Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reformation Before Revolution

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German philosopher whose convoluted musings birthed the dialectic and predated Marx's dialectical materialism, contributed surprisingly little to the relevant discussion of historical development in human existence. Too abstract, too insistent on finding his pattern justified in the roamings and meandering of human experience, Hegel's most lasting insight appears at the end of his expansive work "The Philosophy of History"

"Before there is a Revolution, there must be a Reformation."

This little snipped of wisdom initially connects the monk Martin Luther's assault on the established Church, which was bankrupting men spiritually and financially. Once the German states and Northern European powers broke away from Rome, the inner of freedom of man's conscience found room to expand and expound the truth for himself.

Man cannot be free politically unless he is free spiritually. Man cannot assert his rights before Man if he does not know His righteous standing before God.

The American Revolution, the most successful revolution of the modern era, followed after the inner Reformation of Salutary Neglect, in which the colonists asserted their rights as Englishmen, irrespective of the restive and grabby Crown of England. The colonists thrived in an atmosphere of religious fervor and experimentation, which gave way to religious tolerance throughout the colonies, culminating in the non-denominational colony of Rhode Island, founded by the dissenter-seeker Roger Williams. The inner freedom of the colonies easily subscribed them to adopting the theocratic origin of their rights as asserted in the Declaration of Independence. From this basis, they asserted their right standing before God and King, rejected the arbitrary authority of a monarch who was taxing his people and the world with wearisome wars.

Revolutions following the successful American example have inevitably fallen in on themselves because the inhabitants were not thoroughly vetted in their righteous standing before God on and individual basis. Their collective identity before man and religious authority compromised the power and efficacy of future revolutionaries to control the rebellions which they instigated, only to see on power group fall in place of another.

The same lesson must be learned in an era where Arab revolutions have swept long-standing dictators from power in the Middle East, where Sharia Law threatens the already limited franchise and market freedoms already corrupted by socialism and tribal bickering. The Tea Party Movement in the United States has demanded that the United States government respect the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They want the American people to remember the inner Reformation that made this country survive, that strengthened men and women to face a military empire which had subdued nations around the globe. These principles can be reclaimed, but we must cease trying to change our leaders in government, and reflect on what it means to be a free people in a free country if we wish to retain our freedoms.

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