The Nation: Calvinism’s Discontents

James Simpson blames Calvinism for the rise of liberalism.

The Nation:

“To understand Liberalism, we need to understand early modern Calvinism.” This is the central claim made by Harvard professor James Simpson in his idiosyncratic but challenging new book, Permanent Revolution: The Reformation and the Illiberal Roots of Liberalism. As its dust jacket proclaims, Simpson means to rewrite the history of liberalism by uncovering “its unexpected debt to evangelical religion.” His aim is to show how the English Reformation, so authoritarian in its beginnings, culminated in the “proto-liberal” Glorious Revolution settlement of 1688–89 and led to the English Enlightenment.

The key feature of that settlement, Simpson argues, was the Toleration Act, which gave “ease to scrupulous consciences in the exercise of religion” by allowing Protestant Dissenters from the Church of England freedom of worship and exemption from the penalties previously attached to nonattendance at Anglican services. This exemption was not extended to Roman Catholics, Unitarians, or Jews, and public office continued to be confined to those who worshipped in the Church of England. Many of the legislators saw toleration less as a matter of principle than as an unpleasant necessity, a pragmatic way of avoiding further strife. Nevertheless, Simpson insists that this was a “foundational” moment for “the English liberal tradition.” The Toleration Act was accompanied by a Bill of Rights declaring “the rights and liberties of the subject” and was followed by statutory provision for the annual meeting of Parliament, the independence of the judiciary, and qualified freedom of the press.

Whether or not this was the foundational moment of English liberalism, one might also ask in what sense this was all a consequence of Calvinism. …”

There is definitely something to this. It is not the whole story though.

The roots of liberalism can be traced back to 17th century England and the Netherlands. By the end of the 17th century, we have John Locke and the Glorious Revolution and the ancestor of modern liberalism. This period around the beginning of the 18th century under William and Mary was the turning point when the shift began to gain unstoppable momentum.

There were a number of things going on though at this time. England and the Netherlands were in the process of creating seaborne global empires. Both nations were heavily involved in international trade. Both nations were breaking away from the rest of Western Europe in agriculture. Both nations were developing a literate middle class fueled by international commerce. Both nations were creating trans-Atlantic colonies based on pure capitalism. Both nations were characterized by religious pluralism due to the inability of Calvinism to establish its dominance. London and Amsterdam were becoming the first large modern cities.

In my view, the single most important factor was the Scientific Revolution. Francis Bacon was active in the England of Elizabeth I and James I. Galileo dealt a fatal blow to the physics and cosmology of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The Royal Society was founded in London in 1660. Modern philosophy begins with Descartes, Hobbes and Spinoza. The Western intelligentsia in the 17th century was beginning to think in terms of rationalism, empiricism, skepticism, naturalism and especially materialism. The theological turn away from Augustinianism and toward Pelagianism takes place and gathers momentum in the 17th century. It owned nothing to Luther and Calvin and everything to the intellectual climate of the 17th century.

It was not just religious turmoil stirred up by Calvinism in Europe that spawned liberalism. It was the revolution going on in cosmology and economics that brought it about. After the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War, religious passions subsided and it increasingly came to be perceived by the Western intelligentsia as a tiresome anachronism and a poor foundation for knowledge which should be based on reason and experience. The appetite for material gain and the growing wealth and power of the commercial middle class also put an end to it.

The England and the Netherlands of 1550 had been completely transformed by 1650. If you could be transported back in time, the former would have struck you as more Medieval than modern while the latter were more modern than Medieval.

About Hunter Wallace 11763 Articles
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  1. Sorry, but he’s right. Repeat after me: Protestantism is judaizing. It can’t help but be a destroyer.

    • If that were the case, then surely Catholicism would have been immune to liberalism. Instead, it exploded out of France which swept it across all of continental Europe in the 19th century. The cause was the same as it was in England which was the growth of the influence of science from Descartes to the French Enlightenment.

      • Christianity is to blame for liberalism in the West and now it’s on its deathbed. The future of Christianity is not in the West but in Africa, Latin America and parts of East Asia. This is the truth all you need to do is look at where the growth is, and the numbers don’t lie. Face the reality it is OVER, Christianity is not a force in the West and it won’t ever again be.

        • Bullshit.

          ““The fanaticism which discards the Scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle of Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit, the tendency is always to bury the Word of God so they may make room for their own falsehoods.” – John Calvin

    • Luther’s OT was the Jewish bible (he excluded books Christians had always used, like Tobit. Or to be more accurate, he moved them to a different section in his bible), but it’s ridiculous to think they were pro-Jewish until the zionist movement and the scofield bible.

      • All of the Protestant Reformers translated the New Testament first, and went back an translated the Old Testament almost as an after thought.

  2. Life cannot and will never be “easy”…something the liberal progressivists try to push on the masses as the new religion while intertwining this lie with consumerism.

    “To progress again, man must remake himself. And he cannot remake himself without suffering. For he is both the marble and the sculptor. In order to uncover his true visage he must shatter his own substance with heavy blows of his hammer.”

  3. Modern leftism is often compared to a religious cult. Ideology is the replacement for God. Apostates are punished for not unquestioningly following the mandated faith through physical attacks, doxing, and so on. Cults of personality are poor substitutes for following a higher power, though. Millions of deaths from the prophets of leftist totalitarianism Stalin and Mao attest to that.

  4. The problem with those isms is that they mean nothing except genetic white liberal psychopaths current opinion.

    It is also good example how liberals win the long term war. Despite criticism, nobody dares to doubt communist “all equal” dogma.

    This dogma is the communist most powerful weapon. This prevents us from smoking out and kick off white liberal psychos from the church , government, economy and elsewhere.

    Jew is also problem but Jew is like corona virus in the bat soup. Jew can flourish only when genetic white liberals create proper condition.

    Of course the Calvinism is liberalism. One lunatic freaked out Christians and commanded them them what they must believe. We see this today in Ukraine. Liberals took over the Nationalism and now commanding Nazis, how to be proper Nazi.

    • I don’t like to speak for Calvin, but, his doctrines condemn Jews, Catholics and Pagans to hell, even more so than Luther who himself realized the cold and harsh nature of Calvin’s doctrine.

      Calvinism, only took root in Switzerland, Scotland, Ulster, and Hungary.

      I pray that I will be saved by my faith in Jesus Christ, and God’s grace, but, in Calvin’s world there are no guarantees.

      • What a pile of utter Bullshit! Calvin’s world, is St. Paul’s world, and has the MOST guarantees! That is what angers the Antinomian, godless, lawless bastards that HATE God’s Law. Like the article that quotes Spengler, whose clear iteration of what he THINKS Calvinism is/was, “…Puritanism — not in the West only, but in all Cultures — lacks the smile that had illumined the religion of the Spring — every Spring — the moments of profound joy in life, the humour of life.” is so far off the mark, yet it’s so easy to HATE the Godly, and that is the reason for the dissing of Calvin.

        The Enlightenment (in reality, the “Endarkenment” was the triumph of Pelagianism and Nestorianism in the West, which at least Calvin’s Geneva, and Knox’s Scotland had tried to keep at bay.

        When the commenters on this forum can honestly approach an analysis of history, I’ll consider seeing them as rational individuals. Because, in this arena, they are naught but fools.

  5. This is a DEEP subject! One I’m apparently too stupid to flesh out for myself and understand at its depth. Nevertheless, I have taken many ques on the subject from those I greatly admire for (intellectual) abilities exceeding my own. Dr. Bertonneau of The Orthosphere has done significant (written) work on this problem. Namely, and to name just two of his essays on the topic, What Is Puritanism?, and Puritanism Again. Here are the links to Dr. Bertonneau’s essays by the titles:

    I could of course link others, and others by other writers, but those two will suffice, I should think, for our purposes here.

    I would also, and at the risk of receiving severe censure from some of your more eccentric readers, recommend reading The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History, by you know who.

  6. LOL. The Jewish/Roman Catholic “Nation” Magazine on John Calvin. That’s pretty funny.

    Calvin carried the idea of Salvation through Faith in Jesus Christ further than Luther or any of the other Protestant Reformers in that he may have believed that God predestined who would have faith in Jesus Christ and thus be saved. I’ve read a lot of Calvin, and I’m not sure how strongly Calvin even believed in his own theological speculations. Because, who could know the mind of God?

    • @Krafty Wurker Yet again you are wrong. Calvin was a heretic and is right now burning in Hell. Man kind has free will to do good or bad and predestination is a bs doctrine. Nice try though and the Nation has nothing to do with Catholicism yet here you go again stirring the pot. Protestants can talk a big game all day but when the one time came to stand up to the Jews the only protestants who showed up were the German Lutherans.

      • CROAT0517,

        Nice answer. I am not familiar with the Nation. But I doubt if they are Catholic.

        • @Cristina Romana Alva. H. It’s a progressive very liberal anti-white and anti-Christian magazine. It is not run by Catholics. Just another one of Krafty Wurker’s delusions.

          • Probably, more Catholics write for The Nation than any officially Catholic publication. The editorial policy of The Nation has always been Catholic & Jewish politics, and, they support all of your elected Catholic politicians like Pelosi, Gilibrand, Durbin, the Cuomos, Maddow and all of the rest.

            Katrina Vanden Huevel the owner of the Nation, inherited her money from her father, who was a business partner of Joe Kennedy in the movie business and other businesses.

            The Nation has always been a press outlet for the Jew & Catholic political alliance.

        • Calvin said, that the Roman Catholic Church was the mother of whores. So did the other Protestant Reformers in more or less the same words.

          Brad’s being nice.

          • @Krafty Wurker Calvin was a heretic and is paying the ultimate price for leading people away from Jesus Christ. Btw Maddow isn’t Catholic and the other politicians you named were born Catholic but support beliefs that go against core Catholic beliefs. You can cherry pick Catholics in name only but you wont see working class Catholics screaming support for Israel and Jews like the Evangelicals and certain Protestant groups do. Protestants have always worked together with Jews since WW2 to kill and harm Whites worldwide. The only Protestant group that has any credibility are Lutherans because many fought on the right side during WW2.

          • Maddow is a Roman Catholic French Canadian educated by Catholic nuns—who she looks like.

            The differences between Luther and Calvin are almost non-existant, and revolve around the question of “once saved, always saved”. In which Calvin believed in unlimited Grace. Luther and Calvin had planned on debating this subject, but, Luther died before the debate could take place.

            Croat, you are another character who has been reading the gospel according to Himmler.

            Really, when are you leaving for your Croatian homeland? LOL.

          • @Krafty Wurker When are you leaving for your Anglo homeland? If I wanted to return to Croatia I could and I could live a amongst other White Catholics. Down the road that might be a possibility for me but for you it’s not. If you returned to the country from which your ancestors came from you’d be surrounded by many non-whites, Jews, and what few self-hating whites remain. Dont hate on Croatia because they have something which as it stands right now you don’t have which is a majority white country.

  7. The grandmother of Bolshevism is Christianity. Christianity was a reformation of Judaism, a semitic religion that centers around the ethnoreligious imperatives of Jews. Christianity gave birth to proto-socialist leveling movements like the diggers or true levelers in the 17th century, the civil rights movement, various free love movements, and utopian socialists. Modernism in the scientific revolution led the Nordic man to discover Nature and his freedom from dogmatic Semitic chains. Nature and its theology of materialistic science replaced God and its theology of baseless speculation. HW, you know that Christianity morphs into whatever form that the elites desire. Christianity is amorphous and hollow as a doctrine. Capitalism not scientific rationalism caused the triumph of universalism, human rights, and liberal democratic values. Reason is the only reliable path to truth. Faith leads you anywhere. Christianity actively works against Nordic racial survival by importing refugees into our homelands, promoting egalitarian anti-racism, instilling philosemitism, and alienating the Nordic from racial struggle. Christianity is an enemy of Nordic people.

  8. A central thesis of Simpson’s book is that Liberalism does not possess a comprehensive world view to begin with. It possesses what he calls the ‘logic of permanent revolution in militant forms.’ His analysis of Satan’s political dilemma in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ hits at the crux of the matter where Satan wants to ‘mirror’ Gods absolute impregnable power by waging war in the name of Liberty:

    ‘Will ye submit your necks and choose to bend
    The supple knee? Ye will not if I trust
    To know ye right or if ye know yourselves
    Natives and sons of Heav’n possessed before
    By none, and if not equal all, yet free,
    Equally free, for orders and degrees
    Jar not with liberty but well consist’ – Paradise Lost

    My dream is of Eternity!

  9. The Christian Bible is the only religious book on the planet that forbids race-mixing

    Tobit 4:12 Beware of all whoredom, my son, and chiefly take a wife of the seed of thy fathers, and take not a strange woman to wife, which is not of thy father’s tribe: for we are the children of the prophets, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: remember, my son, that our fathers from the beginning, even that they all married wives of their own kindred, and were blessed in their children, and their seed shall inherit the land.

    Ecclesiasticus 47:20 Thou didst stain thy honour, and pollute thy seed: so that thou broughtest wrath upon thy children, and wast grieved for thy folly.

    1 Esdras 8:70 For they and their descendants have married the daughters of these people, and the holy race has been mixed with the alien peoples of the land; and from the beginning of this matter the leaders and the nobles have been sharing in this iniquity.

    2 Esdras 5:8 There shall be chaos also in many places, fire shall often break out, the wild animals shall roam beyond their haunts, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters.

    Jeremiah 2:21-23 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. Howt have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?

    For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap,
    Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord God.

    “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley; Know what you have done: You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways.

    Hosea 5:7 They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.

    Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about
    them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example,
    suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you.

    In Romans chapter 13, verse 9, Paul quotes the ten commandments and says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” a commandment found in Leviticus 19:18, which reads

    “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I’am the LORD.”

    In that passage alone, where the command first appears in Scripture, we see that the concept of neighbor must be limited to the reference of “the children of thy people”, or
    the people of one’s own race.

    In Mark 12:30-31 Christ said to him, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
    with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other
    commandment greater than these.”

    Christ is the final word and is saying to: Love Your God and Love Your Race.

    • You are interpreting the bible so that it will say whatever you want it to. You are using it to confirm your preconceived notions. But don’t worry, every other Christian does the same thing.

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