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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Notwithstanding your Calvinism

You and I, once Saw Calvin and Arius, on the Plafond of the Cathedral of St. John the Second in Spain roasting in the Flames of Hell.

 - John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 28 March 1816

The Thought Criminal:

In one of her most important essays, Open Thy Hand Wide [from When I Was A Child I Read Books] Marilynne Robinson makes an extremely persuasive argument that, contrary to common belief, liberalism in the traditional American sense of the word, of ample provision of a life to the destitute and poor, equal justice, equality and a democratic governmental system was a direct result of the Calvinism of New England and, especially, the influence of the Geneva Bible, its extensive commentary and even in the choice of words used to translate the original languages of the Scriptures.
She starts with a short history of the distortion and vilification of Calvinism and how it relates to the program to do the same with the Jewish Bible, that latter effort going back into the classical period. But, most influential for us, she shows how some late 19th and early 20th century writers such as Weber, Santayana, Mencken, Belloc, D.H. Lawrence really got the ball rolling to produce the feeling of certain knowledge of what John Calvin said and what the Calvinist tradition consisted of while actually not knowing anything except what such writers said about both. It's quite fascinating to fact check the foundations of such common received wisdom that constitute the academic and cultural consensus because it's my experience that a very large part of it is complete bilge, though I have not done it nearly enough in the case of Calvinism. I'm not a Calvinist, but that's to say I disagree with a percentage of what he said, especially in a few areas where I think he was more of a disciple of Augustine than of Moses or Jesus.

Read the whole thing, as they say, you Calvinist swine...


March 6, 2018 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


You know, according to some scholars of his work, there is a lot of evidence that George Fox was heavily influenced by the Geneva Bible.

I'm not a Calvinist but I agree with the emphasis he put on economic justice issues.

Posted by: Anthony McCarthy | Mar 7, 2018 8:02:25 AM

This article is interesting in that it says that an early edition of the Geneva Bible was all Fox had available to him in prison and that he sometimes used that wording instead of the KJ Bible he normally used.


Posted by: Anthony McCarthy | Mar 7, 2018 8:32:37 AM

Oh, I had no idea! Very interesting, thanks.

Posted by: NTodd | Mar 7, 2018 1:13:19 PM

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