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Our Founders and John Calvin

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Our Founders and John Calvin

 

What did John Calvin have to do with our Founders?  The writer of this article, Rev. Pierre Bynum, chaplain for the Family Research Council (FRC) recounts and connects our history with this much maligned student of Scripture and solid Christian.  How was John Calvin "connected" to our Founders and our history?  Honest historians (and there are many) tell a different story about this humble Catholic who, on becoming a true student of Scripture, refuted the many false ideas that were roaming Europe in his day.  He did it using --youíve heard the expression--"Sola Scriptura"!  It was a favorite expression of John Calvin Ė and the Pilgrims, whom weíve also forgotten.  (He, and the "Pilgrims governor") was well learned in Latin and other languages.)  But what did Calvin have to do with....

When most of our country was a wilderness our Founding Fathers were not in an ignorant knowledge wilderness!  No, but have we forgotten so much of our history that those men (who gave their lives for us/our country), are total strangers to us?  Have we lost the knowledge of who they really were?  A bit of church history vindicating a people (including John Calvin!) who have been missrepresented for much too long follows.  Isnít it a blessing to discover what marvelous forefathers we had?

Chaplain Bynum, who wrote the following piece, tells us: "It was written of them (our Founders): (That) "the Presbyterians,(because of) their zeal for liberty, the (Revolutionary ) war was spoken of in England as "The Presbyterian Rebellion."  (Amazing what weíve been told, isnít it? We begin this short article, a gift from FRCís prayer chaplain, with a quotation from the Psalms: [Words in parentheses mine, Ed.])

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? (Psalm 94:16)

No force shaped the worldview of our Founding Fathers more than Christianity, and in particular, Calvinist Protestantism.  The "Puritan work ethic" made America the hardest working, most productive and innovative nation in world history.  But our Forefathers' views on Providence, morality, justice, grace, and liberty contributed far more to our nation and the world.

Calvinism came to America in the Mayflower, and Bancroft, the greatest of American historians, pronounces the Pilgrim Fathers "Calvinists" in their faith according to the straightest system."

John Endicott, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; John Winthrop, the second governor of that Colony; Thomas Hooker, the founder of Connecticut; John Davenport, the founder of the New Haven Colony; and Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Island Colony, were all Calvinists.  William Penn was a disciple of the Huguenots [French Calvinists].  It is estimated that of the 3,000,000 Americans at the time of the American Revolution, 900,000 were of Scotch or Scotch-Irish origin, 600,000 were Puritan English, and 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed...  Episcopalians had a Calvinistic confession in their Thirty-nine Articles; and many French Huguenots also had come to this western world... about two-thirds of the colonial population had been trained in the school of Calvin.  Never in the world's history had a nation been founded by such people...  [They] came, not primarily for commercial gain or advantage, but because of deep religious convictions.  It seems that the religious persecutions in various European countries had been providentially used to select... enlightened people for the colonization of America...  Let it be especially remembered that the Puritans... the great bulk of the settlers in New England... were truly devoted to the doctrines of the great Reformers, that they had an aversion for formalism and oppression whether in the Church or in the State...

With this background we shall not be surprised to find that the Presbyterians took a very prominent part in the American Revolution.  Our own historian Bancroft says: "The Revolution of 1776, so far as it was affected by religion, was a Presbyterian measure.  It was the natural outgrowth of the principles which the Presbyterianism of the Old World planted in her sons, the English Puritans, the Scotch Covenanters, the French Huguenots, the Dutch Calvinists, and the Presbyterians of Ulster."  So intense, universal, and aggressive were the Presbyterians in their zeal for liberty that the war was spoken of in England as "The Presbyterian Rebellion."  An ardent colonial supporter of King George III wrote home: "I fix all the blame for these extraordinary proceedings upon the Presbyterians... They always do and ever will act against government from that restless and turbulent anti-monarchial spirit which has always distinguished them everywhere."  ... [English] Prime Minister Horace Walpole said in Parliament, "Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson" (he meant John Witherspoon, president of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence).

History is eloquent in declaring that American democracy (a republic, Ben Franklin!) was born of Christianity and that that Christianity was Calvinism.  The great Revolutionary conflict which resulted in the formation of the American nation was carried out mainly by Calvinists, many of whom had been trained in the rigidly Presbyterian College at Princeton, and this nation is their gift to all liberty loving people (Rev. Loraine Boettner, Calvinism in America).

John Knox, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, William Carey, Charles Hodge, Abraham Kuyper, J. Gresham Machen, D. James Kennedy, and other great men were Calvinists.  But America needs all Bible-believing pastors and leaders today, regardless of their views on the "Doctrines of Grace," who like those patriot pastors of the founding era, will preach the word boldly and lead the church to stand against evil and evildoers in the public square.  Praise God they are arising!

Watchmen on the Wall - When Tony Perkins1 joined FRC as President over ten years ago, he launched a Church Ministries Initiative to help pastors across America increase their impact upon our nation for righteousness.  We are seeking pastors who can pledge before God to: 1) Pray and teach their people to pray for our nation; 2) Preach the Word as it applies to the great moral issues over which our culture is now warring; and 3) to Partner with likeminded pastors to defend faith, family and freedom in their communities and states.  Pastors who work closely with us are developing "Culture Impact Teams" in their churches to watch the news, keep their churches informed, and to motivate their members to make a positive, "Salt and Light" impact on their communities.  These pastors and churches are making a marked difference across our nation.  You can help.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage, (Galatians 5:1)

Sincerely, Rev. Pierre Bynum, Chaplain & National Prayer Director for FRC.

 

Finally, (a message from) Family Research Councilís Pastors: 

Please ... pray for (us).  Briefing: Watchmen on the Walls, May 21 and 23, 2014 and the annual Call2Fall, June 29, 2014, the Sunday before Independence Day!  Share with Friends.

To contact Family Research Council:

801 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001; Phone: 202 393 2100


Footnotes:

1. Tony Perkins joined FRC as President over ten years ago and launched a Church Ministries Initiative to help pastors across America increase their impact upon our nation for righteousness. 


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