Churchill’s War, Vol. II / pg, 773
Churchill’s War, Vol. II / pg, 773
In America the Calvinist impulse that was the animating religion that founded America was eventually replaced, at the end of the 18th century by the Enlightenment faith characterized philosophically by Deism and religious by Unitarianism. God was seen as the Watchmaker who wound up the universe and then tottered away so as to be uninvolved in a universe that was operating independently according to natural principals. This impulse was to be seen even in many of the American Founding Fathers. Indeed, many argue that the US Constitution was a compromise document that could either be read through the portal of Enlightenment presuppositions or through the portal of Christian presuppositions. By the end of the 18th century Unitarianism had taken over the many of the public Institutions (Especially the Universities) and Christianity was being reinterpreted through the prism of Enlightenment Deism. With Unitarianism the epistemological (how do we know what we know) authority that was Revelation found in Scripture that was the foundation of Colonial Christianity was replaced by right reason and natural law. Right reason and natural law now served as the norm that normed all norms.
Then with the rise of the Democratic Jacksonian man a new shift is on the scene in the States – particularly in the North is away from Enlightenment Deism as well as the continued movement against Biblical Christianity. That shift also came from Europe where it was called Romanticism. As Romanticism came across to America and mixed with the cultural fauna in America it became today what we call Transcendentalism. It was Romanticism/Transcendentalism that fired the imagination of the Northern abolitionists to the point of desiring to wage war on the Christian South.
Keep in mind as we consider this “History of Ideas” that the philosophies/worldview that we are looking at are both contributory towards while also a consequence of the reality that there is a shift in theology so that a new god is being worshiped other than the previous God. That shift demonstrates itself by a different ethos among the people as well as creating a different type of person — a person with a different disposition, a different lean into life, a different prioritization of the things that matter most. Peoples with two distinct Worldviews, and so two different gods will never be able to live as neighbors to one another. Unrest and war is the consequence of trying to have two different worldviews living cheek by jowl in the same culture.
In Transcendentalism, man becomes his own measure. Yet unlike Enlightenment Deism/Unitarianism the Romantic and Transcendental writers shifted their epistemology from right reason and natural law to imagination and intuition, thus abandoning all allegiance to objective reason. This is a shift from non-Biblical rationalism to non-biblical irrationalism in epistemology. Man knows that he knows just by knowing that he knows. There is no outside source of authority. This is played out in many of the debates on slavery leading up to the War Against the Constitution. Many of the debaters on the issue from the South are clergy and they are making their appeal to Revelation as found in Scripture. Whereas their opponents appeal to an intuitive sense that slavery must be wrong just because it must be wrong.
Do not miss here that the North and the South are separated now in their allegiance to different authority sources. The antebellum South is still pinioned on a Christianity that looks to Revelation as the Norm that norms all norms, while the North (especially the abolitionists, and Jacobins) is looking to intuition of the individual as the norm that norms all norms.
So, in this worldview divide that reflects the fact that each region is serving different gods, we have an epistemological divide. We also have a ontological/anthropological divide.
Now before we press on here keep in mind that I am speaking in generalities. The South wasn’t perfectly righteous and every person in the North was not perfectly evil. I am speaking in terms of generalities and not universals. The Southern minister was more consistently someone in line with a Dabney, Thornwell, Girardeau, and Palmer while the Northern minister was more consistently someone in line with Theodore Parker, Henry Ward Beecher, Emerson and Thoreau.
Now back to the issue of the differences – North and South – in terms of ontology and anthropology. We need to keep in mind that the very word Transcendentalism refers to a spirituality that transcends the realm of rationality and the material world. This tells us that we are moving in the direction of irrationalism and a kind of spiritualism contra the materialism of Deism. Transcendentalism holds that man is fundamentally good but corrupted by society and that man should therefore strive for independence and self-reliance. It is easy to believe this given that the Transcendentalists also believed that individual participates in godness. Emerson the Transcendentalists tells us this when he wrote;
“Standing on the bare ground,–my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space,–all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays
This quotation highly demonstrates Emerson’s transcendentalist thought. Emerson finds himself away from all the imperfections of society where he is ultimately finding himself one with nature and becoming this so called “transparent eyeball” he speaks about. This transparent eyeball he speaks about is escaping the corruptions of society and finding a divine soul with nature. Abandoning the materialism of society, Emerson becomes one with God directly through nature, which ultimately is the entire message of Nature.
So man partakes of God and man is basically good. If all men partake of God and if all men are basically good then it is easy to see why the Transcendentalist is all worked up over slavery. Here you have men who are basically good and who participate in God and you have these wretched Southerners holding them in slavery. Something must be done. And the something that must be done is clamor for slave revolts.
Note here that this Anthropology North vs. South is stark. The South believes that man is basically sinful. The South believes not in the primacy of the individual as the Abolitionist Transcendentalist does but rather the South believes that man is to be understood as belonging to the covenantal entities of family, Church, and community as those are hierarchically ordered by the revelation of Scripture.
Note here that this Ontology (the question of existence, becoming and reality) North and South are at odds. The South is still working in a Biblical framework that supports the hierarchy that slavery is a part of. Note also that the slave is typically part of that family hierarchy in the South. If you doubt that I challenge you to read the slave exit interviews done in the 1930s by the Federal Government and read some of the descriptions of former slaves of their time as slaves. You’ll be surprised.
Very well then, North and South are serving different Gods which give them different regional religions. The South is still largely animated by Biblical Christianity. The North is animated by Romanticism/Transcendentalism and because of those different gods and different religions North and South become estranged brothers trying to live in the same house.
So, I have tried to make the case that what is mistakenly called the Civil War had as its ultimate causation the fact that the regions were serving different Gods and so had different World and life views – Romanticsm-Transcendentalism vs. Biblical Christianity. I have tried to show you via their different epistemology, ontology, and anthropology how those differences worked themselves out and how these differences were bound to make for hostility between the two regions.
So, before we start talking about the causes of the war mentioning slavery, tariffs, agricultural vs. industrial, the lack of enforcement of the fugitive slave laws, etc. we should say that the ultimate cause of the War of Northern aggression was the different theologies owned North & South.
Pertaining to war one of the more famous quotes is from the Prussian Military genius Carl von Clausewitz who said;
“War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
What von Clausewitz didn’t say but should’ve said — something which is every bit as true — is that politics is the continuation of theology by other means.
We bring this up in order to argue that in order to understand the War Against the Constitution one has to begin with theology since theology is the foundational point as to why wars — any war — is made.
War is the continuation of politics by other means and politics is the continuation of theology by other means.
Men come into conflict for a host of reasons but always laying at the foundation of those reasons is that they have conflicting views about the nature and reality of God. Because this is so, the contesting participants are being animated by different world and life views which are themselves dependent ultimately upon each contesting participants view of God or the gods.
The ancients understood this better than we did. They understood that people’s warring with one another was just a reflection of the gods of those people going to war with one another.
This is perhaps most vividly expressed in the OT when Israel and Egypt are in conflict regarding Israel’s release. The Scripture clearly communicates in the plagues that God of the Hebrews is making war on the gods of the Egyptians. Since the God of the Bible wins out Israel wins out in their contest over Egypt.
So, what I am saying here is that the ultimate cause in the War of Northern Aggression is that North and South each had different World and life views which were themselves reflective of the fact that each were serving different God/gods.
I can sustain this observation with just a few quotes;
The first is from famous Southern Theologian James Henley Thornwell. Thornwell supports my contention that in the War for Secession that first and foremost cause was a difference in the Gods who were owned by North and South. Thornwell offers,
“The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders—they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, Jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground—Christianity and atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity at stake.”
Clearly, Thornwell sees the conflict first and foremost as between the Gods. The South is fighting for a God described as one who accounts for regulated freedom, while the North is fighting for their god who is but man said loudly.
Benjamin Moran Palmer, another one of the South’s great Theologians concurred with Thornwell. This is from Palmer’s famous 1860 Thanksgiving day Sermon,
I would contend that the South existed as one of the last if not the last vestiges of Christendom in the West. The Southern Army was a Christian army as seen by its Christian leadership and its Christian piety. The Christianity of men like Lee, Jackson, Dabney, and Polk and many others is well known. The book “Christ in the Camp,” vividly demonstrates the centrality of Christianity in the life of the Southern army. The Confederate Battle Flag, which, as you know, is the St. Andrew’s Cross bear testimony that the Southern Army was a Christian Army.
In contrast the Northern Army demonstrated the God they served by not only their actions (Sherman’s Bummers / Burning down of Columbia) but also in their battle song. Time does not permit us to expose the god of the Battle Hymn of the Republic but I assure you that the God of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is not the God of the Bible.
So there you have it. The primary cause of the War Against the Constitution was the fact that each contestant — North vs. South, were defending their god and their gods. There would have been no war were it not the fact that the North were not serving and beholden to a false god.
Eugene Genovese supports my thesis when he wrote in his “Southern Front,”
End Part I
If Holocaust Deniers Don’t Go to Hell, There Is No God
Tuesday, Dennis Prager decided to instruct God telling Him that if God doesn’t send “Holocaust Deniers” to Hell then He (God) does not exist.
It was reported that God was mulling His options given Prager’s threat.
However, allow me for a moment, if you please, to speak as God’s consigliere on this matter.
1.) As salvation is a matter of by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, I’m pretty sure that someone who does not agree on the historical particulars regarding the “Holocaust” as long as they trust in Christ alone can have their name written in the Lamb’s book of life.
2.) Prager does not tell us just exactly what a “Holocaust Denier” is. Is a “Holocaust Denier” someone who questions the final magic number of six million? (Keep in mind that throughout the early 20th century before WW II the six million number was bandied about repeatedly in the media in terms of the predicted outcome of the sundry terrors the Jews were facing.) What if someone said… “I think the number is more likely 4 million?” — Would that make them a “Holocaust Denier” who has to go to hell, lest God not exist?
3.) Can we be careful about calling this historical event “The Holocaust?”
4.) Prager writes, “in the pantheon of evils, among the worst is Holocaust denial.”
Honestly, this is over-wrought to an extreme. I can think of tons of things are are worst than Holocaust Denial. For example, the men who were attacked by Israel on the USS Liberty might think that evil attack is greater in the pantheon of evil than Holocaust denial. The people who were bilked out of their life savings by Sam Bankman-Fried and Bernie Madoff may think those grifters are higher up in the pantheon of evils than Holocaust denial. Even the evil of Jonathan Pollard’s spying might be higher up in the pantheon of evils than Holocaust denial.
5.) I would quite agree with Prager in his column that anyone who denies that many Jews suffered during WW II would be vile. I would also quite agree that anyone who denies that many Christians suffered during WW II would be vile. I would also ask for everyone to realize that one reason War is to be avoided if at all possible is because in wars people suffer.
6.) Prager then quotes Eisenhower and Patton about the horror of the camps. Nobody doubts that the camps were horrific. Just as the Allied camps were horrific as described in the book by James Bacque; “Other Losses.” War is horrific. What people do doubt at some level is the reason behind the horrors that Ike and Patton witnessed. Keep in mind that when a combatant enemy as a nation is suffering severe depredations that it is obvious that those who will suffer the most are camps filled with those deemed the enemy.
7.) Much of what Prager asserts cannot be and has never been substantiated as beyond question. Let’s keep in mind that the narrative for decades insisted that the Nazis were responsible for the Katyn Forrest massacre and yet finally one day the lie of that was overturned. Why is it beyond the pale to think that there will be aspects of the “Holocaust” narrative that will one day be seen to be as false as we now know the Katyn Forrest lie was? Keep in mind that much of the “evidence” for the “Holocaust” comes to us from the Communists. These are hardly reputable people.
8.) Prager asks; If the Holocaust never happened, why would Germany maintain that it did?
He’s not really serious here is he? One only has to look at the way David Irving has been treated or look at the way Ernst Zundel was treated or look at the way Ursula Haverbeck has been treated and one knows the answer to that question.
9.) Can you name one other historical event that will result in prison time if you do not agree with the official narrative? Just one? Can one go to jail for denying the Holodomor in any country? Can one go to jail for denying the slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks in any country?
10.) Because #9 is true, I refuse Prager’s conclusion that it is antisemitism to question the particulars surrounding what we call “the Holocaust.”
11.) Again, just to be clear. I don’t deny that the Jewish people suffered greatly during WW II. I don’t deny that millions were killed. However, if Auschwitz in the early 90’s could revise their camp death totals down by over two million I don’t know why it is not possible that some day likewise total numbers of Jewish deaths might not be revised downward as a result of further historical investigation.
Historical investigation is not antisemitism and neither is it a “slap in the face of the soldiers who fought in WW II,” quite to the contrary of Prager’s claim.
“Without the Biblical doctrine of God, a valid interpretation of the realm of history is impossible. It is the sovereign God who created the world, and by His creation brought history into being. In creation, God gave meaning and purpose to the world. It is ONLY in this setting that man can meaningfully interpret and understand history. In his understanding of the Trinity, Augustine furnished the Christian study of history with an insight lacking to classical students. The Trinitarian God in Augustine solved the problem of the one and the many in ancient philosophy and made history possible to a Supreme Being rather than to fate or chance. It is this Supreme Trinitarian Being who created man in His image and thus conferred meaning and purpose upon human existence. History is not subject to the dictates of fate, which is neither the beginning nor end of the historical process and which cannot give to it any purpose. In these doctrines, Augustine rescued historiography from the grip of the classical concept of determinism which could only render history meaningless and irrational.”
Without a Sovereign God determining history and meaning, all man is left is history by impersonal fate or impersonal chance. Interestingly enough, when God is eliminated from Historiography then fate and chance together work as limiting concepts that provide the framework in which history is penned. So, despite the idea that fate and chance are opposites, fate and chance work together as two wash-women taking in each other’s wash off the line. Pure chance will finally slip into fate and pure fate will finally slip into chance.
All of this means that we must read history through a definitively Christian theological grid which means that we will come to different conclusions from historians who are not epistemologically self-consciously Christian. Historical events then will be for the Christian historian interpreted diametrically differently than for the non-Christian.