Puritans & Liberty

The Puritans thought the gospel should affect everything: “In the times that are before us as a nation, times at once of duty and of danger, we rest all our hope in the gospel of the Son of God. It was the grand peculiarity of our Puritan fathers that they held this gospel, not merely as the ground of their personal salvation, but as declaring the worth of man by the incarnation and sacrifice of the Son of God, and therefore applied its principles to elevate society, to regulate education, to civilize humanity, to purify law, to reform the Church and the State, and to assert and defend liberty; in short, to mold and redeem, by its all-transforming energy, every thing that belongs to man in his individual and social relations. It was the faith of our fathers that gave us this free land in which we dwell. It is by this faith only that we can transmit to our children a free and happy, because a Christian, commonwealth,” Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, III, 735).

These words are particularly troubling as we’ve listened to the Supreme Court nomination hearings, in which “conservatives” try to pretend that our most deeply held beliefs do not determine everything we do. Liberals can have all the deeply held beliefs they want, as long as these personal beliefs line up with the agenda of the ACLU. As has been noted by many, the only thing the Preachers of Tolerance will not tolerate is someone who consistently acts upon the basis of their deeply held Christian beliefs. Of course, all this is alien to the worldview which prompted our forefathers to begin this great American experiment. They didn’t come to America for religious freedom (in the abstract); they come to America for the freedom to follow God’s Law. That, as James says, is the perfect law of liberty (2:25). The laws of the liberal establishment only lead to tyranny.

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