Wednesday, September 2, 2009

John Locke's Theistic Foundation

Before I leave the subject of John Locke’s political philosophy I must address the foundation for his philosophy. Many consider him a man of the Enlightenment who was fully secular in thinking. These same people and writers of history text books claim him to be a Deist; one who believes God created the world and left it to its own devices having no interest in it or its inhabitant’s current existence. Most do not want to entertain another view on this as he was highly influential in the forming of the American Republic. Still many are simply not knowledgeable concerning the actual underpinnings of his philosophy and have accepted popular thought on the subject.

Locke’s Second Treatise of Government was instrumental and encapsulated into the formation of the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution. In fact, a signer of the Declaration of the Independence, Richard Henry Lee is quoted as saying that that the Declaration itself was “copied from Locke's Treatise on Government.”
Joseph Carrig, Ph.D. who specializes in American political theory and government and is well versed in John Locke wrote in the introduction to the Barnes and Nobel Library edition. He writes emphatically, “The Second Treatise should be read by the citizens of any liberal democracy as a reminder of the principles upon which their government is based and the reason for which they believe it is preferable to any other.” John Locke refers to Scripture 157 times in this work. In his previous work the First Treatise he cites Scripture over a thousand times! He also frequently cites theologian Richard Hooker in his Second Treatise. To quote Locke from the Second Treatise:
  • “[T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God.”
  • “[L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.”
  • “[B]ut this I am sure, they [the governing authorities] owe subjection to the laws of God and Nature. Nobody, no power can exempt them from the obligations of the eternal law.”
  • “Men being the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker.”
To summarize the Second Treatise, Locke’s political philosophy is simply that God with His moral/natural law, known by reason, is sovereign over government and over man. And that man sets up a government to protect his freedom to life and liberty which is jointly termed property. The government’s job is to protect this property by means in which the people under that government give their consent. Moreover, consent can only be given for those things that a person can rightfully give up to the government by their power of personal choice. Because God is sovereign over man, man cannot consent to a tyrant or dictatorship. For no man can rule man absolutely. Thus all tyranny and dictatorships are usurpations of the inalienable rights of man.

Locke addresses what it means for those who forfeit their rights by breaking the laws of nature and entering into what he terms a state of war with a person or people. He opines that those who enter this state of war are subject then to the enforcement of the law put in place by consent of the governed which could lead to their imprisonment and loss of freedom. Even still, he argues that they must be treated fairly and justly and that their punishment cannot carry over to their family and future generations. He also elaborates on what constitutes a just war between nations and what the parameters ought to be for the conquered nation that adheres to their value as fellow humans with respect to their rights and liberties.


Locke eloquently illustrates the ideals of a government by the people and for the people under the sovereignty of an infinitely wise God who made us as free people with respect to our fallen nature and need for limited government.

55 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Just got this from Google:

Locke defines life, liberty, health and property as our civil interests. These are the proper concern of a magistrate or civil government. The magistrate can use force and violence where this is necessary to preserve civil interests against attack. This is the central function of the state.

One's religious concerns with salvation, however, are not within the domain of civil interests, and so lie outside of the legitimate concern of the magistrate or the civil government. In effect, Locke adds an additional right to the natural rights of life, liberty, health and property — the right of freedom to choose one's own road to salvation.

Locke holds that the use of force by the state to get people to hold certain beliefs or engage in certain ceremonies or practices is illegitimate. The chief means which the magistrate has at her disposal is force, but force is not an effective means for changing or maintaining belief. Suppose then, that the magistrate uses force so as to make people profess that they believe. Locke writes:

A sweet religion, indeed, that obliges men to dissemble, and tell lies to both God and man, for the salvation of their souls! If the magistrate thinks to save men thus, he seems to understand little of the way of salvation; and if he does it not in order to save them, why is he so solicitous of the articles of faith as to enact them by a law. (Mendus, 1991. p. 41)

So, religious persecution by the state is inappropriate. Locke holds that “Whatever is lawful in the commonwealth cannot be prohibited by the magistrate in the church.” This means that the use of bread and wine, or even the sacrificing of a calf could not be prohibited by the magistrate.

If there are competing churches, one might ask which one should have the power? The answer is clearly that power should go to the true church and not to the heretical church. But Locke claims, this amounts to saying nothing. For, every church believes itself to be the true church, and there is no judge but God who can determine which of these claims is correct. Thus, skepticism about the possibility of religious knowledge is central to Locke's argument for religious toleration.

CyberKitten said...

Oh, the except I posted is from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

CyberKitten said...

[laughs]

The extract..... [grin]

It's late & I'm tired...... [yawn]

Karla said...

Cyber, yep I would expect him to say that as a Christian. The problem is we have confounded Christianity with only having to do with the saving of souls rather than having an all encompassing worldview on all areas of life. Locke does not confuse the two. He sees that the government cannot institute a government approved church and that such things should be left to the freedom of the people, but this is precisely because his philosophy is founded in the principals of Christianity not despite them.

CyberKitten said...

I found the comment about no *True* church interesting - as well as skepticism being the basis of religious toleration. It sounds to me that Locke was an Agnostic who thought that no one knows the true path to salvation.

He appears to be saying that not only should people have freedom *of* religion but freedom *from* religion.

GCT said...

ck,
You're right about Locke. This attempt to rope him into the Xian camp is an ad hoc attempt at re-writing history.

The idea that no one can rule over another, thus violating one's freedom, is central to Locke's ideas. This is a far cry from no man ruling over another because it would violate god's absolute rights to us, which in effect makes us slaves of god. This is not what Locke was referring to.

Karla,
"He sees that the government cannot institute a government approved church and that such things should be left to the freedom of the people, but this is precisely because his philosophy is founded in the principals of Christianity not despite them."

This is a no true scotsman argument. You're expounding on what "True Xianity" is, but it's simply your opinion of what it is that you are foisting on the rest of Xianity. Just like all others, you seem to be taking the things you like about people and the world and re-attributing them back onto Xianity in a post hoc fashion. This is fallacious thinking.

Karla said...

Cyber said, "I found the comment about no *True* church interesting - as well as skepticism being the basis of religious toleration. It sounds to me that Locke was an Agnostic who thought that no one knows the true path to salvation."

I can understand how you are reading that, but this is after the Protestant Reformation. A major problem in his day was the conflict between Catholics and Protestants and between various Protestant movements such as Calvinist or Anabaptist or Methodist which were vying for their role mixed in with government as was the custom in that era. Locke is championing the idea that the government can't pick which of these expressions of the Church is true and there isn't one True form that all of these have validity and the government's job is to get out of the way of it. Hence freedom of religion. . .

I just read an entire book by him, he was no agnostic. I welcome you to read the same book and see what you come up with. I intend to read more by him very soon. By the way, he was studying theology in the university for a life as a minister before he got into political philosophy.

Karla said...

GCT, "The idea that no one can rule over another, thus violating one's freedom, is central to Locke's ideas. This is a far cry from no man ruling over another because it would violate god's absolute rights to us, which in effect makes us slaves of god. This is not what Locke was referring to."

Locke does indeed argue that no one can rule over another with absolute power, BECAUSE he says this is God's place and no man can usurp God's absolute authority and sovereignty over man. I don't have the book on me at the moment, when I get home I will find the passage and give you the quote if you like so that you don't have to take my word for it.

GCT, "
This is a no true scotsman argument. You're expounding on what "True Xianity" is, but it's simply your opinion of what it is that you are foisting on the rest of Xianity."

I am saying as a I Christian I agree with the summary Cyber posted about what Locke believes. That it is congruent with Christian beliefs.

It seems you are saying, and I could be misinterpreting you, that I don't qualify as someone who can attest that something is congruent with Christian thinking. . . Is this so?

Now, please bear in mind, just because I say it is congruent with Christian thinking I am not speaking for all Christians who have ever lived and say we all think exactly this and if someone doesn't they aren't a Christian. What I am saying is that this does not contradict Christian thinking and is found in the thinking of Christians.


GCT "Just like all others, you seem to be taking the things you like about people and the world and re-attributing them back onto Xianity in a post hoc fashion. This is fallacious thinking."

No I'm actually just telling you what John Locke says both by quoting him, and by paraphrasing and summarizing him. You could read the book and see for yourself if he pulls heavily from Scripture and if he bases his views on God's sovereignty. You can find the full text of the book on-line, you don't even have to buy it.

GCT said...

"Locke does indeed argue that no one can rule over another with absolute power, BECAUSE he says this is God's place and no man can usurp God's absolute authority and sovereignty over man. I don't have the book on me at the moment, when I get home I will find the passage and give you the quote if you like so that you don't have to take my word for it."

Yes, please cite it. And, this does nothing to counter the fact that it makes no sense to say that.

"I am saying as a I Christian I agree with the summary Cyber posted about what Locke believes. That it is congruent with Christian beliefs."

What Locke believed or not is a matter of fact, so why would one "answer as a Xian?" And, how is it congruent with Xian beliefs?

"It seems you are saying, and I could be misinterpreting you, that I don't qualify as someone who can attest that something is congruent with Christian thinking. . . Is this so?"

What I'm saying is that you are not someone who can attest that your opinions are what true Xianity entails.

"Now, please bear in mind, just because I say it is congruent with Christian thinking I am not speaking for all Christians who have ever lived and say we all think exactly this and if someone doesn't they aren't a Christian."

Then it's not exactly congruent is it, if some other Xians claim that it isn't.

"No I'm actually just telling you what John Locke says both by quoting him, and by paraphrasing and summarizing him."

You are also giving your personal opinions and equating them to what real Xianity is/means. You're also doing exactly what I said you are doing in equating Xianity to the things that you personally like and/or agree with. It's amazing how Xianity exactly aligns with the opinions and ideas of the Xian that one is talking to.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I welcome you to read the same book and see what you come up with. I intend to read more by him very soon.

I'll probably be doing a MA in Political Theory in the next year or two so I'll be reading some of the classic political texts in the coming months. This might be amongst them - though I don't have it on my bookshelves as I do with many of the others. We'll see.....

cl said...

GCT,

So, did you like or agree with anything in Karla's post? Is there anything you'd say she got correct? That might enable her to better understand your position, don't you think? Wouldn't enabling her to better understand you encourage the respect you demand from her??

Karla said...

GCT,

I'll look for that passage by Locke. BTW, have you ever read Locke?

And do you agree with Locke's political philosophy as I outlined it?

Is your disagreement revolve around my claim of his having a Christian worldview?

Karla said...

GCT, two passages for you:

"For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or to take away the life or property of another. A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another; and having, in the state of Nature, no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of another, but only so much as the law of Nature gave him for the preservation of himself and the rest of mankind, this is all he doth, or can give up to the commonwealth and by it to the legislative power, so that the legislative power can have no more than this. Thus the law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must as well as their own be conformable to the law of Nature -- i.e., to the will of God, of which that is a declaration and the fundamental law of Nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good or valid against it." Second Treatise p74

Also a few pages later, "And this judgment they cannot part with, it being out of a man's power so to submit himself to another as to give him a liberty to destroy him; God and Nature never allowing a man so to abandon himself as to neglect his own preservation. And since he cannot take away his own life, neither can he give another the power to take it." Second Treatise John Locke

Karla said...

GCT no comments regarding the quotation?

GCT said...

Karla,
First of all, I didn't surf here this weekend, so it's pretty lame to call me out on not responding without my having even been here.

Secondly, you are misinterpreting Locke's words, and inserting that which you want him to say. When he talks about the Law of Nature, he's making a deistic reference. Jefferson did the same thing, and he was no Xian. The Law of Nature and the will of god are both references to the same thing. He believes in a higher power, but not necessarily the Xian god. You'll have to do better than a couple of passages speaking against suicide in order to convince me that all the experts have it wrong and Locke is a raving Xian...especially since his argument would make no sense as I've already pointed out.

Karla said...

GCT, I wasn't insinuating anything. I was actually getting ready to ask if you were okay, because you are here so often and you hadn't been around.

You can call it deism if you want, but I think that passage does show that he equates the Natural Law with God's Will and shows that he opines it is sovereign over man and government.

GCT said...

"You can call it deism if you want, but I think that passage does show that he equates the Natural Law with God's Will and shows that he opines it is sovereign over man and government."

Well, it's sort of a "duh" statement to say that our laws and government can't supersede nature. That's not what your assertion has been about. Your assetion has been specifically that Locke is a Xian and that being a Xian he's contending that no one can usurp god's sovereign power over us. This is not what he's arguing here. You're imparting what you want to hear on his words.

Karla said...

"The rules that they make for other men's actions must as well as their own be conformable to the law of Nature -- i.e., to the will of God, of which that is a declaration and the fundamental law of Nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good or valid against it."

This is all I am saying here. This is a part of the Judeo-Christian worldview. I'm not addressing whether he was a born-again Christian, but whether he was expressing Christian thought about the powers and limitations of government. It would appear from reading his book that he heavily borrows from Scripture to support his analysis. He even starts out talking all about Adam and Adam's role on the earth. That's the first few pages of the book.

Again have you read any work by Locke?

Karla said...

Also, GCT, do you except that Locke was a Theist?

GCT said...

"This is all I am saying here."

That is not what you originally said.

"This is a part of the Judeo-Christian worldview."

What? The deistic stance of the laws of nature being sacrosanct is now part of the "Judeo-Xian" worldview?

"I'm not addressing whether he was a born-again Christian, but whether he was expressing Christian thought about the powers and limitations of government."

He was not. He was expressing humanistic ideas that are quite separate from the theocratic monarchies of the Bible.

"It would appear from reading his book that he heavily borrows from Scripture to support his analysis."

Not parts of scripture that say how one should govern, however. Once again, you are taking our modern understanding of things like government (morality is the usual culprit) and imparting it back onto the Bible as if it came from the Bible all along. That is not the case. You are painting your bulls-eye around the arrow.

"Again have you read any work by Locke?"

Yes, long ago.

"Also, GCT, do you except that Locke was a Theist?"

Yes. Deists are theists.

Karla said...

Locke does not just pull from the Bible regarding morality. He pulls from the history of governmental leadership in the Old Testament. He cites them as examples in defense of his argument. He talks of the Judges of the Old Testament when he speaks of the judiciary.

As for "Law of Nature" C.S. Lewis uses this same term and I don't think you would call him a humanist or a deist.

CyberKitten said...

Karla - The 'problem' with 18th Century authors referencing the Bible is that they knew that it was the one book they could be sure of that most of their readership would be familiar with. It cannot be taken for granted that the author is proposing that Biblical examples of morality or government should simply be followed. As with most things context is everything.

Locke wrote his books in a time that would seem very alien to most of us. To understand what he meant - and to put it in context - it is necessary to understand the history of the period. Furthermore, although I often appreciate the views of philosophers from by-gone ages and often admire their ideas it must always be at the forefront of our thinking that they are products of their particular time and place and that their ideas are not easily transferable to our time and place. We might be able to learn from them but it would be a mistake to simply follow them. In many ways we are living on a different planet from people who lived even 200 years ago and their ideas should be treated accordingly.

GCT said...

What ck said.

In addition, Jefferson also quoted from the Bible rather frequently and had a Bible. He thought of Jesus as a good philosopher and he liked certain aspects of the Bible. He was, however, not a Xian.

"As for "Law of Nature" C.S. Lewis uses this same term and I don't think you would call him a humanist or a deist."

Good point. I don't know why Lewis would use such a term. It's a term that permeates throughout the deistic literature...which was the point. Saying "Law of Nature" does not mean that one is referencing the Xian god.

Karla said...

There isn't really any way I, or anyone can know if Locke was a Christian in the born-again since of having a relationship with Jesus. However, we can look at his works and see what underpins his philosophy. I don't see the reason for why he pulled from the Bible as changing the fact that he did, quite extensively. Would you pull from a source to support your points that you did not see as a trustworthy source?


Also, Cyber, I agree we can't just follow anyone uncritically, and I am not advocating that. I am advocating that Locke highly influenced the American government and his influences were biblical. He even pulled heavily from the writings of a theologian named Hooker.

Also, I like to look for universal principals rather than rigid rules when learning from philosophers or any source really. Principals can work in any era, but rigid rules can often not pass the test of time and cultures.

Karla said...

GCT, I am taking you seriously about your contention on "the Law of Nature" and am researching that out more. It looks like from a brief overview of the data that it did start as a secular term which attributed morality to laws of nature making nature the agent of a moral code rather than God. However, here we see Locke indicating that the Law of Nature is in fact God's will. He equates a divine source rather than a natural one. It looks like theologians like Thomas Acquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo began to use the term as well in a similar manner as did Locke.

C.S. Lewis uses "Law of Nature" "Moral Law" and "TAO" rather interchangeably in Mere Christianity.



Still that's not the only evidence of Locke building much of his philosophy of government on Christian principals. I can also accept that those principals can over lap with other philosophies, but from what I have read thus far he draws heavily from the Bible.

CyberKitten said...

Karla said: Still that's not the only evidence of Locke building much of his philosophy of government on Christian principals. I can also accept that those principals can over lap with other philosophies, but from what I have read thus far he draws heavily from the Bible.

I would be *very* surprised if anyone in Europe @ that time did *not* base their philosohpy on Christian principles. At the time their would hardly be any alternative! It was only with the French Revolution 100 years after this book was written that Atheism (for example) became a standpoint even conceivable by most people. In Locke's day the number of public atheists - in the whole of Europe - could probably have been counted on one hand. Even the skeptical amongst the intelligensia would have been wary of making their lack of belief - or even questioning - private.

Here's the English legal position of around that time:

The Blasphemy Act 1698 enacted that if any person, educated in or having made profession of the Christian religion, should by writing, preaching, teaching or advised speaking, deny that the members of the Holy Trinity were God, or should assert that there is more than one god, or deny the Christian religion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures to be of divine authority, he should, upon the first offence, be rendered incapable of holding any office or place of trust, and for the second incapable of bringing any action, of being guardian or executor, or of taking a legacy or deed of gift, and should suffer three years imprisonment without bail.

So you can see how public disbelief was not exactly easy back then!

Again you must consider the times Locke lived in. I'm not saying that he wasn't some type of Christian - he probably/almost certainly was - but that this should come as no surprise to anyone. Anything he published *must* take into account the penalties for even suggesting that the Bible is *not* a valid source of knowledge on morality or government. He did not write in a cultural vacuum after all......

Karla said...

Cyber it sounds like you accept my assertion that Locke was pulling from a Christian worldview as that was largely the worldview of the day which would mean he wasn't an ardent secularist but in the very least a theists who pulled from Christian tradition and Scriptures.

CyberKitten said...

Karla, I have no idea what Locke's world view was but I suggest that it was highly probably Christian. However, as I know very little about him I can't say that with certainty.

I'd be very surprised if he was an 'ardent secularist' in the way we mean today. Of course I've been surprised before now....

GCT said...

"However, we can look at his works and see what underpins his philosophy."

Yes we can, and the historians who have done so do not agree with you.

"I don't see the reason for why he pulled from the Bible as changing the fact that he did, quite extensively. Would you pull from a source to support your points that you did not see as a trustworthy source?"

Yes, I can see why that would happen, as CK points out. Also, I think it's much too simplistic to say that the Bible is a source he didn't find trustworthy.

"I am advocating that Locke highly influenced the American government and his influences were biblical."

Then why did the people of the time think that the Constitution was atheistic? Looking back with hindsight, you see the fruits of what has happened and then claim that it was Biblical all along, when that was not what people thought then. You are painting bulls-eyes around the arrow again.

"However, here we see Locke indicating that the Law of Nature is in fact God's will. He equates a divine source rather than a natural one."

Yes. The divine source was the deistic god that set nature in motion, not the Xian god - just as Jefferson also talked about god.

"Still that's not the only evidence of Locke building much of his philosophy of government on Christian principals."

What are these Xian principles that you think exist or at least existed at the time? Things like equality perhaps? That would be incorrect. Equality is not a Xian principle, it's a secular principle that Xians have co-opted after the fact and claimed as their own...and only recently has this happened. And, on top of that, Xians still don't generally support equality for certain groups, like atheist, gays, etc.

"Cyber it sounds like you accept my assertion that Locke was pulling from a Christian worldview as that was largely the worldview of the day which would mean he wasn't an ardent secularist but in the very least a theists who pulled from Christian tradition and Scriptures."

Theists can be secularists. He most certainly was a secularist, considering how he supported the separation of church and state.

Karla said...

What contemporaries of the constitution thought it atheistic?

GCT said...

See here.

Start about half-way down page 42.

Karla said...

GCT, I'll check that out as soon as I get time and will get back with you.

Karla said...

GCT, okay, I checked out your link. I would be interested to read something by the Federalist who were for this amendment to see their argument for using it, because from what I have previously studied it wasn't to denounce religion but to protect religion from the government sanctioning only one kind of church and making the rest illegal. Remember, these people just came from Europe where state churches were common and those who didn't want to think like the state church were persecuted. Even the quotes of people's fears regarding this amendment seem to be of the mentality of needing a state church as they were accustom to at this time.

I'll pull out my Federalist Papers when I get home and see what the primary document of the Founds may have said to address this controversy. I don't remember if it is addressed there or not.

GCT said...

"Remember, these people just came from Europe where state churches were common and those who didn't want to think like the state church were persecuted."

Remember that these people came here in order to form their own communities where THEIR church would be the dominant one. See the communities of the New England area, for instance. It was the enlightened, thinking people (mostly deists) that recognized the need for church/state separation. In fact, some of the Xian founders pushed for the US to be a Xian state and were defeated in Congress.

Karla said...

Some probably did think they would simply set up their own version of Church and make it law as was custom in Europe, but gladly that thought did not prevail and many thought better of the way it was previously done.

cl said...

I didn't see anything in the OP that would support GCT's claim Karla "tried to rope [Locke] in the Christian camp." I didn't see the word "Christian" in her post at all. Karla just argued that Locke derived some percentage of his ideas and principles from God (as he perceived God). I think that's beyond dispute, really. As for whether or not Locke (or any founding fathers) were Christians, I don't see how we could know.

Also, GCT asked, "why did the people of the time think that the Constitution was atheistic?"

They didn't; that's more than the source permits. Some critics thought it was too ecumenical. Big difference, scope makes.

GCT said...

"Some probably did think they would simply set up their own version of Church and make it law as was custom in Europe, but gladly that thought did not prevail and many thought better of the way it was previously done."

It did prevail, for a long time. Many areas of the colonies were havens for specific religions, all others need not apply for residence. It did not continue through the founding of this country because a bunch of deists defeated the Xians who pushed for it.

cl said...

I'm not sure what the argument is here. It didn't seem to me that Karla was trying to use Locke as some victory for Christianity, and I'm not quite sure what point GCT would like her to concede..

GCT,

Could you please provide a list of which early / influential Americans were deists vs. Christians? Otherwise, on what merit are we supposed to accept your claims? Your word? It seems too easy to just employ post hoc reasoning by looking back and saying all the "bad" (regarding separation of church and state) stuff came from "Xians."

I'm really curious what allows you to look back 200 years and know the precise spiritual beliefs of those we've never met and only read.

It just seems to me that history is more complex that this "Deists were for separation of church and state, Xians weren't" claim that you seem to be making.

Karla said...

GCT "It did prevail, for a long time. Many areas of the colonies were havens for specific religions, all others need not apply for residence. It did not continue through the founding of this country because a bunch of deists defeated the Xians who pushed for it."

You seem to be agreeing there was a heavy Christian worldview presence in the Americas, but you think that the Deist won out and that is why we have freedom of religion. However, many of the people referred to as Deists were not, and those that were still operated under a Christian worldview. Regardless of what they thought about the Divinity of Jesus and regardless of whether they had personal faith or relationship with him, they still held to many biblical principals. This is highly documented and found in their original writings.

The reason we have this freedom isn't because Christianity was overcome by Deism, but because of their Christian view of the world. Because they thought people should be free to worship as they want without state interference. This wasn't to end religion in society, but to allow it to grow and flourish without government restrictions.

cl said...

Karla,

"Regardless of what they thought about the Divinity of Jesus and regardless of whether they had personal faith or relationship with him, they still held to many biblical principals. This is highly documented and found in their original writings."

I agree with that 100% as worded, but...

"The reason we have this freedom isn't because Christianity was overcome by Deism, but because of their Christian view of the world. Because they thought people should be free to worship as they want without state interference."

I agree Deism overcoming Christianity is not the source of our religious freedom, however, I think you went too far: the real reason we have whatever freedom we actually have is because freethinking people - of which some but not all were certainly Christians - got fed up with the authoritarian scenario in England.

So, I'm going to have to agree with GCT if and when he comes back to say that you can't simply credit "our freedom" with "their Christian view of the world."

GCT said...

Karla,
"You seem to be agreeing there was a heavy Christian worldview presence in the Americas, but you think that the Deist won out and that is why we have freedom of religion."

It was mostly the deists that argued against establishing Xianity as the official religion. In places where there was no strong pressence of non-Xian though, specific Xian sects were established as the specific religions. It's not like non-Xians were pushing for Xianity to be the state religion, so in the arguments it was obviously Xians pushing for it.

"However, many of the people referred to as Deists were not, and those that were still operated under a Christian worldview."

Oh please. Jefferson was a deist, you can't deny that. What you are doing here is what I've been saying all along. You're painting bulls-eyes around the already shot arrows. You think (with your modern sensibilities) that our governmental system is good and that the founding of it was good, so you then go back and try to claim it for Xianity. It happens all too often, which is how we get these urban legends of this being a Xian nation, etc.

"The reason we have this freedom isn't because Christianity was overcome by Deism, but because of their Christian view of the world. Because they thought people should be free to worship as they want without state interference."

Wrong again. You can not provide backing for the claim that Xian views of the world include separation of church and state, unless you're making the innocuous claim that some Xians may feel that way, making it a view of the world held by some Xians. That's what you don't get. When you make statements like this, it's basically a no true scotsman-type statement. The Xian view of the world allows for church and state? Well what about the Xian view of the world that wants theocracy or at least official recognition of Xianity in the government? Is that not true Xianity or are they both true Xianity, and if the latter, isn't it meaningless to make the claims you are making (and ultimately incorrect)?

"This wasn't to end religion in society, but to allow it to grow and flourish without government restrictions."

You are correct that separation of church and state isn't meant to end religion but to allow it to do whatever it's going to do outside of the government. It's a good thing to have, precisely because it allows for freedom for all, including the freedom to disbelieve.

cl said...

GCT,

"You can not provide backing for the claim that Xian views of the world include separation of church and state, unless you're making the innocuous claim that some Xians may feel that way, making it a view of the world held by some Xians. That's what you don't get. When you make statements like this, it's basically a no true scotsman-type statement.

I agreed with you that Karla can't credit "our freedom" with "their Christian view of the world," yet I disagree with this particular sub-claim of your rebuttal. I think we can make a strong biblical case for separation of church and state. Alas, you'll probably continue to let your opinion of me get in the way of a decent discussion, so I'll skip explaining it unless of course you want me to.

Karla said...

GCT, there is a difference between someone being a Christian and someone having a Christian worldview. A Deist may not believe in Jesus, but still draw their view of the world from the Bible and they can still think about the world in a manner that is congruent with Judeo-Christian thought.

Cyber said "I would be *very* surprised if anyone in Europe @ that time did *not* base their philosohpy on Christian principles. At the time their would hardly be any alternative! It was only with the French Revolution 100 years after this book was written that Atheism (for example) became a standpoint even conceivable by most people. In Locke's day the number of public atheists - in the whole of Europe - could probably have been counted on one hand. Even the skeptical amongst the intelligensia would have been wary of making their lack of belief - or even questioning - private."


It was a highly religious era of time. I am not, I repeat, discussing personal salvation, or personal religious expression, but am only talking about the manner in which people thought about the world.

I am not applying things from today to the past, I am saying this was the popular thinking of that day.

Jefferson was rather out of the ordinary in those days and yet he still drafted a Declaration of Independence and wrote "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," This was no secularist. He may have not had doctrine congruent with orthodox Christianity, but he still held to the supremacy of God.

Karla said...

CL, very little seems to have been said in those days about "separation of church and state" except to protect the religious liberties of the people. I have done much research into this in the past. There was even a famous court case well before the days where prayer and the Bible in schools were ruled unconstitutional where a man willed his estate to the funding of a school that would not teach from the Bible. The community took it before the courts and the court ruled that schools must teach the Bible as it is necessary for a children to be educated in it for the good of the nation. The community won the case and used the funds for a school that would be like the other schools already established. I can look up the case name if you would like it. I have it at home.

cl said...

Karla,

"GCT, there is a difference between someone being a Christian and someone having a Christian worldview. A Deist may not believe in Jesus, but still draw their view of the world from the Bible and they can still think about the world in a manner that is congruent with Judeo-Christian thought."

I realize that was to GCT, but in my opinion the more accurate thing to say would be that Locke had a biblical or scriptural worldview. My reasoning is that terms like "Judeo-Christian thought" or "Christian worldview" are so generic that they can practically envelope anything these days.

Regarding Jefferson, I think it's entirely acceptable to describe him as a secularist - politically. Note that secularist can describe both political and religious views. I doubt that Jefferson was an atheist, but I accept that he was a secularist. That sort of thing.

The case you mention sounds interesting and would make for a good post I'm sure. I'd like to hear more about it. All I'm saying here is that personally, I'm hesitant to attribute "our freedom" to "their Christian worldview," though I agree with you the Bible was a foundational anchor in the Founding Fathers' thoughts and lives.

Karla said...

Cl, I'll find that info at home. I wrote about it in the past for a class years ago, but have those files saved at home.

I see about saying "Christian worldview" it would be more precise to say "biblical."

CL "though I agree with you the Bible was a foundational anchor in the Founding Fathers' thoughts and lives."


Good, I think it rather obvious.

GCT said...

"GCT, there is a difference between someone being a Christian and someone having a Christian worldview."

I'm glad you realize that...now tell me what is the Xian worldview.

"A Deist may not believe in Jesus, but still draw their view of the world from the Bible and they can still think about the world in a manner that is congruent with Judeo-Christian thought."

Wrong. And this is something that I've been trying to get through to you for a long time. If a mass murderer claimed that he was getting his ideas through the Bible, would you consider it "congruent with Judeo-Christian thought?" Of course not. You only tend to think of the things that you want to come from the Bible as having come from the Bible and attribute those to being part of a Xian worldview. It's called post-hoc reasoning.

"Cyber said "I would be *very* surprised if anyone in Europe @ that time did *not* base their philosohpy on Christian principles."

And, I disagree with her, because Xian principles tends to mean whatever thing someone wants it to mean.

"At the time their would hardly be any alternative! It was only with the French Revolution 100 years after this book was written that Atheism (for example) became a standpoint even conceivable by most people."

I'm not talking about atheism, I'm talking about secularism. Why do you conflate the two? Besides the ideas behind the Enlightenment were brewing all during this time and they came from somewhere, right?

"...but am only talking about the manner in which people thought about the world."

Yes, many people believed...that's now what we are discussing.

"I am not applying things from today to the past, I am saying this was the popular thinking of that day."

What, that church and state ought to be separate? Think again. You are applying what you personally think is true to a previous time and labelling it to be part of the Xian worldview, when in reality it was a subset, as you point out yourself (although you keep saying atheism instead of secularism). Secularism was the minority view.

"Jefferson was rather out of the ordinary in those days and yet he still drafted a Declaration of Independence and wrote "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," This was no secularist."

OK, first off, his first draft did not contain any mention to a creator. It was only after others wanted to add it in did it appear. Secondly, it's very possible that they did it so that the common, uneducated masses would agree. Third, believing in god or that rights come from god does not mean one is not a secularist.

"He may have not had doctrine congruent with orthodox Christianity, but he still held to the supremacy of God."

He held to a deistic god. This is what I'm talking about. He was not a Xian, but you happen to agree with his stances, so you retro-actively try to turn him into a Xian.

Karla said...

Cl, sorry it's taken me so long to get this info to you but the case I was talking about is Vidal v. Girard's Executors, 43 U.S. 2 How. 127 127 (1844)

To quote from the court on this case "Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college -- its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated"


In addition: Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 reads "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Karla said...

Cl, sorry it's taken me so long to get this info to you but the case I was talking about is Vidal v. Girard's Executors, 43 U.S. 2 How. 127 127 (1844)

To quote from the court on this case "Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college -- its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated"


In addition: Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 reads "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Karla said...

GCT, I am strictly talking about where people pull their philosophy of life. A person can pull it from the Bible and yet not be a Christian. I'm not talking about whether they are in actuality a born again Christian or not. I am only talking about if they pulled from the Scriptures as the underpinning of their philosophy or if they pulled from other people who did so.

I am not retrospectively putting the label of "Christian" upon things I agree with. I am saying that it came from a Biblical source, not that it happens to correspond to it. Or that some Christians today also think that way and thus they were thinking as Christians. No. This is not what I am advocating.

GCT said...

"GCT, I am strictly talking about where people pull their philosophy of life."

No one pulls their philosophy of life from the Bible. We all pull it from elsewhere. Some then impart their philosophy back onto the Bible and claim that their philosophy came from the Bible instead of the other way around.

"I am not retrospectively putting the label of "Christian" upon things I agree with."

Yes, you are, since you are not similarly willing to claim the same for Fred Phelps.

Karla said...

GCT "No one pulls their philosophy of life from the Bible. We all pull it from elsewhere. Some then impart their philosophy back onto the Bible and claim that their philosophy came from the Bible instead of the other way around."


I pull my life philosophy from Scripture. How can you say no one does? Have you interviewed all people on the planet and judged where they get their worldview from?

GCT said...

"I pull my life philosophy from Scripture. How can you say no one does?"

Because the Bible is a mishmash that doesn't present a coherent picture. It's only by pulling specific portions that already appeal to you for other reasons and discarding the rest that you think you are pulling your life philosophy from it. This indicates that you're really getting it elsewhere, because you've already decided what appeals to you and what doesn't and you've pulled the parts or interpreted the parts that you like and think support your pre-concluded notions.

Karla said...

It is a very coherent picture. You might not see that, but it doesn't mean it's not true. And really you can't prove that I don't pull my worldview from Scripture.

I probably won't be responding to any more comments today--possibly until Monday. Have a good weekend.

GCT said...

"It is a very coherent picture. You might not see that, but it doesn't mean it's not true. And really you can't prove that I don't pull my worldview from Scripture."

Actually, I can. You don't use all of scripture to form your life philosophy. If you claim that you do, then I'll assume that you think bats are birds. The shear fact of the matter is that you don't agree that everything in the Bible is good. You pick and choose which parts to uphold and which to ignore. You also pick and choose which interpretations will work for you.

You got your philosophy from your environment and your culture. That's why such disparate notions of what the Bible teaches end up happening. It's why the Bible taught that people should go kill Muslims in the crusades and why you claim it teaches love and compassion now.