Dabney and McAtee On Equality

“Again: we have all heard the famous maxim: ‘All men are created equal.’ There are two species of equality of British freedom, whose watchword is: ‘Every Englishman is equal before the law.’ It does not mean that the peasant is equal to the peer in the list of his particular franchises — these are different. But the peasant has the same right to his narrower franchises as the peer has to his wider. The same law protects both, on the same fundamental principles of justice. The maxim, in this sense, does not assert that nature has made men literally equal in strength, in sex, in capacity of mind, in virtue, in fortitude, in health. Hence it holds that a true and equitable equality must distribute different grades of franchise to these different beings, according to their capacities to use them. It does not hold that the child justly wields the same set of privileges as the father. It does not believe that the woman has, for instance, the same ‘inalienable’ right to sing bass and wear a beard with her husband. But this maxim, after leaving Providence to distribute to different classes of mankind the several allotments of privilege they have capacity to improve aright, claims for the protection of all the common sanction of justice and the golden rule.
 
Then, there is the equality of the Jacobin: a very different thing, which teaches that mechanical sameness of function, franchise, and privilege, in each detail, is a right, ‘inalienable,’ ‘natural,’ and ‘self-evident.’ That whatever particular franchise is enjoyed by the highest citizen, must also be attainable by the lowest: or these sacred institutions are outraged. The question between these is a question in philosophy: not a very easy one, if we may judge by the frequency which thinking men confuse the two together. Let us see what practical fruits this confusion to two abstract theories has borne.
 
One crop of those fruits might have been seen in Paris a century ago. ‘The Reign of Terror,’ was established. The guillotine stood before the Thuilleries ‘en permavence.’ The gutters ran daily with blood. The prisons, filled by vile delators with thousands of the noblest and best , were emptied by the ‘Septembrigans,’ through wholesale massacre. To have belonged to a privileged class was the sufficient crime. To assert the privilege of any class, in church or state, was treason. This was the logical result of the philosophy.
 
We pass over to America in 1865, and we see the second harvest of death from this same philosophy. If the Jacobin equality is that which intuition teaches to be ‘inalienable,’ then it was inconsistent that the Africans, though pagans, aliens, lately savage, and utterly unfit to wield the higher franchise of civic life without ruining society and themselves, should be ‘held to service or labor’ under other citizens. It was iniquity that they should be denied any franchise attainable by any other citizen. As this was ‘self-evident,’ and the equality ‘inalienable,’ no constitutions, laws, or covenants could be legitimate the difference between African and American. But they all became null and void in attempting to do so. Yea, God himself was quite roundly notified, that he had better not legitimate it, or he would be repudiated also! And when some eight millions were unable to see this Jacobin logic so, a quarter of a million of them were killed, their homes desolated, and half a continent clad in ruin!”
 
Robert L. Dabney — D.D.

Secular Discussions — pg. 291-293

Equality, per Dabney, in a Christian Worldview, is particular, applied to all people in their particularity wherein God has created and placed them, while in the Jacobin worldview equality is universal and so works to the end of denial God’s distinctions. In my estimation, the Jacobin variant of equality arises out of the conviction of the Jacobin that man and God are equal. From that premise blooms their conviction that all other distinctions must be eliminated in the name of and in pursuit of Jacobin equality.

One thing is certain that the flattening out of all distinctions and differences in the name of equality if it does not begin with man’s conviction that God and man are equal, will certainly end with God and man being seen as equal.  In a world where, in the name of equality, the distinctions between men and women are sacrificed, the distinctions between the disabled and the healthy are pretended not to be relevant, and the distinction between people groups denied it is inevitable that the distinction between God and man should be negated.

Dabney didn’t live to see what this doctrine of egalitarianism did to Russia and China. Where the 18th century French Revolution and the 19th century American Revolution murdered their hundred of thousands, the 20th-century egalitarian Revolutions murdered their ten’s of millions.

It is my conviction that the church’s errant embrace of some version of Jacobin egalitarianism is to our generation what the Church’s errant embrace of Justification by works was to the Magisterial Reformers. In 2016 the embrace of God ordained distinctions is the article by which the Church stands or falls. Just as in the 16th century the Church’s future depended upon following Scripture and getting Justification by faith alone correct, so in the 21st century the Church’s future depends upon following Scripture and getting the embrace of God ordained distinctions correct. Failure in getting this right will result in the amalgamation of Christianity with all other faith systems into a mono-religious faith system. Failure in getting this right means the destruction of the Biblical family. Failure in getting this right means the equalizing of God and man.

A great deal is at stake. May the Lord Christ grant us grace to fight.

 

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

2 thoughts on “Dabney and McAtee On Equality”

  1. Nice little piece. Dabney’s “Defense of Virginia” is on my short to read list.
    Having been on the edges of the American “patriot” movement for about 20 years, and having read a bit of libertarian literature until about two years ago, I had unwittingly imbibed the equality virus. I now see that universal suffrage brought about the destruction of the country, and the God ordained family structure.
    As I studied Baptist history and doctrine, I ran into Calvinist soteriology, which took my out of my Baptist church. Studying great Christian minds of the past also helped me understand the God ordained differences in the races, something that my patriot studies were exposing me to but my church was denying. There is so much to learn.
    Joe

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