Archive: July, 2013
Historically, the Establishment Principle has meant (1) official state recognition of Christianity as the national religion (2) endowment of the church by the state and (3) civil government having a clearly defined responsibility with regard to religious matters. This responsibility extended to promoting the peace and unity of the church, ensuring the due observance of gospel ordinances and even the suppression of blasphemy and heresy (Westminster Confession, 23.3)
All this was possible in a world such as 17th century Scotland, where Christianity was the only religion, there was only one Christian denomination, and politicians and churchmen shared the same faith. But what can the Establishment Principle mean in a society where Christians are a minority, the church has broken up into literally thousands of denominations and political power lies in the hands of a determined secularism?
John Calvin probably never heard of the Western Isles, and many in the Western Isles certainly wish they had never heard of him.
There’s no point in re-traversing the old familiar allegations of his baneful influence on the arts; nor is there any point in defending him from the charge that it was his fault that in the 1970s a man from Barvas had to trudge the seven miles to Galson if he wanted a ‘Christian drink’. What really bugs me is that scarcely a day passes but the phrase ‘a narrow Calvinism’ walks across my computer-screen.