Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kevin Gutzman on Roger Sherman and Calvinism

Kevin Gutzman, acclaimed historian and constitutionalist libertarian/conservative scholar, has written a great piece at The American Conservative (one of the few good conservative resources, may I add) entitled "Constitutional Calvinist." It details the influence of Calvinist thought on Roger Sherman and on the American founding.

Gutzman rightly points out that Lockean thought is not only compatible with Calvinist thought on revolution, it is influenced by it. Here is a quote from the article: "The typical account of the Declaration has Thomas Jefferson producing a Lockean document notably devoid of traditional Christian language. Hall demonstrates that while the Declaration’s reference to “nature’s God,” its claim that government’s function is to protect citizens’ rights, and its assertion of a right to overthrow usurpatious rulers are consistent with Lockean thinking, they also are perfectly in keeping with John Calvin’s teaching on those subjects, which antedated Locke’s Second Treatise—and likely influenced Locke. That Sherman and his fellow Calvinists in the Second Continental Congress should have signed the Declaration is not the mystery that Louis Hartz and other proponents of the idea that American has always been Lockean have wanted to make it.

Read the rest here.

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