War of Indepence: A Just War?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Moireach, Jun 30, 2012.

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  1. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Historical note here: George III would not suffer from insanity for another 20 years at least. It's the reason why the Napoleonic Era in Britain is called the regency.

    I don't think so. In wrestling with issues like this, we're using historical scenarios as case studies: it's good to try and study the issue and decide where we would have been, because it can actually (I think) help us if we ever have to make such judgments today. I can certainly celebrate certain aspects of American independence, but if I had lived at the time, I don't think, in good conscience, that I could have supported it.
     
  2. jd.morrison

    jd.morrison Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would also add to Chris Thomas' post that this was not rebellion in the sense of peasants just deciding to throw off the shackles of tyranny. What the American Revolution was about was Lesser Governments exercising Interposition, placing themselves between a Higher Government and their citizens, with whom they felt were abusing their citizens which were their responsibility. So you have two God Ordained Governments in conflict, not actual true rebellion, one working for what appeared to be greed and self interest and the other protecting their citizens from grievous abuse.
     
  3. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Given the actual context, I hope you don't mean Parliament here.
     
  4. jd.morrison

    jd.morrison Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am meaning Parliament. And I did say "appeared". I agree that the many of the taxes were legitimate due to the almost bankrupting cost of the Seven Year War, which in part protected both the frontier and the mainland from the French. However, just granting yourself the right to "Search and Seizure" is a violation of Private Property rights. I will not go further into an itemized list of legitimate and overreaching and immoral abuses here. They existed. I am also going to define the Higher Government as King & Parliament and the Lesser Governments as the Governing Bodies of the 13 Colonies.
     
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Under Lockean theory, yes. However, Lockean theory was not, as I recall, a guiding principle of English Common Law, but was established as a result of the Revolutionary War, not before it. We may be thankful of the outcome in this respect, but still deplore the means.

    And I consider the colonists to have been motivated more by "greed and self-interest" (as you put it) than were the British.
     
  6. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    My dear Brother Murray:

    Let me re-approach matters: I cautioned against an overly judgmental, dogmatic, moralistic approach to history. We simply do not have the resources to render exhaustive judgments as we would if divine writ gave us the correct interpretation. Those who think that we do are really not careful students of history. Only the Lord can properly do this. I suspect many things from history will surprise us considerably at the end.

    This does not mean that we can not have opinions, even strong ones, and render judgments, but ones open to correction. I agree that we can learn from the past in a measure--Philip refers to case studies, appropriate for a philosopher:D--even in terms of shaping our own conduct.

    But your approach seems to be, if the American War for Independence was wrong, then there's nothing to celebrate in terms of American independence and I would challenge that at the most fundamental level. Friend, let's say the Founding Fathers were to a man wrong, that does not mean that what came about was not a providential good. That wicked men put to death the Lord of glory is the most heinous act of all times, that God turned to the most remarkable good. One may say, that's different. Surely it is unique. But God is a God who delights to take our messes and bring glorious things out it.

    We are messes, and He has saved us. I thank God for His people, though we are all profoundly sinful. Much remains wrong with us, but when I speak to my wife, I often speak to her as the Lord sees her, and as he enables me as her husband to see her: I say to her, "I find no fault in you." Is that a lie? Satan would say so. But in Christ she has no fault. And neither do you, or I. I am calling for the ability to look at something and in spite of many problems see the good that God brought out it.

    If someone can not see the good that God brought out of the founding of this country, there's something profoundly wrong. What we've become is lamentable. But God did marvelous things in bringing folks here in 1607, 1620, 1629, and following. This country then became its own nation--I agree that it was not without fault. People can talk about what they would have done at that time (though that's more a philosophical exercise than necessarily a historical reality), but can we deny that God used America and Britain in centuries past--a Britain that had a Civil War (and put the king to death--opposed by the Presbyterians) and an America that had a War for Independence? My wife's folks in New Jersey were good loyalists. I admire and respect them. My ancestors fought for the South and hers for the North in the War Between the States--I repudiate neither.

    Let me put it as James Boice did before he died: when asked if he would choose differently if he could live over, he said no, for in spite of all his own personal sin and failure, he opined, he could never choose better than His Lord--who does all things well--had chosen for him. I am calling for a maturer approach that understands that since history is the outworking of God's sovereign purposes, we can thank Him for what He did in spite of all our sins and failures. I find it a bizzare and disheartening exercise to judge in the way some here are calling us to do on whether the War for Independence was wicked and should be rejected or righteous and should be embraced. Good folk who have the same system of doctrine can believe differently about these matters (no greater illustration of this than the U.S. Civil War).

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  7. JohnGill

    JohnGill Puritan Board Senior

    George III was considered affected in the mind as early as 1765.

    Whatever we think we may have done differently looking back on the event in no way allows us to judge the intentions or motives that led many of the colonists to believe the War of Independence was a just war. That was my point.
     
  8. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Another point to add: The Fourth of July is not merely about the events of the Revolution but has become recognized, as have the national holidays of other nations, as the day to celebrate America's existence as a nation. Even if there were things about our coming into existence that were unsavory, even if you think that the War was altogether wrong, that does not mean that one can not celebrate that the nation came into existence and has meant what it has historically. And in spite of all our present problems--we're the worst nation except for every other nation (with apologies to Sir Winston)--I love my nation deeply and long for the best for her, as I trust other citizens of other nations do.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  9. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    The American Revolution was the best thing to happen to the world in the last 250 years!
     
  10. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Shawn:

    I just picked up your question. I think that John Fea's book Was America Founded As a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction (Westminster, John Knox Press, 2011) is, though not without its faults, a fairly even-handed, sic et non treatment of the question.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  11. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    The best thing to happen to the world in the last 250 years was the Loyalist Migration. Granted we were driven from our homes and farms because of our belief in the Scriptures, and our Covanental faithfulness...But without that there would be no place for Americans to buy cheap prescription drugs!

    Kevin Rogers, UEL
     
  12. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Let me say that Canada may give the US a good chase.
     
  13. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    What I mean to say is that if the means by which it was achieved was sinful, then that should not specifically be celebrated. There is no better example than England itself for what you are trying to say, a country which converted to a Biblical Christianity through a sinful divorce. In God's providence that worked out for the Spiritual good of England. So an English person would look back and (quietly) thank God that in His providence the gospel was brought to his land in spite of sin.
    However surely in the case of America this is faaar less so the case. I can see how a Christian can perhaps say it worked out a little better for us, but was it really that much better for Christians living in America?
    If the answer is yes, but if the answer to whether it was a sinful rebellion is also yes, then I would suggest the Christian would celebrate the event far more cautiously than the average American.

    Well I think it's perfectly legitimate anyway to discuss what we define as a just war and whether this was one. We cannot claim that we're all right. The fact is one side was right and one was wrong.
     
  14. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I really don't think you can. That would be celebrating the sin of creating the nation that ought never to have been created (if it was an unjust war). You can certainly love your nation deeply and long for the best for her, I just don't see at all that you can celebrate her actual creation if the very means by which she was created were sinful.
     
  15. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm asking for Biblical proof not opinions.
     
  16. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate



    Is it possible that both sides were guilty of a bit of wrongdoing?
     
  17. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    When you ask yourself what would Jesus have done, I think the answer is pretty obvious.
    Israel was in the grip of a thoroughly pagan and evil nation. God's people were being charged taxes that were funding ALL kinds of terrible evil. Unjust wars and all kinds of sinful places and behaviours. When the Jews asked Christ if they ought to be paying tax to the Romans, he told them to give to Caesar what was Caesar's and to God what was God's. In other words it's not important! It's not something to put your time and energy into, and it's certainly not something to take up arms and kill yours neighbours over. You are allowed to freely worship God, what else matters!?

    If the Americans of that time came to Jesus and asked, should we pay this tax to king George, I have no doubt whatsoever that Jesus would reply, render to George what is George's and to God what is God's! Forget all that and get on with what really matters. Britain was absolutely incomparable to the Roman Empire and the reasons for rebellion were nothing in comparison to the reasons against the Roman empire. Submission and not rebellion.
     
  18. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    The war was either just or unjust.
     
  19. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The Quartering Act and Boston Massacre were a bit more than taxation.
     
  20. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The so-called Boston Massacre was a provocation. The British soldiers were well disciplined to take the abuse that they did for as long as they did. As for the quartering act: The Quartering Act of 1765
     
  21. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    David:

    Do you have any opinion about the following?

    Covenanters in America were members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. They were very proactive about education. Many of their ancestors had migrated from Scotland to Ireland. They were persecuted in Scotland and Ireland for their religious beliefs and later for their economic success. Consequently, over 500,000 migrated to the Colonies. By the time of the Revolutionary War, they were about 900,000 colonists with Covenanter roots. They were the most vocal in agitating for dissolving all connections with Great Britain, primarily due to the pending interference with their religious freedom. These people also provided a great number of patriots that fought the British in the Revolutionary War. The Covenanters were opposed to slavery and in 1800, the church caused all members holding slaves to free them. Slavery continued to grow in areas like South Carolina and competitive farming became more difficult without slaves. Illinois entered the Union in 1818 as a free state. The Land Act of 1820 allowed the Covenanters to sell their land in slave states and purchase 80 acres in free states, such as Illinois, for $100. Although Illinois was a free state, slavery that existed prior to statehood was still legal. Considerable strife continued between the proslavery and antislavery advocates. The Covenanters continued to oppose slavery and they assisted with the Underground Railroad, as slaves from other states sought freedom. The covenanters fought in the US Civil war on the side of the Union against slavery.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  22. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    When all is said in done, I have to confess that just or not, living 236 years hence, I am glad of the Providence that has placed me within the borders of a nation where the rule of the land is a document, rather than the whim of a man, that the war in question established. That rule is sadly fast diminishing, perhaps irretrievably, but in the course of those years, despite the best efforts of tyrants both large and small, human freedom to worship the true God has been most present under this system than any other.

    What men intend for evil, God intends for good. I have no ability to change what is past, but I would consider it thoroughly reprehensible to add cowardice in defense of that freedom to the unprofitability of my service to the Ancient of Days. My British brothers are welcome to keep their Royals, I will honor my Constitution as secular ruler until my true King sees fit to replace it with better. I may not agree with its every jot and tittle, but it is at least consistent, unlike George and his successors.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  23. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the info Alan. It is interesting but again the language is too vague for me to understand the Christian's justification. What was this "interference with their religious freedom"? I am unaware of any. And could you post the link?
     
  24. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    Yeh. I don't think either of these provide any justification at all. Even in my lifetime events similar to the boston massacre have occurred, and it can only be described as a provocation, not an evil and tyrranous army going around shooting innocent people unprovoked for no reason. You can understand as a human that under such circumstances you could just crack under the pressure. Certainly no Biblical justification to rebel.
     
  25. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I can understand that. This is just a question that has puzzled me because of the way the actual events are celebrated.
     
  26. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, some people go a little overboard with American Exceptionalism, to be sure. But, I am thankful that I live in a state that allows me to shoot off whatever fireworks I like.
     
  27. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Yeah... let's not turn into Jehovah's Witnesses here, folks.
     
  28. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    David:

    I am particularly interested in your reaction to the part of covenanters in the American War for Independence. I am unclear where you, as a Reformed Presbyterian, stand with respect to the whole covenanting movement. Do you regard your forefathers as all in high rebellion against due authority? The British monarchy certainly did. And what those who came to America did, as noted in the quoted piece, is consonant with their behavior in the old world.

    Are you aware of the history of resistance theory as reflected in Theodore Beza, John Knox, George Buchanan, Samuel Rutherford, and the whole covenanting movement? If so, how do you see it at play here? At any rate, there was much more, dear brother, than taxes involved in the Independence movement. The question cannot be reduced merely to submission but to whom was due submission owed? From 1607-1761, with the exception of international trade, Parliament levied no internal taxes on the colonies. Custom, as things work in the English system, meant that Parliament had no proper authority to do so in the 1760s, particularly as the colonies had all developed local and provincial governments that dealt with this and Parliament was arguably usurping such. We could have a seminar here on colonial history and something like that is necessary to begin to address all the matters at issue here.

    The demand for biblical justification for a historical judgment like Ben's--"best thing in the last 250 years--is plainly (I am trying to be polite) ludicrous. No historical judgment or opinion has specific biblical warrant, though one in announcing such may make arguments from the Bible (whether valid or not is another matter). And as Rich notes, your simplistic "one must be right and one wrong" is historically unsound: many historical conflicts were, as are we as believers, significant mixtures. It is simply wrongheaded and misguided to take the kind of approach that you are taking here and your continual insistence that American Christians repudiate Independence Day is unwarrantedly heavy-handed.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  29. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I just wanted to say thank you for this: what a wonderful way to read the most harrowing and heartrending literature on earth -- our own, and everyone else's, history.
     
  30. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Agreed. Dr. Boice said it very well.
     
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