December 1, 2016 at 6:01 pm #13589
David W. EmeryKeymaster@David W. Emery
Dedric, you are hitting on all cylinders.December 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm #13588
I just read an article that provides a perfect example of the contrary scenario to a moral society and how atheism leads to legalistic, totalitarianism: France’s government has proposed a bill that would criminalize pro-life websites, and by extension it seems likely, pro-life speech. I believe Canada has some similar laws on speech against gay marriage or gender identiy; and Ontario just passed a law removing natural parenthood from it’s definition of “parent”, effectively eliminating children’s inherent connection to biological parents.
There is a global shift towards restricting and defining morality from the state level in direct contradiction to God’s laws, and aimed at undermining faith itself. In the absence of clear moral guidance from faith in God, the world will fill the gaps – that is why we find the great need to influence our nations’ laws. If we don’t, atheism will.
Our world needs a lot of prayer.December 1, 2016 at 6:19 pm #13587
David W. EmeryKeymaster@David W. Emery
Yes, this “culture war” is what I was referring to, earlier in the discussion. It is driving Christians out of these countries which we call our own. It is basically a fight for dominance and control, the state against any and all religions. For the past century, we in the west have criticized the Communist governments for doing this. Now we are seeing the same thing happen with our own governments. Now we are the victims.
DavidMarch 16, 2017 at 8:17 pm #21468
Steven BarrettParticipant@Steven Barrett
It’s always nice to read a complimentary nod to John Adams. He’s never shaken off his signing on to the Alien & Sedition Acts, something Abigail was far more forcefully in favor of using, especially against her husband’s most severe critics. (If we think our political environment is rough today, the Cable talkies of our time are much tamer in comparison to the very scurrilous “coverage” and blatant manufacturing of “fake news.” Truth be said, John Adams would’ve never resorted to using religion the way it’s used nowadays. And when he wrote the words above, I believe it was in context of his authorship of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ first truly bicameral republican form of colonial Constitution, written between his two assigned overseas diplomatic tours. The Constitution is the oldest extant document of its kind in the world.
Of course he relied upon the two pillars of Christianity and higher civic respect for individuals’ rights and the need for an enlightened government, and we know both go hand in hand in shaping of anybody’s heart and mind when it comes to writing a document meant to stand the trials of time. He never believed in a rigid unbending Constitution seemingly in high favor with a contemporary group of conservative “Federalists” who believe in following what the Founders said and wrote to the nth degree. Nor did he buy into Jefferson’s far more loosely structured idea that the Constitution could and should be amended more often than it has been. Indeed, he was right in saying one generation does not or shouldn’t have the right to bind the next on every single issue.
The idea of Adams’ losing his Christian faith is a bit of a stretch, only because to take his Congregationalist/Unitarian beliefs and roots closer to his time and to place them against the far more liberal Congregationalist and Unitarian denominations of present times doesn’t do justice to either. Adams was a devout (Protestant) Christian man in his own way and in his own time. Although he didn’t at first understand Catholic rituals and beliefs, much to his credit, he never allowed any differences he had picked up (no doubt through many years of exposure to strong Protestant Yankee Puritan sermons and what he further learned at Harvard.) John Adams was far ahead of his time. So when he spoke about the Constitution the way he did towards religion, he was primarily reflecting the predominant religious, intellectual and social formation of educated people of his time. He was also sending a hidden message to anybody else tempted to rely more heavily upon the early Republican laws established by the pagans who were the dominate law creators, shapers and enforcers during Rome’s greatest era. (The same can be said for that other font of intellectual greatness from the Classical era.)
Adams’ statement was added as an advisory tip to his fellow Bay Staters to stay within the basic findings he left them to work with.
When Adams later succeeded George Washington, he faced a terror/hostage situation with the Algerian Bey and the subject of the captive Americans came up, esp. as to whether or not they were carrying out their duties in the Navy as instruments of the “Christian God” in addition to their nation’s maritime pursuits. Adams said because the United States is not a religious republic, their religion must not be held against them. This eventually led to their release.
Contrast what might’ve happened if Adams was restricted by a law passed by some folks who would change our present-day Constitution’s first amendment to declare the U.S. as a “Bible Christian Nation.” That’s all it would take for any Islamic nation, terrorist ring or Muslim pirates to justify executing their captives and there’d be very little we could do to protect our diplomats and service men and women in uniform. It would also render any civilian U.S. employee working in an Islamic fundamentalist nation immediately at risk in some countries.
Sometimes a well guided compromise approach can and must always be sought for us to defend our people, our interests and our moral values. Despite what any of our modern-day legal or theological “Originalists” might say, the Bible (as a whole) and Canon Law were never meant to be so tightly written and edited to choke off all future debates. Of all the Founding Fathers, John Adams stands the tallest, save for possibly two other Adamses, John Quincy and Abigail.March 16, 2017 at 9:17 pm #21471
Despite what any of our modern-day legal or theological “Originalists” might say, the Bible (as a whole) and Canon Law were never meant to be so tightly written and edited to choke off all future debates.
Perhaps this is mis-worded, but we (laity) do not have the authority to say that either the Bible or Canon law are open for public debate, or to judge the intent on why and how either was written. The Bible was divinely revealed through human authors, guided by the Holy Spirit, canonized by the Church as such. The intent of scripture isn’t open for debate, and neither is God’s intent for the moral and spiritual design of humanity. It was defined by God when he created us, and the world around us.
John Adams is simply a human interpreter with his own personal beliefs, but he was not an authority on faith or the Church. He wasn’t even Catholic. He was Unitarian (Congregationalist by birth), so of course his view of faith and governance would be secularized. In becoming universalist, he rejected the Trinity, and divinity of Christ. He chose law over faith, and hence, viewed government and legislation through a universalist lens. Much of the current Protestant culture views government and morality in a similar way, and for good reason – that is concept upon which the US was founded – universalist deism (all religions are equal), not true Christianity. This is why so many in modern culture see faith and government as completely exclusive – because of the idea that all religions have equal rights and merit, and that God’s laws are a matter of personal belief rather than absolute authority. But that is not in keeping with Christ’s or the Church’s teachings of 2000 years.
Contrast the hostage example you listed with how the apostles and most of the early Christian Church were treated by a government that did not acknowledge one true God – their faith was held against them, as it is in the Middle East under Islam, and is slowly becoming the case in the US and other semi- “democratic” nations under atheistic cultural beliefs. There are modern examples here in the US where faith is being held against Christians for exactly the same separatist reasons you are attributing to John Adams, and these are mild cases of persecution compared to other countries around the world.
I see a danger in looking at historical examples that, on the surface, seem to imply the necessity of a “separation of Church and State”. Tangibly it leads us to a separation of not just Church and State, but eventually a separation of faith from society, and finally, morality from conscience. But on an even larger scale, such a conclusion could imply that God’s laws are somehow inferior to man’s, rather than properly viewing God’s laws as the elemental basis from which all of mankind derives the very concept of authority, leadership, and morality.June 29, 2017 at 8:40 pm #22869
Steven BarrettParticipant@Steven Barrett
Dedrict, I’m glad you pointed to my error above. I wasn’t trying to equate the lay/secular formation of our civic laws with the Vatican’s approach which has to be different. But let’s face it, both Adamses and the generation of leaders who founded the Republic, (the real “Greatest Generation”) carefully took the best scholarly tracts and treatises on English law available and produced the framework for our nation. Perfect? Far from it, and in fact from the Declaration of Independence to the formation of the Constitution in 1787 following in the wake of Shay’s Rebellion, the only “national canon” close to what the delegates produced was John Adams’ (amazingly enough, hastily written) Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was still a legal British colony. I don’t believe for a moment that the quote above was ever meant to serve as a mean-spirited and divisive wedge to drive out Catholics, Jews, Quakers, et al. Sam Adams, however, would’ve wasted no time in using what John meant to serve as an informal expression of his desire for some form of comity and a less fractured society, to be quite the opposite. Sam Adams was as virulent an anti-Catholic as Ian Paisley was in Norhern Ireland during Ulster’s (hopefully last) rash of sectarian violence.
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