I appreciate this essay because it clarifies the issue well. However, I think you are missing an obvious resolution to the disagreement. This is not an either/or matter of Christian or Lockean principles animating the revolutionary mind; rather, it was that Christian principles were the oxygen that Lockean principles breathed - not just some secondary or tertiary factor. This may not satisfy all of your opponents - but it will satisfy the informed and reasonable ones.

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Great article, thanks for writing it.

Your critics are missing the point because they don't know how to think in essentials and/or are dishonest as they try to reverse engineer their cargo-cult beliefs in place of America's actual history.

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The Enlightenment is BASICALLY the indirect product of Aristotle's philosophy of realism and reason, acting thru Aquinas, Bacon, Newton and Locke. This was 400 years (FOUR CENTURIES) of BASIC cultural change from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. This was change from Christian supernaturalism's unreal individuals to science's natural universe of real individuals. The Enlightenment is one of only two basically rational cultures and the only basically individualist culture. America, as Leonard Peikoff said, is "the nation of the Enlightenment." This generalization is an induction from the individuals of history, culture and philosophy. It is not a deduction from subjectivism or mysticism. It is not arbitrary. The worship of the obscenely evil, black mass of Jesus's crucifixion could not be the moral basis of the politics of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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I found this totally unpersuasive but I haven’t Thompson’s book and I have no idea who he is responding to.

I tend to dismiss Thompson’s criticisms of his critics on the ground that he seems to know nothing about the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Thompson writes: "The Pilgrims were followed nine years later by a much larger group of non-separatist Puritans, who founded the much larger Massachusetts Bay Colony. The latter groups [sic.] ultimate goal was to reform the Church of England by the shining example of their “City Upon a Hill” and then to return to a purified mother country.”

This is just factually wrong. The Independents in the Winthrop Party were separatists in all but name. They were non-separatists only to the extent that they accepted the fiction that there might be some parish or conventical within a parish in the CoE that was a “true church.” That position was one that was seems to have been required by the Winthrop Fleet’s sponsors in Parliament. The Winthrop Party’s mission was to establish a refuge for Independents should the brewing revolution in England go terribly wrong. Like all Independents they broke with the Presbyterians on the point of an established church; the Presbyterians wanted one and the Independents did not.

Further, the Independents in New England succeeded in establishing a constitutional democratic republic where the Independents in England ultimately failed.

Here’s a link to the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641. Every paragraph in it reflects the consensus opinion of the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. If you can’t see something particularly American about it you need to do more reading.


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