This essay briefly attempts to explore the major formational differences between Baptists and Reformed Christians in the American republic on the question of church and state.
Aristotle described politics as involving art or craft (techne). It, too, required skill. It, too, could produce excellent, even wondrous edifices: regimes. Once upon a time, the Reformed tradition saw politics in the same manner. Althusius, for example, spoke of “the art of governing.” Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Divine, described rulers as engaging in an “art” or a “craft.” These thinkers, moreover, developed this artistry, doing so consciously within a Reformed framework.
Matthew Wilcoxen’s Divine Humility: God’s Morally Perfect Being stands out among modern accounts of the doctrine of God, drawing out and expanding upon a neglected dimension within the tradition.
Few topics are more likely to cause a stir among Christians than universal salvation, or apokatastasis—the view that no person will ultimately experience eternal estrangement from God. Although the universalist view is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the authoritative teaching of most Christian churches, it is not consistently considered heresy on the level of, say, denying the Trinity or the hypostatic union in Christ. But the concept of hell as “eternal conscious torment” has undoubtedly been a part of the Christian theological fabric for centuries, and from the perspective of the broader Church catholic, the burden of proof is probably on any challenger wishing to disrupt that consensus.
Not many passages in the New Testament speak directly to political order. The first part of the thirteenth chapter of Romans is perhaps the most famous. I would like to focus in this essay on vv. 3-4, which may appear prima facie to be something of an interpretive crux. Are these verses descriptive or prescriptive? That is, are they simply declarative, or are they imperatival, telling us what magistrates ought to do?
Christian morality is not ultimately instruction in how to make oneself a member of the Christian club. It is not a self-help program whose rules are adopted by a small set of people who wish to better themselves. Christian morals, rather, are simply moral teachings that agree with the natural design of the universe.
No effort toward a “Protestant Christendom” will get airborne without the guiding lights of Hookerian nationalism and Althusian federalism.
When Thomas Paine published Common Sense in 1776, his was not the only commonly held sense of the term “common sense.” Ironically, the term was already complicated at the American founding.
The interpreter that undertakes to compare the works of Plato with the gospel must begin somewhere. Here I attempt to set out Plato’s view on gifts and divine dispensation, and would ask that you consider the two following texts: