Excerpt from “The Failure of the American Baptist Culture: The Intellectual Schitzophrenia of the New Christian Right”

The preparatory stage, from 1860 to 1900, can be described in a number of ways. Using the terms broadly we may call it a transition from a basically “Calvinistic” tradition, which saw politics as a significant means to advance the kingdom, to a “pietistic” view of political action as no more than a means to restrain evil. This change can be seen as a move from Old Testament to New Testament”models for understanding politics. It corresponds also, as is often noted, to the change from postmillennial to premillennial views of the relation of the kingdom to the present social and political order. In America it was also related to the rise of the holiness movement.

The prepatory stage in question refers to the eventual “Great Reversal,” or retreat of Christianity from the American political scene.

The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, ed. James Jordan. This particular essay is the first in the symposium, by Gary North.

I’m a sucker for free resources.

Few premillennial-holiness evangelists, however, carried the implications of their position to the conclusion — more often found in the Anabaptist tradition — that since Satan ruled this age and its governments, Christians should avoid all political action, even voting. Far more characteristic was a position – typical of the pietist tradition – that saw governments as ordained by God to restrain evil, so that politics in this respect was a means to do good. What they gave up – at least in theory – was the Calvinist- Puritan Old Testament covenantal view of the identity of the people of God with the advance of a religious-political kingdom.

Brings to mind a few things I’d been thinking about but couldn’t quite put into words.

“Humanistic law, moreover, is inescapably totalitarian law. Humanism, as a logical development of evolutionary theory, holds fundamentally to a concept of an evolving universe. This is held to be an “open universe,” whereas Biblical Christianity, because of its faith in the triune God and His eternal decree, is said to be a faith in a “closed universe. ” This terminology not only intends to prejudice the case; it reverses reality. The universe of evolution and humanism is a closed universe. There is no law, no appeal, no higher order, beyond and above the universe. Instead of an open window upwards, there is a closed cosmos. There is
thus no ultimate law and decree beyond man and the universe. In practice, this means that the positive law of the state is absolute law. The state is the most powerful and most highly organized expression of humanistic man, and the state is the form and expression of humanistic law. Because there is no higher law of God as judge over the universe, over every human order, the law of the state is a closed system of law. There is no appeal beyond it. Man has no “right,” no realm of justice, no source of law beyond the state, to which he can appeal against the state. Humanism therefore imprisons man within the closed world of the state and the closed universe of the evolutionary scheme.” (Rushdoony)

If I can make it further in this text, reading around my school work, I’ll keep y’all updated as best I can when particular things strike my interest, but I encourage y’all to read it for yourselves and comment (especially those of you with more time than me).

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