George F. Will Offers a “Nones” Perspective on “Religion and the American Republic”

George F. Will pens a typically insightful essay in the most recent issue of National Affairs: “Religion and the American Republic.” The unique “angle” on this essay is Will’s identification with the 20 percent of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, i.e., the “nones.” From his conclusion: Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America just two generations after the American founding — two generations after Madison identified tyranny of the majority as the distinctively worst political outcome that democracy could produce. Tocqueville had a different answer to the question of what kind of despotism democratic nations should fear most. His warning is justly famous and more pertinent … Continue reading George F. Will Offers a “Nones” Perspective on “Religion and the American Republic”

Patrick Henry: Advocate of Christian Republicanism

 Thomas S. Kidd, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (New York: Basic Books, 2011). $28.00, 320 pages. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Patrick Henry before I read Thomas S. Kidd’s biography of him. I knew—as all schoolboys should know—that he uttered the famous line, “give me liberty, or give me death.” I also knew that his support for a general assessment for religion—taxpayer funded clergy support—in Virginia provoked James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance. And finally I knew that Henry, an anti-Federalist, opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. I didn’t know much else, and I didn’t know how … Continue reading Patrick Henry: Advocate of Christian Republicanism

How Patriot Clergy Used the Bible To Support the Revolution

 James P. Byrd, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). $27.95, 256 pages. This past Fourth of July, the Freedom from Religion Foundation took out a full-page ad in a number of newspapers, the banner of which proclaimed, “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution.” According to FFRF’s description of it, the ad quoted “U.S. Founders and Framers on their strong views against religion in government, and often critical views on religion in general.” Its purpose was to counter Hobby Lobby’s annual July 4th ad, which “shamelessly promote[s] the myth that the United States … Continue reading How Patriot Clergy Used the Bible To Support the Revolution

“The Horrible Decree” by Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley was a prolific hymnist, with approximately 9000 hymns and sacred poems to his name. Among my favorites are “And Can It Be?” and “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!” Welsey–along with his brother John–were also a theological polemicist, however, who wrote his polemics into his songs. One of his most blunt anti-Calvinist hymns is “The Horrible Decree,” which refers to the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. Here’s the text of the hymn, not exactly in honor of Calvin’s birthday, but apropos of it nonetheless. [1] Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove, And art thou griev’d in me, That sinners … Continue reading “The Horrible Decree” by Charles Wesley