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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Friday, January 21 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Self-evident truths

Wednesday's entry got a bit dense, so I want to hack away some of the overgrowth. One trailblazing contribution to that would be clarifying our goal. It is simply to get a handle on the "mindset of the age," the age of the American Revolution which coincides with the beginning of the most popular movements in Protestant religion since the 16th century, the birth of Methodism and the first great growth spurt of the relatively new Baptists, and the tremendous influence both of them exerted on all other older denominations like the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Reformed, Lutherans, Episcopalians, even Catholics and Orthodox. And the longer goal is to see implications from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for our own twenty-first century.

It's tempting to flatly condemn the common-sense-realism philosophy that was a major contributor to the mindset of that age, to see it as a form of apostasy (turning from the faith) to the extent that it became synthesized with biblical faith, but it isn't as simple as that. If you say as I did on Wednesday that to those swept up in the currents of the time, "the beginning of wisdom is in everyday common sense," and you know that the Bible repeatedly specifies that "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord," you see common sense as heretical and an enemy of biblical religion. Though that's easy in hindsight, I'm sure it was not so easy at the time. For one thing, the preaching of the Great Awakening and the whole two centuries we're considering, was more orthodox on the whole than that of our own time, where the "mindset of the era" is concerned with psychological well being and self-esteem, which are not particular doctrines of the Bible or church history.

"The beginning of wisdom (philosophy) is in everyday common sense" is heresy first because it contradicts the Bible's plain assertion that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). It also ignores the biblical truth of humanity's fall, which teaches us that no human wisdom is infallible, and no where does it teach that putting together a lot of faulty opinions produces truth. And ironically it ignored what would seem to be a bit of common sense in itself. Those like John Leland (quoted here on Monday and again on Wednesday) who preached that "the simple man, who makes nature and reason his study, [is] a competent judge of things," fails to see the "self-evodent truth" that people are not created equal; that some are bright and some dull, some handicapped mentally and physically and others exceptionally intelligent and strong. But the spirit of that age was so powerful that the great majority seem to have believed what the Declaration of Independence stated, "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...."

Both the first claim, that certain truths are "self-evident" and the second, "that all men are created equal," are pure "common-sense realism" philosophy applied to the call to revolution and the beginning of a new kind of democratic republican government. It was so widely and so fervently believed at the time that even if it isn't common sense (at least as I see it) that didn't matter. The people believed it so strongly, and wanted to believe it so strongly that they were willing to fight to the death to "secure these freedoms" to paraphrase their Declaration. It worked. It wasn't orthodox Christianity, not an attempt to establish a biblically based republic, but it succeeded in defeating a widely despised tyranny based in England. It emancipated the common people, and that, though far from perfect. was a good thing. And though the synthesis of the Christian revival of those years with republican fervor based on a faulty theory of human equality and the nature of truth and how it is obtained, though far from perfect, was in the long run a good thing, too.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*Total Truth, Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey, Crossway Books, 2004, pages 311-312.

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Classic Hollywood Squares, 4

If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous! Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I love you"?

A. Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty

Q. What are "Do It," "I Can Help," and "I Can't Get Enough"?

A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment. . .

Thought for today

...please try to realize that when you see news coverage much of the time you're not getting the whole story, but an account filtered through a liberal mindset with an agenda.

Charlie Daniels  
sent by "Moo"
 

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