Puritan Values & Republican Values

I have put together the following table based on material on pp. 116-7 of Mark Noll’s book, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada.

Noll makes the case, rather convincingly I would say, that the Christianity of New England had much in common with the rising political ideals which were leading toward the American Revolution. What is just as easy to see is that the same close relationship is still here today.
What is remarkable is that so many Christians, both then and now, seem to miss the fact that our Lord said, “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting… But as it is, My kingdom is not of this place.”
For much of my life, I was among the vast number of believers in Jesus who believed that the ideals of His kingdom and the ideals of founding American political theory (what Noll is calling “republicanism”) were in almost complete harmony. As a Christian, I understood that there would never be a perfect government until the Lord Himself ruled over all in an ultimate sense. But I figured that until the day came that He actually did so, America’s democratic republic was as good as we could get. Maybe it is. But what I would say now is that it is light-years removed from anything like the kingdom of God.

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8 thoughts on “Puritan Values & Republican Values

  1. Is this “republicanism” as opposed to “democratcy” (the idea of more government programs, less private jobs) or the idea of power by and of the people (as opposed to the government doles out the citizen rights)?

    • The latter… This is Republicanism as the political philosophy on which the US was founded. It’s Republicanism based, in name, on the Ancient Roman ideal, but more nearly on Enlightenment thought coming from Locke (“Social Contract” – Two Treatises on Government), Scottish Common Sense philosophy, and Adam Smith-style laissez faire economics. Obviously, today’s Republican party stands in closer relationship to these ideas than today’s Democratic party.
      But both left and right sides of the American aisle are liberals in the original and still best understanding of the word. Today’s conservatives are those who look back at a certain point in the progression or story of Enlightenment liberalism (perhaps the Antebellum period, or the Gilded Age, or the 1920s, or 50s) and say “Ahhhhhh the good ol’ days. We oughta try to hang on to (read: ‘conserve’) as much of that era as we can! Darn those blankity-blank ‘liberals’ who want to go too far down the path!!” 🙂

  2. I don’t see how liberal media-types can write, what with those uncalloused, milky-soft little digits all bundled in bulky kid gloves and all. Oh, when the target of their “reporting” is a conservative politico, or even Tea Party Joe, off come the gloves. But when it’s one of their own – when circumstances require that a fellow liberal undergo a modicum of journalistic scrutiny – its simpatico most sublime. Out with the inquiry; in with the Huggies and tushie powder.

    • Dear visitors and readers of TLW —
      The above comment from Tim was quite a bit lengthier than shown here.
      I have taken out most of the comment for the time being. After I have a chance to go over it more thoroughly, I may restore some or all of it. For the time being, I think it best to hold it aside.
      The other day I heard a show on one of our local Christian radio stations preceded by words to this effect: “The following broadcast is a paid advertisement. The views expressed by the host and guests on the program do not reflect those of this radio station.”
      My thought was: Hey, folks at such-and-such radio station, your disclaimer does not really mean much. You are still giving air to those views. The fact that you are getting money to do so does not absolve you from connection to the views expressed therein. (It was just a silly vitamin show or something, but the point remains.)
      Similarly, as I skimmed over the comment here, my first thought was to write either a comment or a new post saying that the views expressed in the comments here on TLW do not (necessarily) reflect those of the blogger, Talmid. But then, I thought about that Christian radio station. Since this is my blog, and I have the power to decide whether to publish comments or not, there is a moral expectation that I be careful about what I let be said here.
      By the way, that is what I am doing here — being careful.
      It is quite possible that, after I have a chance carefully to look over the comment, I may restore the whole thing just as was written. We’ll see… 🙂

  3. By the way. Us, so called G.C.E.’s have a sincere appreciation for your previous so called intellectual’s chart and previous comment. Are you more interested in truth than you are letting on my dear cousin?

  4. Hey, that is appreciated. It was a political statement, meant to provoke the same kind of chatter. Are we allowed to speak on language, culture, and borders in the current political climate?

    • Of course! Please do!
      I appreciate that you or anyone would want to visit and leave comments–and even extended commentary–here at TLW. But it is important to me not to harbor certain sentiments here.
      I do not want to be unkind, but the material I removed from your recent comment was just the sort of stuff I have just described in my reply to your comment on the “Canada” post.
      Hope that makes sense. 🙂

  5. I was simply demonstrating a more extreme example of a “right” endowed by our beloved Creator, and the fact that I would stand up for someone’s free speech even if I knew it was wrong. If we do not know what others believe we can not love, and help them effectively. There is a time and a place for censoring, and it would be to protect the weak and innocent. Sometimes we must live in reality even if it is harsh. Scripture is full of examples as you well know. You wanted me to participate, and now I am here intermittently in living color. I hope it will be a joy to you. I am learning as of late even more so that we humans take ourselves too seriously.

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