America’s Calvinist foundations by Harry Seabrook
Posted: 15 November 2008 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]
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America’s Calvinist foundations by Harry Seabrook

America’s Calvinist foundations

by Harry Seabrook

It is estimated that two-thirds of the 3 million Americans at the time of the Revolutionary War were Reformed Protestants, and even that leaves out the many Episcopalians, who had a Reformed confession in the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the descendants of the French Huguenots. Presbyterians, above all, were responsible for convincing the colonists to revolt even though, prior to the war, about 40% of the population was pro-British.

“Whatever the cause, the Calvinists were the only fighting Protestants. It was they whose faith gave them courage to stand up for the Reformation. In England, Scotland, France, Holland, they, and they only, did the work, and but for them the Reformation would have been crushed… If it had not been for Calvinists, Huguenots, Puritans, and whatever you like to call them, the Pope and Philip would have won, and we should either be Papists or Socialists.” ~ Sir John Skelton

Image: “Put Watts into ‘em, boys! Give ‘em Watts!” The Rev. James Caldwell and his famous hymnals.

“[Calvinists] are the true heroes of England. They founded England, in spite of the corruption of the Stuarts, by the exercise of duty, by the practice of justice, by obstinate toil, by vindication of right, by resistance to oppression, by the conquest of liberty, by the repression of vice. They founded Scotland; they founded the United States; at this day they are, by their descendants, founding Australia and colonizing the world.” ~ French atheist Hippolyte Taine (1828 to 1893)

“Calvinism has been the chief source of republican government.” ~ Lorraine Boettner

“In Calvinism lies the origin and guarantee of our constitutional liberties.” ~ Goren van Prinsterer

Historian George Bancroft called Calvin “the father of America,” and added, “He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”

“John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.” ~ German historian Leopold von Ranke ...

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Posted: 15 November 2008 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Good quotes! Only one I might quibble about—Sir John Skelton forgets relatively early on, before Calvin took the reigns of the reformation from Melanchton, Lutherans lead the charge via the Schamlkaldic League. The League was not the first defensive pact, but it was the first that actually fought in the field of battle. There were also the ‘radical reformers’ or Anabaptists who lead peasant riots and mobs into seizing the state and establishing a “charismatic theocracy” such as in Munster 1532-5. I kind of see the Anabaptists as the original ‘fundamentalists’.


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

Another interesting note was despite the centrality of Calvinism in pre-revolutionary culture, Methodists and Baptist revivalism would sweep America shortly after the War for Independence, displacing the central role of Calvinism, reversing the earlier numerical dominance of Calvinist churches.  While one might argue America has since been a Baptist country, we could also credit Calvin and the Puritans for much of the Baptist creed via London Confession. After all, what were congregationalist except Baptists who sprinkle infants? The problems around the half-way covenant also betrayed a baptist tendency in the sense children were denied baptism if parents did not have a credible believer’s conversion. Something very baptistic about that…Anyway, the Puritans had much more in common with early Baptists, even the free will variety, than Anglicans but maybe much of this was caused by internicene war and conflict?

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