Saturday, July 25, 2015

Was Benjamin Rush Arminian?

According to Jon Rowe's post on American Creation website he is. But what does Rush have to say about it? Considering the plentiful writings from the Doctors pen, which are filled with theological musings, you would think Rush would show his hand throughout, and those particular quotes would be posted for everyone to see, with Rush explaining his views on the basics of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. Or maybe those writings don't exist. Be that as it may, none of these essential truths of the Bible are given as evidence. In light of this understanding, Rowe writes "Rush was influenced by the lens of God's benevolence when he rejected Calvin's God and in turn to Rush's conversion to Arminianism terminated."

The question is, what is Arminianism and how does it differ from Calvinism? Without getting into the theology of Jonathan Edwards, which Rowe refers to in his piece, there is no connection presented between the two. The only clue the article gives about Rush's Arminianism is the biblical concept of freewill; something the bible explicitly denies man has; either in soteriology or in anything else because man is born in sin (Psalm 51), and sin is involved in every decision man makes, including the good works he thinks he does, since his motives are always toward darkness (John 3). Even our love is tainted.

On the contrary, it appears Rush was a pseudo calvinist his entire adult life. His belief in the salvation of all people is bizarre, considering Christ's very words that hell is eternal, "The worm never dies" in Mark 9:44.

In A Sense of Deity (Chicago, 1991), 84, 88, John M. Kloos Jr. emphatically claims Rush was a Calvinist. He writes that while Jonathan Edwards "professed natural ability, but moral inability," Rush "posited a natural and collective inability." Kloos Jr. goes on to explain Rush's goal to bring Christian morality to the republic, with the highest form of ethics.

Not to mention, Henry F. May's seminal work The Enlightenment in America, written in 1976, opened the eyes of scholars to just how prevalent Calvinism was in the forming of the United States. So much so that Calvinists thought Thomas Paine was a Christian. Yet, May believed Rush's Calvinism so influential, he wrote Rush "disliked even more than Hume's teaching, the compromising, watered-down Calvinism of most of the Common Sense philosophers...a believer in Original Sin and Divine Grace" and that he only modified his Calvinism "in one respect only" becoming a universalist.

May writes, "Rush could sound as determinist as Edwards." Rush believed the "Being that created our world never takes his hand, nor his eye, for a single moment, from any part of it." (D. J. d'Elia, Pennsylvania Magazine, XXXIII, 1966, 187-203).

May sources Rush's work The Influence of Physical Causes Upon the Moral Faculty, which shows Rush's reliance on second causes for all of man's problems; disease, memory loss, etc.

Moreover, In The Universalist Movement in America 1770-1880, Ann Lee Bressler also claims Rush was an evangelical Calvinist and remained a believer in original sin and divine grace (p. 19). I will admit Rush thought knowledge was progressing and would make man better and less evil and in that sense he was a child of the enlightenment. Rush probably believed in Original Sin, but I'm not convinced he believed in total depravity in the biblical sense of Romans chapter 3. It is also obvious if Rush was a Universalist, which he became from his belief in Calvinism, then he rejected unconditional election. Rush rejected every point of biblical TULIP, in exchange for a pseudo Calvinist TULIP, while even his belief in divine grace and original sin wasn't biblical.

Rush claimed his universalism was from the bible, not from reason or human knowledge, or rather Rush was influenced by heretical writers and twisted the scriptures to fit the human reason he had read. This is why the founding clergy spoke out against heretical authors. It leads to heresy, as well as corrupting of the church. In the end Rowe is incorrect in his conclusion given it wasn't Arminianism that led Rush to universalism; it was his perusal of the five points, especially limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the Saints. In fact, earlier colonial Calvinists had become universalists before him. Rush mistakenly took John 3:16 out of context as well as some other verses, to neglect the larger revelation. Then he twisted grace to apply to everyone and he already adhered to perseverance and combined it all together. Such was the path of Benjamin Rush who wrote in The Road to Fulfillment, The Law of Truth:
And truth indeed is infinite, for there is a truth about everything. But if in our search for truth we fater and fear to go forward because we fear to go astray, here are a few directions to help us. First, we must state clearly to ourselves the problem that puzzles us. If this does not bring the answer, search the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, to see if we can find the answer. But we must be sure that the answer is in accord with the whole body of our Saviour's teaching. If we are still in doubt, pray for guidance by the Holy Spirit, quieting the mind in readiness to receive the answer..The ultimate truth is embodied in Jesus Christ, in His life, His example, and His Teachings.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Greatest Englishman: Oliver Cromwell

Cromwell, 1599-1658 became Lord Protector of England after he led the rebellion against the tyrant Charles I. After Cromwell helped free England of Monarchy, he helped form a Republic. Cromwell's  Calvinism was no secret:
The commons declared that he silenced all opposition to popery, and in the debate on the pardons to Montagu, Cosin, and Sibthorpe his conduct furnished Oliver Cromwell with the subject of his first speech in the house. On 13 June the commons voted that Dr. Neile, Bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Laud, Bishop of Bath and Wells, be named to be those near about the king who are suspected to be Arminians, and that they are justly suspected to be unsound in their opinions that way. His defence was based on the Anglican theory which found so little favour in the commons, but he was careful to purge himself from all suspicion of popery by severity towards recusants (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. passim).
The Puritan Cromwell believed true biblical faith rests in Calvinism in his letter to his cousin.

Ely, 13th October, 1638.


I thankfully acknowledge your love in your kind remembrance of me upon this opportunity. Alas, you do too highly prize my lines, and my company. I may be ashamed to own your expressions, considering how unprofitable I am, and the mean improvement of my talent.

Yet to honour my God by declaring what He hath done for my soul, in this I am confident, and I will be so. Truly, then, this I find: That He giveth springs in a dry barren wilderness where no water is. I live, you know where,-in Meshec, which they say signifies Prolonging; in Kedar, which signifies
Blackness: yet the Lord forsaketh me not. Though He do prolong, yet He will I trust bring me to His tabernacle, to His resting place. My soul is with the Congregation of the Firstborn, my body rests in hope; and if here I may honour my God either by doing or by suffering, I shall be most glad.

Truly no poor creature hath more cause to put himself forth in the cause of his God than I. I have had plentiful wages beforehand; and I am sure I shall never earn the least mite. The Lord accept me in His Son, and give me to walk in the light,-and give us to walk in the light, as He is the light! He it is that
enlighteneth our blackness, our darkness. I dare not say, He hideth His face from me. He giveth me to see light in His light. One beam in a dark place hath exceeding much refreshment in it:-blessed be His Name for shining upon so dark a heart as mine! You know what my manner of life hath been. Oh, I
lived in and loved darkness, and hated light; I was a chief, the chief of sinners.This is true; I hated godliness, yet God had mercy on me. O the riches of His mercy; Praise Him for me;-pray for me, that He who hath begun a good work would perfect it in the day of Christ. Salute all my friends in that Family whereof you are yet a member. I am much bound unto them for their love. I bless the Lord for them; and that my Son, by their procurement, is so well. Let him have your prayers, your counsel; let me have them.

Salute your Husband and Sister from me:-He is not a man of his word! He promised to write about Mr. Wrath of Epping; but as yet I receive no letters:- put him in mind to do what with conveniency may be done for the poor Cousin I did solicit him about.

Once more farewell. The Lord be with you: so prayeth

Your truly loving Cousin,


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Daniel Dreisbach on Thomas Jefferson and the First Amendment

Here is historian Daniel Dreisbach's opinion of Thomas Jefferson and separation of church and state. Dreisbach says:
Jefferson firmly believed that the First Amendment, with its metaphoric "wall of separation," prohibited religious establishments by the federal government only.
Does Dreisbach believe the modern notion of establishment is what Jefferson believed? That isn't what TJ believed nor is it what he practiced. Jefferson used the historical definition of establishment used by the other framers that was defined by the Toleration Act of 1689, although the definition was common knowledge years before that. Modern liberals and conservatives are still getting TJ's separation letter to the Danbury Baptists confused. While TJ was President, there were worship services in many government buildings, including the House of Representatives. His letter to the Baptists was to protect the church from the state, not the state from the church. Here is the ultimate violation of modern separation dogma found in a government document:
And whereas, The greater part of the said tribe [Kaskaskia Indians] have been baptised and received into the Catholic church to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars towards the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for the said tribe the duties of his office and also to instruct as many of their children as possible in the rudiments of literature. And the United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church.
Liberals come up with all kinds of excuses for this one, that because they were Indians, we could give them money and they could establish and evangelize whatever faith they wanted, with our money! The fact is, the founding fathers believed the Law of Nature applies to all peoples at all times. Secularists even claim the catholic priest will not evangelize, as if they know what a catholic priest does. Warren Throckmorton is another fake Christian, who promotes homosexual sin in his writing and distorts the truth of the Kaskaskia Treaty TJ signed, by writing, "The Kaskaskia were already Catholic converts." Yet the treaty says, "The greater part of the said tribe have been baptised and received into the Catholic church." The point is not that they were all Catholics or not; it's what the treaty says. They weren't all Catholics and it's no different than in our nation, where almost everyone were Christians, so why not promote Christianity?

Liberals want it both ways. Throckmorton's next sentence is just as misleading, writing:
Nothing is said directly about evangelizing, and is an inference. Nothing in the treaty required the priest to attempt to make converts.
Does that mean they won't evangelize? Of course they will evangelize. That's what they do. It's another smokescreen. And then he makes a stupid assumption, "He certainly could have involved himself in numerous other pastoral duties to the already converted."

Whether TJ wanted to evangelize the Kaskaskia is irrelevant. The point is TJ violated the first amendment given the fact he didn't believe he violated it. The law of nature applies to everyone:
[A] Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse.
--TJ to James Madison, December 20, 1787.

If Throckmorton is correct, TJ contradicted himself here by interfering with the Kaskaskia's religion:
I presume the views of the society are confined to our own country, for with the religion of other countries, my own forbids intermedling. I had not supposed there was a family in this state not possessing a bible and without having the means to procure one. when, in earlier life I was intimate with every class, I think I never was in a house where that was the case. however, circumstances may have changed, and the society I presume have evidence of the fact. I therefore inclose you chearfully an order on Messrs Gibson and Jefferson for 50.D.
--TJ to Samuel Greenhow, January 31, 1814.

TJ did not feel he could intervene with other nations and their religion because those rights are inerrant in the Law of Nature. James Madison believed the same thing:
[E]very government should be disarmed of powers which trench upon those particular rights.
--JM. Annals of Congress, June 8, 1789.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anglican Priest Calling George Washington a Christian

One of George Washington's best friends was the Reverend Jonathan Boucher. He was an Anglican Priest who supported his home country and left for England before the Revolution. Here are his letters to GW. He believed Washington was a Christian, writing after the Revolution:
To resemble Cincinnatus is but small praise: be it yours, Sir, to enjoy the calm repose and holy serenity of a Christian hero; and may " the Lord bless your latter end more than the beginning.""
Boucher tutored GW's stepson and may not have been an evangelical, but believed the essentials nonetheless.

Entertaining all due respect for my ordination vows, I am firm in my resolution, whilst I pray at all, to conform to the unmutilated Liturgy of my Church; and, reverencing the injunctions of an Apostle. I will continue to pray for the King, and all who are in authority under him; and I will do so, not only because I am so commanded, but that, as the Apostle adds, 'we may continue to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.' Inclination as well as duty confirms me in this purpose. As long as T live, therefore—yes, whilst I have my being, will I, with Zadok the Priest, with Nathan the Prophet, proclaim—' God save the King.'"
 GW's close friendship with Boucher is common knowledge among historians, but it isn't a stretch to say GW was friendly with High Church Anglicans. It was GW who asked Boucher to tutor his stepson. This is more evidence of GW's admiration of the Anglican form of Worship and James Madison's opinion that he was orthodox.

Friday, April 11, 2014


From Bill Fortenberry's blog, Mayhew is quoted:
But this is not the only specimen which this writer has given of his candor towards me, with respect to doctrinal points. In his flaming apostrophe ... he accuses me of "attempts to undermine the fundamental principles of their faith" -- "those essential doctrines" -- "the doctrines of grace" -- destroying the fundamental principles of their faith" -- and "undermining the dignity and divinity of the Son of God." -- All these railings and accusations are in page 77. In the next, I am said to "deny and ridicule the doctrine of justification by faith;" -- to "discard the notion of original sin;" -- and to "brand the notion of imputed righteousness with the reproach of nonsense." ... Concerning all which, as they respect myself, I protest before God and the world that they are absolute falsehoods. Nor has he produced a single sentence from any of my writings, to support any one of them; which, he knew, was not in his power.

He has indeed had the confidence to refer in the margin, to some of my sermons, to render his groundless accusations the more plausible; hoping his word would be taken. but whoever will be at the pains to turn to these passages, will find the whole amount of them to be this -- that I explode certain wrong and unscriptural explanations of those doctrines; some of them tending to licentiousness; while I not only allow, but assert and prove the doctrines, in a sober, scriptural sense. What an iniquitous artifice is this, to bring such general charges without quotations; and without making any distinction betwixt the doctrines of Scripture in general, and unscriptural refinements upon them? I appeal to God and the world -- nay, to the conscience of this virulent accuser himself, if it is not such an one as we read of in one of St. Paul's epistles. (I Timothy 4:2)
If Mayhew was an Arian as Gregg Frazer claims, where are the quotes from Mayhew?

Monday, April 7, 2014

John Adams' Supposed Heterodox Theology

     I can't remember I've seen many other secularists trod out this letter except for Jon Rowe on the American Creation blog, so I thought I would give my interpretation of John Adams' 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson, if only because the context appears so clear. The fact this letter was written when John Adams was retired and not representative of the people makes it irrelevant to the founding, but I'll play along. Here is the entire part of the letter and contains the context.
I have examined all, as well as my narrow sphere, my straitened means, and my busy life would allow me ; and the result is, that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more of my little philosophy than all the libraries I have seen; and such parts of it as I cannot reconcile to my little philosophy, I postpone for future investigation. Priestley ought to have given us a sketch of the religion and morals of Zoroaster, of Sanchoniathon, of Confucius, and all the founders of religions before Christ, whose superiority would, from such a comparison, have appeared the more transcendent. Priestley ought to have told us that Pythagoras passed twenty years in his travels in India, in Egypt, in Chaldea, perhaps in Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon. He ought to have told us, that in India he conversed with the Brahmins, and read the Shasta, five thousand years old, written in the language of the sacred Sanscrit, with the elegance and sentiments of Plato. Where is to be found theology more orthodox, or philosophy more profound, than in the introduction to the Shasta? "God is one, creator of all, universal sphere, without beginning, without end. God governs all the creation by a general providence, resulting from his eternal designs. Search not the essence and the nature of the Eternal, who is one; your research will be vain and presumptuous. It is enough, that, day by day and night by night, you adore his power, his wisdom, and his goodness, in his works. The Eternal willed, in the fulness of time, to communicate of his essence and of his splendor, to beings capable of perceiving it. They as yet existed not. The Eternal willed, and they were. He created Birma, Vitsnow, and Sib." These doctrines, sublime, if ever there were any sublime, Pythagoras learned in India, and taught them to Zaleucus and his other disciples. He there learned also his metempsychosis; but this never was popular, never made much progress in Greece or Italy, or any other country besides India and Tartary, the region of the grand immortal Lama. And how does this differ from the possessions of demons in Greece and Rome, from the demon of Socrates, from the worship of cows and crocodiles in Egypt and elsewhere? After migrating through various animals, from elephants to serpents, according to their behavior, souls that, at last, behaved well, became men and women, and then, if they were good, they went to Heaven. All ended in Heaven, if they became virtuous. Who can wonder at the widow of Malabar ? Where is the lady who, if her faith were without doubt that she should go to Heaven with her husband on the one hand, or migrate into a toad or a wasp on the other, would not lie down on the pile, and set fire to the fuel ? Modifications and disguises of the metempsychosis had crept into Egypt, and Greece, and Rome, and other countries. Have you read Farmer on the demons and possessions of the New Testament? [bold face mine]
As anyone can see, this quote throws a wrench into Jon's narrative about the founding and a generic god as God of the DOI. Adams says the religion of Christ is superior to all the others. Moving to the other part in bold, Adams quotes the intro to the Shasta? I've never read it, but it's clear Adams is saying this part is just as orthodox as the Bible, which it is, especially if you are a unitarian like Adams. This quote by itself doesn't have anything to do with the equality of Christianity, as he's already said Christ is superior.

As Bill Fortenberry says, "Now, you said that Adams does the "SAME THING" with the Hymn to Zeus that he did to the Hindu Shastra, and I agree. Adams recognized in the Hymn to Zeus a certain agreement with Christian doctrine, and in the Hindu Shastra, he also found certain agreements with Christianity. In the former he discovered an agreement in regards to the devotion that man owes to God, and in the latter he saw agreement in the concept that God is both one and three at the same time." All is well until that last part.

Bill gives the correct context for the below quote:
It has pleased the Providence of the first Cause, the Universal Cause, that Abraham should give religion not only to Hebrews but to Christians and Mahomitans, the greatest part of the modern civilized world.
– John Adams to M.M. Noah, July 31, 1818.
In regards to Adams' letter to M. M. Noah, the comment which you quoted is nothing more than a statement of fact. All three of those religions trace their origin to Abraham. The Christians trace their religion through Christ, the Jewish through Isaac and the Muslims through Ishmael. There is much in the Bible about God's blessing on the nations that are now predominantly Muslim beginning with God's promise to bless Ishmael at Abraham's request in Genesis 17:20. Of course, this does not mean that the Muslim religion is correct, but it does show that the statement made by Adams is accurate.
The Christian nation thesis is again, above reproach to any secular darts thrown its way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Strong Testimony George Washington was a Christian

GW may not have been an Evangelical, but he affirms several biblical statements, including Eve eating the forbidden fruit, and Pharoah's mandate the Israelites make bricks without straw. The Garden of Eden narrative is interesting in that the Fall pertains directly to Original Sin.
You have our most Ardent Prayers to Almighty God for your happiness & prosperity in this enjoyment of the fruits of your own Labour and of every domestic Bliss; and that after a long Period of extensive usefulness here, you may be prepared for and; receive the glorious reward of eternal Life in the World to come. 
 --Elias Boudinot to General Washington, Jan 11, 1784

Along with fellow Presbyterian William Bradford, Elias Boudinot was one of GW's closest friends. Boudinot was a staunch Evangelical, saved after the Great Awakening. Yet Boudinot believed Washington was saved. This is strong prima facie evidence for GW's faith:

Washington is no more..There has a great man fallen in Israel [America]..It is appointed for all men once to die--but after that the judgment--We have great cause of gratitude & thankfulness, amidst our mourning that God in his Providence has continued him so long a public blessing and that he has ended his days crowned in glory.
--To his brother, Dec 19, 1799.

This is very interesting because it is doubtful Boudinot would claim one of his closest friends was saved unless he knew it. Boudinot remarks what happens to the unrepentant sinner:
What an essential difference there is between the death of a child of God and that of the sinner, who has lived without God in the World. 
--To his Nephew, Nov 27, 1819.
Boudinot's sister Annis, another staunch Presbyterian, and close friend to Washington, believed he was a Christian:

But thy last legacy, renouned chief,
Hack decked thy brow with honors more sublimed,
Twined in thy wreath, the Christian's firm belief,
And nobly owned thy faith to future time.
--Family letters, 1783.

Boudinot's brother married Bradford's sister Rachel.