Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Never Forget Jewish Confederates

By: Jonathan Harris

This Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the British government’s famous Balfour Declaration, a development which eventually led to the formation of the modern state of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be heading to London to commemorate the event, while anti-Zionists are planning protests in Jerusalem. The World War One era declaration promised favourability toward “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” When the Ottoman empire fell to British forces, Zionist societies throughout the world waited with anticipation for the United Kingdom to make good on it’s resolve. The declaration was originally drafted at least in part for the purpose of establishing a “sanctuary for Jewish victims of persecution.” As the 20th century unfolded and the horrors of the holocaust came to light, concerns over Jewish persecution were compounded. Finally on May 14, 1948 such a “sanctuary” came into being. It’s name: the State of Israel.

Yet before this monumental event, amidst the often tumultuous sea of the diaspora, there did briefly exist another corner of the world in which calm waters were found for the Jewish people. Robert N. Rosen tells us in his book The Jewish Confederates that “the Old South was remarkably free of prejudice against Jews.” Though there were less than 25,000 Jewish people living in the South, they enjoyed comparatively unprecedented freedom and exercised considerable influence. “Numerous Southern Jews served in state legislatures, city councils, and in other positions of authority” including three Jewish members of congress before the war. This is not to say antisemitism did not exist in the Old South, but, according to Rabbi Bertram Korn “Nowhere else in America - certainly not in the Antebellum North - had Jews been accorded such an opportunity to be complete equals as in the old South.” Historian  Howard Sachar affirms:
For Southern Jews, loyalty to the Confederacy often was a matter of intense personal gratitude. Nowhere else in America had they experienced such fullness of opportunity or achieved comparable political and social acceptance.
Adj. Gen. Samuel Cooper estimated that between 10,000 and 12,000 Jewish soldiers served in the Confederate Army, though this number is probably inflated by including some Germans. A more accurate estimate most likely puts the number of Jewish servicemen at around 2,000. These men served for the same reasons as their Christian compatriots. As Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a cadet at Virginia’s Military Institute, stated, “We were not fighting for the perpetuation of slavery, but for the principle of States Rights and Free Trade, and in defense of our homes which were being ruthlessly invaded.”

Joseph Goldsmith, a resident of Richmond, made this observation after the war:
I am still a living witness and can, from my own memory, give you many names of gallant Jewish soldiers of the confederate Army. I had ample opportunity to see and to know. Many a wounded Jew have I met in the hospitals of Richmond and administered to his wants, and many a Jewish soldier have I seen walking on his crutch or having his arm in a sling, traveling to and from his command during the war. And I know further that it was simply a sense of loyalty to their homes and their neighbors that prompted them to fight for the South. If not, they could readily have left this country at any time as I myself could have done, had I so chosen. But love for our adopted country kept us here and we offered all we had in its behalf.
One of the most important officials in the Confederate government was Judah P. Benjamin who, after leaving his position as a state senator of Louisiana, served as Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State during the war. His fervor for the Confederacy is clearly evident in his farewell speech from the U.S. Senate:  
What may be the fate of this horrible contest none can foretell; but this much I will say . . . you may carry desolation into our peaceful land, and with torch and firebrand may set our cities in flames . . . but you never can subjugate us; you never can convert the free sons of the soil into vassals, paying tribute to your power; you never can degrade them to a servile and inferior race. Never! Never!
Gen. Robert E. Lee consistently permitted Jewish soldiers to observe their holy days. In a correspondence from 1864 Lee made the statement, “I will gladly do all in my power to facilitate the observance of the duties of their religion by the Israelites in the army, and will allow them every indulgence consistent with safety and discipline.” When a captain under Lee’s command disapproved of a Jewish soldier leaving to go to a synagogue in Richmond, Lee reversed the command and instructed the captain to “always respect the religious views and feelings of others.”

Contrast this with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s General Order Number 11 which ordered that all Jews in areas under Union control in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi be expelled within 24 hours of the order. The order reasoned that: “The Jews, as a class [are] violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department.” Abraham Lincoln reversed this order less than a month after it was given.
In contrasting the Northern and Southern treatment of Jewish people, historian Leslie R. Tucker states:
The first known Jew in Boston was "warned out" in the 1640s. They flourished in Charleston but were not allowed to live in liberal Boston. . . As the war approached, the Boston Evening Transcript "blamed secession on the Southern Jews." The New York Times referred to Senators Benjamin and Yulee as "president and vice president of a Southern Jerusalem."
A few years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Skirball (Jewish) Cultural Center near Los Angeles, California. While there I noticed an exhibit focusing on Jewish involvement and treatment during the Civil War. Not surprisingly, General Order Number 11 was portrayed as an example of typical racial attitudes for the time while Lincoln's revocation of the order was hailed as a monumental progressive accomplishment. What was missing from the exhibit was the Confederacy. It was as if that portion of Jewish history had been erased. When I asked a docent why this was the case she told me that at one time there was a whole section on Judah P. Benjamin, but things had to be “moved around.” I knew what that meant. Someone likely complained. Not only has Confederate history been whitewashed but so has Jewish history.

We must ask ourselves the question, “Are we going to allow political correctness to surgically remove significant aspects of Jewish history from the social record?” Today of all days, while the world responds to the reality of a Jewish state, will we forget major contributions made by Jewish Americans? Let our words like Judah P. Benjamin’s be, “Never! Never!”

A Legion of Devils by Karen Stokes: A Review

By: Jonathan Harris

Karen Stoke’s “A Legion of Devils” catalogues Sherman’s march through South Carolina, specifically focusing on the burning of Columbia. The horrors depicted in this short 122 page read are hard to imagine. Churches, convents, synagogues all looted and burned with no respect for religious affiliation. Houses looted multiple times before being destroyed, slaves hung, earrings ripped from the ears of women, senseless murder, and the list goes on. Through the use of strictly original sources, Stoke’s takes us directly on the scene of such atrocities as seen through the eyes of those who underwent them.

If ever there was just cause for reparations as a result of war crimes, the reader is left with little doubt that Sherman’s march would merit such a response. One section of the book focuses on debunking Sherman’s claim that Wade Hampton’s troops, instead of his own, set fire to Columbia. Mountain upon mountain of evidence leaves absolutely no doubt in the mind of an honest reader that such claims are complete fabrications.

For the modern student of history who happens to be living in a time when all things Confederate are candidates for removal, this book will completely transform the popular view of the War Between the States. High morals, including any inkling of a purpose for the betterment of the condition of slaves, simply did not exist in Sherman’s army. Quite the opposite. The real horrors of invasion become a much more serious moral issue than does even the stereotypical version of slavery thought to exist in the South. If you are someone content in your belief that the North possessed the moral high ground, do not read this book. It will completely flip the script.

To order, go to Shotwell Publishing.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Antebellum South in the Reformation Tradition

By: Jonathan Harris
Originally posted at:

On October 31, while many parents whisk their little ones from house to house in the pursuit of temporal tasty treats, a large portion of Christendom will be observing the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a movement which arguably changed the very course of Western Civilization up through the present. Many Protestant denominations, seminaries, churches, and para-church organizations are sponsoring trips and teachings, hosting conferences and conviviality in recognition of the great Solas that inspired the Reformers to separate from the Roman Catholic Church. If one were to attend an average American evangelical service on any given Sunday during the month of October, one would likely hear a sermon on one or more of the five Solas: Sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”), Sola fide (“faith alone”), Sola gratia (“grace alone”) Solo Christo (“Christ alone”), Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”).

The common narrative usually goes something like this: Over time the Roman Catholic church became corrupt, with regard to the doctrine of salvation. While there were individuals and movements that attempted to self-correct, they were of no lasting significance, that is, until Martin Luther posted 95 thesis to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Luther’s “Here I Stand” speech, four years later at the Diet of Worms serves as the climax of the divine drama.
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.
Sola scriptura was the great principle Luther championed. It was upon this cornerstone that the other Solas were supported and defended. In telling this story, American Evangelicals will often call Calvin, Zwingli, and Knox to the stage for the next scene of the providential production. Their influence, like Luther’s, spread far and wide, eventually culminating in a small group of Bay Staters known as the Puritans. This connection cannot be overemphasized. Reading the Puritans is often viewed as a necessary credential for being “truly” Reformed. If the survey happens to make its way to the shores of the New World, this is usually where the story ends. Puritans have become the American vanguards of Reformation theology with a straight line linking them to Reformed leaders of our day such as John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul. But what about the 245 years separating John Piper’s Desiring God from Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Is the New England of 1741 really where the story of the Reformation ends for America?

Religious adherence in 1776 was roughly at 20% for Northeastern, Middle, and Southern colonies respectively (this percentage may seem low by today’s standards, but it must be remembered that many living on the frontier had limited access to a local church). Congregationalism dominated New England, while the Middle and Southern Colonies depicted much more denominational diversity. In the South, Baptists Episcopalians, and Presbyterians claimed the lion’s share of Sunday morning pews. With less than 2% of American congregants belonging to the Roman Catholic Church (mainly in Maryland), early America was certainly dominated by Protestantism. From the time of the War for Independence to the War Between the States, this basic perception of a Protestant society is not altered significantly. It was this belief that inspired John C. Calhoun to observe in 1850 that “The cords that bind the States . . . are [in large part] spiritual or ecclesiastical.” In his second inaugural, Abraham Lincoln himself appealed to what he saw as the common ground of a protestant nation when he famously remarked, “Both [sides] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God.” Though Immigration boosted the small number of Roman Catholics and Jews, religious adherence itself increased to as much as 70%, and the Second Great Awakening had granted a numerical advantage to Baptists and Methodists on the frontier. America unmistakably wore the protestant brand. However, sporting a brand and believing a theology are two different things. Though undetected at the time by census and denominational enumerations, a shift away from the Solas was underway in the land of the Puritans.

Perhaps the clearest way to recognize the declining influence of Reformed theology in the North is to survey the rise of Unitarianism. An old adage describing Unitarian theology is as follows: “Universalists think God too good to damn them, while Unitarians think they are too good to be damned.” The innate goodness of man, the denial of the Trinity, and the exchange of scriptural authority in favor of human Reason were hallmarks of Unitarian thought. King’s Chapel in Boston had become the first American church to adopt a Unitarian liturgy in 1785. Twenty years later Harvard University elected a Unitarian as Hollis Professor of Divinity. It was not long until Congregational churches throughout the Northeast were compromised. One bishop observed that by 1843 “there were one hundred and thirty Unitarian Congregational churches in Massachusetts hardly twenty of which were Unitarian in their origin.” Harriet Beecher Stowe tells us of her experience in Boston between 1826 and 1832:
All the literary men of Massachusetts were Unitarian; all the trustees and professors of Harvard College were Unitarian; all the elite of wealth and fashion crowded Unitarian churches; the judges on the bench were Unitarian.
Even the First Church of Boston, founded by John Winthrop, went Unitarian.

Given these facts, the obvious questions become, “Why was the Reformation halted in New England, while its influence continued in other regions?” The short answer is that the North, by the time of the early nineteenth century, was ripe for the picking. Jonathan Edwards himself feared that the influence of the First Great Awakening was temporary at best. The Puritans had carried with them from England the optimistic view that society could be perfected through human action. In a sermon entitled A Model of Christian Charity, Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop famously declared,“We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” At the time of Winthrop’s sermon, the foundation was sola scriptura, and the form human achievement—but the form far outlasted the foundation.

Utopian schemes such as Oneida Community and Brook Farm were only to be found in Northern soil. Transcendentalist thought permeated even mainline denominations through what Historian Gregg Singer calls, the “New England Theology.” In the “Burned Over District” Charles Finney’s evangelistic methods had impacted local congregations so much so that even Presbyterian churches were practicing decisional regeneration. Sola pragmaticam was replacing Sola scriptura.

In the Northern academy, scholars like Unitarian minister Joseph Stevens Buckminster were directly attacking the authority of Scripture by introducing German Higher Criticism. In 1839, one of Philadelphia’s most eminent physicians, Samuel George Morton, published Crania Americana, in which he “presumed that the Bible had been misread. Caucasians and Negroes were too different to both be descended from Adam through Noah.” Sixteen years later two of Morton’s students published, Types of Mankind which “proved” that blacks were a separate species than whites. One of the authors claimed “that science—not the Bible—must decide the true origins of mankind. . . [proposing] that God must have made separate races of men, just as He had made separate species of animals.” While these ideas gained wide acceptance in the North, the reception was anything but favorable in the South where Sola scriptura was still alive and well.

To illustrate, after teaching at Northern institutions, Unitarian theologian Thomas Cooper became president of South Carolina College in 1821. Cooper held to biblical higher criticism and an animalistic view of man. In 1834 however, Cooper resigned due to continued resistance. A young Presbyterian pastor named James Henley Thornwell opposed Cooper’s ideas and later succeeded him as president of the institution. Countering “scientific” claims supporting racial inequality, Thornwell wrote,
Science, falsely so called, may attempt to exclude him [negroes] from the brotherhood of humanity . . . but the instinctive impulses of our nature combined with the plainest declarations of the word of God, lead us to recognize in his form and lineaments—his moral, religious and intellectual nature—the same humanity in which we glory as the image of God. We are not ashamed to call him our brother.
Likewise, Samuel George Morton’s major critic was John Bachman, a Charleston minister. Presbyterian Thomas Smyth, another Charleston minister, countered Types of Mankind with Unity of the Human Race which The Watchman and Observer of Richmond, Southern Baptist and Southern Baptist Advocate published. In fact, Southerners had grown so concerned about the undermining of Scripture that most educational institutions in the South adopted a Christian apologetics program. As a result, 25-50% of total reading content in primary and secondary education became religious. Though many institutions for higher learning at that time have since been abolished, it is known that six major colleges and universities incorporated Evidences of Christianity into their curriculum from the period of 1798 to 1860. The Evangelical and Literary Magazine, a Southern publication, countered higher criticism when it encouraged parents to:

1) Express their own view on religion to their children,
2) Distribute Christian apologetic material in public,
3) Promote “intelligent men to promote their cause,”
4) Support institutions that subscribed to orthodox Christianity, and
5) Pray for the integrity of the colleges.

It was at this moment that the South stood by itself as the vanguard of American Reformation tradition. Historian Eugene D. Genovese described it this way:
At the very moment that the northern churches were embracing theological liberalism and abandoning the Word for a Spirit increasingly reduced to personal subjectivity, the southern churches were holding the line for Christian orthodoxy.
The thesis had been nailed. The “Here I stand,” moment came when Southerners formed their own denominations and broke away from their Northern counterparts. The reason was simple. Sola scriptura.
The first denomination to splinter were the “Old School Presbyterians”, primarily represented in the South. Since 1801, the denomination’s conservatives did not approve of carrying out missionary work with Congregationalists who advocated the “New England Theology”. As time progressed, many “New School” Presbyterians also challenged the doctrine of original sin and traditional ecclesiology. In addition, a growing insistence among many “New School” Presbyterians especially, that the relationship between master and slave was innately sinful added to the strain. The synod of South Carolina responded to this allegation by chiding, “whosoever has a conscience too tender to recognize this relation as lawful, is righteous over much, is wise above what is written . . . and leaves the infallible word of God for the fancies and doctrine of men.” The conservative wing had enough, and formed their own denomination in 1837.

At this point it is important to note that Southern Christians viewed the role of government much differently than their Northern counterparts. Politically, this was the time of the “American System,” resisted by many Southerners and supported by many Northerners. A central bank, government-funded infrastructure projects, and high protectionist tariffs were supposed to move the country in the direction of “progress.” In such a religious culture, it should come as no surprise that political agendas often veiled theological motivations. James Brewer Stewart describes the attitude of Northern Christians this way:
Men and women again saw themselves playing dynamic roles in their own salvation and preparing society for the millennium. By the thousands they flocked to the Tract Society, the Sunday School Union, the temperance and peace organizations, and the Colonization Society.
Many Northerners saw organized human action that included the role of government as a way to progress mankind. The South on the other hand, viewed government, in the words of James Henley Thornwell, as an “institute of heaven . . . designed to realize the idea of justice.” Social change through government action was not mandated by God. Only the application of divine justice according to the boundaries set in Scripture. They followed the Augustinian “Two Kingdom” model. When it came to the institution of slavery, Southern Christians believed that since “slavery was a political institution,” their only duty was to, as the Presbyterian synods of South Carolina and Georgia affirmed, “inculcate the duties of master and slave, and to use lawful and spiritual means to have all, both bond and free, to become one in Christ by faith.” Unlike Northern pulpits, Southern pulpits were not filled with political speeches or candidate endorsements. Thus, when a modern Christians asks why Southern pastors did not seek to eradicate slavery politically, the answer has more to do with a Reformed view of government than it does a political position on slavery. Even if Southern preachers did feel so inclined they would not have thought it their duty to leave their appointed sphere of authority for one to which they held no biblical jurisdiction. But it was much more than a Reformed view of government that eventually separated the remaining American denominations. Northerners, in an effort to immediately abolish the institution of slavery in the South traded the authority of Scripture for the authority of human Reason.

It is imperative to realize that the theological motivation for framing the slave-master relationship as sinful in and of itself, was not Scripture driven in the least. There were many Christians in the South who wanted to end slavery politically, but they could not go the extra step the abolitionists took in condemning any person who owned a slave as being “anti-gospel,” or living in perpetual sin. The words of Presbyterian theologian B.M. Palmer are helpful here.
This spirit of atheism, which knows no God who tolerates evil, no Bible which sanctions law, and no conscience that can be bound by oaths and covenants, has selected us for its victims, and slavery for its issue.
Slavery became the flashpoint for a much greater theological debate. Was Scripture to guide the church, or Scripture plus human Reason? The famous Southern theologian R. L. Dabney, who became Stonewall Jackson’s chief of staff, could recognize that the slave trade was as an “iniquitous traffick” in light of Exodus 21:16. But a biblical view of providence also compelled him to observe that, “This much-abused system has thus accomplished for the Africans, amidst universal opposition and obloquy, more than all the rest of the Christian world together has accomplished for the rest of the heathen.” Dabney was here referring to the reality that many slaves were exposed to the grace and love of Christ and joyfully converted to Christianity. Many Christian slaves, including Booker T. Washington, agreed with Dabney’s assessment. Such fair mindedness and biblical respect could not be found in the ranks of the radical abolitionists.

The Congregationalist turned atheist Elizur Wright, an editor for many abolitionist publications, stated in 1833 that “It is the duty of all men . . . to urge upon slaveholders immediate emancipation, so long as there is a slave—to agitate the consciences of tyrants, so long as there is a tyrant on the globe.’” Though William Lloyd Garrison was “completely ignorant of the South,” he published in the Liberator that
The slave master . . . debauched his women slaves, had children by them, and in turn defiled his own children and sold them into the slave market; the slave plantation was primarily a gigantic harem for the master and his sons. . . Ministers of the gospel who owned or sanctioned slavery were included in his sweeping indictment of miscegenation and prostitution. In short, Garrison and the anti-slavery societies which he launched, followed soon by Northern churchman, stigmatized the South as a black brothel. . .
Dabney later countered in A Defense of Virginia and the South, “That thing which Abolitionists paint as domestic slavery . . . [is] not domestic slavery, but the [abuse] of it.”

Still, Northern denominations answered Garrison’s call. In the late 1840s, Wesleyans, Baptist, and Congregationalists all started three separate organizations “to send anti-slavery missionaries to the south.” Their mission: to inspire slaves to defy and escape their masters, while forming congregations that preached the “whole gospel.” More and more the gospel was seen as being tied to the abolition of slavery. From the 1830s onward, abolitionists denounced what they called a proslavery gospel that either ignored the issue of slavery or actively denied that Christian principles favored emancipation. In contrast, they preached what they called a ‘whole,’ ‘pure,’ or ‘free,’ gospel, emphasizing Bible precepts that non-abolitionists avoided.

Hinging the application of Christ’s merits upon a sinner’s ability to keep the law (especially an extra-biblical law), was precisely what the Reformers were reforming from! The abolitionist’s  requirement that one must denounce a practice that Scripture itself does not denounce in order to be right with God, puts them at odds with the original Protestants.

In 1831, and then again from 1843 to 1861, two “postal crisis” flooded the South with millions of pro-abolition tracts. The appalling, yet inaccurate (Harriet Beecher Stowe was also ignorant of the South) cruelties portrayed in the best seller Uncle Tom’s Cabin, did not help Northern Christians perception of their Southern brothers and sisters. When Julia Ward Howe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William Lloyd Garrison all payed glowing tributes to John Brown after his failure to spark a violent slave insurrection in 1859, it was the South’s turn to be horrified. But perhaps more horrifying to them was the way in which abolitionists treated the Holy Scriptures.

Garrison praised the deist Thomas Paine for helping him get “beyond the Bible” in 1845. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother Unitarian Rev. Henry Ward Beecher “conceded, a defense of slavery could be teased out of obscure, individual texts of Scripture, but surely the defining message of the Bible was something else entirely.” As a result his daughter took a rather cynical view of the Bible, and based her abolitionist sentiment in something other than a biblical moral imperative. Albert Barnes, a Presbyterian abolitionist wrote in The Church and Slavery:
There are great principles in our nature, as God has made us, which can never be set aside by any authority of a professed revelation. If a book claiming to be a revelation from God, by any fair interpretation defended slavery, or placed it on the same basis as the relation of husband and wife, parent and child, guardian and ward, such a book would not and could not be received by the mass of mankind as a Divine revelation.
Thornton W. Stringfellow, a Baptist preacher from Virginia pointed out the flaw in such thinking.
Sin in the sight of God is something which God in his Word make known to be wrong, either by perceptive prohibition, by principles of moral fitness, or examples of inspired men, contained in the sacred volume. When these furnish no law to condemn human conduct, there is no transgression. Christians should produce a ‘thus saith the Lord’ both for what they condemn as sinful, and for what they approve as lawful, in the sight of heaven.
After the Presbyterians divided in 1837, the debate over biblical authority as it related to slavery continued. In 1857, and then in 1861, both Northern and Southern wings of the Old and New School denominations split once again, this time exclusively over the issue.

The Methodists followed suit. In 1836, Northerners attempted to foil the election of William Capers to the position of bishop simply because he owned slaves. Capers predicted perhaps more than he realized when he encouraged unity the following year in the Southern Christian Advocate.
In the present state of the country, we believe it to be of the utmost importance to the country itself that the churches be kept together. Let the bonds once be severed which hold the churches of the North and South together and the Union of these states will be more than endangered, it will presently be rent asunder.
Regrettably, Caper’s call went unheeded. First, the Wesleyan Church broke off in 1843 denouncing slaveholding as intrinsically sinful. The next year, when Bishop James Osgood Andrew received slaves by marriage, Northern Methodists demanded his suspension though he was not in violation of any rule. William Capers and a band of Southerners left the denomination to form their own in 1845. Capers had changed his tune. He exclaimed, “We denounce the principles and opinions of the abolitionists in toto. . . We consider and believe that the Holy Scriptures . . . do unequivocally authorize the relation of master and slave.”
The same scenario took place in the Baptist Church during the same year. In the wake of a failed slave insurrection in 1822, the president of the Baptist State Convention of South Carolina, Richard Furman, assured the governor that the uprising was not inspired by Holy Scripture, but rather by Northern agitators. Furman summarized Scripture’s teaching.
Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles . . . would have tolerated it, for a moment, in the Christian Church. . . They would have. . . required, that the master should liberate his slave in the first instance. But, instead of this, they let the relationship remain untouched, as being lawful and right, and insist on the relative duties.
The Alabama Baptist convention of 1835 declared that:
[Abolitionist] activities were “inconsistent with the gospel of Christ.” Abolitionists will “oppress the slave, . . . arm the assassin to shed the blood of the good people of our State; and . . . alienate the people in one State from those in another, thereby endangering the peace and permanency of our happy Republic.
In 1843, when two missionaries were discovered to own slaves, anti-slavery Baptists insisted that they be investigated by the Triennial Convention board. A year later, James Reeve was denied entry to the national board of the American Baptist Missionary Union for owning slaves. It was this action that precipitated Georgians and Virginians to establish the Southern Baptist Convention the following year.

Like the Reformers of the sixteenth century, the pastors and theologians of the antebellum South also stood for Sola scriptura in the face of political repercussion. The gospel of grace could not be compromised by joining it to the work of abolitionism, or any extra-biblical law. The authority of Scripture had to stand against the God of human Reason. It was for this cause that in July of 1851 the Southern Literary Messenger published portions of an address by the prominent Southern Presbyterian James Henley Thornwell.
The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slave-holders—they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground— Christianity and Atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity the stake.
Historian Greg Singer points out that “Thornwell, Dabney, and their contemporaries…saw in abolitionism a threat to Calvinism, to the Constitution, and to the proper ordering of society.” Seemingly good intentions can often harbour ill motives, the consequences for which are unrealized until much later. The morality of slavery was not the issue. Sola Scriptura was, as it continues to be in our day. The changes that have taken place since the mid-nineteenth century have proven the fears of Southern theologians to be correct. Christianity is practically nonexistent in the Northeastern region of the country, and every modern moral social crusade seems to threaten the moral authority of God and influence of His Church where it still exists. Southern churches are not exempt from this threat. Today is the day to rekindle the dim flame of the Reformation where it still happens to burn. There is a place called Dixie, where it’s tradition to defend the Solas. May God in His great providence keep it that way for generations to come. Happy Reformation Day!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Confederaphobia! by Paul Graham: A Review

By: Jonathan Harris

I had the privilege of meeting Paul C. Graham at a conference on Southern history/philosophy/poetry earlier this summer. He, along with Dr. Clyde Wilson, have started Shotwell Publishing. Shotwell’s tag-line is “Southern without apology,” and that’s exactly what I found in Graham’s new release “Confederaphobia.”

Graham offers his readers a short, but perceptive, and often humorous work on the modern purging of all things Confederate. One chapter chronicles a few of the famous, and many not-so-famous scuffles “Confederaphobes” have had with Southern symbols. For instance, “A student at Framingham State University (FSU), located 20 miles outside of Boston, was ‘traumatized’ when a Confederate flag sticker was seen on another student’s laptop computer.” As the story unfolds Graham tells us how the school administration castigated the symbol and offered counseling for those traumatized by such a display.
Graham offers a brief but powerful defense of Southern monuments when he states:

If they were really monuments to “white supremacy” or some other nefarious cause, they would have said so during the unveiling ceremonies and inscribed them on the monuments themselves. Who would have stopped them, especially if the culture was as “racist” as these advocates of cultural genocide claim? The fact is that they did not wish to confuse anyone, they were perfectly forthright and clear so that they would be understood by future generations.

Graham doesn’t stop here though. He thoroughly exposes, using modern-day psychological jargon (which makes the whole humorous) the ailment that is Confederaphobia, and the unfortunate toll it takes on its victims (namely themselves).

Perhaps Graham’s greatest contribution is his encouragement to Southerners themselves (for whom he wrote the book). “The self-aware Southerner— at least until he or she is exposed to their history— often reacts with guilt and shame.” Graham further writes, “Because of their naturally good disposition, attention to manners, and desire to be left alone, self-identified Southerners are reluctant to make trouble, but the circumstances in which they find themselves are making this more and more difficult.” By the end of the book, the hang-your-head Southerner is encouraged to think about the issue much differently. The burden of proof is not for them to bear, but for the “Confederaphobes” as Graham calls them.

I won’t spoil the book by telling you more, but I will encourage you to pick a copy up and read it yourself. It’s extremely short, and I trust will encourage the Southerner, conservative, and lover of Western Civilization alike.

Pick up yours here!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Seminary Professors should interpret exegetically, Baptist seminary student says

By: Jonathan Harris

I am a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. For the most part, I am very grateful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to study under some very godly and wise men who have pointed me toward Christ. I have not had Dr. Brent Aucoin for a class since he teaches undergraduates and I'm in the seminary, but it deeply disturbs me that my tuition money is also going to pay for the salaries of people like him who promote political correctness. Knowing the same leftist slant that exists in secular universities is present here used to surprise me, but now it doesn't. It's effects are evident in the student body. In a recent article in the The State, Dr. Aucoin was featured under the heading, “Confederate monuments should go to the scrap heap, Baptist seminary professor says.”

Aucoin says, "I just find it strange to venerate someone who waged war against our country." Well, I find it strange that he, as a history professor with a Ph.D. in American History, finds this strange? Obviously, before the War Between the States especially, state allegiance trumped allegiance to one's national government. It would take hardly any work to demonstrate that this was the attitude of the vast majority of the Founding Father's themselves. Those who died defending their state were in essence defending their country. I'm sure Dr. Aucoin is familiar with Lee's dilemma and decision to stand with his homeland of Virginia. There is nothing strange about this. He also assumes the national government is "our country." This would not have been the assumption of North Carolina where Aucoin teaches. In fact, just the opposite. Defending North Carolina from an invasion of a foreign government WAS fighting for one's country. A second problem with this statement is that he says the Confederates, "waged war." If self-defense against an invasion is "waging war," I need to go back and correct most of my history books. Poland did not "wage war" on Germany. They defended themselves, unsuccessfully. The same can be said for the South. Dr. Aucoin's statement is absurd from a historical point of view. Only someone effected by revisionism would make such a claim.

Dr. Aucoin again plays fast and loose with the facts as he tries to pin the South with the moral stain of fighting for the expansion of slavery. He cites "documents published at the time by delegates from the states that seceded from the Union, starting with South Carolina. Its secession delegates defined states as 'slaveholding' and 'non-slaveholding,' and said that slaveholding states had broken the contract of the union of the United States by refusing to capture and return runaway slaves."

Two things should be noted from the outset. 1) The vast majority of monuments are not to the governmental policy of the Southern states or their politicians, they are to soldiers who fought to protect their homes. 2) Even if Southern states seceded in order to perpetuate slavery, this still does not mean the soldiers were fighting for it. In fact, there are extremely good reasons to believe the perpetuation of slavery had nothing to do with the war itself. When someone confuses the causes for secession with the causes for the war (and the monuments dedicated to the soldiers of that war) you know they are deceiving you. With those two observations out of the way, let us examine the statement more closely.

Aucoin cites original “documents” as proof for the South’s nefarious reason in secession. There are two things however he does not do. 1) He does not cite the secession documents of the upper South. South Carolina, along with other lower southern states DO sight the institution of slavery as being related to their motivation to secede, but about half the states DO NOT. For instance, Virginia does not mention slavery except to refer to “slave states” as a matter of distinction between regions. The mobilization of Federal troops for the purpose of invasion had more to do with the upper South’s reason for secession. 2) He does not put the question of slavery in historical context. Slavery was not a moral question, but an economic and a political question. For more information on this I refer people to my blog ( where you can read articles on the economic, constitutional, and political question of slavery. Long story short, as Jefferson Davis said, slavery was not the CAUSE, but rather the OCCASION for conflict. The North’s insistence on disallowing blacks from the territories in order to keep them for free white labor, the insistence of abolitionists in wanting the South to emancipate without any plan to compensate or integrate former slaves into the North, and constitutional questions of the Fugitive Slave Act and the allowance of slaves (and thereby Southern political influence) into the territories that would gain statehood, must be part of any discussion on how slavery relates to secession.

Aucoin neglects any of the questions that would cast the political situation of the 1860s in a more nuanced and balanced light. Instead he opts to let the reader assume a black and white false dilemma, insinuating that the South was in the black. We read in the article, “‘Often times the debate over the Civil War is whether the southern states seceded because of states’ rights or because of slavery,’ Aucoin said. ‘In part, it’s both, but mainly it’s because of slavery. States’ rights is simply the basis upon which they seceded.’ Aucoin quotes from the documents’ assertions of the 'undeniable truth' that Africans were an inferior race.” As shown previously, State’s rights vs. slavery as the cause for the war is an oversimplification. Aucoin seems to admit the false dilemma, but then turn right around as if to wink and say, “But we really know it’s over slavery!” A more accurate historical way to view “State’s rights vs. slavery” is to admit that the war was over State’s rights, and secession was partially connected to the political question of slavery. The central question of the war was, “Is a state allowed to leave?” A question the 13 original colonies were fortunate enough to have answered in the affirmative in contrast with their Southern descendants. The central question of secession was, “Would the South stay in a union in which the Constitution of that union was trampled on?” The South’s rights were not secure from her point of view. The tariff, the postal crisis, denominational divisions, the American System, the question of Southern influence in the territories, the disregard for the Fugitive Slave Act, John Brown and other radical abolitionists attempts to encourage slave insurrections, all factored into this question. To oversimplify the issue and then follow up with a quote about racial superiority is irresponsible—especially for a time in which almost every American (including Lincoln) believed in a kind of racial superiority. Racism is a weight large enough for both regions of America to bear.

Dr. Aucoin continues his anti-Southern address by turning our minds toward the purpose of Confederate monuments. He states, “The monuments, along with lynchings and segregation, he said, were intended to remind African Americans in the South that, ‘This is a white man’s region. We are superior. You are inferior. You need to know your place and as long as you maintain your place, we will have peace between the races. But if you challenge white supremacy, you will pay a high price.’”    This may be the most ridiculous statement of all. Dr. Aucoin has taken on an unbearable burden of proof without, well, giving any proof! Aucoin teaches at an institution that prides itself on “exegetical preaching.” In other words, letting the text speak for itself and not imposing external meanings onto the text. This is however precisely what Dr. Aucoin does with history. He imposes an outside meaning, and one that will not ride no matter how many carrots you give it. Fortunately for lover’s of Dixie, civic groups which erected monuments left no doubt as to their true intentions in the form of plaques. I’ve probably seen hundreds of Confederate monuments, and not one of them says a thing about slavery or white “supremacy.” What they do talk about are sacrifice, honor, and bravery. They are to soldiers. Those who sacrificed life and limb for hearth and home. Now the question must be asked, “Why are those who agree with Dr. Aucoin hard-pressed to furnish proof?” If they can demonstrate that the majority of monuments incorporate racially insensitive language in their plaques it wouldn’t be such a hard sell. This proof does not exist however. Dr. Aucoin’s position would require us to believe that in a culture thoroughly embedded with racism, for some odd reason the racists who lived in it were not allowed to express their “real” feelings. . . because why? If the culture is racist, there would be no repercussion. Such is the absurdity that Dr. Aucoin wants us to buy into. I can’t speak for everyone, but this seminary student will continue to interpret both Confederate statues and the Bible exegetically.
The article ends with Dr. Aucoin quoted as stating that monuments “probably should not be on the grounds of government institutions, like the one that stood outside the old Durham County Courthouse before it was toppled by protesters.” It is a sad day indeed when those defending a local community should be barred from being honored by that community. I wonder whether or not Dr. Aucoin makes a distinction between Federal, State, and local authority? I’m not sure what the answer is, but one thing I am sure of- I am concerned for the institution I am attending. Dr. Aucoin is not alone in his sentiments. I do know there are professors who disagree, but they tend to keep quiet. One told me not too long ago that if he told people what he really thought he would likely be fired. That is not the kind of environment where learning can thrive. There must be debate. There must be opportunity for challenge. There must be humility. Instead what I’m noticing more and more is an arrogance—a pride that says, “We can slander and disregard our Christian ancestors, especially to the sound of the applause coming from the world.” If the seminary continues in this direction it will not survive. The church must be different from the world, not attempting to gain the world’s respect or acceptance. One day Southern Baptists will learn that they will not achieve the acceptance they're looking for, this student just hopes it will not be too late.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Gospel- The Only Solution For Racism

If You Want to Really know what the "Civil War" Was Over. . .

I have received numerous messages from people asking me if I can explain clauses in various secession documents from the lower South that seem to indicate that the Confederacy seceded over the issue of slavery. These are good questions. The quick response is that these clauses had nothing to do with the moral question of slavery. As Jefferson Davis said, slavery was an occasion, but not a cause of the conflict between North and South. It was the political question of slavery. Could well-to-do Southerners take their slaves into the Territories. The Constitution said, "yes," the Republican party and abolitionists said, "no."

Northerners did not want Southern influence in the territories for a few reasons. Once the territories gained state-hood they may also be Southern in character and therefore not support the Northern commercial philosophy ("American System"). Northerners wanted to ensure that high protective tariffs would continue and that infrastructure projects would be paid for by the government at tax payer expense. Another reason the North opposed slavery in the territories was that they were opposed to black labor competing with white labor. Republicans wanted the newly formed states to be for white labor, and white people only. Many Northerners wanted the South to abolish slavery, but without allowing the slave-masters to be compensated for the money that they had originally paid to Northeastern flesh merchants.They also did not want the free blacks that would result from emancipation to be integrated into Northern society. They had to stay in the South. Northern "Jim Crow" laws made sure of this. Many Southerners did want to free their slaves, but without compensation and integration it would be impractical immediately.

Thus as you can see the issue is more complicated and less cartoonish then we are lead to believe. This being said, the motivations of the lower South which were concerned with 1) The breaking of the Constitution and 2) The tariff were not the same as the motivations of the upper South. The upper South saw the invasion of the lower South as a thread to the very fabric of American government. They seceded in an attempt to defend themselves from an expanding national government. If one looks at the motivations for the North invading, one comes up short with a slavery narrative. For more in-depth analysis I refer you to two excellent articles on the issue. If you have not received a Southern-side-of-the-war education, I suggest you read them and become familiar with what the historians have conveniently left out.

The Lincoln Myth: Ideological Cornerstone of the America Empire
How We Know The So-Called “Civil War” Was Not Over Slavery

For further study on slavery as a political question from a Southern point of view I suggest Dr. Donald Livingston's Paper Yes, But What About Slavery?

5 Reasons to Keep Confederate Memorials

Why I Defend the Confederacy

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The "Civil War" Was NOT About Slavery

By: Jonathan Harris

Perhaps the most oft-repeated inaccurate historical assumption about American history to have been foisted upon the public by so great a class of educators ranging from ignorant to prejudiced is the idea that the “‘Civil War’ was about slavery.” Packed into this conveniently vague statement are all the stereotypical assumptions concerning racism and slavery as “moral questions” painted upon a political canvas. To the victor goes the spoils, including historical interpretation—or in this case—down-right falsification. But a noble reason must be given to justify the taking of 750,000 lives.

The war itself was over one question—Does an American state have the right to leave the union (as the thirteen original colonies left Great Britain). This is why Southerners commonly say the war was over “State’s Rights.” Secession itself was over a number of conflicts that separated two very different worldviews—that of the orthodox Christian and traditionally conservative South, and the increasingly humanistic and progressively utopian North.

Spiritually, secession was over Biblical Authority. Christian denominations split over Northern insistence that a moral law outside of Scripture declared the relationship between master and slave to be sinful in and of itself. Southern Christians supported scriptural restrictions on the institution, but it was a bridge too far for them to accept the spiritual authority of a section of the country hypocritically benefitting from the profits of the transatlantic slave trade, while simultaneously beginning the adoption of Darwinism and higher criticism. Southerners could look for political ways to end the slave trade, something the Confederate constitution directly restricted, but they could not call sin what God had not called sin.

Socially, secession was over Northern aggression. In the years leading up to the war, Southerners became increasingly worried that radical elements in the North were hell-bent on vilifying and subsequently destroying the South. The Postal Crisis, the effect of anti-southern publications, the tolerance for and even championing of “slave insurrections” all served to fan the flames of sectional division. Southerners found themselves portrayed as the source of the national sins of backwardness, ignorance, and slavery. Why could the North not focus on its own flaws? The conditions for children and immigrants in Northern factories, the kind of prejudice that existed against free blacks, and the dehumanization that came with commercialism were out of step with the agrarian South. Yet the South did not seek to re-make New England in its image. The favor however was not returned and the South did not want to be New England.

Politically, secession was over the implications of Northern dominance in the general government. The South had long been in a political struggle with New Englanders dating back to the 3/5 compromise. The South favored Agrarianism, free trade, and Constitutional originalism. The North championed industrialism, social programs, and a generous reading of the constitution. Perhaps both sections could have lived in peace if it were not for one thing—The North wanted the South to pay for its “American System,” even if it meant subverting the Constitution. The North had threatened to secede many times before the war based on the fear that the West would alliance with the South and dominate the general government. Now it was the South’s turn to fear. In 1828 South Carolina narrowly dodged an invasion of federal troops over the states nullification of the “Tariff of Abominations,” which as one contemporary said, gave the North in effect 40 out of every 100 bales of Southern cotton. Between this event and the war, the North and South were in a death struggle to see if New England commercial interests would be allowed to dominate the country. It is at this point that the question of slavery enters the discussion—not as a moral question, but as an economic one. The question was not over the “expansion of slavery.” Outlawing slaves from entering the territories did nothing to effect the total number of slaves. What it did do however was keep influential Southerners from moving into the territory, thus ensuring that when it became a state, it would have been under Northern influence. What it also did was keep blacks from competing with white labor and becoming an undesirable presence in the community. The North cared about subjecting the South, not the plight of blacks. With the dreaded “Morrill Tariff” on the horizon and the election of a president who was more than happy to enforce it while restricting Southern influence in the West—The South knew it was doomed. The war and subsequent Northern victory only confirmed that its suspicions were correct. The “Civil War” was NOT about slavery.

For more info on slavery as a political question, check out Brion Mcclanahan’s podcast this week!