Monday, June 13, 2022
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Saturday, May 7, 2022
It is pretty well known that what we commonly call THE French Revolution was not the last French Revolution. But what if I told you that, from a certain point of view, it wasn’t the first either? It can be argued that the French Wars of Religion of the 16th century was a French Revolution that was Protestant rather than Secular in nature. But tragically like many of the later Secular French Revolutions it was betrayed by the very person who won it, Henry Bourbon converting to Catholicism was the Clerical Equivalent of Napoleon being Crowned Emperor.
This post is a sequel of sorts to Capitalism is Atheistic in Nature, I’m not titling it as a direct parallel because I can't claim Democracy wouldn't exist without Christianity, Ancient Greece definitely had it, and I believe so did Sumerian Kish before Etana. I mentioned how Capitalism loving New Atheists and YouTube Skeptics love to credit the rise of Capitalism to the Secularism of the Enlightenment, but they also claim credit for Democracy and like the Christian Capitalists of the Eisenhower era try to paint Capitalism and Democracy as inseparable. But the truth is Capitalism and Democracy are actually incompatible, the only truly Democratic socio-economic system would be Anarcho-Communism, and the only acceptable Representative Democracies are Socialist Republics like Cuba and Vietnam.
That post also acknowledged that some people blame/credit the Protestant Reformation for Capitalism. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment had both Protestant and Secular sides to them (also a Catholic side but the Catholic Renaissance and Enlightenment was like the New Deal and Huey Long, attempting to appease the people to keep them from running into the arms of the revolutionaries). And those two sides were not always mutually exclusive, you had Christians who were largely Secular in their mindset, and non Christians unafraid to draw on Scripture to support their ideas like Thomas Paine in Common Sense. My thesis in that prior post was that Capitalism is chiefly the product of the Secular side, while here I shall argue that the Return of The Demos was mostly the product of the Reformation.
Part 1: Ecclesiastical Polity
Church Governance was not the initial main point of dispute upon which the Reformation started, but it very quickly became an important topic of debate. There are primarily three different positions on Church Governance, others do exist like the weird system Methodism has, but they were devised much later and can be argued to be simply fiddling around with these three.
Episcopalianism: The form used by The Church of The East, The Oriental Orthodox, The Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans (Episcopalian as a name for a denomination usually means Anglicans in the United States), and some Lutheran Churches.
Presbyterianism: The form used by the Reformed Churches of the Continent in Switzerland, The Netherlands and parts of Germany as well as the Huguenots and Protestant minorities in France. But Presbyterian as the name of a Denomination refers to a Denomination founded in Scotland by John Knox, they are today the largest Christian Church in South Korea.
Congregationalism: As the name of a specific Denomination refers to a subgroup of the Puritans including the founders of Boston MA., but it was also the Polity used by most of the most well known Puritans including the Plymouth Pilgrims, the Baptists and the Quakers. It also seems to apply to Anabaptist sects like the Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish. It can be hard to determine with Proto-Protestant groups that no longer exist, but it looks to me like the Waldenses and Taborite were probably Congregational.
So Episcopal Polity is basically Clerical Monarchy, Presbyterian Polity is Clerical Oligarchy or Parliamentarianism, and Congregational Polity is Clerical Democracy. There are of course differences within each form as well, for example what Separates Catholicism from other Episcopalians is viewing The Bishop of Rome as beyond just a Duke(Bishop), Prince(Cardinal) or King(Patriarch) but as essentially the Emperor of The Church.
I like to describe my own personal position on Ecclesiastical Polity as Congregationalism with Presbyterian Characteristics. The reason being that the most well known Congregationalists, those who bear the name and Baptists, seem to be classified this way chiefly for their localism over regionalism but sure seem to have Episcopal Characteristics in how the Local Pastor is viewed. But even in Presbyterian Denominations it still seems like the Church is usually one person giving a speech everyone else listens to, which I view as a monarchial tending problem itself. In many ways I think the Quakers are doing most things better then anyone else.
All three words used to define these forms of Church Government are Biblical, so the first step to seeing who is Biblically Correct is looking into how these words are used in The Bible.
Episcopas is a Greek word that is most literally translated Overseer, but in translations like the KJV more often becomes Bishop, and KJV only Independent Baptists usually use Bishop as the chief Biblical synonym for what they mean by Pastor. Interestingly the Spartan title of Ephor is derived from the same Greek Root but in a different dialect making it equivalent in it's essential meaning.
Presbyter is a Greek word that is usually translated Elder but I actually feel like Senior conveys the intended meaning better at least in how The New Testament uses it. Better yet, if I were based on my perspective as a Christian who watches a lot of Anime asked to consult on a Japanese translation of The Bible, I would advise them to translate Presbyter as Senpai and Newtron as Kohai at least in 1 Peter and the Pastoral Epistles.
Neither of these words was meant to refer to an office in any kind of hierarchy, the word “office” is used, but it means a job or function not a position of authority. I’m a supporter of the House Church Movement, which means I’ve observed how there were no Church buildings till the 3rd Century, the Early Church met in each other’s houses. Any context where Episcopas seems to be in use in a very singular sense, as in this Church at this time only has one, it’s probably the owner of the house they’re currently meeting in, the host of the meeting is naturally also responsible for organizing and overseeing it. But in other contexts like Acts 20 and 1st Peter even many who defend the Episcopalian developments of the 2nd through 4th Centuries admit that all the Presbyters are Overseers in those passages. However I feel the word Deacon is also used interchangeably with Episcopas, Deacon means a servant.
When 1st Peter is talking about elder and younger believers, I don’t think he means by how long it’s been since they came out of their mother’s womb, but by how long they’ve been a Christian. Anarchist Philosophers have argued it does not conflict with Anarchism to defer to the authority of someone more experienced than you on a certain subject, and for Christian Anarchists that is how Divine Authority is reconciled, God is older and more experienced than all of us, but Scripture actually does depict Him as okay with His decisions being questioned. This is a form of that, Peter is saying that newer believers should seek guidance from those with greater experiences, but also stresses how those elders need to take seriously the responsibility that comes with that.
William Tyndale chose not to use the word Church in his English Translation of The New Testament, during this early period some Protestants were concerned the word Church itself was perhaps too inherently owned by the Catholic Church. So the Greek word Ekklesia he translated Congregation, and even in the KJV (which is largely just a revision of Tyndale) and more modern Bibles "Congregation" instead of Church is sometimes still used. Because it is a pretty good literal translation of what Ekklesia means, but not the only way to translate it. You see the word Ekklesia was previously a big part of Greek politics and discussions of politics, where in those contexts it is often translated Assembly. The Ekklesia was in Athens and other Greek Democracies the word for the gathering together of the citizenry to discuss an issue and then vote on it.
The New Testament usage is not unrelated to the Civil Government usage, The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven, and Christ is King but even in The Torah the King still had to involve The People, indeed Ekklesia is also used in the Septuagint to translate equivalent Hebrew Words, as well as in Stephen’s Description of the Mosaic gathering of the people in Acts 7. And there are hints in the New Testament of the local Ekklesia making decisions democratically.
So the strongest argument for Congregationalism is that only Congregationalists don't need to massively add to the meaning of the word it’s based on. The word itself was inherently an expression of Democracy in Ancient Greek.
Most ancient Oligarchical forms of Government originated as Councils of Elders including pre Solon Athens and Sparta, either the heads of all of a Tribe’s families, or the heads of the aristocratic ruling families like Parliment's House of Lords. Council of Elders is what the Latin in origin word Senate actually means etymologically, and it’s also what the Sanhedrin is in Numbers 11. A council of Elders can play a role in how a Democracy functions, but it shouldn’t be the final and certainly not the only authority.
The Episcopalians’ main argument is that they have history on their side, the Church had been Episcopal for well over a thousand years, you can’t even conceivably blame Constantine for this one. Indeed I don’t think one single big bad is to blame, though Ignatius of Antioch is the earliest Church writer we have who explicitly argued for Episcopalianism. Ignatius gets referred to as a student of the same “John” who Polycarp was a student of. But the oldest sources on Polycarp being a student of a “John”, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Papias who we don’t have directly, mention only him and not Ignatius, and Ignatius in the letter he supposedly wrote to Polycarp makes no mention of them having a shared mentor, and neither refers to a “John” as their mentor in any of their own authentic writings. Papias the oldest source on Polycarp and this John clearly distinguishes him from John The Apostle calling him John the Presbyter.
Some supporters of Episcopalianism will admit that originally Churches founded by Peter and Paul were Presbyterian (I don’t even think they were that) but that "Johannian" Churches in Asia were Episcopalian, basing that largely on Ignatius and Polycarp. However Polycarp in his one letter refers to himself as one Bishop among a group. But either way something starting in Asia isn't a good sign since Paul referred to Asia departing from him, and in Revelation 2-7 most of the Churches in this region have some doctrinal problems. I'm not the only person to argue that Episcopal Polity is the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
The second century seems to be the key transitional century for the rise of Episcopalianism, some have argued it was a “necessary” response for dealing with the Heretics, needing an authoritative leader to refute and oppose them. These Heretical sects were founded by individual Heretics with a bit of a cult of personality around them like Cerinthus, Maricon and Valentinius. So the "Proto Orthodox" responded to the Heretics by imitating them.
But the second century was also the century over the course of which Platonism supplanted Stoicism as the leading Metaphysical Philosophy of the Greco-Roman World, including the beginning of its influence on Christianity.
In Stoicism and Early Christianty I argue that the Early Christians were somewhat Stoic, but Stoics who were socially and morally more like the original Stoicism of Zeno rather than later Roman Stoicism. Zeno was born a Phonecam on Cyprus but he founded his School in Athens. The original Stoics were people who’s criticism of Athenian Democracy was that it wasn’t Democratic enough, they wanted full Gender Equality and the abolition of Slavery, as well as a Socio-Economic system we would today call Communist. This lines up well with Paul in Galatians 3 who says that in Christ's Ekklesia there is no distinction between Male/Female or Free/Slave or Jew/Gentile (Native/Immigrant).
However Plato and Aristotle were Athenians who HATED Democracy, they idolized many aspects of Sparta (though in The Laws attributed to Plato the Athenian blames Sparta for the spread of the Homosexuality he wanted to stamp out). Aristotle of course broke with his former teacher on many things, and his books on Politics criticized both of Plato’s constitutions, he praised Sparta but ultimately gave higher praise to Carthage and Solon’s Constitution.
Plato’s Republic gets misconstrued as Communist because it technically has no Private property, but it is still very much a class based society, there was no discussion of liberating the Slaves. In The Republic the Monarchy of a "Philosopher King" is Plato's ideal but an Oligarchy of "Guardians" is the acceptable alternative in the absence of a perfect ruler, and so I suspect Platonized Christianity gave rise to both Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism. Plato's Statesman also argued for Monarchy being the ideal.
Part 2: Applying Ecclesiastical Governance to Civil Governance.
Protestants applying their views of Church Government to Civil Government started before the Reformation proper actually, when we look at the history of Proto-Protestantism, John Ball and his Peasant Revolt was contemporary with John Wycliffe and the Hussite Reformation was soon followed by the Taborite Rebellion.
Then not long after Martin Luther’s message had developed a big following Thomas Munster led an Anarcho-Communist revolt in Germany, then Luther being the evil scumbag he was ordered the Aristocratic Feudal Lords he had converted to his new doctrine to put them down, and there were other Anabaptist revolts as well, but by the end of the 16th century most Anabaptists were absolute Pacifists.
It was Rebels seeking to empower Presbyterianism who were the first to gain success, the Dutch Revolt that started in the 1560s. And then the English Revolutions of the 16th Century only empowered Parliament (the Presbytery they’d had since long before the Reformation) not the People. Though more genuinely Congregational rebel groups were involved like Gerrard Winstanley’s Diggers.
Over in the Colonies New England was founded by Congregational Puritans, and Pennsylvania by the even more Congregational Quakers. But Maryland was founded by Catholics and the South by Royalist Anglican Cavilers loyal to the Jacobite Monarchs. In a way the American Civil War was a long delayed Sequel to the English Civil War. Atun Shei Films has a video on Puritanism that acknowledges both their good and bad points. It was also under the influence of Puritans like Richard Bernard that England under Cromwell ended it's ban on Jews that has stood since the 13th Century.
Still plenty of Protestants have been openly explicit in not wanting the same kind of Governance for The State they do for The Church. Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party was religiously speaking most popular with the New England Congregationalists, a denomination founded on Clerical Localism, so why were they so opposite politically? Well they still had the Puritan Attitude that the State should regulate Morality, so they wanted a strong Federal Government regulating public morality.
Evangelical Dominionists will talk about how the phrase “Separation of Church and State” comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Pastor, and say it explains how it's there to protect the Church from the State not the other way around. The historical context they are leaving out is that this was a Baptist Pastor, and back then Baptists were very much still a minority religion even in the State they had founded. And the Boston Congregationalists especially hated the Baptists remembering Roger Williams as an Apostate from their Church. Jefferson was promising a minority religion protection from the majority religion in bed with the then ruling Party.
I don’t feel like retreading all the Roger Williams territory here, I recommend John M. Barry’s book Roger Williams and The Creation of The American Mind.
Roger Williams wasn’t the only association the Baptists had with the fight for Freedom of Religion, it goes back to the founders of the General Baptists John Smyth and Thomas Helwys. Nor is he the only association the Baptists have with the Abolitionist movement, Slavery in the British Empire was finally outlawed as the result of a Slave Rebellion in Jamaica lead by Baptists called the Baptist War, and Charles Spurgeon also strongly opposed Slavery, and George Washington Williams is also worth mentioning. The Southern Baptists were originally very much the atypical Baptists, breaking off form the the oldest American Baptist Church because it opposed Slavery, it was a long complicated history that made them the largest Protestant Church in the U.S. And even today while Southern Baptists are America's largest single Baptist Denomination they are still less then 50%.
However the Quakers became even more virulent abolitionists.
But let’s go back to the discussion of France. John Calvin himself made a Christian argument for Regicide during the French Wars of Religion. During the French Enlightenment, of the key Philosophs who died before The Revolution broke out, the only one who was a Christian was Rousseau who was raised Calvinist went Catholic for a while but then returned to Calvinism. He was also the only one who was a Communist rather than a Liberal. He is a key transitional figure in the Secularization of Communism as unlike prior Christian Communists his argument for it was Secular. Montesquieu was however not as hostile to religion as Voltaire and did use The Bible in his writings, though exactly how has been misrepresented by certain Evangelicals.
The French Revolution was the beginning of the Secularization of both Democracy and Communism, and at the same time the final stage of them being separated from each other.