The Reformation and the Calvinist roots of “Social Contract Theory” and the Founding of America

The Protestant Reformation and its tremendous influence on the political order of today barely gets mentioned by most contemporary (secular) and anti-christian historians.  The very related ideas like; limited Government, the Rule of Law, and the Social Contract Theory all have their origins and developed from the Reformation and more specifically from Calvinism. Instead, contemporary historians (often purposely) omit the influence of the Reformation and point to men like  Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan, 1651), John Locke (Two Treatises of Government, 1689) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau ( The Social Contract, 1762) as the architects of the modern political order whom they consider much more friendly to their bias worldview.
A  friend on facebook posted that he was reading John Locke ‘s Two Treatises of Government. I mentioned Locke  inherited the ideas of “social contract theory” from men like Samuel Rutherford (Lex, Rex, 1644) (whose book Lex Rex by the way means the “Law is King” as opposed to Rex Lex the “King is the Law”).
What many fail to realize is Locke’s “social contract theory” theory was really nothing new at the time. Social contract theory as well as the closely related resistance theology are direct ideological decedents of the Reformation and specifically of Calvinism.  What many say Locke did in order to make it more palatable to an ever increasing enlightenment skepticism was to remove the biblical aspects of it (unlike Rutherford). Jean Jacques Rousseau did the same.
What is often overlooked is that men like Rutherford, Hobbes, Locke, and later Rousseau picked up their ideas on the  “social contract theory” from early Calvinists thinkers like, George Buchanan (A Dialogue Concerning the Rights of the Crown in Scotland, 1579) , John Ponet (A short treatise of political power, 1556), Christopher Goodman (How Superior Powers Ought to Be Obeyed by Their Subjects, 1558) and Theodore Beza (The Right of Magistrates Over Their Subjects, 1572) Many of these were  contemporaries of the great Scottish Calvinist reformer  John Knox who wrote his own book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, 1556 which argued for “limits” on the authority of the then queen Mary (Mary Queen of Scots).

Arguments for “limits” on the authority, and the rule of law (as opposed to the rule of tyrannical men) developed into a biblically based type of “resistance theology” which was even seen in translations of the Bible at the time. For example  King James I of England who was a ardent believer in the “divine right of kings” had the Authorized King James Version, 1611 commissioned because the very popular Geneva Bible, 1560 (created with the involvement of Knox and Calvin) had marginal notes that were considered subversive  to his authority. For example in Exodus 1:19 where the Hebrew midwives disobey the Pharaoh by refusing to kill male Hebrew children states; “Their disobedience in this was lawful, but their deception is evil”  in Exodus 1:22 when Pharaoh gives the decree, the notes say “When tyrants cannot prevail by deceit, they burst into open rage”.

Very popular books at the time like the French Calvinist (Huguenot) tract (Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, 1579) (translated A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants) and Politica 1603 by the Dutch Calvinist Johannes Althusius espoused this same biblical resistance theology. Ultimately, ideologically you can trace this theology back to the influence of John Calvin‘ the theological giant of the Reformation, in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion 1536 where you have the ideological seeds for it, see  Institutes see Book 4: Chapter 20: Section 31 & 32.

Calvinist thinkers developed social contract theory arguing that the ultimate locus of authority (and all law) was derived from God, who then grants and delegates His authority to the people, who in turn delegate authority to the King to execute true justice in the land as defined by God for the people (the King is an executor) .  If the King turned this around believed and behaved as if the final authority resided in him, turned on the people and God, became a tyrant, the people had the right “under God” to resist his tyrannical authority when he decreed laws that were contrary to God and His revealed will found in in the scripture. This “resistance theology” was derived directly from the scriptures especially from Romans 13 and the Old Testament which gave legitimacy to the people to oppose tyrannical authority and abuses that were so common in that era.

The very related ideas of Social contract theory, resistance theology, the rule of law, and limited government, all come to a full head in 17th century England when King Charles I lost his head in the Cromwellian era after the English civil war . Also, in the American revolutionary era resistance theology was alive and well, you can see it in the clergy’s sermons of the day found here – Also as a side; according to US President John Adams, John Ponet’s work (mentioned above) “A short treatise of political power” contained “all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke

You see resistance theology in the thinking of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the American Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…                                                                                                                                   But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”

Thomas Jefferson then goes into a long laundry list of abuses of King George…

Here is the first US seal that Jefferson proposed (notice the caption “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”).

Anyway, for a better explanation on the Reformation’s role in the development of the social contract theory see this article:

http://www.acton.org/publications/randl/rl_article_238.php

As a side note Calvinistic resistance theology is spreading like wildfire in China today, here is a link to an article which says:

So when the Chinese house churches first emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution in the 80s and 90s “They began to search what theology will support and inform [them]. They read Luther and said, ‘not him’. So they read Calvin, and they said ‘him, because he has a theology of resistance.’ Luther can’t teach them or inform them how to deal with a government that is opposition.”

Lar

Lessons From History: Are We The New Rome?

Meditation on Psalm 110:1-8

rubensandboekhorstkingdavidca1616frankfurtstaedel

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity, they walk in his ways.


You have commanded us keep Your precepts diligently. Oh that my ways where directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.


I will praise you with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments. I will keep Your statutes: Oh, do not for sake meet utterly! NKJV

_________

Prayer:

Holy Father, how I love the wisdom that is found in your holy law, I pray that you would help me to walk according to your law. It is my desire to obey you with my whole heart.

Your law teaches me what holiness is, it is beautiful and I desired it, to live holy. I desire this so that I might not sin against you, that I might not be a hypocrite and blaspheme your beautiful holy name.

Oh Lord Jesus, precious Savior, you have said: if we love thee, obey your commandments. I pray that would grant me the grace necessary to keep your commandments as an expression of my love to you, all the days of my life.

Amen

The Pink KKK: Coming to A Neighborhood Church Near You

bash

World Net Daily: Lesbians, condoms go wild in attack on Christian church

Homosexual activist groups (This group is called “Bash Back”) are multiplying and are moving out into the heartland, Lansing Michigan is a town with a population of 300,000.

James White On The Election

The Federal Government has taken the place of God

….the Federal Government has taken the place of God. It has arrogated to itself the privilege of defining what is right and wrong, good and evil. When God is not acknowledged, man becomes the sovereign. When man becomes the definer of liberty, liberty is lost.

Thus we find that we have lost what our forefathers called liberty. We have grown up in a world where no one truly “owns” property (you may think you own it, but try not paying your property taxes one year and you will see who really owns your land).

Further, we do not have liberty to use our property in lawful ways. “Environmental” laws limit the freedom of use as well. We can kill our unborn children, but are forbidden to cut down a tree on our own property without a permit. The Federal Government as if it was God, asserts a pre-eminent claim on the earth and the fullness thereof. One peculiarly blatant expression of this is “eminent domain.” Whatever and whenever the Government desires the use of your land, it claims the prerogative to it. God destroyed Ahab for doing what the modern Government does every year.

We are no longer free to exercise our gifts and talents. More and more the Federal Government limits how and when and where we may labor. Licensing laws, labor regulations, minimum wage legislation, unemployment taxes, social security taxes, union standards, federal health and safety regulations, racial quotas, anti-discrimination legislation, environmental regulations, and a well-nigh endless host of others laws, fees, prohibitions, limitations, regulations, and specifications, severely restrict the exercise of God-given gifts and abilities.

gullivers-travels

(A zillion little bureaucracy’s bind us hand and foot)

Need I mention that by means of the income tax, the Federal Government has claimed the right to the fruit of our labors. By it, the Federal government exalts itself over God (by claiming more than God does in the tithe).

In recent years we have seen how this is in fact a claim on all the livelihood of an individual. Tax exemptions are now viewed as “subsidies.” The argument is, to be granted a tax exemption is the same as being given a subsidy. The implication is that all your income belongs to the National Government and the Government could take it all should it so desire, but by means of tax exemptions, it graciously allows you to keep some of your earnings.

In education: certification, accreditation, and educational standards set by Federal bureaucrats continue to limit educational freedom. The Government continues to view the children as belonging to itself by asserting a “compelling interest” in this or that aspect of our children’s upbringing.

Freedom of religion has come to mean “freedom to believe whatever you want, so long as you do not act in a way contrary to public policy.” Practically this means, our freedom of religion has been confined to the space between our ears.

We have now lived to see what our Founding Fathers thought impossible in this land. The Congress regularly legislates immorality, lines its own pockets, makes decisions based upon self- interest rather than upon what is right and best and then brags about its public-spirited generosity and compassion. We live in a country where the Constitution has no more real authority than the Royal Family in England. We like to be able to refer to it and trot it out on patriotic occasions, but we have no desire to take it seriously and find those who would suggest that we should, fearfully flatheaded.

We live in a land in which the people expect the government to protect them and provide for them and secure their futures. We have not freed the slaves, we have simply extended the plantation. Now, we are all slaves, captives to our liberators. We think we are free only because we have never known true freedom.

From Steve Wilkins in The Great Civil War Debate available on DVD


God and Man at Table Are Sat Down

O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold.
God and man at table are sat down.

Worship in the presence of the Lord
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.
And let our Host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down.

Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;
Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round.
What angels longed to see now man has found:
God and man at table are sat down.

Beggars, lame, and harlots also here;
Repentant publicans are drawing near.
Wayward sons come home without a fear.
God and man at table are sat down.

Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast?
Who is this who makes our warring cease?
Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.
God and man at table are sat down.

When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day.
God and man at table are sat down.