“With the [American] Revolution came deep yearnings among ordinary Christians for churches emancipated from the past, freed from vested privilege…Calvinistic orthodoxy, which looked to be unhappily anchored in the older world of heirarchy and privilege and hence appeared to be decidedly undemocratic, was put to flight before Arminianism. The church-centered faith that had been favored before the Revolution retreated before itinerant revivalism, reasoned faith retreated before exuberant testimony, and theological confession retreated before the axioms of expereince…By 1855, those who had been first, were last, and those who were last were first…In this broad-scale triumph of Arminianism over Calvinism, says William McLoughlin, we see ‘the theological side of the political shift toward democracy.'”
David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, p. 206-07.
The topic of the American Revolution came up in a Sunday School class recently and I thought this post would be an interesting additional consideration for my readers to make of how that political event influenced the theological mindset of our nation. The New Testament church is not a democracy but in a culture where we appreciate the democratic political system it is very easy to have this kind of appreciation transcend the political sphere and override biblical revelation on the nature of the church. When our understanding is driven along by culture in a way that contradicts Scripture the effects are always bad.