The Forgotten Founding Father

From American Founding Principles comes an article on John Calvin, The Forgotten Founding Father.

In a nation that appears to be doing everything possible to expunge the remnants of its Christian foundation and heritage, it is no wonder that John Calvin has been forgotten as the virtual founder of our nation. John Adams, America’s second President; Leopold von Ranke, a nineteenth century leading German historian; and George Bancroft, a Harvard educated historian known as the “father of American history”, all testified to the significant influence Calvin had upon the foundation of America.

Unlike Locke or Montesquieu, however, Calvin did not write a political treatise on how to organize civil government. Instead, he wrote Biblical expositions that completely changed how people in western culture thought about their relation to God and, subsequently, how they thought about their relation to their civil government.

Although he did not write a political treatise, Calvin did popularize three Biblical principles and took one action that helped shape western culture and influenced the founding of America more than anything else he said or did. First, he explained that the civil magistrate and his work are a divinely established order. Second, he explained that although civil disobedience to the magistrate is forbidden, there is a limitation to the magistrate’s authority. Third, he explained that the lesser magistrate is a check on unlawful use of power by a higher magistrate, and fourth, his ecclesiastical organization heavily influenced the political structures of Scotland, England and, ultimately, the American colonies…

In the US Constitution, one can see a reflection of the three main Christian denominations that were prevalent in America in 1787. Over ninety-seven percent of the approximate three million people living in America, around its founding, were Protestant Christians. Of that ninety-seven percent, the three most common denominations were Anglican (Episcopal), Presbyterian, and Congregationalist. The Episcopal Church government was hierarchal, or the rule of the one; the Presbyterian Church government was representative, or rule by the few; and the Congregational Church government was democratic, or rule by the many.

The Executive Branch of the United States national government is a reflection of Episcopal Church government; rule by the one. The Senate, which prior to the Seventeenth Amendment, was a reflection of Presbyterian Church government; rule by the few. The House of Representatives, the only entity in the United States national government that was intended to be elected by the majority of the electorate, is a reflection of the Congregational Church government; rule by the many. In this, one can see the United States national government is a reflection of the different forms of church governments most prevalent in America in 1787. Two-thirds of the United States national government reflects the two-thirds of the Calvinist population living in America at that time and their form of ecclesiastical government…

Click here to read the entire article at American Founding Principles