Friday, January 12, 2007

Oliver Cromwell and religious freedom.

Just wanted to draw attention to a very interesting article by my friend and acquaintance, Dr. David Trim, published in Liberty Magazine. Part I of the article can be read here and Part II here. Dr. Trim examines how Oliver Cromwell's "commitment to religious liberty was combined with an inclination toward social repression," and argues that the modern Religious Right is heirs to Cromwell's ideology.

Really, really worth reading.

David Trim, now lecturer in History at Newbold College in England, was a fellow history student at Newbold in the early 1990's, where we had the privilege to study under the legendary Dr. Harry Leonard. David Trim was also my cricket team captain!


At 14 January, 2007 19:56, Anonymous Charles said...

Hey Torsten,

Good articles. I enjoyed reading them. It was interesting, honestly, to again read/study some things that I have not read for quite a while. I had forgotten a lot of that history. Anyways, the articles were good....long, but good! ;-)

I completely understand what the point (from the articles) was. I definitely agree that there is a movement within the Christian Right that is radical and dangerous, but I do NOT believe, at least at this time, that it is the majority of the Religious Right. However, I do think it is growing.

There is a danger in lumping all of the American Christian Conservatives in this camp. The majority of Conservative Christians are against government interference and/or institutionalized faith. The goal of the majority (be it a large or small) of Evangelicals and the like, is to PROTECT the "faithful" from activist Judges and groups like the ACLU. Activist judges would be representative of the Massachusetts's Supreme Court, or members of the 9th Circuit Court. These judges tend to MAKE law instead of INTERPRETING law, and protecting the Constitution and the people. This is what the Conservative Right are fighting against. Laws are to be made by the people through the legislature.

As a Christian who is as member of the SDA church, I often find myself at odds with the SDA leadership. Why? Because, they refuse to get involved against societal and moral degradation (abortion, prostitution, homosexual marriage, etc). And they do it under the flawed notion that if they get involved, there could be a problem with Church and State separation. But that is for another discussion.

Regardless, the articles were a good read. Thanks for the tip!

At 14 January, 2007 20:34, Anonymous Charles said...

One thing that I forgot to mention is that I definitely agree that too often, the radical fringe of the Right is trying to undermine the Constitution, and that they want to legislate their brand of Christianity on others. Ironically, it is not unlike Sharia law that the radical fringe of Islam want to impose on everybody.

Oh, and another. I DO think that some elements think that this nation was founded on tolerance, because we escaped persecution. Though partially true, there was, as the articles pointed out, really not a whole lot of tolerance, as in the case of Jews and Catholics. I believe it was for this very reason that the Founders put in the Constitution what they did. This does NOT, however, negate that the principles of our government were inherently Christian.

God bless!

At 15 January, 2007 05:59, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning.

I have done it. Now that its around 1:00 am here, I figured that I would join the blogosphere. Oh well. Gotta start somewhere, right?


Be gentle! ;-)

At 16 January, 2007 18:27, Blogger Torsten Pedersen said...

HI Charles

Its always wrong to generalize and lump all conservative (in the political sense) Christians in a box labeled 'dangerous' or 'fundamentalist'.

I also think that there are signs that many conservative Christians are frustrated by seemingly being represented by people like Jerry Farwell, Pat Robertson, Richard Land and Tom Delay. These have been the most prominent leaders of the Religious Right, but not necessarily representative of the movement.

Trims article is at its best when it highlights the pitfalls in Puritan/Religious political thinking as exhibited in Oliver Cromwell. This should be a reminder and lesson for all who wish to influence the moral state of society.

I also accept that there are pitfalls in liberal thinking, although I don't share your concerns of threats from activist judges and the ACLU.

I've always been fascinated and frustrated with Cromwell, because the failure of the English Republic was a also a failure to establish legal constitutionalism in England. While the English Constitution may have maintained its republican ideals and nature in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, in spite the continuation of the monarchy, the English Republic's failure meant that an entrenched written constitution was never adobted.

Good thing the American Revolution happened at the hight of the politcal 'Enlightenment' period in late seventeenth century!



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