Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Rowe on Calvinism and Revolution

Jon Rowe has another terrific post at Positive Liberty on religion and the founding fathers. This one examines the question of whether the revolutionary war was consistent with Calvinist theology. Based largely on the work of Christian historian Gregg Frazer, he concludes that it was not. I have to agree. And I want to call particular attention to this passage:

Finally, a word on civil liberty and the Bible. As Frazer notes, “the Bible never discusses political freedom. Tory minister Jonathan Boucher correctly noted: ‘The word liberty, as meaning civil liberty, does not, I believe, occur in all the Scriptures.'” What the Founding era preachers did was use the passages in the Bible which extol spiritual liberty meaning “freedom from sin” and substitute that with the notion of political liberty. Frazer writes, “God’s purposes were to free His people to worship Him (e.g. Exodus 4:23; 5:1 & 3; 7:16) and to force Egypt to recognize Him as the true God (Exodus 5:2; 7:5 & 17; 10:2).” Indeed, as Robert Kraynak observed, “the Bible shows that God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and supports national liberation, not for the purpose of enjoying their political and economic rights, but for the purpose of putting on the yoke of the law in the polity of Moses…the content of the divine law revealed to Moses consists, in the first place, of the Ten Commandments rather that the Ten Bill of Rights, commanding duties to God, family, and neighbors, rather than establishing protections for personal freedom” and such laws “regulate all aspects of religious, personal and social life.”


  1. #1 David Mazel
    August 22, 2006

    Of course, it depends on what one considers to be scripture. The Book of Mormon (which I read not as holy writ but as Joseph Smith’s attempt to blend his religion and his patriotism) makes several references to “liberty” in something like the political sense, as the term would be construed by an early 19th-century American.

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