Thursday, October 18, 2007

USA – dedicated to a unitarain, universalist, syncretist god

The libertarians are debating political theology, and they like us.

Cato Unbound (a libertarian dram shop) is running the symposium. Jonathan Rowe writes
America’s founders ... were devout theists and gave God a prominent role in politics. See for instance, the Declaration of Independence. However, the God to whom America’s founders appealed — the individual rights granting Nature’s God — arguably was not the Biblical or Christian God. For one, the Biblical God does not grant men unalienable individual rights, certainly not a right to political liberty while the God of the American founding did. Further, on matters of religious toleration, the God of the American founding was not a “jealous” God but granted men an unalienable right to worship, in Jefferson’s words no God or twenty gods.

...America’s principle founders (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin) were not closet atheists but really did believe in this rational, benevolent, unitarian deity who fit their republican ideals much better than the Biblical God could. The inescapable conclusion is that America does have a political theology; it is just not Christianity.

...Nature’s God was theologically unitarian, universalist (did not eternally damn anyone) syncretist (most or all world religions worshipped Him), partially inspired the Christian Scriptures, and man’s reason was ultimate device for understanding Him. He was not quite the strict Deist God that some secular scholars have made Him out to be. But neither was He the Biblical God.


Jonathan said...


One thing I might note is that founding era unitarian universalism is not quite the same thing as modern Unitarian Universalism (notice the upper v. lower case). Your heritage traces to them, no doubt, but many meaningful changes occured/evolved along the way. It's a fascinating history. They seemed to be more "religious" (that is, certain that God exists, intervened in man's affairs, that He ought to be worshipped and prayed to), though their "heresy" or "infidelity" arguably disqualified them from the "Christian" label, which they also embraced.

Red Sphynx said...

Oh quite. Several of them were slaveholders; not compatible with UU as it's practiced since the Civil War.

They also would raise their eyebrows at our acceptance of pagans, GLBT, and they'd probably not identify with contemporary humanism. But they were putting together their personal creeds, not trying to define a religious denomination.

Sue said...

There's only One God and He's not as bad as you make Him out to be