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VERY QUESTIONABLE CHRISTIANITY TODAY
On religious corruption, and the Founding Fathers’ faiths
Here are some quotes related to the corruption of church in this as I understand it. I also have quoted three important religious figures since the time of the Reformation. I believe these quotes are applicable to many self proclaimed Christians of today.
“There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous.” I
― Blaise Pascal, Pensée
“Man is neither angel nor beast, and it is unfortunately the case that anyone trying to act the angel acts the beast.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensees
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it with religious conviction.”
― Blaise Pascal
“ The way of God, who disposes all things with gentleness, is to instil religion into our minds with reasoned arguments and into our hearts with grace, but attempting to instil it into hearts and minds with force and threats is to instil not religion but terror. Terror rather than religion. (185)”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensees
“You corrupt religion either in favour of your friends, or. “You corrupt religion either in favour of your friends, or against your enemies.”
― Blaise Pascal
PASCAL, BLAISE, born at Clermont - Ferrand, in Auvergne, June 19 , 1623; a celebrated French philosopher, mathematician, and littérateur, and one of the most profound scholars and writers of the seventeenth century. His intellectual powers were such as have rarely been be stowed on any of the children of men; and the extreme delicacy of his wit, the purity, the energy, the simplicity of his rhetoric has never been equalled; died in Paris, August 19, 1662.
“The ecclesiastical [relating to the Christian Church or its clergy] establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it.”
— Noah Webster
WEBSTER, NOAH, born in West Hartford, Con necticut, October 16, 1758; a distinguished American philologist, lexicographer, and author. Nearly one half of his life was devoted to the compilation of his justly celebrated "American Dictionary of the English Language," which has become as "Familiar as Household Words" in all English speaking countries; died in New Haven, May 28, 1843.
“It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Govt. from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.
[Letter to the Reverend Jasper Adams, January 1, 1832]”
― James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison Volume 3
MADISON, JAMES, born at Port Conway, King George County, Virginia, March 5, 1751; an American statesman and political writer, and the fourth President of the United States; died, 1836.
For some famous religious founders in Christianity.
Martin Luther’s Large Catechism begins with a shrewd reflection on the first commandment:
“You are to have no other gods.”
That is, you are to regard me alone as your God. What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What does “to have a god” mean, or what is God?
Answer: A “god” is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true one. Conversely, where your trust is false and wrong, there you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, that is really your God.
—Martin Luther, Large Catechism
LUTHER, MARTIN, born at Eisleben, in Saxony, November 10. 1483; an eminent German divine, and thé parent of the Protestant religion; died at Eisleben, February 18, 1546.
“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!”
― John Wesley
WESLEY, JOHN, born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, June 17, 1703; an eminent English reformer, and the founder of the GOODELL , WILLIAM , born about 1800 ; an Amer ican clergyman , a vigorous writer on slavery , temperance , political and church reform , and author of " Democracy of Christianity , " ( New York , 1849. ) ; died , 1880. Quotations : Army - Bondage - Brotherhood - Democracy - Despotism Equality - Humanity - Jews - Judgessect of "Methodists;" died, March 2, 1791.
“Nothing is more dangerous than to be blinded by prosperity.”
“Hatred grows into insolence [rude and disrespectful behavior] when we desire to excel the rest of mankind and imagine we do not belong to the common lot; we even severely and haughtily despise others as our inferiors.”
— John Calvin
CALVIN, JOHN, born near Noyon, Picardy, France, July 10, 1509: the founder of the Calvanists, and one of the chief apostles of the Reformation; died, May 24, 1564.
“The connection between democracy and Christianity is so vital, and so intimate, that the one cannot exist in its integrity and purity without the other.”
— W. Goodell.
GOODELL, WILLIAM, born about 1800; an American clergyman, a vigorous writer on slavery, temperance, political and church reform, and author of "Democracy of Christianity," ( New York , 1849. ); died, 1880.
“Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.”
― Eric Hoffer
Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 – May 21, 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer (1951), was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen.
I wish to show some of William Goodell’s writing on what he thought was required of a Christian Church which still might support slavery at the time. He calls it specifically “a corrupt church.” I would say that in the era of TV evangelists, mega churches, political activity within many churches, that the corruption still resides. It is not being dwelt with. We need to perhaps do something that William Goodwell might have done if he were around today.
By William Goodell
Our Protestant commentators tell us that by the 'BABY- LON' of the Apocalypse, we are to understand a CORRUPT CHURCH, and that the proclamation which John heard in heaven - Come out of her, my people, 'is to be regarded as a divine admonition to all faithful Christians, warning them to secede from such a church, as from the ANTI-CHrist, doomed to perdition, at the brightness of the Savior's appearing. It is true they suppose, that the corrupt church, particularly intended, is the church of Rome; but it is nevertheless equally true that their construction of the passage involves and is founded upon the PRINCIPLE, that whenever and wherever a church, (however distinguished, once, by the divine presence and favor) becomes corrupt and apostate [a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle], it is the duty of all true Christians connected with it, to secede from it, because it has thus apostatized, and is become corrupt. It has never been doubted that the church of Rome was once a true church, and the reason always given for coming out of her is her apostacy and corruption. Nor is it pretended that the Romish church is the only corrupt, apostate, anti - Christian church that the world has yet seen, and that is now to be found. The Greek church has commonly been considered by Protestants to be essentially on the same foundation with the Romish. And both in Old England and New England, the founders of our present churches and denominational arrangements have repeatedly gone through the process of 'gathering churches out of churches,' on the same principle. The Puritans derived their name from their efforts to secure, in this way, a pure church. And if it be true, as it doubtless is, that secessions have often been made on lighter grounds than the alleged apostacy, and anti-Christian character of the church seceded from, that fact only places in a still stronger light the universal recognition, by Protestants, of the duty of seceding from an anti-Christian church . Indeed, to deny that duty would be equivalent to renouncing the Protestant faith, and would require our return to the Romish communion. Our commentators, moreover, do not commonly construe the Babylon of the Revelations to mean exclusively the Romanish communion.
Equally regardless are such men of the facts of the world's history and of its present spiritual condition. The Pharisees could compass sea and land to make one proselyte. In their devotions, they were sufficiently vociferous and earnest, breaking out, as by irrepressible impulse, at the very corners of the streets. They were by no means the cold-hearted, stiff, dull, phlegmatic formalists that some men picture them to be, Paul regarded himself as having been exceedingly mad, absolutely insane, with the prevalent enthusiasm of the sect, before his conversion. The same spirit composed the atmosphere of the Romish church, at the very period when its spiritual despotism and its manifold corruptions were engendered and ripened into giant maturity. The present mummeries and superstitions of that church are but the skeletons, the shells, the monuments of its ancient enthusiasın, fanaticism , mysticism and rhapsody. To galvanize this skeleton into its former life and activity, to revive again and to restore the departed spirit of its now unmeaning rituals—the spirit of the most soul-stirring and wide spreading enthusiasm the world ever saw-appears to be the object of Dr. Pusey, and the writers of the Oxford tracts. 'And not a few of the most zealous among the English clergy, of the 'evangelical' stamp, the patrons of 'revivals,' have been captivated by them, and drawn away to 'wander after the beast, whose deadly wound 'is likely to be 'healed' by the process.
*Edward Bouverie Pusey ( 22 August 1800 – 16 September 1882) was an English Anglican cleric, for more than fifty years Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford. He was one of the leading figures in the Oxford Movement. Pusey was a Tractarian, as described below.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Church of England was badly in need of reform. As the Established Church, it had devolved into an arm of government, hamstrung by a bloated bureaucracy and political intrigue. The leadership of the Church was inept and in places even morally corrupt. The Church clergy suffered from absenteeism, nepotism and graft. She was also losing some of her most vibrant members as the Methodists were forming their new denomination after the death of John Wesley in 1791.
RELIGION. “When in our days religion is made a political engine, she exposes herself to having her sacred character forgotten; the most tolerant become in tolerant toward her; believers, who believe some thing else besides what she teaches, retaliate by attacking her in the very sanctuary itself.”
BERANGER, PIERRE JEAN, DE, born in Paris, France, August 19, 1780; a famous lyric poet; died, July 16 , 1857.
I looked up the faith’s of the Founding Fathers, and have them listed below. The answers were from different online sources available by search engine. The level of religiousity of the these men, who were mostly at a young age at the time is actually a mixed bag. Most of the most well known were not necessarily Christians. Many disliked organized religions, some changed in their faith. Some were devoted Christians, but hardly any seemed a religious zealot in my quick look at them. I have written what their particular faith was according to historical sources and also what their opinion of the role of religion and the state when I could find reference.
Like other Founding Fathers, Jefferson was considered a Deist, subscribing to the liberal religious strand of Deism that values reason over revelation and rejects traditional Christian doctrines, including the Virgin Birth, original sin and the resurrection of Jesus.
Franklin told us in his autobiography that he was a “thorough deist.” Franklin adhered to a religion that we might call doctrineless, moralized Christianity. This kind of faith suggests that what we believe about God is not as important as living a life of love and significance.
Although Madison was raised Episcopalian and attended St. John’s Episcopal Church while he served as President of the United States, there is not much evidence leading to his personal religious beliefs. In fact, scholars tend to disagree about Madison’s religion based on their own religious beliefs.
Raised in the Congregational Church, the established church in his home state of Massachusetts, John Adams later became a Unitarian. Unitarianism, a liberal strand of Christianity popular in New England, began in the liberal wing of the Congregational Church.
As Washington's military aide-de-camp and later his cabinet consigliere, Hamilton fell comfortably into an appropriate patrician deism, an easy fit with his long standing skepticism toward institutionalized religion. In shaping a fledgling new nation, it was religious fanaticism that Hamilton found most threatening:
"The world has been scourged with many fanatical sects in religion who, inflamed by sincere but mistaken zeal, have perpetuated under the idea of serving God the most atrocious crimes" (Hamilton, unpublished report on "The Cause of France" see Chernow, p. 659).
While rather private about his religious beliefs, George Washington was an Anglican.
Adams's parents were devout Puritans and members of the Old South Congregational Church. The family lived on Purchase Street in Boston. Adams was proud of his Puritan heritage, and emphasized Puritan values in his political career, especially virtue.
While he was a lifelong Anglican, his beliefs and language were distinctly evangelical, and resonated deeply with the growing population of religious dissenters. Henry first came to fame in a case opposing Virginia's established clergy.
Jay was a member of the Church of England and later of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America after the American Revolution.
Richard Henry Lee
“Lee was a practical Christian,” my only finding of direct reference.
“The declaration of Rights, it seems to me, rather contends against forcing modes of faith and forms of worship, than against compelling contribution for the support of religion in general. I fully agree with the presbyterians, that true freedom embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo as well as the Christian religion. And upon this liberal ground I hope our Assembly will conduct themselves.” Letter to James Madison.
Sherman was a Congregationalist, not an Anglican, and the Congregationalist or Puritan Church was the officially established church in Massachusetts and Connecticut even after the war.
Hancock’s father and grandfather were both Harvard-trained Congregationalist ministers, and he was a lifelong member of the Brattle Street Congregationalist Church in Boston – a deeply religious man.
James Monroe seems to have been an Episcopalian of deistic tendencies who valued civic virtues above religious doctrine.
Despite his early reservations, Morris officially joined the Catholic Church in 1870 and remained a devoted parishioner until his 1882 death.
An apparently conventional Episcopalian, he served for many years on the vestry of Truro Parish, whose members included his neighbor George Washington.
George Mason and the Rights of Conscience
Drawing on principles expressed in John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration, Mason included an article on religion in the “first draught” of the Virginia Declaration. His original proposal declared:
That as Religion, or the Duty which we owe to our divine and omnipotent Creator, and the Manner of discharging it, can be governed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or Violence; and therefore that all Men shou’d enjoy the fullest Toleration in the Exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the Magistrate, unless, under Colour of Religion, any Man disturb the Peace, the Happiness, or Safety of Society, or of Individuals. And that it is the mutual Duty of all, to practice Christian forbearance, Love and Charity towards Each other.
Although he began as an Episcopalian, Morris' views shifted over the years, and ultimately he was probably more of a deist than anything else.
A number of historians have asserted that John Dickinson was not a Quaker. For instance, David L. Jacobson, in John Dickinson and the Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1764-1776, writes, "His religious life was lived outside the discipline of the Society of Friends. The break between Samuel Dickinson [his father] and the Quakers meant that his son was not to be a member of the meeting."
Although at various times a member of Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches, Rush generally eschewed formal denominational connections. In his later years he confided to John Adams: "I have ventured to transfer the spirit of inquiry (from my profession) to religion, in which, if I have no followers in my opinions (for I hold most of them secretly), I enjoy the satisfaction of living in peace with my own conscience, and, what will surprise you not a little, in peace with all denominations of Christians, for while I refuse to be the slave of any sect, I am a friend of them all. . . . [My own religion] is a compound of the orthodoxy and heterodoxy of most of our Christian churches."
Rush's shift from Calvinism to universalism was profoundly influenced by the social changes of the Revolutionary era. He embraced republicanism as an essential part of Christianity. For him a world attuned to God would be one which encouraged people to choose virtue over vice.
Wilson began as a Presbyterian, then became Episcopalian. However, most who have studied him assert that, in his final views on religion, Wilson was a deist.
John Quincy Adams
Like his father, John Quincy Adams died a Unitarian. Born into the liberal Congregational Church of his parents, he studied and scrutinized religion and initially chose the more conservative strand of the Congregational Church before migrating slowly toward Unitarianism.
Chase's father was an Anglican priest, and Chase was by all accounts deeply religious all his life. He attended services frequently, Contributed substantial amounts of money, and sometimes served as a vestryman and as a representative for his church at diocesan conventions.
Views on Religion & Politics:
Chase was an advocate of public support for religion. In 1784, he introduced a bill in the Mary land legislature to provide tax support for churches (non-Christians would have been exempted from paying the tax), but the bill was ultimately defeated.
Although a slaveholder himself, his religious convictions led Chase to support the abolition of slavery.
John Blair Jr.
Presbyterian and Episcopalian.
Letter from Blair:
I am sorry that Christian Ministers should virtually declare their Church a mere political machine, which the State may regulate at pleasure; but I shall be surprized if the Assembly shall assume the improper office. The interference of the Legislature is always dangerous, where it is unnecessary. And I am sure it is plainly so in this case. It would be to decide upon a matter which a Superior power, I mean the Convention in the Bill of Rights, has already determined.
Presbyterian; member of First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore; first president of the Bible Society of Baltimore, 1813.
James was always interested in religion and believed in its importance, encouraging his sons to attend Harvard's early morning services. He confessed he had no experience of God, but he respected those who did.
Paine's deism—the belief in God, but the eschewing of organized religion—is often erroneously confused with atheism.
Keep your vigilance, for there are zealots among us.
“Zealots: Wild eyed persons afflicted with incurable certainty about the workings of the world, a certainty that can lead to violence when the world doesn't fit.”
― Jonathan Stroud, The Ring of Solomon
Jonathan Anthony Stroud (born 27 October 1970) is a British writer of fantasy fiction, best known for the Bartimaeus young adult sequence and Lockwood & Co. children's series. His books are typically set in an alternative history London with fantasy elements, and have received note for his satire, and use of magic to reflect themes of class struggle.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and it does seem to me that notwithstanding all these social agencies and activities there is not that vigilance which should be exercised in the preservation of our rights.”
― Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Wells dedicated her career to combating prejudice and violence, and advocating for African-American equality—especially that of women.
34th Posting, May 9, 2023