Dec 30 2005

Political catechism

I had always wondered how our nation’s founders (terrorist insurgents that they were) argued the merits of their rebellion to a profoundly Christian population, so I did a little Googling on the subject.  Turns out to still be a pretty hot topic (732,000 hits).  Anyway, I came across an interesting essay at http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=40.  Near the end of it, the author quotes “A Political Catechism” written by Francis Hopkinson in 1777.  Hopkinson was a signer of the Declaration of Independence (and a church choir leader, musician, noted poet and literary figure).  His catechism is most ironic and relevant to our own world disorder:

Q. What is war?

A. The curse of mankind; the mother of famine and pestilence; the source of complicated miseries; and the undistinguishing destroyer of the human species.

Q. How is war divided?

A. Into offensive and defensive.

 Q. What is the general object of an offensive war? . . .

A. [F]or the most part, it is undertaken to gratify the ambition of a prince, who wishes to subject to his arbitrary will a people whom God created free, and to gain an uncontrolled dominion over their rights and property. . . .

Q. What is defensive war?

A. It is to take up arms in opposition to the invasions of usurped power and bravely suffer present hardships and encounter present dangers, to secure the rights of humanity and the blessings of freedom, to generations yet unborn.

Q. Is even defensive war justifiable in a religious view?

A. The foundation of war is laid in the wickedness of mankind . . . . God has given man wit to contrive, power to execute, and freedom of will to direct his conduct. It cannot be but that some, from a depravity of will, will abuse these privileges and exert these powers to the injury of others: and the oppressed would have no safety nor redress but by exerting the same powers in their defence: and it is our duty to set a proper value upon and defend to the utmost our just rights and the blessings of life: otherwise a few miscreants [unprincipled individuals] would tyrannize over the rest of mankind, and make the passive multitude the slaves of their power. Thus it is that defensive is not only justifiable, but an indispensable duty.

Q. Is it upon these principles that the people of America are resisting the arms of Great Britain, and opposing force with force?

 A. Strictly so. . . . And may Heaven prosper their virtuous undertaking!

Q. But it has often been said, that America is in a state of rebellion. Tell me, therefore, what is Rebellion?

A. It is when a great number of people, headed by one or more factious leaders, aim at deposing their lawful prince without any just cause of complaint in order to place another on his throne.

Q. Is this the case of the Americans?

A. Far otherwise.

Cheers, everyone!  In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship and never in want.  May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2005/12/30/political-catechism/

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