Sunday, December 06, 2015

Calvinism and the Second Amendment

Calvinism sees the world ordered by the sovereign God, and disordered by human foolishness.

Yet Calvin was a protestant reformer - he protested against a disordered church, and enacted a wide-ranging reform in church and state.

For anyone who believes both in divine order and godly protest, there is a bit of a problem.  Calvinists can't be anarchists.  They cannot countenance resistance to duly constituted authority, in church or state, by mere personal judgment.

Calvin solved this by justifying reform, and even resistance, through the doctrine of the "lesser magistrate". Reform and resistance against the actions of the greater magistrate were only legitimate if conducted on behalf of the fundamental order of society and were supported by some lesser magistrate.

The American Founding Fathers were as influenced by Calvinism as they were by any secular Enlightenment theories.

Therefore I conclude that the Second Amendment could not have been intended to justify arming each citizen against the government.  The Founding Fathers were, indeed, revolutionaries against the duly constituted authority of the day.  But they were also lesser magistrates in their own right.  The well-regulated militia in which citizens have the right to bear arms is itself part of the government - not a justification for armed citizen anarchy.


Mac said...

An interesting take, although unsupported by fact. At the time of the ratification of the Constitution and of the Bill of Rights, most of the State Constitutions included provisions, often in a Bill of Rights, that guaranteed to the People the right of revolution, that is, the right to armed revolt against a despotic government, provided that resort had been first made to all lesser forms of redress. See, e.g., the current constitution of New Hampshire which was ratified in 1784. While most American citizens today cannot perceive of their government turning on them, that was not the case in the early post-Revolutionary War era. The wisdom of the Framers in ensuring an armed citizenry becomes more and more evident when we have a President who asserts the right to unilaterally legislate by executive order, and a candidate for President from the Democrat Party, Martin O'Malley asserts that the President can even amend the Constitution by executive order. See, today's Politico.

Barry said...

For the record the number of executive orders issued by the past 10 presidents and the current president(they are numbered)
Eisenhower 484
Kennedy 214
Johnson 325
Nixon 346
Ford 169
Carter 320
Reagan 381
H W Bush 166
Clinton 364
W Bush 291
Obama 222

Mac said...

It is not the number of EOs, but the content. EOs can cover anything from stating general policies for an administration to giving federal employees a half-day off on Christmas eve. They cannot create new laws or amend or cancel laws the administration does not like.

dennistheeremite said...

Then I wonder if the quotes by Jefferson and Washington concerning an armed citizenry that get posted on Facebook are authentic.

Gruntled said...

Like this one, supposedly from Jefferson?

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty," reads the quotation. "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

It's bogus.