Monday, October 13, 2008

Deploring Columbus Day through Calvin?

Quoting Jim Bennett, Glenn Reynolds finds it ironic that American liberal repudiation of western culture finds its roots in the Calvinism of American Puritans. The quote from Mr. Bennett is as follows:

This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a miniscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.

That would be interesting, except it is entirely wrong. What Mr. Bennett describes here is not Calvinism, but a dualistic heresy common throughout Christian history known as Manichaeism. That belief system repudiates much of Calvinistic belief. It has had considerable influence over the history of Christianity up to the present, and, as with other forms of gnosticism, has morphed into similar secular philosophies.

Unlike the Manichaeans, Calvinists believe that depravity touches all human beings, including the elect. We agree with Alexander Solzenhitsyn (not a Calvinist, but certainly a Christian thinker), who wrote in the Gulag Archipelago that "the line that divides good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being." That belief should preclude us from the self-righteousness all too common among the stream of progressives that Mr. Reynolds has in view, not to mention more than a few conservatives.


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