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Vic Biorseth, OWM; Saturday,
May 17, 2014
Faith of our Fathers can be understood multiple ways in contemporary America. The Fathers I really want to talk about here are America's Founding Fathers, and the Framing Fathers, who framed, wrote and established the American Constitution. As we shall show, they were, predominantly, men of strong faith. But we cannot properly or completely discuss their faith without understanding where it came from, so there are other Fathers of the faith to consider.
First, of course, would be the actual Church Fathers, who received, protected and passed on the original revelation of Jesus Christ. These would be the original Apostles, the authors, collectors and canonizers of New Testament Scriptures, and the Pre-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers. Of course, for the Old Testament, it goes all the way back to Moses.
The theology and doctrines of the Old Testament Fathers, modified somewhat by our Lord and the New Testament Fathers, and the theology and doctrines of the New Testament, all, remain intact and unchanged today, under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy. (The only doctrinal difference between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, other than a theological, largely semantic argument over the word Filioque, involves the supreme authority of the Pope.)
Second, after the great historical fracturing of Christianity, we have the Protestant "Fathers" to consider. From the birth of Protestantism, and always, all Protestants of all denominations followed Luther's completely new doctrine of Sola Scriptura (sole authority of Scripture). There were many other completely new doctrines, but Sola Scriptura was the one that fathered, and continues to father, all the Protestant denominations. There was Luther's Faith Alone, and there was Calvin's nothing-you-can-do-about-it Predestination, and there were many other brand new doctrines, invented on the spot.
All of these completely new doctrines, of course, flew in the face of St. Paul's severe warning and curse in Galatians 1:6-9. There he warned against anyone - including himself, including any of the Apostles, including even an angel of God - who were to preach anything contrary to what had already been preached, "let him be accursed." A strong indication that the full revelation of Jesus Christ was closed, and not subject to modification, addition or subtraction. Of course, this is backed up by the closing lines of the last book of the Bible, in Rev 22:18-19.
But there was one of Luther's invented doctrines that would prove most important to America, because it would eventually motivate the Pilgrims to found the first American Colony. This was, of course, Luther's Cujus region, ejus rligio (Whoever’s reign, his religion) by which the citizen’s religion became a matter of civil law. “He who owns the country owns the Church, and he that makes your laws for you has the right to make your religion for you.”
Luther, who needed the support of Princes of the world to maintain his Reformation, enticed any of them who would join him into becoming ecclesial as well as secular rulers.
It was a radical combination of Church and State, which did not exist before Luther.
This is the radical new idea that enabled the Luther's Reformation to "jump the Channel" into England, when Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church and started his own Church of England, over nothing more than pride, and a disallowed divorce and remarriage.
All of this, of course, brought about a world war of epic proportions as the great nobles of Europe fought against each other, some to enrich themselves and expand their domains, some out of commitment to faith, some out of self-defense or defense of allied nobles. The Reformation was, in essence, a war. Even after it was more or less settled, inter-religious animosities were high, and the common citizenry were forced into faiths not of their own choosing. Getting away from this religious persecution and out from under the absolute domination of the nobles was the very reason for our first American Colony.
You can read about the first Colonists and their failed experiment with a pre-Marxian form of Socialism in the Colonial Communism page. Out of that experiment, American individual citizen liberty, and with it, the free market (Capitalism) were unleashed. That success, and great economic opportunity, along with getting out from under religious oppression and despotic rule, resulted in a multiplication of Colonies. Each American Colony had, in its original charter, an established Colonial religion, to keep from having religion dictated from above by any noble.
Originally, the American Colonial religions were:
But they all carried with them the idea (and ideal) that no citizen would be forced to worship in that, or any other religion. Many new applicants to come to the Colonies from Europe and the British Isles willingly sold themselves into a seven year period of indentured servitude, just to get here and have a chance at a free future. They came in all denominations of Christianity. It didn't matter what their denomination was. In short order, each Colony's official state religion was outnumbered by other denominations who immigrated to the Colony.
But the phenomenal economic success of the Colonies drew the attention of the English nobility that granted or licensed the Colonies in the first place. Increasing governmental control, taxes and legal constraints of the Crown led to the pre Revolutionary situation, which brings us to:
Third, the American Founding Fathers, and the Constitutional Framing Fathers. I invite you to read the Declaration of Independence, authored by our national Founders, and the Constitution, authored by our Framers. The Declaration establishes the American Idea, ideal and ideology, and the Constitution provides the mechanism to make that idea, ideal and ideology work. Some of this is fleshed out in the American Founding Principles and the American Constitutional Principles.
On our honeymoon vacation, in June of 1968, we toured the Gettysburg battlefield, the monuments of Washington D.C., Arlington, Mt. Vernon, the surrounding area, and Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg was particularly nice, with all the reenactors and authentic costumes, speech, manners and history.
But I still remember getting an odd feeling during a discussion with one of the historical guides about the moral foundation of historic figures such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others. She was quite emphatic, not only that they were Deists, but farther, that they were not Christians, Deism and Christianity being mutually exclusive, to her. Although, at the time, I did not argue the point, because she was right about that separation, it didn't seem right to me, probably because the discussion was about morality, not specific, denominational faith. And their morality - their moral code - was, indeed, Christian-based.
Hindsight being what it is, that's one of the multiple old, old memories in which I find myself saying "man, I wish I had said _____" (fill in the blank) but, bottom line, I didn't say anything, because I didn't know any better. So, here I have created an opportunity to say now what I should have said then.
All the Founders were born and raised up in Christian households of one denomination or another. Their education was received in the home, by their parents and older siblings, until they were educated enough to mostly continue further educating themselves, in whatever direction interested them the most. Their first and always most important text book for learning to read was the Holy Bible. By the time their education was considered complete, the Bible was most likely their most thoroughly read book.
Deism became a major popular fad among the leading intellectuals of the day, on both sides of the Atlantic. Most of the Founders dabbled in it to some degree. Born of the errors of Enlightenment thinking, Deism says that God, Whom, it was logically agreed, absolutely must exist, just sort of started Creation, and then stood back in a hands-off attitude to observe what developed next.
It was an easy error for any Protestant of the day to fall into, having already been raised up in the multiple errors of Protestantism. But, as I said, it was a fad, not a real religion. It was a hot topic of intellectual debate; it was intellectually fashionable. It allowed the "scientific" dismissal of all the Scriptural miracles, and it made things make more "scientific" sense. It was another movement away from faith and toward the world.
But then, at the time of signing of the Declaration, and again, after the Revolutionary War victory, and again, at the ratification of the Constitution, each of these supposedly committed or devout Deists revealed a belief in an active, not inactive, God. Look down through their quoted words in the American Quotations at how many times they spoke of their belief in an active God Who intervened at critical points in the American struggle. This "Divine Providence" that saved the nation was no inactive God of Deism.
I might have asked the historian-reenactor at Williamsburg, if I had been astute enough, why, if Washington was a Deist, did he bother to pray to the hands-off, inactive God of Deism. But I wasn't, and I didn't. Oh well.
At any rate, as stated in the description of our guiding ethos, the morality of the Colonies, the morality of the Founders and the Framers, was undeniably Christian, in the broad-brush application of that word.
Our national sense of right and wrong is supposed to be based upon the Commandments of God, as was theirs. That was our original basis for the legislation, execution and adjudication of our representative civil law. It was from that ethos that the Declaration was declared, and it was from that ethos that the Constitution was ratified.
Where did it all go? With their ethos - with their sense of morality, propriety and publc decency - what would our Founders and our Framers, even as imperfect as they all were, say about the American culture today?
If anything is going to bring America down, it is going to be the loss of citizen morality. Tocqueville said it way back in the 1840s and 1850s, and many of the Founders and Framers said it long before then.
The question I put to you is this: what are we the people going to do about it?
How did you vote in the last election?
How will you vote in the next one?
Do you even care?
Are we American Catholics, morally speaking, any different than our Protestant brothers? I don't think so. Watch this recent video by Michael Voris to see the state of the Church in America, and the world, today.
After - Afterthought:
Another "I wish I had said that" video by Michael Voris. The moral degradation problems in America are only going to be solved by ordinary citizens who are committed enough to stand up, and to advance against the enemy. That means you and me. But the problems in the Church can only be solved by Bishops who are man enough to take on the task. We cannot do this; only Bishops can do it. No one other than Bishops can fix the problems inside the Church, which are scattering the sheep. It's a time for dividing among the Bishops, too.
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Respond to This Article Below The Last Comment
Date: Mon May 26 04:28:19 2014
I read your story in your host page which explains your Catholic journey. But what led you to what you learned about Protestantism? I'm not asking for your sources, but how you got there. And have you talked about the ongoing animosity and antagonism between Protestantism and Catholicism anywhere in your website?
I really enjoy your writing; keep it up.
Date: Mon May 26 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
My "journey" to the present state of my faith had two aspects, or paths, that ultimately converged into one.
My Catholic faith, begun in childhood, resurrected by my wife Marcie, made solid in coming through a crisis together, was one multi-year path.
The other multi-year path involved a quest for knowledge regarding the "why" of the media lies during and after the Vietnam War. That was a whole project going on behind the scenes for many years, trying to understand what was behind seemingly solid American citizens being anti-American.
I thought I was looking for small t-truth, but what I was looking for was large T-Truth, although I didn't know it at the time. Pretty early in this search I discovered Secularism, as an actual movement, and I paid a lot of attention to the "why" of that movement. What drove the Secularists, and what were they afraid of?
That took me deeper into history. Some of that quest is dumped out in the Secularist Battle Lines page. There I got a little more into the competing Christian "Gospels" that each claimed to be the true one. That the Catholic Gospel had never changed didn't shock me, or maybe didn't register as early as it should have, because I already "knew" that from my childhood Catholic education.
At any rate, after the two paths converged and I came out a solid, born-again Catholic, things began to make a lot more sense.
It was history that showed the differences between Catholicism and the denominations of Protestantism, and gave birth-dates to each of them, as seen at Denominational Beginnings.
I don't think I've really talked too much about "animosity and antagonism" between Protestantism and Catholicism, at least not anywhere I can think of at the moment. Yet a strong anti-Catholic sentiment among Protestants is natural, and to be expected, in America and elsewhere.
Reformation and post-Reformation history in Europe and the British Isles is loaded down with rabid anti-Catholicism. All over Europe, but most especially in the British Isles, Priests were hunted down and killed by the thousands. Persecution of Catholics was almost as severe as under the worst of the Roman Emperors.
Much of that animosity remains. The vast majority of early immigrants to the Colonies were virulently anti-Catholic Protestants of various denomination. But - they made an effort to put even that animosity aside, in the interest of free Christian worship. It was the first time that had happened, since the Reformation.
While neither side feels strongly enough to take up arms against each other any more - (quite the opposite - we take up arms together, in alliance against others) - we may and probably should expect to encounter strong Protestant anti-Catholic prejudice here in America, and even more so overseas.
Date: Wed Jul 16 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
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