"Was the Revolutionary War Justified" by Mark Noll

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by jaigner, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. jaigner

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    Here is an article from Christianity Today about ten years ago. It's written by Mark Noll, a remarkable historian and one of the leading and most respected evangelical scholars of our time. I only wish he would have stayed at Wheaton another year so that I could have taken one of his courses.

    I'll let you form your own opinions, but I would like to hear some serious interactions with the ideas. If you're like me, good scholarship is very helpful, even if you don't agree with everything.

    Happy reading.
     
  2. Ruiz

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    Several years ago, I actually was allowed to hear Dr. Noll lecture basically on this subject (I Have not read the article, but will later). I agree with Dr. Noll. I do not think there is justification by us to have gone to war. I do not know if Noll said this in the article, but he also noted that if he was in America at that time, he probably would have supported the war. Why? He recognizes that it is easier to think clearly through these issues now than when in the situation.
     
  3. billwald

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    Good analysis!

    But it was a civil war, not a revolution.
     
  4. jaigner

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    Excellent point, sir.
     
  5. jaigner

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    I think that is key. It's always easier to go back. But that still doesn't excuse the actual act, I don't believe.
     
  6. NiteShift

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    We've all heard the words "taxation without representation is tyranny" used by the patriots when declaring independence from Britain. At the time that the colonial charters were written, each contained a guarantee that the settlers would have all the rights of an Englishman. Virginia's charter for example stated:

    "Also we do, for Us, our Heirs, and Successors, DECLARE, by these Presents, that all and every the Persons being our Subjects, which shall dwell and inhabit within every or any of the said several Colonies and Plantations, and every of their children, which shall happen to be born within any of the Limits and Precincts of the said several Colonies and Plantations, shall HAVE and enjoy all Liberties, Franchises, and Immunities, within any of our other Dominions, to all Intents and Purposes, as if they had been abiding and born, within this our Realm of England, or any other of our said Dominions."

    Since the colonists did not have representation in Parliament, the thinking was that England had reneged on her promises, and that the colonists were not obligated to submit to royal authority. It is a good argument.
     
  7. billwald

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    Did they ever petition for a representative in the Commons? Don't know, only asking.
     
  8. windcatcher

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    They regularly communicated with parliment and the monarchy concerning different issues. We (used to our technologies) must realize, this required trips by sea, often perilous, forth and back by emissaries to present their causes, remedies, and pleas. The crown and the parliment used tactics of delay and insistance of other documents or additional communications not immediately available. There was a troubling attitude on both sides of distrust and hostility brooding over the motives and intentions of the 'other' side and this mood was likely communicated by communications both official and non official through visitors and letters which became part of the general communications (news) between the officials and general populace of each land. No doubt, right or wrong, there was a power struggle regarding authority, and debate over the honor of contracts..... both written and implied, which constituted real questions of fairness and justice. It is said that Patrick Henry was a friend of the crown until he was converted by the death of a minister who was incarcerated and beaten (as punishment) until he died of his wounds.... for the exercise of free speach and religion.... because he did not obey certain rules of the crown or the established church.

    We all must consider that as we get further from the actual experience of others, we become more and more dependent on those who have researched those times, through letters, preserved documents, journals, etc. AND their own judgement and weight given to the quality and value of content AND their interpretation. This means that few of us are ever exposed to the actual documents.... but the history which has been interpreted and written since by others generally accepted as scholars.

    In considering the value and accuracy of these 'scholars' in giving an honest and balanced report..... we, ourselves, are trusting their presentation with many unknowns to us. They may present themselves with degrees of study, publications of their thesis for degrees and investigative studies, remarks and endorsements given by others, articles in journals and credentials represented as consultants, contributors, or editors in text books.... but we are not presented with the associations which contribute to or are influential upon their perspective.

    Except for those who can find funding to self publish... with the usual consequence of limited ability to distribute.... more and more we are limited to the published works through large publishing houses which do choose what they will and will not print. The scholarship is among the least of their concerns, in many cases: It is the recognition of a name or an institution, the endorsement of a 'reputable' individual or group, the public appetite and the marketablity of the product...... in other words, the profit which can be made or the additional 'network' for gaining other sales is the primary motivation...... and many major publishers are now already controled (make that owned or run) by people with their own political agendas.

    In the average university today... if entered in a graduate program and studying a small focus in a broad section of material.... I would still be limited to those documents present in their libraries or available on fitch or other medium, and the limitations and dependencies on the researchers and librarians at other institutions and the library of Congress to communicate their findings to me. Therefore, I'd be dependent upon the research and help of many others unless I had both the funding and time to go on site and do it myself. For those few who invest their time and their wealth in these pursuits... it doesn't pay financially.... and there's always the nay-sayers willing to disparate or cast doubt on their reputation w/o considering their investment of time... and often investment in a collection of authentic documents.

    There is no doubt in my own mind, that by the time of the Revolutionary War, we already had a segment of society who were leaders in the revoluntion who also had personal hidden motivations and ambitions, but these were largely constrained both during and in outcome as our land established its independence.

    The author throws a bone; "George III .........had no real feel for life in the colonies, and he, when choosing advisers, allowed political loyalty to take precedence over sound assessments of ability. So colonial leaders complaining about mistreatment from Britain were not making things up." Then he takes it back in the subsequent paragraph.

    He states...."[that war could] be justified in classical Christian terms. Armed action to preempt an enemy's destructive intentions had long been considered moral." How can a war be 'pre-empt' when it occurs on one's own soil [or property] in defense of an invasion by another power? "But if the problem in Britain was not primarily a malicious conspiracy but insensitive bungling, war would not have been justified." This argument does not attest to the fact that the bungling may have originated in Britian with its policies.... but it sent enforcers and not investigators to force its will upon the colonists..... so the bungling occurred right here. The sub-title claims "Americans fought a war to gain the kind of freedom that Canada, New Zealand, and Australia were simply given." Wrong! Canada, New Zealand, and Australia may have their own representative government, their own budgets and elect their own leaders, but they are still under the Monarchy, the crown. The USA is not.... although there are those in both England and in the powers of the USA which would wish to unite the countries again.

    I do not doubt that, Mark A. Noll, author of Christians in the American Revolution, is a reputable teacher and scholar, but I am not impressed by his opinion in this article nor am I trusting of this publication, Christianity Today which a globalist and compromising world view. IMO, most all the teachers and scholars of history now days, are limited by constrains already mentioned occurring in their own educational experience (and influence of perspectives) and in the availability to documents. Many are dependent upon the secondary sources of others already popularized and recognized in academia. In the Christianity which I observed evident in the Bbile.... There are only two camps spiritually. Either a person is a Christian or a person is not. In the teachings and ministries of Jesus Christ........ yes, I see love.... but I never ever see compromise with sin nor the acceptance of sin. Everything he touches with his grace he also cleanses and purges with an admonition to 'go and sin no more.'

    Just like the revoluntion did not purge the land from slavery... this was a task already begun but left unfinished until about a century later..... so it is today that for those of us who wish to see a more fiscally responsible and conservative government with less social entitlements and dependencies, we must recognize that as these programs grew incrementally over time..... they cannot be suddenly withdrawn without considerable and inhumane suffering, but must be cut back incrementally and with responsibility and good reasoning.... if it is not already too late ..... for us to maintain our solvency and obligations.
     
  9. windcatcher

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    The Constitution

    What is in the Declaration of Independence? The organization of content? The abuses? The rationale?
    Go here for instruction (10 minute aprox. time): http://www.priorityleader.com/components/VideoBWV70GovtDeclaration01KeyConcepts10m.wmv

    for more instruction on these basic documents go here: http://www.priorityleader.com/components/VideoBWV70GovtDeclaration01KeyConcepts10m.wmv

    To read foundation documents regarding those times visit http://www.constitution.org

    Whenever folks start a discussion bringing the Bible into this.... often we reflect and limit to a few verses and those found in the NT (as though the OT doesn't apply). The WHOLE Bible is meant for instruction.... not just one part. The OT applies today as it did 'before' Christ (but Jesus Christ is eternal.... being present before the foundation of the world)..... as far as instruction is concerned. Jesus Christ did not do away with the law.... but fullfilled and satisfied the penalty of eternal death and damnation for those who believe in him. God's standards of holiness remain unchanged as they did back then.

    Without going any futher into this area of doctrine and theology... concerning government and law.... God gave law to man and God established the government 'type' by which man would be ruled. It was the choice of man to obey.... and accept the conditions of God's rule.... but when the children of Israel became disobediant and lusted after the other forms of government they saw represented in the heathern nations around them, they thought it better that they have a king and so complained to Samuel, who pleaded to God, and God answered Samuel and set up a rule like that which was requested over the Israelite children.

    In 1776, those in our nation seized upon an opportunity between a hope and a risk and made a choice...... and they formed a government based upon 5000 years of mankind's experience according to their understanding of both history, philosophy, law, and scripture, at the time..... and decided to return us to that form of government which most nearly agreed with the form which God established with Moses. They asserted their claims and their arguments and pupose in the Declaration of Independence. From the unity of purpose which this document established, they fought for the promise they hoped to gain, and, with the success of the revolution, they built upon this document the construction of the goverment they thought best, wisest, and most liberal in carrying out the purpose of life under a rule blessed by God. They recognized the need for a moral and educated and a religious people to fullfill the hopes they envisioned for their new country. These are repeated themes in many of their writings and correspondence.

    This established the broadest boundaries for man to be free to make his own choices and accept personal responsibility for the consequences of his decisions without coercion or enslavement, and to have opportunity to exercise fully those God given gifts of talents and resources he possessed within his reach, whether for his on good and that of others and the glory to God or for his own selfish and naturally limiting ends.

    The Declaration of Independence is not an object lesson against Romans 13.... but rather a fulfillment of it. By submission to rule, whether just or not, man submits to an authority as unto God. If that rule is bad and corrupt and unjust....there comes a point where those who submit become the tools of government against the justice due to others or they must identify themselves and become targets also of oppression.

    The kingdom of heaven of which Jesus taught is not here in the physical sense: It is spiritual, and, to the extent that we recognize it and give it evidence in the body of believers and live it as an example before others... it becomes a living sermon of submission to God's authority and obediance and allegiance to Him. It cannot be fully realized on this earth until Christ reigns. Til then all rulers are subject to the spiritual powers of the prince of the air... who (unsuccessfully) tempted Jesus in the wilderness with the kingdoms and kings he then possessed. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, there has not existed any nation whereby the rest of the earth was blessed by its ordination, its industry, its inventions and prosperity, as the nations of the world have been blessed through us and God's blessings upon us.

    But we are now in a moral and spiritual decline and our leaders have lusted after the powers posessed by other rulers and our people have lusted after the promises of security and providence which comes from men as those of other nations. Futhermore, we are driven by material motivations and comfort seeking, coveting that which only the rich have traditionally enjoyed, and have participated in the expectation and receiving of goods from the cheap cost of labor (consider that a value of life) unequal to our own.

    The charity we've offered the world is passed through the hands of our govenment, corporations and bankers, and spread by their collective priorities and accompanying restrictions, more often with hidden motives of greed and possessions of native resources and increasing dependencies, than concerns over the health and true prosperity of others. We are and have become 'one' of them.... and, slowly, gradually, we've become parties to the deception and participants.... with few spirit filled Christians recognizing and resisting. But such is our calling and our destiny.

    The law of our land declares that we are the government... and God holds us responsible. If and until that law is removed and we are occupied as Jerusalem was by Rome....we have that obligation and duty to stand upon that law which has served our people well.... and to hold onto that which we've not already given up: If possible, also, to take back that which we have lost due to apathy, ignorance, deception, and disobediance. This is both our moral and sacred duty. Above all, we must seize upon the fact, the reality, that Almighty God is not only our Savior but also our Lord and King.... in this world and that to come..... and we owe no similar allegiance to man by any means.
     
  10. Deacon

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    "Taxation without representation" was only one of the reasons for the revolution.
    It made a good and popular slogan.

    But the full set of reasons make a good reading, one should read it --- often:


    The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America [LINK]

    Here are the full charges, "let facts be submitted to a candid world":

    • He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
    • He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
    • He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
    • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
    • He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
    • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
    • He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
    • He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
    • He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
    • He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
    • He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
    • He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
    • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
    • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    • For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
    • [snip]
    • He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
    • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
    • He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
    • He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
    • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
    Here on the 5th of July, when the fireworks still ring in our ears, we ought to read it and understand why we celebrate.


    AND understand why our government today stands in jeopardy, it comes so close to matching the same causes for revolution.

    Rob
     
    #10 Deacon, Jul 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2010
  11. RAdam

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    I'm glad someone posted the full list of reasons.

    In light of that list, I have a question: does that sound like the ruler/government described in Romans 13? It doesn't to me.
     
  12. David357

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    We fought a war over less than what we put up with today.
     
  13. billwald

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    I have never seen the items listed Dec. of Inde. supported one by one with historical data. Most of the complaints are very general with no details. For example, "He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." What were the new offices and how many people are we talking about?

    It might be the greatest advertising copy ever written.
     
  14. NiteShift

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    It was not only Americans who felt that the British government was provoking them into seeking independence.

    Charles Pratt, the first Lord Camden termed one especially offensive taxation bill as "...a bill of war, it draws the sword, and in it's consequences plunges the empire into civil and unnatural war....It is evident that England must one day lose the dominion of America. It is impossible that this island can continue in dependence that mighty continent. To protract that time of seperation to a distant day is all that can be hoped for."
     
  15. NiteShift

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    Lord Camden also said regarding the taxation issue -

    "The British Parliament have no right to tax the Americans. I shall not consider the Declaratory Bill now lying on your table; for to what purpose to consider the particulars of a Bill, the very existence of which is illegal, absolutely illegal, contrary to the fundamental laws of nature, contrary to the fundamental laws of this constitution?...Taxation and representation are coeval with and essential to the constitution... I can never give my assent to any bill for taxing the American colonies, while they remain unrepresented.
     
  16. billwald

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    Thanks for the info. Good thing all Americans are represented in Congress.
     
  17. NiteShift

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    You are welcome.
     
  18. Salty

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    Your statement is debatable!

    A civil war is:
    Code:
     [URL="http://www.referencecenter.com/ref/dictionary?query=civil%20war&invocationType=tl1clk&flv=1"]a war between opposing groups of citizens [/URL]
    of the same country 
    The Americans had declared independence, therefore they were no longer British Subjects.
    Likewise in 1861, the CSA had declared Independence from the USA, thus the war from 1861 to 1865 was not a "civil war"
     
  19. billwald

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    The nature of a war depends upon who wins?

    People start a revolution to change the nature of their government. The American colonists had no interest in changing the English government. Civil wars are for political separation which was why the colonists rebelled.
     
  20. Salty

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    Sometimes a war is fought internally to take control of a govt - not for separation - thus that would be a true civil war.
     

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