The Enlightenment Nation State Myth

“If the struggle between state-building elites and other powers like the church predates the Reformation by at least a century, however, it may be that state-building process is not as innocent of the ensuing (putatively “religious”) violence as the myth of the religious wars makes it out to be. Is it possible that the state-building process is not simply the solution but a contributing cause of the violence of the 16th and 17th centuries.”

Wm. T. Vaughn
The Myth of Religious Violence — pg. 141

Vaughn is advancing the idea that the burgeoning modern Nation States of the 16th century contributed significantly to the what the bureaucrats and court historians of the modern Nation States later styled as “The Religious wars of the 16th and 17th century.” Vaughn is contending that in the contest between the growing Nation States and the existence of various expressions of Christianity (Lutheranism, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism) what the Nations States did, once they vanquished Christianity to a “private realm,” and a pietistic interior existence is to have labeled all the violence of the 16th and 17th centuries as “religious wars.” They were able to do so as victors in the contest between themselves and the Church and it served their purpose to do so because in doing so they would forever be able to use the “religious wars of the 16th and 17th century,” which they contributed to and used to advance their agenda, as cautionary tales against letting the Church ever have any influence in a public square that they now dominated with their victory over the Church. Living out of this Worldview accounts for why R2K chaps like Dr. R. Scott Clark can bring up the specter of “the Religious wars of the 16th and 17th century” to warn against Constantinianism. Later in history the Enlightenment codified this victory of the Modern Nation state over the Church and pressed ever more, over the ensuing centuries, the idea of “separation of Church and State.”

By relegating the Church to the “private realm,” in the repeated telling of the dreaded tale of the “religious wars” of the 16th and 17th century, the State is able to practice its ideology (which amounts to a masked religion) in order to conform the citizenry according to its anti-Christ ideology in as much as it owns the public square in an uncontested manner. By this method the modern Nation State has conceded to the Church the souls of the citizenry as long as they could have their bodies and minds.

Of course what we are seeing as this myth of religious wars is exposed is that the modern pagan Nation State dwarfs the “religious wars of the 16th and 17th century,” in terms of the deadly, the destructive and the life-taking. One has only to consider all the blood of the 20th century in putatively non-religious wars. Why should we be afraid of the “religious wars of the 16th and 17th century” — wars that found the burgeoning Nation State as being contributory — when one considers the piles of dead bodies in the Holdomar, of the Armenians by the Turks and of the tens of millions murdered by Mao?

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 Familialist 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.

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