to - and you get insane and inhuman concepts such as predestination and the denial of free will.

The concept of a universe full of aimless automata plunging towards a fate that they can neither choose nor reject may be a good fit for Modern America (under the increasingly tyrannical rule of the left). However it’s nothing but an insult to free men and to the Founding Fathers of America.


11 posted on 07/04/2013 7:34:14 AM PDT by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
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To: Gamecock

Yep.

John Witherspoon

http://johnwitherspoon.com/


12 posted on 07/04/2013 7:38:14 AM PDT by Texas Fossil
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To: agere_contra

Total depravity of man and predestination posits that all men are evil and God chose the elect and the reprobates before the earth was created i.e. who is going to heavan and who is going to hell before He created the earth. If you follow the logic Calvinists believe Good happens to Good people i.e. the elect and bad happens to bad people i.e. the reprobates. So if you ever wonder why some quote unquote Conservatives don’t want to address structural problems - they don’t have to worry about them - because God has already decided - the reprobates (they can be recognized by the fact that they have nothing or little) are going to hell anyways - why worry about them here on earth.


13 posted on 07/04/2013 7:59:27 AM PDT by BellaBlackLab (BellaBlackLab)
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To: Gamecock
Total depravity of man and predestination posits that all men are evil and God chose the elect and the reprobates before the earth was created i.e. who is going to heaven and who is going to hell before He created the earth. If you follow the logic Calvinists believe Good happens to Good people i.e. the elect and bad happens to bad people i.e. the reprobates. So if you ever wonder why some quote unquote Conservatives don't want to address structural problems - they don't have to worry about them - because God has already decided - the reprobates (they can be recognized by the fact that they have nothing or little) are going to hell anyways - why worry about them here on earth.
14 posted on 07/04/2013 8:03:26 AM PDT by BellaBlackLab (BellaBlackLab)
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To: Gamecock

Excellent article. I believe one of the great failings of the church today is the fear to preach about the evil nature of man. We don’t like to see ourselves this way. And many in the church are convinced that it is just so negative that no one will listen.


15 posted on 07/04/2013 8:05:28 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: Gamecock

Re: “By default, if one rejects Calvin’s presupposition (of the fall of man) then you are a Marxist”

This is absurd - Calvin was not the first to teach the idea of the fall of man - from Moses to the Jewish Rabbis to the NT Apostles to the early church fathers to Catholic teachings to Baptist to Lutheran to , yes, John Calvin, all believed and taught the doctrine of the fall of man.

I would agree that Calvin has taken that doctrine to an extreme view that man so totally depraved that he CANNOT respond to God’s offer of salvation unless he is predestined to do so, but he is not the first to teach that man has a fallen, sinful nature.


16 posted on 07/04/2013 8:14:16 AM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: HarleyD

Yep. The natural depravity of man is all around us and pointed out clearly in Romans if one cares to read it. The founders understood it. Great article.


17 posted on 07/04/2013 8:15:28 AM PDT by plain talk
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To: agere_contra
That power of choice is ours alone ...Take away that concept - as Calvin sought to - and you get insane and inhuman concepts such as predestination and the denial of free will.

Your straw man is coined Hyper-Calvinism.
Calvinism which is also Luther's understanding (read bondage of the will) Augustine's and apostolic see below:


18 posted on 07/04/2013 8:18:59 AM PDT by DaveyB (Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. -John Adams)
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To: BellaBlackLab

Re: “If you follow the logic Calvinists believe Good happens to Good people - the Elect and bad happens to bad people”

What about the Book of Job? I think that was one of the key messages of that book - that good people often do suffer and endure evil/bad events in their lives - that experiencing suffering is not always the result of sin in one’s life - right?

Also, speaking of Job, Calvinists believe that faith to believe comes from God because man is so totally depraved that he cannot respond to God’s salvation. If that is true, then why does God point out Job to Satan as being a flawless example of a righteous man of faith?

Satan accuses God of protecting Job and blessing Job materially and that that is why Job is so faithful to God. What’s curious to me is that Satan never accuses God of “causing” Job’s faith. Why didn’t Satan say, “We’ll of course Job is faithful to You because how could he do anything else? You cause him to be faithful - You are the one giving Job his own faith!”

If Job’s faith comes from God alone, because remember, man is so totally depraved he cannot exercise faith in God without that faith coming from God first- right? Then what is the point of testing Job’s faith? If it all comes from God then Job’s great faith is just God’s working - not Job’s.


19 posted on 07/04/2013 8:42:36 AM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: DaveyB

What you are missing is that that faith, that pouring of the Spirit, that calling to salvation is available to all.

Yes, Jesus said that no man comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws him - and Jesus made clear that that “drawing to the Father” is there for everyone to respond to. “Come unto Me all that are weary and heavy laden, and I’ll give you rest.”

Yes we cannot save ourselves - that is only accomplished through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ - but we have to respond. Jesus’s sacrifice is sufficient for the salvation of all mankind. “For God so loved the world” means just that - the whole of humanity.

The Bible is filled with the command “choose this day Whom you will serve”, “follow Me”, “resist the devil”, “come unto Me”. None of these commands make sense if we do not have the ability to respond ourselves to God’s grace.

God giving us the freedom to grasp onto to His lifeline of salvation in no way takes away from His glory or sovereignty. He sovereignly chose to give us the ability and freedom of our wills to accept or reject Him.

If we don’t have that freedom, then how is it loving Him if we choose Him since we were pre-programmed to do so? That makes no sense to me.


20 posted on 07/04/2013 9:06:11 AM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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