Friday, June 19, 2009

Calvinism, History & Homeschooling

Many homeschoolers--like many conservative Evangelicals--imbibe on the glories of yesteryear: when Christianity dominated early America. In fact, it is not uncommon that homeschoolers pride themselves as a continuation of that past generation.

But what if what you know about that past generation was wrong? Would that make you think twice about cause and effect--that the cause of what we deem a successful Christian past was anchored in a specific form of Christianity and not some generic, vague and amorphous Deism that many Americans believe today?

Consider:

1. The founders of the three main settlements, Jamestown, Plymouth and Massachusetts, were creedal Calvinists.
2. The Huguenot settlers in the South, the German Reformed of the middle colonies and the Dutch of New York were all Calvinists.
3. In 1780, the number of Calvinist churches (of one stripe or another) in America ranged from 60-80% (Religion and the American Experiment, Witte, 120)
4. The most popular school book for 100 years, The New England Primer, was Calvinistic!
5. Many state legislatures (and the national body) called for days of fasting and prayer in the Calvinistic language of Providence:

“…it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him;… Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely...on his aid and direction and…through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence…” Continental Congress, March, 1776.

And not only were the general contours of American life Calvinistic, many of the little known and well-known leaders were or were raised Calvinists: Patrick Henry, John Jay, John Witherspoon, Roger Sherman and Noah Webster.

Yes, that dictionary on your shelf was written by a Calvinist.

Even the political resistance theory was greatly influenced by Calvinism. John Adams bluntly acknowledges the wide-spread influences of both the French-Calvinist’s work Vindicus Contra Tyrannus and the English Calvinist work of Ponet (A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power), both which defended the right of the people to rise against tyrants.

Much of our political, social and economic freedoms hail from Calvinism.

But why? Is there something deeper to Calvinism than a system of thought that spawned the early Modern Era?

Yes. It is the Gospel.

Ask yourself, Is it coincidence that Luther, Calvin, Tyndale & the Puritans all believed in the Five Points of Calvinism? In TULIP--Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints?

God the Spirit raised up Luther and Calvin and a hundred other pastors who taught that creeds and deeds must be rooted in the Five Solas--that the Bible alone teaches justification through faith alone by grace alone on account of Christ alone to the glory of God alone. And those Solas were carried to the four corners of Europe by the original Protestants of old and their public creeds: Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith, Anglican 39 Articles, Dutch, Swiss, Irish, Polish, Hungarian, French Huguenots, Congregational and Baptist--all with a Calvinistic creed in their origins.

What about those American revivals? Started among the Calvinists first. Whitefield and Edwards--Calvinists. Wesley came a bit later. The Second Great Awakening was started among the Calvinist--Congregationalist, Baptists and Presbyterians. Later on it was hijacked (25 year later!) by Finney and his free-will salvation.

Dear homeschooler: consider well this summary of historical facts. Do you want something greater for your family, your children and their children? for this nation?

You want to bring it back to the good old days don't you? I know I do.

Then learn the lesson of one of the most popular and well-respected Calvinists of the 1800s:

"I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross."

Charles Spurgeon
Sermons, p.88, 1858.

AMEN.

[Hungry for more truth? here for more detailed info or post. Hungry for what the Gospel really is, email me: pastor mathis at gmail dot com]

No comments: