A Book Review: Calvinism in History by Nathaniel S. McFetridge (1882)

I get absolutely giddy over a used bookstore with books stacked floor to ceiling in every nook and cranny complete with an overflow of boxes of books in the narrow aisles. Its musty atmosphere beacons my bookish treasure hunting. New bookstores generally only stock the sorts of books that are new, popular classics, or best sellers. While I value keeping up to date with the latest good reads, I want to dig through the old books and find the books I would not know to search for on Amazon or would not see on a shelf at my local Barnes & Noble.

This past Thanksgiving, I treasure hunted in two used bookstores while I was out of town. I found this thin book entitled Calvinism in History: A Political, Moral, and Evangelizing Force by Nathaniel S. McFetridge. Little did I know how impactful this little book would be. Upon embarking on this read, I learned that the author, McFetridge, was an Irish born Pennsylvanian Presbyterian Pastor writing in 1882. His words carried the weight and force of true history and theology. Some of the history I had a vague knowledge of, but some of it I found to be previously unknown to me and exciting.

Beyond 5-Point Calvinism

David Hall

He wrote of Calvinism not as an ecclesial five-point doctrine, but as a historical nation building force from which we all benefit. The outworking of Calvinism did not stay cloistered into religious space but had a large civil impact on the liberties of men and the downfall of tyrants. McFetridge writes that “while Calvinism can live and do its divine work under any form of government, its natural affinities are not with a monarchy, but with a republic. This is the reason that it has made so splendid a record in the history of human freedom. Where it flourishes despotism cannot abide.”

In fact, quoting from another little book I read this year on Calvin, The Legacy of John Calvin by David Hall, “Many ideas that began with Calvin’s reformation in Geneva and later became part of the fabric of America were cultivated and crossbred in the seventeenth-century. Customs now taken for granted, like freedom of speech, assembly, and dissent, were extended as Calvin’s Dutch, British, and Scottish disciples refined these ideas” (Hall p. 27).  

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Worldview Bulletin: How Should We Then Live? A Nation in Crisis

Our nation is in crisis. The source runs far deeper than the current events which are terrible symptoms of a greater problem.

I am sobered and anguished watching the videos from the tragic attack on our nation’s Capitol Building. It is reprehensible. We can point fingers all day long, but we all have allowed anger, hatred, and animosity to boil over to this extent. These extremists disrespected the very fabric of our national heritage through their violent behavior. It is not about what extremist group did it, it is about that things got this far that it happened. This happened here in our nation, an attack on our Capitol.

I want to hear more Americans concerned for what their beliefs could cause in America. The Founding Fathers were consumed with posterity. What would generations hence learn from them, say about them, carry on because of their legacy and sacrifice? They took painstaking efforts to preserve their letters and writings so that we could learn from their wisdom.

We cannot reduce national discourse to Facebook memes. We cannot depend upon social media to the extent that we feel lost and silenced without it. The Founders had no internet. They could not reach the world in an instant with a knee-jerk reaction. They had to meet in a room with no air-conditioning and hash out their differences to work out our most cherished documents, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison worked to create a series of essays, known as The Federalist Papers, to run in the New York newspapers to inform the public about the merit of ratifying the Constitution. This took time, deliberation, and thought.

Letters were written by hand, copied by hand, and carried by hand to their recipient. Thought took time to communicate. It was precious, not careless.

Preserving our liberty means preserving honor, history, integrity, civil discourse, robust debate, and conduct befitting men and women created in the image of God.

FAKE NEWS

We have lost trust in the institution of journalism in all its forms. The mainstream media has lost at least half of the public’s trust. It has become indefensible as a source of truth.

Journalists are to be a safeguard against government overreach. They are to investigate and inform as they did in breaking the Watergate Scandal (see the masterful film The Post). When we have lost all trust in the mainstream media, we enter new dangerous grounds. When public institutions fail to serve the people to benefit their own interests, the people look for underground sources.

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Amazon Author Interview

Author-TalkHere is the full text of my Amazon Author Interview. I wanted to make it available to all my readers. Enjoy!  ~ Karla Perry

Christine Tate says:

Good morning everyone and welcome to another week of Interviewing Christian Authors where we meet a new Christian author each week and explore their work. I’m Christine Tate, the moderator for this thread, producer of the annual Virginia Beach Christian Authors Festival, and author of The No-Homework Women’s Bible Study: Group Hug and My Prayer Journal: Remembering God’s Answers: Purple Daisy Cover Design.

This week, we’ll be talking to Karla Perry. Welcome Karla! Please tell us about your book, Back To The Future: Rebuilding America’s Stability.

Karla Perry says:

Hi Christine, Thank you! I’m excited to be a part of this Amazon Interview.

My book, Back to the Future: Rebuilding America’s Stability is a journey into the past to discover the truths we left behind as a nation so that we can pull them into the present and secure a more stable future for our nation. There are many Christians who want to go back to a golden era and recreate yesteryear, but I want to inspire people to dig into American and Western history to pull into today what made America great so we can move forward and not go back into our idea of a golden age. In doing so, I discuss some of the things that made us go off road as a nation. In this vein, I cover philosophy, education, history, science, postmodernism, journalism, the family, and the church.  Read more

Where is your hope?

235065a3c5a39e64e7fb49673014c0ffThere is hope for America no matter who is elected come November 8. The White House may be the seat of political power, but it is not the seat of the Lord’s power. The seat of the Lord’s power is in our churches. The power to transform our nation is the same power that birthed our nation. It’s the same power that fueled The Reformation 499 years ago.

Initially there was no American government to give freedom to America. The people learned to govern themselves in freedom from the Bible. It was from that place of freedom that our Founders wrote a Constitution to protect this nation from abuses of such freedom. Read more

The Specialty of Freedom

I’m becoming of the persuasion that freedom is more a responsibility than a right. It’s not a condition of human nature, but a product of it’s voluntary restraint. Thus, freedom is not endemic to fallen humanity, but a condition rightly available to humanity. It is an environment we work to obtain and maintain. Man can neither bestow it nor impose it. We cannot achieve it by wresting it away from another. Removing the tyrant often results in a different, and perhaps, greater enslavement. Lack of oppression does not equate with the presence of freedom any more than a lack of war infers a presence of peace.

George-Washington-PresidentLaws do not create freedom, they protect freedom. Government, in a free nation, is instituted among men to ensure the preservation of freedom for the good of the whole. However, if the freedom being protected decays, the laws cease to function as its preservation. George Washington famously opined that America’s government was for a “wholly religious and moral people and inadequate to the governance of any other.” 

Freedom, then, is endemic, not to a state of nature, but to a state of being that is Read more