Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World by Douglas Kelly

Growing up under the tutelage of the secularist state-controlled government educational institution, I was taught very little about the origins of our government here in this great country called The United States of America. But there was one small tidbit of information which has stuck in my mind; Every year around Thanksgiving, amongst the making of paper turkeys, pilgrims, and Indians to hang on the wall, we were told our ancestors came to this country because they were trying to escape"religious" persecution of some sort or another. "Really," I remember thinking, almost out loud, "weren't those countries, i.e. England, Scotland, Ireland, etc, also Christian?" Of course they were, but if I ever did ask that question, I never remember getting a very good answer to it!

Enter Douglas Kelley's excellent little book on,The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through 18th Centuries. This is the book everyone should have read in high school in order to understand the origins of our free country. Kelly traces the history of Calvinistic influenced government from the time of Reformer John Calvin in Geneva Switzerland, through the Huguenots in France, (who suffered tremendous persecution), up through John Knox in Scotland and his dealings with Queen Mary, on to the Protestant Reformation in England and the fight between the balance of power there between church and state; which is the point where our "Calvinistic" ancestors fled to these wondrous shores of America, in order to establish religious freedom. In other words to escape the tyrannical rule of the British crown.

Kelly gets the heart of the theological convictions of our forefathers. He focuses a lot on the Puritans and their influence and struggle with the British monarchy and the goal of resisting tyrany; the depravity of man as it relates to men being in power over others being a crucial point. The overarching theme of Kelly's wonderful little book is Calvin's view of the outworking of the two-pronged view of the separation of the powers of church and state. This is extremely important as we try to understand the reason for the separation of the three branches or powers of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The power of the church does not derive it's authority from the state but from Christ alone who is Lord over both the church and state.
A great little book! I highly recommend it for anyone at least remotely interested in how our government here in America came into being.

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