Friday, December 10, 2004


by Al Benson Jr.

The late Professor C. Gregg Singer, professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has noted in his book "A Theological Interpretation of American History" that " reduce secession and the war to economic factors and to overlook the intellectual and theological forces at work, is to seriously misread the records of the era from 1850 to 1860. The admission that economic factors were at work does not involve the denial that, other, and equally important forces were having a tremendous influence in the sequence of events which would ultimately lead to secession and to war. After 1830 there was a growing philosophical and theological cleavage between the North and the South. While the North was becoming increasingly subject to radical influences, the South was growing increasingly conservative in its outlook."

Frank Conner, in his excellent book "The South Under Seige--1830-2000" has drawn much the same conclusion. He has told us that "The key to understanding the current predicament in the South lies in grasping the very nature of the 19th century abolition movement--as it was shaped by the American Transcendentalists. They manipulated that movement for the purposes of waging an ideological war against the Christian South. The war of liberal North against conservative South began in the 1830s; and it continues unabated to this day." Mr. Conner's statement is most definitely worth further reflection. The cultural (and thereby religious) war against the South is not I REPEAT, NOT OVER.

Mr. Conner, in dealing with many of the Northern clergymen observed that: "The ex-Congregationalist ministers and their followers who constituted Transcendentalism were contentions descendants of the contentious Puritans. They had ranged far and wide in search of a doctrine that would satisfy them, and ultimately they adopted radical social reform--enforced by an all-powerful government--as the best of all possible goals." Frank Conner is here describing Northern (mostly New England) apostasy. These men, having consciously deserted the Scriptural truths held by their fathers, had constituted themselves as apostates and in the place of truth they had substituted another doctrine, "another gospel" if you will--unchecked government power to force all men to do what was "right and good" for them. And naturally, the apostates were going to be the ones who got to decide what was right and good for all the rest.

The late M. E. Bradford, Professor of English at the University of Dallas, wrote an informative article for the 1991 fourth quarter issue of "Southern Partisan" magazine dealing with the theological issues in regard to secession by the Southern states. He quoted Virginia theologian William Hall, who had said, in regard to his associates in the Confederate army: "We are permitted to vindicate the supremacy of Jehovah's word and the purity of His government." Bradford told us that Hall deplored "...the dispositon of Northern clergy to divinize human nature and to glorify human reason."

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