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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Be Thankful for the Puritans (Taken from The Miracle and Magnificence of America)

On November 29, 1623, two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford made an official proclamation for a second day of Thanksgiving. In it Governor Bradford thanked God for their abundant harvest, bountiful game, protection from “the ravages of savages…and disease,” and for the “freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” Well over a hundred Natives attended, bringing plenty of turkey and venison along with them.

The Pilgrims had the proper perspective. As Bradford would note with discernment, “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light [of Jesus] kindled here has shown unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation…We have noted these things so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your fathers have obtained with so much hardship.”

Just a handful of years later, another group of devout believers would set out for America’s shores in search of a new home. Unlike the Separatists (Pilgrims), the Puritans did not want to break away from the Church of England. (The Puritans were very critical of the Separatists for such action.) The Puritans sought reform, however, for the most part, the Church saw no need for reform.

In general, the Puritans were more affluent than the Pilgrims. To head out for a new home, they had much more to leave behind. The decision was not as easy for them as for the Pilgrims. Furthermore, for a period of time, the Church tolerated the Puritans much more than it tolerated the Pilgrims. In order for the Puritans to get to the place they needed to be (America)—and as hindsight reveals, exactly the place where God wanted them to be—their level of suffering needed to increase.

While James I was King (1603-1625), the persecution of the Puritans was tolerable. Moreover, the Archbishop of Canterbury was sympathetic to the Puritan cause. This all changed when Charles I (1625-1649) ascended to the throne. The Puritans then began to be singled out for harassment. The King and the bishops were now making any real Church reform impossible.

Thus, for any real reform to take place—for, in spite of everything, the Puritans still desired reform—a significant distance (literally) between the Puritans and England was necessary. Therefore, America became the destiny for the Puritans as well.

On June 11, 1630, aboard the Arbella, John Winthrop, one of the leaders of America’s first Puritans, wrote and delivered A Model of Christian Charity. This work was no mere stump speech given to occupy the time of restless settlers. It was a 6,000-plus-word thesis which, for much of American history, was required reading among those in the United States who considered themselves educated. What’s more, it became a model for future constitutional covenants of the Colonies. It read:
We are a Company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, (and thus) we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love…For the work we have in mind, it is by a mutual consent through a special overruling providence, and a more than an ordinary approbation of the Churches of Christ to seek out a place of Cohabitation and Consortship under a due form of Government both civil and ecclesiastical…

Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing…

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory, that men of succeeding plantations shall say, “The Lord make it like that of New England.”

For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.
Winthrop’s powerful and wise words would resonate throughout America for centuries. It was this message which first gave rise to the notion of American Exceptionalism, and the idea of America’s Manifest Destiny.

The Puritans were not the sin-obsessed, witch-hunting, killjoys in tall black hats that many modern pseudo-historians (especially those in Hollywood) have made them out to be. They were determined to build a free society around a Christianity that worked.

In June of 1630, 10 years after the Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, Winthrop and 700 other Puritans landed in Massachusetts Bay, marking the beginning of the Great Migration, which over a 16-year period saw more than 20,000 Puritans leave Europe for New England. Under the leadership of their ministers, the Puritans established a representative government with annual elections. By 1641, they had a “Body of Liberties” (essentially a Bill of Rights), which was penned by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward. This document was the first legal code established by the colonists. It, too, contained over 6,000 words. It consisted of 98 declarations that governed everything from private property to capital crimes.

In 1636 the Rev. Thomas Hooker, along with other Puritan ministers, founded Connecticut. They also established an elective form of government. In 1638, after hearing a sermon by Hooker, Roger Ludlow wrote the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. This was the first constitution written in America. It served as a model of government for other colonies and, eventually, a union of colonies. It also served as a model for the U.S. Constitution.

The opening reads,
FORASMUCH as it has pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the river of Connecticut and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one public state or commonwealth; and do, for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into combination and confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practiced among us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such laws, rules, orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered and decreed, as follows…
However, as historian David Barton notes,
While Connecticut produced America's first written constitution, it definitely had not produced America’s first written document of governance, for such written documents had been the norm for every colony founded by Bible-minded Christians… This practice of providing written documents had been the practice of American ministers before the Rev. Hooker's constitution of 1638 and continued long after.
As noted by the renowned Alexis de Tocqueville in his seminal book Democracy in America, Puritanism was as much a political theory as it was a religious doctrine. The general principles of Puritanism, which, as Tocqueville points out, correspond “in many points with the most absolute democratic and republican theories,” laid the groundwork for future American constitutions.

The New England area of America became steeped in Puritanism, and with a lengthy period of healthy immigration from the British middle classes (as Tocqueville notes, “it was from the heart of the middle classes that the majority of the emigrants came”), prosperity soon followed. Tocqueville concluded that one of the “main causes of their prosperity” was that the government of the Puritans allowed for “greater personal and political independence than the colonies of other nations.”

Establishing a political framework that would lead to the “Miracle of America,” the governments established by the Puritans did not derive their powers from the British, or any other secular source. Instead, “We see them at all times exercising the rights of sovereignty, appointing magistrates, declaring peace or war, establishing law and order, enacting laws as if they owed allegiance to God alone.” This devoted allegiance to God was the foundation for the liberty and prosperity that would set America apart from the rest of the world.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2019, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Donald Trump vs. The Lying Left-Wing Media

As I’ve noted before, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP primary. However, I eagerly voted for him over Hillary Clinton (and everyone else on the ballot) in the 2016 general election. I almost certainly will do so again in 2020. President Trump has been a very pleasant surprise as President of the United States. He has a long list of excellent accomplishments that have made me even more eager to vote for him in 2020.

Not the least of these accomplishments is President Trump’s fulfilling his promise to remake the federal judiciary by appointing—and having confirmed—conservative judges and justices. Since 1981, when President Reagan first took office, at this point of his presidency, Mr. Trump has had confirmed more federal judges157—that any other U.S. President.

Since what much of the left holds dear—legalized abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and the like—has come via rogue federal courts that have deemed themselves “super legislatures,” this is a magnificent and important accomplishment. The remaking of the federal courts may be President Trump’s most lasting political legacy.

Likewise, President Trump has been a great ally in the pro-life cause. In early 2018, Operation Rescue named President Trump its “Pro-Life Person of the Year.” Touting President Trump’s pro-life achievements, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman declared, “He has proven to be the most pro-life president we have had in modern history and has backed up his pro-life rhetoric with action like no other before him.” In his recent book Unmasked, Brent Bozell argues that Donald Trump is “the most pro-life president in history.”

Of course, President Trump’s significant achievements also include—but are not limited to—the strong U.S. economy, sound immigration policy, and sound environmental policy. None of this means that the President and D.C. republicans couldn’t do better in many of these areas, and I certainly hope they get the chance, beginning around this time next year.

However, there is one achievement of President Trump that is almost completely due to his own efforts—often when he’s making almost no effort at all—that I’m not sure he could even improve on, and it just may be his greatest accomplishment as President of the United States: the near-complete unmasking of the dastardly, deceitful left-wing media. By this, I mean both the information and entertainment media.

Since Donald Trump soundly defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election, leftists in the mainstream media, which is to say virtually all of the mainstream media, in their evil efforts to attempt to reverse the 2016 election, have abandoned nearly every pretense about who they are, what they represent, and what are their goals.

I believe that it is safe to say that many of the problems we face in America today are directly attributable to the fact that, because of their warped worldview, the vast majority of the American media simply won’t tell the truth. This is especially troubling when one considers that the American media has lied and continues to lie on almost every moral issue debated in America.

To chronicle their decades of lies is, to say the least, a nearly impossible task. To chronicle the media’s lies during the Trump era is daunting enough! Given the words I’m allowed here, it is impossible in this piece alone (see here for a more complete recounting), but I can provide at least a hint of their deceit and the great service President Trump has provided us all. Virtually everything noted below is from 2019 alone.

President Trump has gotten media leftists so unhinged that:
In order to try to protect and further their myriad of deceitful anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-Christian narratives, leftists in the media (and in academia) have engaged in a widespread campaign of censorship. Google (in more ways than one), YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and the like, have all either blacklisted, banned, or otherwise tried to keep Americans from the receiving the truth.

Hate-crime hoaxes are not a completely new phenomenon, but the Trump era of politics certainly seems to have given rise to an increased number of Americans who are far too eager to be a victim in the name of bringing down Donald Trump. Universities—which, of course, are dominated by leftists—seem particularly prone to producing hate-crime hoaxes. And because they are blinded by their hatred of President Trump, the left-wing media can’t seem to help but go along.

Of course, “racism!” is the modern left’s favorite hate crime. So much so, that promising “Never To Tell The Truth Again,” this year The New York Times decided to re-write American history in order to further the narrative that America and Americans—especially Trump-voting Americans—are rabid racists unfit for polite society and unsuited for political office. Almost certainly such a “project” would’ve never have happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected President.

And don’t forget the Covington Catholic Smears, the Trump-Russia-collusion lies, the Mueller madness, the gender propaganda, and so on.

If there is anything, there is truth, or, as Thomas Aquinas put it,
The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition 'Truth does not exist' is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth.
The highest aim of the press should be to tell the truth. Otherwise, evil is served. It is plain to see that for a long time now, the American media have been agents of the enemy. Kudos to President Trump for shining some light onto their nefarious efforts. 

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2019, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America