The English/Protestant Tradition of the USA Should Be a Top Priority

Black Robe Regiment

We saw a tremendous influx of people into the USA from 1890-1920, but in the short run, it led to massive poverty and especially brought socialistic and communistic ideas into the USA that were less popular at that time than they are today.  Those ideas are more popular today than they were 100 years ago partially because the entire world has changed.  In 1920, the USSR had only just begun, and there was no PRC, no commie Vietnam, no Venezuela, and no Cuba. There was no welfare system at that time, and unlike today the USA was not a place where 39% pay income tax and 60% do not (2020).  Although Eugene V. Debs had run multiple times for President of the USA on the Socialist Party line which called for government ownership of the means of production, during WWI he was imprisoned for being against that war.

Since 1920, we went through the New Deal which dramatically expanded the size and influence of the Federal government, and we went through the drug and sexual revolution of the 1960s as well as the upheavals related to the Civil Rights movement, and the anti-Vietnam War movement.  More recently, we see violent, unemployed punks in the street chanting for the overthrow of the USA for extensive periods of time or occupying Wall Street or setting fires or defacing buildings, or looting millions of dollars worth of Levi’s, headsets, and panties from stores.  Fluidity is seen as historical change, as the movement of people, as innovations in our everyday lifestyles and in our mores is increasingly the norm or waging an all-out struggle to be the norm.  In light of the deviant transgender movement, we might expect to see Manhattan re-named “Transhattan.”

Thus, Leftism has accelerated, not diminished, from 1920 until the present.  Our norms of today would have been considered deviations from the norm a couple of centuries ago.  The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “all is change,” so if we accept his slogan as truth, “change” is the stable reality. Does that have to be?

Observing this tension between existing principles/social institutions and changes that are gradually or suddenly forced upon societies, the German philosopher Friedrich Hegel introduced dialectic as the underlying process moving history forward.  Thus, for Hegel, there is in all historical experience a Thesis that is opposed by an Antithesis. The Antithesis negates the Thesis, and the Thesis is then replaced by a Synthesis. The Synthesis becomes the new Thesis, and the march of time and history continues.  The path taken is one of continuous progress towards the Absolute.  The perfectibility of mankind is implied.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel said that this dialectic was more specifically grounded in economics than in Hegel’s philosophy as seen historically by looking at the “class struggles” throughout the ages.  This dialectic they believed would and should culminate in the classless society called “communism.”

The most valid alternative to the dialectical reasoning arising out of Germanic culture is the one found in the English/Protestant tradition.  Although Marxists would disparage this tradition as being bourgeois and proposing values opposed both to dialectic and to the proletariat, the English/Protestant tradition allows for progress without contaminating that progress with an ideal of a perfectly just social order and governance.  Rather, it is progress that is mediated and limited by the purity of our motives, the requirements of conscience, the moral law as revealed in the Old Testament, and through faith in both the reason and revelation of Jesus Christ through the New Testament.

Faith is the linchpin of this progress since it is progress supported by Almighty God through His Providential will.  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as well as Protestant colonial leaders who preceded them purposely cultivated their spiritual lives through Biblical study and prayer.  Further, John Locke, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Hooker, Roger Williams, and William Penn as well as an army of colonial pastors (“Black Robe Regiment”) provided the philosophical and theological momentum for the ideal of the USA as a city on a hill.  Although it may not be obvious on its face, the struggle we are seeing about human sexuality, economic and political justice, and health and happiness are at the bottom a profound philosophical and theological struggle between German culture and English culture, and the English tradition is by far more vibrant and hopeful.

Jeffrey Ludwig

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About the Author

Jeffrey Ludwig
Jeffrey Ludwig is a semi-retired Pastor of Bible Christian Church who serves as a guest preacher in local churches and teaches philosophy part-time at a university. He is the author of four  books available on amazon.com and has published over 275 articles online. He has been married for 28 years and he and his wife are proud parents of a grown daughter. Email: philprof2@gmail.com