Comments 3

  1. Playing “the time machine” game and returning to 1776 and then asking this question would, I think, have garnered an affirmative answer but probably for reasons different from those proffered today. Virtually all of the colonial elites and most of the middling sort understood the War for Independence as one by which they were asserting their rights as Englishmen, and England certainly thought of itself as a PROTESTANT Christian nation. The colonial Americans of English extraction would have understood their Protestant nation in terms of: (i) the rule of law, (ii) liberty secured by the rule of law, and (iii) the social structures/institutions necessary to secure the first two elements. The collective opposite of these three was the exercise of arbitrary power, which in turn was regularly summed up with some rhetorical flourish as “Papist” or “Jesuitical.” Not exactly what most conservative evangelicals mean today by Christian.

  2. Mitch,
    Thanks for your view on the Christianity of the US. I agree with you and wish others saw it that way. Many people say the US was founded on Christian principals but has veered away from that. I agree with you that the origins where not based on Biblical principals and it still does not act based on Biblical principals.

  3. More arguments can be made that the US was a “Christian nation” than are made here. If there was one person who influenced the formation of US law (and the structure of the US government) than anyone else, it was John Locke, who was the son of Calvinists and a declared Calvinist himself. And Locke’s Two Treatises of Government explicitly draw from no authoritative source except the Bible to refute Robert Filmer’s defense of monarchy as heirship of Adam’s authority (Locke’s first treatise) and posit the right of government as being granted by the God of scripture to people, who in turn delegate it to a subset of people that compose the group that governs (Locke’s second treatise).

    I know of no other writing that so translated into the governance of a nation than Locke’s Two Treatises translated into the foundation of the legal system that is the United States. And that writing (the Two Treatises) was that of a Calvinist, born of Calvinist parents, in an increasingly Calvinist (as opposed to Catholic) nation, who intended to draw his critique of the status quo and formulation for the replacement of it, from Scripture.

    It makes sense that Abraham Kuyper had much praise for both the Glorious (Bloodless) Revolution (England, 1688) and the American Revolution, while condemning the French.

    I would argue that the idea of political pluralism results as much or more from the emergence of Calvinism in England than any other cause, political or otherwise. Which accounts for why, in the United States, almost all law schools used to teach law to their students by significantly referencing the teachings/writings of Sir William Blackstone, another product of English Calvinism, whose legal commentaries draw heavily from Scripture.

    Does that mean the US is a “Christian nation.” I’m not sure I suppose — it depends on what the highly ambiguous question is actually asking. But these days, it seems there is much more passion for explaining why that is not the case than honestly exploring history. And that is regrettable I think.

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