Friday, May 31, 2013

EU Parliament to Kigali: Victoire Ingabire's trial is a test

KPFA Evening News, May 27, 2013

November 2011 march in Brussels to free Victoire Ingabire
KPFA Evening News Anchor: The European Parliament adopted a resolution this week calling for a fair trial for Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, whose case is now being heard by the Rwandan Supreme Court. Ingabire has been behind bars in Rwanda’s capital Kigali since 2010, the year she attempted to run for the presidency against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The European Parliament resolution says that her first trial, which led to an eight year sentence, was politically motivated and did not meet international judicial standards. Ingabire was charged with plotting to destabilize the Rwandan government and with “genocide ideology,” meaning disagreement with the constitutionally codified history of the Rwanda Genocide.

The European Parliament’s resolution also says that the Rwanda Civil War and Genocide “continue to have a negative impact on the stability of the region.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Sixbert Musangamfura, spokesperson for Victoire Ingabire’s political party, who remains, for now, in exile in Helsinki, Finland.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Sixbert, how significant is this European Parliament resolution regarding your party leader, Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire?

Sixbert Musangamfura: It’s very significant because Rwanda is depending a lot on the aid from the international community.
Sixbert Musangamfura

KPFA: And when do you expect a resolution of Victoire’s appeal before the Supreme Court now?

Sixbert Musangamfura: Actually, there have been some developments. They were supposed to conclude the case before the end of May, but now the hearing is continuing beginning of June. And we are expecting a resolution a month after that – probably late June 2013 or early July 2013.

KPFA: And the West’s policies with regard to Rwanda, Congo, M23 and the FDLR all seem to be shifting. There are the U.N. combat troops going to eastern Congo from Tanzania and South Africa. What do you think the implication of this trial is for that situation, for Rwanda’s presence, the Kagame regime’s presence in the eastern Congo?

Sixbert Musangamfura: I think that the continued violation of human rights in Rwanda and outside Rwanda – those have maintained Kagame in the spotlight as a dictator. And this international brigade under deployment in the eastern Congo – as long as it’s there and the area is stabilized, then we are expecting international justice, because Rwandan leaders have been involved in atrocities committed in the eastern Congo. This has been documented by U.N. reports and all our eyes are turned towards the international criminal tribunal in The Hague because Rwanda, the Rwandan army, has been involved in those atrocities.

KPFA: And that was Sixbert Musangamfura, spokesperson for Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi Party, on the European Parliament’s resolution calling for a fair resolution of her case, which is now before the Rwandan Supreme Court.

For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

To hear the audio archive of this KPFA report, see San Francisco Bay View, "European Parliament calls for Rwandan Justice for Victoire Ingabire."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How George Whitefield Prepared America for Revolution

Jerome Dean Mahaffey offers a compelling case for George Whitefield's decisive contribution to the American Revolution in the book Preaching Politics:
'The intellectual & enthusiastic cooperation of elements within the New Light & Old Light camps that enabled a succesful Revolution'
Three elements stand out. First. George Whitefield's smart strategy eventually resolved the tensions between the New Lights & Old Lights as he writes to Gilbert Tennent in 1747:
'I can now send you good news from the Northward. My reception at Boston, and elsewhere in New-England, was like unto the first.....Congregations were rather larger than ever, and opposers' mouths were stopped." Whitefield was so encouraged that he was reminded of the revival in 1740.

they had ironed out a working partnership that would be called to duty in the next two decades in the fight against the French and to defy the scheme to establish an Anglican episcopacy in America, which, as people feared, might undermine the authority of colonial governments.'
Second, George Whitefield's preaching gave the different communities the tools to transcend their natural community limits:
'Awakening preaching, among other things, served to break down the form of community expressed through traditional religion. In the traditional scheme, one's identity and religion were by-products of national/religious heritage. In other words, if our church is, let's say, Dutch Reformed and serves as a symbol of our national identity, then "we are all, Christians." The revivalists said, "No, true religion is personal, and each one must choose Christianity personally." The genuine believers became a community having more in common with the other newly born converts down the road than relatives next door.

As ties of nationality faded, the religious ties of a citizenship in the kingdom of God served to bind people into a more inclusive community with a reason and will for increasing the amount of intercolonial contact. Consequently, believers from different national backgrounds could converse with a common vocabulary that transcended any cultural or political differences.'
Third, emphasis on the relationship of the individual to God in George Whitefield's preaching translated into revolutionary pamphlets:
'the Revolutionary polemicists found it necessary to undermine the monarch with religious arguments that privileged the relationship of the people to God over a community's right to choose its preferred form of government. This fact suggest that Lockean liberalism or republicanism ideals wer not as profoundly embedded, or at least as widespread, in the minds of colonists. '
Brent Winter, (I found him while searching for the origin of the word 'Whig') in the video below (at 32:00) makes perfectly clear how George Whitefield's preaching functioned:

Migrant Identity As Dynamic Process

The book The People With No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764 by Patrick Griffin confirms and explains my strong aversion for the static identity models proposed by Dutch (Ranging from Jan-Peter Balkenende, Wouter Bos to Mark Rutte) and UK elites (David Cameron etc etc):
'For the men and women who left Ulster, identity resembled less an ideology, vision, or static set of traits than a dynamic process through which individuals struggled to come to terms with and acted upon the world around them. Only as men and women confronted the challenges and possibilities of everyday life, familiar and unfamiliar material conditions, as well as the extraordinary, did they reinvent traditions to give these developments meaning. Identity, then, for these people did not amount to the group's acceptance of unifying cultural markers--quite the contrary. Ulster's Presbyterians continually remade themselves as they struggled to make sense of experience in rapidly changing contexts by giving a useable past a number of different and often contradictory meanings.'
It reminds me of my blogposts Apologetics and Citizenship (Re)defined and Missionary Citizenship (Re)defined in which I focus on this ongoing process.

Patrick Griffin argues in an article in the Journal of British Studies of 2000:
'explaining who the Ulster Scots were or how they defined themselves has not attrated much scholarly attention, an unsurprising failure...
their eighteenth-century experience has mainly attracted church historians interested in theological disputes, social historians charting the rise of the linen industry and students of the '98 Rebellion exploring the ways in which a latent Presbyterian radicalism contributed to the formation of the United Irish movement.'
Disappointing, but not surprising.

However, we are looking here at the motor of the American revoltuion. When interpreting Abraham Kuyper's significance most scolars tend to ignore the dynamic missionary citizenship (which is Kuyper's interpretation of the American revolution) and replace it with Dooyeweerd's toothless version of sphere sovereignty.

Reading Abraham Kuyper's Lecture to the Christian Social Congress, November 1891 while ignoring his lecture Maranatha , May 1891 which is much more representative of his thought, characterises the current state of debate between conservative and progressive Christian Democrats.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Preaching & Persuasion

John Witherspoon's Lectures On Eloquence gives great insight into the fundamental importance of Rhetorics at Universities at the time. Raymond Blacketer's book The school of Pedagogy and Rhetoric in Calvin's Interpretation of Deuteronomy explains how basic knowledge of the classical and Renaissance rhetoric helps us understand Calvin's writings:
'It will also become evident that Calvin's exposition of Scripture bears the deep imprint of his training in classical and Renaissance rhetoric. Rhetoric for Calvin was an essential tool for teaching and preaching, so long as it served the subject matter and did not become an end in itself. Calvin advocated and implemented a restrained use of rhetoric for the purposes of teaching and persuading in the church and in a godly society. For Calvin, proper pedagogy and restrained rhetoric were two of the most important tools in the school of God.'
And in the speeches of John F. Kennedy we see the classical rhetorics at work as well. In the book Performing patriotism: national identity in the colonoial and revolutionary American Theater by Jason Shaffer we read in the chapter 'A School for Patriots':
'At Princeton, Witherspoon began in 1769 to deliver an annual series of "Lectures on Eloquence, the first official course in public speaking documented at an American college.In the first of these lectures, Witherspoon notes approvingly that "the grace of elocution and the power of action might not only acquire a man fame in speaking, but keep up his influence in public assemblies, citing as his examples the revivalist preacher George Whitefield and William Pit'
In the book Preaching Politics: The Religious Rhetoric of George Whitefield and the Founding of a New Nation Jerome Dean Mahaffey writes:
'seeking to understand him more deeply, I began reading Whitefield's sermons. As my graduate eduation progressed, I received sufficient training in rhetorical criticism to identify the persuasive action and forces present in the texts. I found in Whitefield a person who understood the art of persuasion, considered his audiences, and produced just the right kind of discourse to meet his goals. Surprised that nothing I had read to that point delved deeply into his extant sermon texts, I believed that my dissertation could provide a new perspective on Whitefield, on that analyzed his sermons to describe the rhetorical action that blended with features other scholarship had discovered.'
'Whitefield wrote very little to explain his peraching strategies or views on persuasion. I believe that one reason for this is that he knew everything was embedded in his sermon texts or otherwise available from studying the classical sources on persuasion.'

Jerome Dean Mahaffey writes on page 33:
'Whitefield's achievement of fluency in the mechanics of eloquence and his grasp of the psychology of persuasion - all gained through a rhetorical education far more rigorous than modern colleges provide. the combination of talent, study, and practice constitutes the three essential ingredients of fine oratory that teachers of rhetoric have emphasized since the time of rhetoric's Greek origin. These ingredients were manifest in Whitefield: his rhetorical education began early; he had competent models to imitate; he received a complete edution at Oxford; he developed his nonverbal delivery skills through obsessive participation in drama; he developed his voice through declamation; and even his eye deformity became an unexpected asset.'

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Linda Melvern Defending RPF Countergenocide Congo December 1997

After the Arusha agreements in 1993 (between the Rwandan government and the Ugandan supported RPF revolutionaries):
 'Claude Dusaidi was appointed the RPF's North American representative and sent to New York to lobby the international community'.
In Linda Melvern's december 1997 obituary of Claude Dusaidi, RPF organiser in North America before the genocide and political counselor to VP Paul Kagame after the genocide, we read:
There was little Dusaidi could do and he later suffered the indignity of seeing a representative of the genocidal "interim government" address the council. As terrible for him was the subsequent global outpouring of sympathy for the Hutus who fled the country, many of whom had helped carry out genocide.'
A chilling defense of RPF countergenocide on Rwandan refugees which was reported in the UN report of july 1997:
'A United Nations report (july 12 1997) into the massacres of Rwandan refugees in Congo during the rebellion stated they were so massive and systematic that they can be considered crimes against humanity and possibly genocide. Investigators, who have been hampered in their investigation efforts by Kabila's government, said they received reports on 134 alleged massacres committed by Kabila's ADFL and Banyamulenge militias.'
Linda Melvern recently helped the RPF attack credibility of the UN Group of Experts on Congo.

Still, from this obituary, we can learn a lot about RPF propaganda:

'In the weeks before the genocide began, Dusaidi, a former schoolteacher who became a political activist, was lobbying at the United Nations in New York, trying to alert ambassadors that the Rwandan peace agreement which UN peacekeepers were monitoring was about to unravel'
How did he know?
'Dusaidi said later that he believed the Security Council failed to grasp the principle involved - that a tyranny ruled Rwanda and the fragile peace which the peacekeepers were to monitor was Rwanda's last chance to create democracy.'
'The RPF was created by exile Rwandans from communities in Africa, Europe and North America and was dedicated to the return of up to one million Tutsi exiles to Rwanda and the creation of a democratic state.'
RPF claimed to fight for democracy and against tyranny (but has made sure no opposition exists in Rwanda to this day).

Linda Melvern adds another interesting fact, Claude Dusaidi:
'was the first person to use the word 'genocide' in relation to Rwanda in an official document, in an RPF press release on 12 April 1994.'
Two weeks later (april 30 1994) Claude Dusaidi, a member of the RPF political bureau, opposed UN intervention:
'Consequently, the Rwandese Patriotic Front hereby declares that it is categorically opposed to the proposed U.N. intervention force and will not under any circumstances cooperate in its setting up and operation. In view of the forgoing [sic] the Rwandese Patriotic Front:

Calls upon the U.N. Security Council not to authorize the deployment of the proposed force as U.N. intervention at this stage can no longer serve any useful purpose as far as stopping the massacres is concerned.'
May 17 1994 the New York Times publishes the article 'U.N. Backs Troops But Terms Bar Any Action Soon':
'The United States forced the United Nations Monday (may 16th 1994) to scale down its plans and put off sending 5,500 African troops to Rwanda in an effort to end the violence there.'
'Rwanda's Foreign Minister, Jerome Bicamumpaka, a member of the Hutu ethnic group which dominates the Government, said he is ready for a cease-fire. In a lengthy address to the Council, he vehemently denounced the rival Tutsi ethnic group, accusing them and their backers in Uganda of launching a genocidal war against his people.

Claude Dusaidi, representing the predominately Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front, said his party "will neither accept nor be bound by any Security Council resolution voted for by representatives of the so-called interim Government" of Rwanda and demanded the withdrawal of the resident United Nations mediator, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh.'
Jerome Bicamumpaka was accused of genocide, arrested in 1999, but:
'On 30 September 2011, Jerome Bicamumpaka was acquitted of all charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was immediately released from custody and reunited with his family.'
November 1996 the Rwanda Patriotic Front, which invaded Congo october 1996, opposed UN military intervention in Congo as well:
'Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana said Tuesday Rwanda would strongly oppose any international military intervention in eastern Zaire to aid more than a million refugees fleeing from fighting there.


"If there were a decision for such an intervention ... it would be opposed by the sub-region by all means, not only political," he told a news conference at the Rwandan embassy in Brussels'
Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Marie Ndagijimana, now a prolific Rwandan blogger in France, fled Rwanda in october 1994 and was promptly accused by this same Claude Dusaidi of stealing money:
"You are aware of the pressures that the international community has been putting on our government to become broader and bring in elements who come from groups responsible for the genocide of our people. . . . We entrusted him (Ndagijimana) with responsibility, despite the fact that he was a high member of the former regime that was responsible for genocide."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Can Congo's Army Learn From Rwanda?

Chief director for Southern Africa at the international relations and cooperation department Edward Xolisa Makaya's astonishing statement claiming reintegration would address issues behind war in Kivu:
"Months would go by without soldiers getting their salaries. That is a source of concern; it's one of the reasons the M23 is talking about reintegration, which will address those issues"
I don't see how integrating a negative force contributes to Security Sector Reform, but does that mean Congo can't learn from Rwanda (which is behind m23)?. The Congolese army could  for example study how RDF officers built a support network with officers in western armies. Congolese officers should produce case studies on SSR like this one by Rwanda's Frank Rusagara.

Even today Rwanda's Defense Forces and the Rwandan RPF profit from the relations built with people like Rick Orth and Tom Odom in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide as Tom Odom writes here:
'The initial phase of E-IMET took place in early 1994, attended by both formerRwandan Army (ex-FAR) and RPA soldiers. Then Major Rick Orth was the Defense Intelligence Agency analyst on the conflict in 1994; he joined me on the groundfor 60 days in late 1994.  He replaced me as the Defense Attaché in 1996.'
Rick Orth served as U.S. defense attaché to Rwanda (1996-1998) and Uganda (2001-2005). The DRC Mapping Exercise Report covers the period 1993-2003 during which the Rwandan Army (RPA) committed massive scale crimes against Hutu refugees that could constitute a crime of genocide. Gerard Prunier writes in his book Africa's World War how Rick Orth played a key role in warming the relationship between RPA and the U.S. Department of Defense during this time.  Former US Ambassador to Burundi (1994-1995) wrote in his book 'from bloodshed to hope in Burundi':
 "How U.S. military leaders had become so enamored of Paul Kagame I could not fully fathom....I was appalled that these skills had so successfully overshadowed his obvious preference for dictatorship over democracy, and his tolerance, or perhaps appetite, for vengeful ethnic slaughter, yet he was invited to the United States to be feted at the Pentagon. In time, I was sure that the truth about the RPA would come out. But how many lives would be lost, how much suffering endured, how much fear and despair would be borne in the interim?"
Yesterday, in a blogpost on Stars and Stripes, Rick Orth commented on a recent report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office:
'The report focused on mass rapes in and around the town of Minova. Among the Congolese soldiers who perpetrated these gross human-rights abuses were members of the U.S.-trained 391st Commando Battalion....
The horrific spree of sexual violence in Minova is a stain on our consciences. But if there is a silver lining to that incident, let it be an opening window to enact the real justice reforms needed to ensure that such a case never happens again.'
Instead of worrying about Rwanda's supposed cozy relationship with people like Tom Odom and Rick Orth the Congolese Army could see current debates on Security Sector Reform as a window of opportunity. Learning from Rwanda's Defense Force and building strong relations with senior military officers at the Pentagon could be essential to succesfull Security Sector Reform. So yes, Congolese officers can learn a lot from Rwanda.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John Knox & Educating America's Revolutionaries

The 1696 Act for Settling Schools (in Scotland) implements Knox's vision of a school in every parish; by 1750 literacy in Scotland about 75% compared with England 53% (Herman p.23)

When Samuel Finley started West Nottingham Academy, Cecile County Maryland, he implemented the plan outlined by John Knox (in 1560) which reads like this:
"Therefore we judge it necessary that every several church have a schoolmaster appointed, such a one as is able, at least, to teach Grammar and the Latin tongue, if the town be of any reputation. If it be [rural] …… then must either the Reader or the Minister there appointed take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in their first rudiments, and especially in the Catechism …… And further, we think it expedient that in every notable town …… there be erected a [High School] in which the Arts, at least Logic and Rhetoric, together with the tongues, shall be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed. …… Lastly, the great schools called Universities shall be replenished with those apt for learning."
In the selected writings of John Witherspoon, edited by Thomas Miller, we read more about this revolutionary project of educating the masses in America. Thomas Miller explains the aims of Witherspoon's course on Rhetorics (he also lectured on moral philosophy) by contrasting it with Blair's approach:
'Witherspoon defined rhetoric quite differently from his former college classmate Hugh Blair, whose Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1789) came to dominate the origin of college English studies at the turn of the century. Where Blair helped institutionalize a rhetoric defined by its ties to polite literature, Witherspoon reiterated the classical relationship between rhetoric and the twin studies of moral philosophy- ethics and politics.'
'Bower states that Stevenson started the practice of having students compose, deliver, and defend essays on philosophical topics in English as well as Latin.'

'Stevenson also lectured on the rhetorical theory of Cicero and Quintilian'
Which should immediately remind us of Quintilian's claim that: 
'Cicero was "not the name of a man, but of eloquence itself'
 Who was Quintilian??, let's see here:
'During the hundred years or more which elapsed between the death of Cicero and the birth of Quintilian education all over the Roman Empire had spread enormously, and the education of the time found its end and climax in rhetoric.'
I'm affraid Thomas Jefferson and Murray N. Rothbart didn't understand the aim of Princeton's founders when they focus on Cicero's 'ideas' instead of  Cicero's eloquence:
'Jefferson names Cicero as one of a handful of major figures who contributed to a tradition “of public right” that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence and shaped American understandings of "the common sense" basis for the right of revolution'
"Murray N. Rothbard praised Cicero as 'the great transmitter of Stoic ideas from Greece to Rome. ... Stoic natural law doctrines ... helped shape the great structures of Roman law which became pervasive in Western Civilization."
Teaching rhetorical skills was Princeton's main contribution to revolutionary America according to Thomas Miller:
'Witherspoon's interest in moral philosophy is apparent in his Latin thesis on the immutability of the soul (which is translated and reproduced in Rich). He draws heavily on Ciceronian moral philosophy, while also citing Berkely and Locke.'
'Witherspoon rejects the closely related assumption that an enlightened individual can understand what is best for society because his Calvinism led him to view human understanding as itself highly fallible.'
'In "Answers to the Reasons of Dissent," Witherspoon and his allies argued against the Moderates on the grounds that individuals have both "a right" and "an indispensable duty" to follow their conscience because it speaks from God, a higher power than any civil authority.'
'On both sides of the Atlantic, evangelicals like George Whitefield, whom Witherspoon holds forth as a model in his "Lectures on Eloquence," preached on the populist theme that God's law overruled earthly authorities and bestowed natural rights on all.'
'Fordyce, Hutcheson, and Thomas Reid's teacher George Turnbull are the major sources of Franklin's Proposals for the Education of Youth (1749).'
Samuel Blair's Account of the College of New Jersey (1764) gives insight in the daily routine at Princeton before Witherspoon's arrival:
'Students delivered syllogistic and forensic orations in the evenings in English as well as Latin. These orations were inteded not merely as rote repetions of classroom material but as opportunities to explore issues that the students had independently researched in the college library.'
The diverse background of the students: from all walks of life and from all 13 colonies, contrasted starkly with other Colleges:
'Princeton's students came from all the colonies and from a wider cross section of colonial society because Princeton was the cheapest college and had strong support from the popular evangelical movement.'
John Witherspoon aimed for the most extensive program of oratorical study in revolutionary America:
'According to Bohman, Witherspoon developed the most extensive program of oratorical study in revolutionary America. The students' diaries and letters are full of references to their compositions. Virtually every evening students gathered for speeches and debates in the main hall. These exercises, which sometimes included dramatic performances, were attended by the whole school as well as by townspeople and visiting dignitaries, who would occasionally offer comments and suggestions.'
"One of the student orations aptly expressed the underlying assumption of this program: "Any Person of Tolerable Genius, may by Application acquaint himself with all the Rules of Oratory, but if he has never practised Speaking in Public, if he should be broght before an august Assembly to deliver some important Harangue, he would appear ridiculous to all"
 'As this student suggests, the purpose of combining classroom instruction with extensive public practice was to prepare students to speak to the practical problems of public life'
How would Jefferson and Rothbart reconcile their love for Cicero's ideas and Stoïcism with John Witherspoon's antithetical position towards those who sought a return to the classics?:
'Those who sought a return to the classics wanted colleges to return to their traditional role of instilling the classical knowledge essential to a scholarly gentleman, while Witherspoon was more committed to the ideal of the college graduate as a public leader who was prepared to speak to the political problems of contemporary life.'
Thomas Miller does a great job explaining the focus on oratorial skills at Princeton before and after the arrival of John Witherspoon and summarizes this on page 20 :
'According to Davies, science and religion are bound irrevocably to the public interest, without which "all the valuable ends of a liberal education will be lost".'
Sofar, so good. However, on page 26 Miller claims:
'John Witherspoon was one of the central figures in the transition from clerical to political leadership; he helped introduce the Scottish moral philosophy that was pivotal to that transition; and he taught one of the greatest practical theorists of the new political ideology, James Madison.'
 This claim is contradicted by Michael Horton who quotes James Madison here:
'Interestingly, James Madison—a student of Presbyterian theologian John Witherspoon—saw the “two kingdoms” doctrine as essential for the good of the church as well as the civil society; that is, the “due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due to God.” This view “best prospers the discharge of both obligations,” he said.'
On the other hand, Miller's explanation of 'moral philosophy' as a tool seems very reasonable:
'As the culminating studies of the curriculum at Princeton, these lectures (on moral philosophy) present his ideal of the broadly educated individual with the rhetorical, ethical, and political abilities needed to debate contemporary political issues in democratic forums.'
Michelle F. Eble and Lynée Lewis Gaillet write:
'The eighteenth-century courses in moral philosophy and the civic rhetoricians who taught them offer valuable lessons for present-day professional and technical communication theories and practices.'
James Farrell writes:

'Classical rhetorical theory and practice were grounded on the assumption that eloquent public speech was a practical necessity in a free society.'

Robert S. Null, in a 2011 dissertation, adds another aspect to our knowledge of John Witherspoon's work:
'Witherspoon's work as a theologian has been neglected and his work as a historian has gone virtually unnoticed. A review of class notes of Princeton graduates from the time of James Madison (1769-71) until a few years beyond Witherspoon's death (1794) led to the discovery of four unstudied manuscripts of his lectures regarding history and chronology. Analysis of these manuscripts produced the first critical edition of his "Lectures on History and Chronology." These forgotten lectures reveal an interest by Witherspoon to examine antiquity in the flowing context of redemptive history, simultaneously recognizing the importance of salvation history and the progress of general history maintained and guided by providence.'
Some of Witherspoon's work can be read online here. Everyone interested in politics in general, in American politics and/or in the relationship between faith and politics should read these lectures on Moral Philosophy  In the introduction we find the declaration that seems like the core of Witherspoon's thinking when he argues:
'It would be more just and useful to say that all simple and original discoveries have been the production of Providence, and not the invention of man'

Scripture is perfectly agreeable to sound philosophy; yet certainly it was never inteded to teach us every thing. The political law of the Jews contains man noble principles of equity, and excellent examples to future lawgivers; yet it was so local and peculiar, that certainly it was never inteded to be immutable and universal.

It would be more just and useful to say that all simple and original discoveries have been the production of Providence, and not the invention of man.'
This offcourse reminds us immediately of Witherspoon's famous sermon The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men which is often mentioned by scolars studying Witherspoon. 

His lectures on Eloquence can be read online here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Awakening & American Revolution

Great book by Bryan F. Lebeau 'Jonathan Dickenson and the Formative Years of American Presbyterianism' gives additional information on the debate surrounding New Side - Old Side.

New Sider Alexander Craighead plays a central role in both the New Side- Old Side debate and in the push for American independence as we can read in Hanna's book about the renewal of the covenant in november 1743.

Alexander Craighead was the son of the Rev. Thomas Craighead & Margaret Craighead, Alexander was born near Donegal, Ireland on March 18, 1707. His father was a Presbyterian minister who immigrated to America in 1715. His biography on 'This Day in Presbyterian History' states:
'Alexander was, in the modern parlance, homeschooled, taught by his father, even studying theology under his father’s guidance, and successfully so, in that he was licensed by the Donegal Presbytery in the fall of 1734.'
Note that 1734 was the year Samuel Finley arrived in America. A few quotes to demonstrate  Alexander Craighead's direct link to American Revolution:
"Another group of pioneers (Ulster Scots) settled nearer the present site of Charlotte and organized the Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church in 1755, with Rev. Craighead serving as pastor of both the Rocky River church and the Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church from the time each was organized until [his death in] 1766'
Precisely the region where the War of the Regulations started:
'While small acts of violence had been taking place for some time, mainly out of resentment, the first organized conflict was in Mecklenburg County in 1765. Settlers in the region, who were there illegally, forced away surveyors of the region assigned with designating land.'
 Harry Seabrook writes about Alexander Craighead's influence in Mecklenburg:

'Only the Presbyterian Church lined up solidly behind the colonists, and without them independence would not have been possible. Oh, and that Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson? It came along a full year after Scots-Irish Presbyterians in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote their own declaration of independence. The Mecklenburg Declaration, written on May 20, 1775 , "by unanimous resolution declared the people free and independent, and that all laws and commissions from the king were henceforth null and void," as Lorraine Boettner writes. Jefferson's biographer notes: "Everyone must be persuaded that one of these papers must have been borrowed from the other." George Bancroft observes that the Mecklenburg assembly consisted of "twenty-seven staunch Calvinists, one-third of whom were ruling elders in the Presbyterian church, including the President and Secretary, and one was a Presbyterian minister." Ephraim Brevard, who drafted the document, and after whom Brevard, NC, is named, was a Presbyterian ruling elder and a Princeton graduate. (Mecklenburg is far more desirable than anything inspired by John Locke. It is interesting to note that these Charlotte Presbyterians, who had been under the guidance of Alexander Craighead, later rejected the non-covenantal national Constitution.)'
This mecklenburg declaration is apparently fake. The point of these posts is to demonstrate how Samuel Finley became the thoughtleader both inside the Presbyterian Church and the architect of the American revolution. The above introduction to Alexander Craighead serves as background and context in which we should place Samuel Finley's role. P. Fulton Stark confirms my theory in an email discussion on the Finley family history 'Aha! John Finleys separated by Old Sides/New Sides.':
"Here's how we're going to separate the two John Finleys - at least for the years 1730-1765. John Finley (and Thankful Doak) are aligned to the New Sides Finleys. Rev. Samuel Finley (son of Michael Finley) was called to the New Sides Presbyterian congregation at Nottingham in 1744 (then Pennsylvania, now Maryland.) His younger brother, James Finley, served The Rock Presbyterian congregation, a few miles east of Rising Sun (then PA, now MD). These two brothers were instrumental in the reunification of the New and Old Sides in 1758'
There you have the confirmation of what this research into presbyterian history before the American revolution has been focusing on all along:
'These two brothers were instrumental in the reunification of the New and Old Sides in 1758'
Amazing how little attention Samuel Finley's major role in American history has received from historians sofar. Or am I missing something? Richard Lyman Bushman does notice Samuel Finley's thoughtleadership in his book 'The Great Awakening: Documents on the Revival 1740-1745':
'His letter, "The Priests are Blind," is similar in perspective to Tennent's "The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry.'
'Finley was not, however, merely a firebrand. He opened a school in the parsonage at nottingham'
Bill Willis, in an email, adds another important piece to the Samuel Finley New Side/Old Side puzzle:
 'Eventually, under his guidance the two congregations reunited, establishing a new church at the present site of the West Nottingham MH well south of Rising Sun'
If we want to know exactedly how Samuel Finley approached the Old Side - New Side controversy, we should read his sermon preached at Nassau-Hall, Princeton, May 28 1761, occasioned by the death of the Rev. Samuel Davies, A.M. Late President of the College of New Jersey on Romans 14 verse 7 and 8:
'For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.'
In this sermon Finley makes several essential points that are obviously aimed at adressing the New Side - Old Side conflict:
'That we may apprehend the scope and genuine sense of the words, it is necessary to observe, that warm debates at that time arose between the Jewish and Gentile converts, about the difference of meats and days established by the Mosaic Law'
 'The Apostle, in order to quell the growing strife, maturely determined that, though the Gentile held the right side of the question, yet both parties were wrong as to their temper of mind, and the manner in which they managed the controversy'
'Our rational powers statedly exercised, not in merely curious and amusing researches, but in matters the most useful and important.'
'Are we in pursuit of learning, that ornament of human minds, it should not be with a view only to shine more conspicuous, but that we may serve our generation to better advantage.'
'But far from gratifying his (Samuel Davies) natural inclination to the society of his friends, or consulting his ease, moved by conscience of duty, he undertook the self-denying charge of a dissenting congregation in Virginia, separated from all his brethren, and exposed to the censure and resentment of many.'
'The Lord, who counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry, succeeded his faithful endeavours, so that a great number, both of whites and blacks, were hopefully converted to the living God'
'But his persuasive voice you will hear no more. He is removed far from mortals, has taken his earial fligth, and left us to lament, that "a great man has fallen in Israel!'
'Nor should the decease of useful labourers, the extinction of burning and shining lights, only send us to the throne of grace for supplies, but excite us to greater diligence and activity in our business, as we have for the present the more to do.'

'Finally, this dispensation should lessen our esteem of this transitory disappointing world, and raise our affections to heaven, that place and state of permanent blessedness.'

Thursday, May 16, 2013

James Finley & John Witherspoon In Glasgow

Reverend Robert Finley:
 'was born to James Finley and Ann Angrest, James was born 1737 in Glasgow, Scotland where he was trained as a yarn merchant and where he became acquainted with Rev John Witherspoon who was then a pastor in the town of Paisley about six miles from Glasgow. James immigrated to New Jersey in 1769. His paternal grandparents were James Finley from Paisley, and Ann McDonald.'
His memoirs can be read here. These memoirs are an interesting look into the background of John Witherspoon before he left Scotland to become president of Princeton. Let's see if James Finley is related to Samuel Finley. Which is indeed the case (his great-grandfather was Robert Finley's twin brother James Finley who married Margaret Mackie). These memoirs are a very interesing read, many details on the period that preceded John Witherspoon's arrival at Princeton

But, unlike Samuel Finley, James Finley was not a descendant of the Finley branch that immigrated to Ireland during the 17th century. The Scots-Irish roots of Samuel Finley are essential to why I think he was the Architect of the American revolution.

In the book 'The Clan Finley' (this is V 2, haven't found V1 online yet) by Herald F. Stout we learn that Samuel Finley was pastor of Nottingham Presbyterian Churh in Cecil County, Maryland, from 1744 until he became President of Princeton University in 1761. The book A Condensed Family Genealogy of the Finley Family is also interesting,
 'dedicated to Those Fine Women who firmly f... frontier with fortitude and determination: Our Mohters'
In this book we read that Reverend John Finley, the Rev. John FINLAY of Kilmarnock, was burned at the stake in Edinbourgh in 1682, just prior to the expulsion of James II in 1688. He might also have been hanged, after battle of Drumclog in 1679. Executed like so many other covenanters at the time. One of a long list of covenanterer martyrs during the 17th century as found on the website of Gordon Crooks, a leading authority on the Scots-Irish.

Another valuable book on Samuel Finley's background is TORRENCE and Allied Families, by Robert McIlvaine TORRENCE from which we learn that Samuel Finley:
'landed at Philadelphia on 28 Sep 1734, along with his father and eight brothers and sisters. TORRENCE says, "His parents had given their children every possible educational opportunity available in their native country. Samuel FINLEY, from childhood, had determined to study for the ministry, and it was arranged that he should attend Tennent's Log College, which was in Bucks Co, PA.'

'After graduation, he was licensed to preach, August 8, 1740. He was ordained by the New Brunswick Presbytery, October 13, 1742. In 1743, he went to Milford, Connecticut. He became pastor of the Nottingham Presbyterian Church, at Nottingham, Cecil County, Maryland, in June of 1744, where he remained, from 1744-1761, establishing a great reputation in preparing young men for the ministry. The College of New Jersey conferred upon him, in 1749, the honorary degree of Master of Arts. In 1751, he was elected a trustee of that institution.'
Samuel Finley edited the sermons of Samuel Davies:
'Among the sermons and theological discussions published by him were 'Christ Triumphing and Satan Raging' (1741); 'A Refutation of Mr. Thomson's Sermon on the Doctrine of Conviction' (1743); 'Against the Moravians, Being the Substance of Several Sermons, Showing the Strength, Nature, and Symptoms of Delusion,' (1743); 'A Charitable Plea for the Speechless,' (1747); 'Vindication of the Charitable Plea for the Speechless, or a Particular Consideration and Refutation of the Objections Made Against Infant Baptism,' (1748); 'Sermons at the Ordination of the Reverend John RODGERS,' (1749); 'On the death of the Reverend Samuel BLAIR,' (1751); 'On II Cor. Chap. 4 verse,' (1754); 'The Curse of Meroz, or the Danger of Neutrality in the Cause of God and Our Country,' (1757); and a 'Sermon at the funeral of the Reverend Gilbert TENNENT,' (1764). He edited the sermons of Samuel DAVIES, his discourse 'On the Death of President DAVIES,' (1761) being afterward prefixed to an edition of the latter's works.'
Rev. John Borland Finley traces history of the Finley clan to Macbeth, who reigned as king of Scotland from A.D. 1040 to 1057:
'The clan Finley of Scotland, a Highland family of the country in the vicinity of Inverness, is said to be one of the most ancient of all Highland clans. The late Rev. John Borland Finley, Ph.D., Kithaurny, Pennsylvania, who was an ardent lover of family history and devoted much time and labor in researches, says: "The Clan Finley is the most ancient and whole family of Scotland, and existed before a Campbell or a Stewart or a Cameron or a MacDonald had an existence." By the same authority the origin of the clan is derived from "Macbeth." The Encyclopedia Britannica says in substance "Macbeth (son of Finley, a Celtic chieftain in Scotland, and mormaor of Moray, son of Ruadher) succeeded his father as mormaor of Moray, became a successful general under and afterwards revolted against and killed in battle, Duncan, King of Scotland. Upon Duncan's death he succeeded to the crown and reigned as king of Scotland from A.D. 1040 until his death in 1057." Dr. Finley ascribes the downfall of the clan to Macbeth's death...'
Dr. Finley
 'ascribes the downfall of the clan to Macbeth's death, which was brought about by a mere party combination, after which the clan was declared to be illegal, and the tartan and the clan were known as that of Farquharson.'
The life and work of Francis Allison, who was born in Ireland (!!) and studied in Glasgow, (quote from same article) adds additional ammunition confirming my theory that the Scots-Irish roots of Samuel Finley are essential to why I think he was the Architect of the American revolution.
'Dr. John McMillan and the Finleys established more than a dozen colleges in the west and south. It has been the boast of Ulstermen that the first general who fell in the revolution was an Ulsterman, Richard Montgomery, who fought at the siege of Quebec; and that Samuel Finley, president of Princeton College, and Francis Allison, had a conspicuous place in educating the American mind to independence.'
Francis Allison 'was at the center of much of the Old Side – New Side Controversy in the early Presbyterian Church' condemning the Great Awakening with the pamphlet Querists attacking George Whitefield. Samuel Finley, allthough from 1744 to 1761 pastor of the 'New Side' of the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church where Gilbert Tennent had preached his famous 'Nottingham Sermon', 'became the thoughtleader that brought the two sides back together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Samuel Finley, Architect of The American Revolution

When Michael Finley arrived in Maryland (son of 1658 Glasgow University graduate Robert Finley who had sold his lands to his cousin Thomas Finley before leaving for Ireland) around 1730 (border dispute between Penn and Lord Baltimore created a window of opportunity for poor settlers) little did he know his son Samuel Finley would become one of the architects of the American revolution. 200,000 Scotch-Irish migrated to the Americas between 1717 and 1775. They had been invited by Cotton Mather and other leaders to come over to secure the frontier. Without much cash, they moved to free lands on the frontier, becoming the typical western "squatters", the frontier guard of the colony, and what the historian Frederick Jackson Turner described as 
"the cutting-edge of the frontier."
Samuel Finley most likely graduated from the Log College in Warminster, Bucks County Pennsylvania. This first Presbyterian Theological Seminary in America was founded by William Tennent and his son Gilbert Tennent (born in Armagh Ireland like Samuel Finley), and operated from 1726 or 1727 until William Tennent's death in 1746. The educational influence of the Log College was of importance since many of its graduates (about 18-20?) founded schools along the frontier.

In 1743 Finley was assigned by the New Brunswick Presbytery to the newly formed (January 1742) Presbyterian congregation at Milford, Connecticut. This congregation was started when 39 Scotch-Irish people applied under the Toleration Act as Presbyterians under the Church of Scotland. The larger community of Connecticut may have tolerated this new church, but actions indicate they did not foster and encourage it. In May 1742 the Presbyterians were denied erecting their church on the commons. In November 1742, with the aid of a court order, they built their first church nearby on donated land. Their first five ministers were harassed with fines, imprisonment, and threats of being apprehended as early as January 1742. Finley preached in Milford on August 25, and in New Haven, Connecticut on September 1, 1743. For this, he was prosecuted and condemned. Governor Jonathan Law ordered him "transported as a vagrant" from the Connecticut colony. Charles Augustus Hanna writes about this episode:
'this harsh treatment, so contrary to the British Constitution, sowed seeds of revolution'
Samuel Finley went on to found the West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County Maryland and married Sarah Hall september 1744.

 Benjamin Rush, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was born 1746 to Sarah Hall's sister Susan. Benjamin Rush received his education at West Nottingham Academy from age 6 or 8. Another signer of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Stockton, studied under Finley at West Nottingham Academy as well. Stockton's daughter, Julia, subsequently married Benjamin Rush.

In 1747 Samuel Finley became a founding trustee of Princeton.


From 1754 to 1760 raged the French and Indian war. This war was fought primarily along the frontiers separating New France from the British colonies from Virginia to Nova Scotia. The Scotch-Presbyterians were living precisely on this frontier. This war had an incredible impact on the content of the sermons during this time. In the book Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution James P. Byrd quotes from Samuel Finley's sermon from 1757 on the Song of Deborah:
'they who expect divine knowledge without studying Scripture; the Holy Spirit, without Prayer; saving blessings, without attending on gospel ordinances; or Deliverance from temporal enemies, without Fighting against them, discover their deep Ignorance of Scripture, of Reason, and the Whole scheme of divine government'

The College of New Jersey moved to Princeton New Jersey in 1756, in 1760 Benjamin Rush received his Bachelor of Arts degree there. In 1761 Samuel Finley became President of this College. In 1763 Finley received a honorary doctorat at the University of Glasgow. In the meantime,  as Charles Hanna notes, Scotch-Irish immigrants had spread across all 13 original colonies.

Benjamin Rush sat by him when Samuel Finley bade farewell to his daughter and son-in-law:
 "He will suport you when all eartly friends are removed," he said. "He has long been my Friend and Guardian and has preserved me from a thousand dangers and temptations" Seek, seek, then, my dear children, an interest in His favor, and among other motives to engage you in this work, remember it was the last dying advice of your father"
The infrastructure of the American revolution was ready to be stirred into action.

Rwanda, A Country of Fear & Hatred

Chris McGreal wrote yesterday that the government of Rwanda,
'led by the former rebel leader, Paul Kagame, who put a stop to the genocide, seeks to construct a new Rwanda where the ideology of hatred is buried with the corpses of its victims.'
Timothy Longman says something else:
'One of the truths in the Rwandan genocide was that most people didn’t kill out of hate—they killed out of fear.'
It's clear from Chris McGreal's article that Paul Kagame is everywhere in Rwanda's society, on the wall, on the radio, 'as a saviour and protector'. The Government as mediator of 'reconcialition' and  provider of a new 'identity'.

Madalena who has two portraits of Kagame on her living room wall claims:
"Kagame can't go to every house teaching people how to reconcile. He speaks on the radio and some people listen but he cannot go house to house making people understand. Those who killed don't regret what they did. If they get the means, they could do it again."
Evil is not something you find only in 'the other', you will find it also in yourself. This is true in general, it's true also in Rwanda. The danger of genocide doesn't just come from Hutus, it comes from Tutsis as well. This is not just some theoretical truth, the genocide in Burundi and the mapping report confirm this.

The narrative of Paul Kagame as the inevitable saviour is dangerous nonsense. The comment by Madalena illustrates how dangerous the RPF regime really is.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is Boston Bomb Prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty Capable?

The case against Boston Bomb suspects is prosecuted by the assistant US attorneys William Weinreb and Aloke Chakravarty from the Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit of the US Attorney's Office for District of Massachusetts.

Last month David Voreacos portrayed Aloke Chakravarty as a guy who seeks dialogue. His colleagues, offcourse, had nothing but praise for Chakravarty. Kurt Schwartz, the Massachusetts undersecretary of homeland security and emergency management, claims, for example, 'Al(Aloke Chakravarty) is a talented guy, he’s a committed guy'.

However, if we want to judge wether Aloke Chakravarty is qualified and capable of 'seeking dialogue' as the title of David Voreacos article claims, we should study Chakravarty's involvement and role in the ongoing case against Beatrice Munyenyezi. A controversial case that could deeply damage the reputation of both prosecutors involved. 

From the start the risk of Rwanda's anti-democratic revolutionary regime (rigged elections in 2010, massive scale massacres across the great lakes region (mapping report), direct support of terrorism in the Democratic Republic of Congo today), 'bussing in' false witnesses was real. Capin and Chakravarty knew that this had happened in the case against Kobagaya

Both Aloke Chakravarty and John Capin knew that most of the witnesses from Rwanda in the first trial were unreliable liars. Munyenyezi's defense had demonstrated it. But instead of ending their case there and then, they decided to leave the first slate of false witnesses in Rwanda and get a new bus-load of false witnesses against Beatrice Munyenyezi for a retrial. Cynical and a direct attack on the rule of Law in the United States of America and the rights of every US citizen.

The editorial of the Concord Monitor, february 28th 2013 was crystal clear:
'We are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Manchester resident Beatrice Munyenyezi received justice.'
'the appeal is a long shot, but it’s one for justice’s sake we hope Munyenyezi wins. Unlike the jurors, we’re not convinced the prosecutors made their case.'
In the editorial the Concord Monitor asks several fundamental questions which Aloke Chakravarty and his colleague John Capin have been unable and unwilling to answer during the years long proceedings against Beatrice Munyenyezi: 
'Munyenyezi’s first trial ended in a hung jury because the charges against her were almost comically horrific – shooting a nun in the head as a cheering crowd watched – and the witnesses unbelievable. They included inmates freed in order to come to the United States who, her defense attorneys argued, could have their sentences reduced in exchange for favorable testimony.

That the prosecutors would go to court with such a slate of charges and cast of characters in itself raises questions. That they would return with drastically reduced allegations of Munyenyezi’s actions and an entirely new cast of Rwandan witnesses raises more questions still. Atop those is the big mystery. Munenyezi’s husband and mother-in-law, a Cabinet member, were prominent party officials convicted by an international tribunal of playing an active role in the genocide. If Munyenyezi played a role herself, why, during proceedings and investigations spanning some 16 years, did her name not come up? Why were no charges filed against her?

Last week, Rwanda’s ambassador to the United States immediately issued a farcical call for Munyenyezi’s summary extradition to Rwanda. Doing so would violate her rights under U.S. law and, since she has never been charged with a crime under Rwandan law, she can’t be extradited. It also suggests that politics played a role in the trial’s outcome.'
Aloke Chakravarty has not demonstrated that he is capable of dealing with the highly politicized Munyenyezi case in a satisfactory manner. He has ignored legitimate questions that I and many others have asked over and over in the case against Beatrice Munyenyezi. Aloke Chakravarty was unwilling or incapable of learning from the mistakes made in the case against Kobagaya. He has not delivered justice and failed the United States and it's citizens.

It's  very worrying to see such an individual, who is clearly unqualified, directly involved in the prosecution of the Boston bomb case.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jonathan Edwards' Approach to Preaching & Union with Christ

Anthea McCall, Ridley faculty member in Melbourn, has done an amazing job explaining Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening to us. She focuses on Edwards' preaching style/method and content and the centrality of the Union with Christ in it. Two quotes, the first on his approach to preaching, which immediately reminds me of Samuel Davies sermons:
'Edwards'formulation of justification did not depend on the many set steps to salvation practiced by traditional Puritan Preparationists. Nor did it depend on any status or education or human virtue as was implicit or even explicit in the Enligtenment or Arminian gospel. Edwards' preaching on justification by faith alone opened the door wide and people came flooding through it to Christ. Wheeler argues that for Edwards, his gospel of equality, and his doctrine of original sin put all on the same level and encourages mutual compassion.

Secondly, Edwards argued also for the 'easy and plain' manner in which he preached these sermons. He suggests that it was the 'frame in which they heard the sermons' which had impact on his hearers. Edwards appears to be commending direct, plain speech in contrast to the preaching style of Arminian sermons which Edwards descried as 'too much encumbered with speculative niceties.. they have a show of learning in obscure words, but convey no light to the mind' Edwards appears to advocate that an unpretentious, plain, direct style will promote the content and meaning of justification.'
The second quote on union with Christ:
'So union with Christ plays a vital role in Edwards' attempt to preach the Bible accurately as well as resolving the debates concerning causation between faith, justification and obedience. It is our union with Christ, which provides the right foundation of both our justification and our sanctification. To the Arminian it makes clear that no ground exists for human boasting before God, and to the Antinomian it makes clear that obedience is an absolute necessity. Edwards' well known quote sums up his argument well:

God don't give those that believe, an union with, or an interest in the Savior, in reward for faith, but only because faith is the soul's active uniting with Christ, or is itself the very act of unition, on their part.. what is real in the union between Christ and his people, is the foundation of what is legal; that is, it is something really in them, and between them, uniting them, that is the ground of the suitableness of their being accounted as one by the Judge..'
Sofar one of the best articles on Jonathan Edwards available online.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jonathan Belcher, Calvinist Strategist Of American Independence

Jonathan Belcher, who suggested the name 'Nassau Hall', was a Calvinist congregationalist:

'While it (Nassau Hall) was still under construction, the place came perilously close to being named Belcher Hall. In 1747, Jonathan Belcher, a devout Massachusetts Congregationalist, was chosen royal governor of New Jersey, and he immediately made a pet project of supporting the fledgling College of New Jersey, then located in Elizabeth. Belcher was shocked at the degraded spiritual condition of Harvard and Yale - where, he said, he had reason to believe that "Arminianism, Arianism and even Socinianism, in destruction of the doctrines of free grace are daily propagated" - and he saw the New Jersey seminary as a potential bulwark of the Lord. Seven years later, when work began on the college's new building in Princeton, the trustees tried to honor the governor for his support by naming it after him. ("And when your Excellency is translated into a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens," the trustees entreated him, "let Belcher Hall proclaim your beneficent acts.") Belcher graciously declined, and suggested instead the name Nassau Hall, dedicated "to the immortal memory of the glorious King William III, who was a branch of the illustrious house of Nassau." Thus, thanks to Belcher's modesty, began the tradition that in later decades would lead to the composing of "Old Nassau" - imagine a school song entitled "Old Belcher" - as well as to the adoption of orange and black as Princeton's official colors.'
He served simultaneously for over a decade as colonial governor of the British colonies of New Hampshire (1729–1741) and Massachusetts (1730–1741) and later for ten years as governor of New Jersey (1747–1757). Born into a wealthy Massachusetts merchant family, Belcher attended Harvard College and then entered into the family business and local politics. He was instrumental in promoting Samuel Shute as governor of Massachusetts in 1715.

Paradoxically, as governor of Massachusets and New Hampshire, "by trying to keep on good terms with the province and the administration" he lost the respect of both colonial politicians and the colonial administration in London.

It was his tax exemption for Quakers in Massachusets that brought him a potent support base in that community in London. When he lost the Governorship of Massachusets and New Hampshire he went to London for three or four years:
'When he arrived in London he joined the social circles of the Congregationalist and Quaker communities (the latter including among its influential members his brother-in-law Richard Partridge), and called on colonial administrators in the hopes of acquiring a new posting.[84] There he remained for three years, until in 1746 word arrived that the governor of New Jersey, Lewis Morris, had died. Since New Jersey had a strong Quaker political establishment, Belcher immediately began mobilizing supporters in the London Quaker community to assist in securing the post. Due to this alacrity he was able to get the posting before agents for Morris' son Robert Hunter Morris had time to organize their effort.'
New Jersey was also a rural patchwork quilt of different cultures and religions, unlike predominantly English and Congregationalist New England:
'Elizabethtown, near New York, was heavily populated by evangelical Christians, among them Reverend Aaron Burr, and Belcher found himself welcome there.[90] He regularly attended services there, and was particularly influenced by preachers including George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, leaders of the Great Awakening with whom he corresponded '
Jonathan Edwards was married to Sarah Pierpont, daughter of congregationalist and Yale founder James Pierpont. An observation that might shed some light on what the Princeton project was about:
'These observations reflected a topic of common interest that Jonathan Edwards and his friend, Governor Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757) had at that time: refuting the tenets of religious secularism, which held to a shallow, impersonal view of the "Great Architect of the Universe" (a view then known as deism or natural religion).'
'The Unitarian controversy' has some background on this too. Ian Frederick Finseth makes some great observations on the history of the 18th century, Calvinism and the great awakening:
'THE EMERGENCE OFthe Transcendentalists as an identifiable movement took place during the late 1820s and 1830s, but the roots of their religious philosophy extended much farther back into American religious history. Transcendentalism and evangelical Protestantism followed separate evolutionary branches from American Puritanism, taking as their common ancestor the Calvinism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.'

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Princeton, The training Ground Of The New Lights

Murray N. Rothbart writes in his book 'Conceived in Liberty':
'During this period (second half of 18th century), many of the New Light ministers, under pressure of establishment persecution in several colonies, began to move towards a libertarian position. Elisha Williams was a New Light. The Reverend Samuel Davies, leader of the Southern New Side Presbyterians, declared in 1751 that people had a "legal as well as natural right to follow their own judgment," and to gauge governmental authority against the great principles of natural justice. Davies' focus, of course, was on religious aspects of liberty. Princeton, the training ground of the New Lights, soon developed as a libertarian center.'
In A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God (1737), Jonathan Edwards, Princeton's third president, describes his congregants vivid experiences with grace as causing a "new light" in their perspective on sin and atonement.

When John Witherspoon arrived in Princeton August 1768 every window in the multipurpose college building, Nassau Hall, was illuminated by candle. A not so subtle reference to this new light?

Samuel Davies' sermons and work are a rich source for understanding the direct link between The New Lights and (Calvinist) political engagement.

Samuel Davies' sermon An Enrollment of Our Names in Heaven—the Noblest Source of Joy (January 14, 1759) demonstrates once again the centrality of our missionary citizenship in Calvinism and Calvinist political engagement.

B.J. Gorrell did a sermon on Samuel Davies and the reunion of 1758. Interesting reflections.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gilbert Tennent & The Reunited Synod of New York & Philadelphia

L. Gordon Tait writes in his biography of John Witherspoon:
'When John Witherspoon arrived in Princeton August 1768 every window in the multipurpose college building, Nassau Hall, was illuminated by candle, the closest the college could come to son et lumière.'
'John Witherspoon' was more then just the accidental genius, his arrival symbolized Princeton's aim for thoughtleadership in colonial America.

The life of Gilbert Tennent, the son of Log College (precursor of Princeton College) founder William Tennent, shows the ideological tensions among Presbyterians during the Great Awakening. It's not hard to grasp how the reunited Synod of New York & Philadelphia in 1758 was a major event in Presbyterian and American history. It resolved the tensions between the two factions (allthough the factions of the Old Side and New Side did not die down).

It explains why Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush, as Samuel Finley's messengers(?), wanted to have John Witherspoon as successor at Princeton in 1766. John Witherspoon was the ideal figure to maintain momentum created by the 1758 Synod.

But before John Witherspoon arrived, Princeton's incredible thoughtleadership in the Old- and New Side controversy emerges. Nominating Samuel Davies as Princeton's President in 1559 gives us an idea of the Calvinist approach Princeton aimed for:
'As the first non-Anglican minister licensed to preach in Virginia, Samuel Davies advanced the cause of religious and civil liberty in colonial Virginia. Davies' strong religious convictions led him to value the "freeborn mind" and the inalienable "liberty of conscience" that the established Anglican Church in Virginia often failed to respect in the days before independence.'
And to grasp the direct link between 'John Witherspoon's' common sense and the perspicuitas of Scripture we would do well to take into account this aspect of his work:
'A unique aspect of Davies's religious work among the slave population was his attempts at teaching them to read. Differing from Baptist and Methodist evangelists, who based conversion solely on an outpouring of the spirit, Davies believed that no one, regardless of race or social status, can have true religion without both hearing and reading the Word of God'
During a fundraising trip to Great Britain, together with Gilbert Tennent, Samuel Davies preached 60 times, the grandson of Oliver Cromwell gave three guineas to support Princeton. Thomas Talbot Ellis writes:
'Davies' fame as a preacher was so great in London that news reached King George II that a dissenting minister from the colony of Virginia was attracting notice and drawing very crowded audiences. When the king expressed a strong desire to hear him, his chaplain invited Davies to preach in the royal chapel. He is said to have complied and preached before the royal family and many of the nobility. As Davies was preaching, the king was seen speaking at different times to those around him. While the king was speaking, Mr Davies paused and became silent. He then looked in the direction of the king and is said to have exclaimed, 'When the lion roars, the beasts of the forest all tremble; and when King Jesus speaks, the princes of the earth should keep silence'.'
Sermons by Samuel Davies can be found here.

It's clear why Princeton's trustees (Richard Stockton, maybe even Samuel Finley?) wanted John Witherspoon as President: to firmly establish Princeton's thoughtleadership & to solve, through this, the Old Side - New Side Controversy. And he delivered just that:
'Throughout the colonial period, there was no unified Presbyterian Church throughout the American colonies. (This would not be accomplished until 1789 when John Witherspoon successfully organized American Presbyterians into the new Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.'
Gilbert Tennent was named after his mother Catherine Kennedy's father (See also Log College by Archibald Alexander). Gilbert Kennedy had been a distinguished Presbyterian preacher, who having suffered persecution in his own country, exercised his ministry in Holland with great success (A. A.). Kennedy had apparently translated Jonathan Edward's 'Narrative' into the Dutch language. Archibald Alexander argues:
 'it is exceedingly probably that from Gilbert Kennedy, Mr. Tennent imbibed his love of the Presbyterian system.'