John Calvin and the American Founding
By: Reed R. Heustis, Jr., Esq.
July 11, AD 2009
The commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great Geneva Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, took place this past July 10, 2009. Without question, Calvin was a giant among men used by God to rediscover and expound on biblical truth that long had been forgotten and rejected by Rome. His influence on all spheres of life is immeasurable, and today, his understanding of theology is making a huge comeback within certain quarters of the Christian community.
However, what Americans do not realize immediately is that the birth of the American republic is steeped in Calvinist presuppositions, and perhaps it is precisely this fact that leads Secular Humanists into a quest to dismantle every vestige of Christianity from America's heritage.
One of the key presuppositions to which the founding fathers held at the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was the fallen nature of Man. They presupposed that Man's entire capacity was intrinsically evil, and that outside of God's sovereign grace, Man could accomplish no good thing. The Bible makes it plain: "[T]he intent of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen. 8:21)
One of Man's sins is his insatiable lust for power. Unless restrained, a powerful man will stop at nothing to trample the rights of others. He must be restrained both inwardly with the power of the Holy Spirit, and outwardly with mechanistic controls. Therefore, many state constitutions required a belief in Christ as a prerequisite to hold office, while the framers devised a federal Constitution that was intended specifically to check and balance the ambitions of men lest they accumulate tyrannical powers.
James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 51, "What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"
Disappointingly, Secular Humanists have uprooted the Constitution from its original presuppositions. Today federal judges constantly adopt the notion that the founding document is nothing but an evolving Constitution that can be reinterpreted to fit every whim and fancy. Instead of allowing the People to amend the Constitution the proper way via the built-in amendment process, judicial activists have taken the golden calf of Darwinism and applied it to constitutional jurisprudence. As expected, many of these same judges reject the Calvinist - and more accurately, biblical - presupposition that Man is a fallen being. As a result, America has been left with a judicial oligarchy rather than a Constitutional republic.
By default, when one rejects Calvin's presupposition, he necessarily adopts that of Karl Marx. Author of the Communist Manifesto, Marx presupposed that Man is inherently good, and that all of Man's problems are the result of a bad environment.
Such a Marxist presupposition inevitably leads to Statism because if Man is inherently good, then there is no need for governmental checks and balances that prevent Man from governing pursuant to his "goodness". Marx recognized this and tried to belittle Christian presuppositions by smearing religion as "the opiate of the masses". Of course, what Marx did not disclose is that his own presupposition is no less religious because it is rooted in the religion of Secular Humanism.
It is ironic when people offer a caricature of conservative Christians as those who would impose a top-down tyranny that forces each and every subject to believe in every jot and tittle of their theology. In reality, it is the other way around: it is the Secular Humanist who lusts for the reins of state power in order to shape society according to his own Christless vision. It is the Statist who is the tyrant, not the conservative Christian who holds to the presuppositions upon which the Constitution is based.
Some readers indubitably will conclude that Calvinism is too negative and pessimistic. On the contrary, Calvinism is extremely positive and optimistic. The true Calvinist recognizes that it is undeniable that Good most definitely is found in Man. Goodness is spotted whenever adults lovingly adopt an orphan into their homes; whenever the rich feed the starving; whenever victims forgive their enemies; or whenever a rescuer sacrifices his life for that of another. Shame on those who would depict the Calvinist as nothing but a doom-and-gloom ogre. The Calvinist not only recognizes the existence of Good in Man, but also celebrates it.
However, it must be remembered that any Good found in Man comes not from Man's inherent nature, but from above. Left to his own devices, Man is depraved and in rebellion against God. If God ever were to withdraw His hand of common grace, the entire planet would transform into a Hell on earth faster than a lightning bolt blasts from east to west.
Constitutional attorney, John Eidsmoe, sums it up in his book, Christianity and the Constitution, The Faith of our Founding Fathers, by writing, "The fact man has a sinful nature does not mean he is incapable of doing good. God bestowed his common grace on all mankind, and it is manifested through human reason and human conscience."
John Calvin's influence upon the American founding cannot be denied. Whereas most Christians in the nascent American republic held to Calvinistic presuppositions, today most people reject them, including - sadly - self-professing Christians who have wandered from their theological roots. Thus, it comes as no shocker that the Constitution has been all but hijacked by Secular Humanists and those who reject Calvinism at every turn.
Many of today's Conservatives wrongly suggest that if the Constitution simply were to be "restored", then most of America's ills would vanish. They miss the point entirely. The problem is not a broken Constitution. The problem is sin.
Unless there is national repentance and reformation, neither the Constitution nor the American republic will ever be restored.
Five hundred years ago, God blessed the world with the birth of John Calvin, and then later blessed the New World with his theological influence. Let us pray that 500 years from now, when it is time to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of Calvin, every nation on earth will embrace the many precious biblical truths championed by Calvin, and proclaim the Kingship of Jesus Christ.
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com
Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.
Printer Friendly Version |
Return to home |
Send this article to a friend
I am always surprised by Americans’ deference to the Founding Fathers. Too often a discussion about what should happen becomes a debate about what a particular Founding Father thought. Founding Fathers can be wrong: “what would Jesus do?” may be a guide to action, “what would Jefferson do isn’t”.
If the thesis on Jefferson’s Calvinist views outlined above is true (there are good reasons to think that it is not) then this is simply a case of “Jefferson got it wrong”. The existence of societies that manage to be good with neither extensive state religious action, nor common observance of the public (eg Scandinavia) demonstrates that neither are necessary conditions for a “good” country.
|Posted On: 07/22/09 07:46:52 AM
||Age 45, ENGLAND
People love to use the word Calvin as a pejorative. I believe people don't have a problem with Calvin, they have a problem with "Sola Scriptura". They want to add humanism to the dynamic of salvation. The problem is it isn't in scripture. They need to look at Calvin's doctrinal statements and see if they are in scripture, if not they should be rejected. People need to know what they believe and why. Many don't want to emphasize doctrine because what they believe doesn't line up with scripture.
|Posted On: 07/15/09 10:46:16 AM
||Age 58, NC
Calvin or Christ?
I have studied Calvinism for a number of years, and have been taught by a number of great Calvinist leaders, and it is amazing how the church body is so willing to follow man. Calvin WAS a great reformer but he did not take the place of Jesus Christ or the inspired word of God. Yet there are people and congregations that deify him to the extent of nausea.
The question is What form or sect of Calvinism should we follow? In my small town of less than 100,000 I know of three very diverse flavors of Calvinism, all off on their own interpretation of what Calvin tried to do. My question is this -- If Calvin was scripturally correct then why do we need him? The answer -- Because it is a way that we can re-define scripture to our own needs and still claim Christianity.
God inspired all scripture, and to think that we need some man to tell us that God in His wisdom wasn't able to communicate His Word properly and so we need man's help to understand God's Word is just plain dumb.
We are to be lifting up Jesus Christ, not man.
|Posted On: 07/15/09 10:18:53 AM
||Age 67, CA
Calvin, Murderer, Tyrant, Laywer, French, need I say more? Just kidding about the French part.
|Posted On: 07/14/09 07:00:13 AM
||Age 46, PA
Click Here to Watch Now
Ebook + Hard Cover
Click Here for Details
Sign up to receive our
FREE Biblical Worldview Newsletter!