Coffee Table Christianity?

Folks often point to our founding fathers as proof of our Christian upbringing yet never read to understand what Thomas Jefferson actually believed.

Thanks for the link, wil. I may get to it yet. I understand Jefferson, and others (Franklin?) to be Deists, acknowledging a Creator without per se extending that to Jesus.

I think though that the idea that this nation was founded on "Christian ideals" stems as much or more from the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth (Mayflower Compact, 1620), and the Jamestown colony in Virginia (1607), both of which were substantially Christian in orientation and setting precedent for later colonial expansion in the (future) states. The Virginia and Massachusetts territories were the two largest to begin with...Massachusetts extending about as far as Illinois as I recall, and Virginia extending to include what is now Tennessee and Georgia.

So I guess it depends how far back one wishes to go to support their premise, but it does seem to me that Colonial America was indeed heavily Christian oriented by law and tradition.

By the time of Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and Adams, there was a bit different zeitgeist, particularly among the wealthy and educated politicos.
An idealistic part, perhaps, but (having not researched it) I don't buy it. I am inclined to think that's more a propaganda whitewash after the event. In my view, the common people were no better off after the Reformation, and in some aspects worse.

That is to be expected.

Does having the Bible in the vernacular set the people free? I'm not sold on that one. That a reforms were needed, I do not argue. That publishing the Bible in the vernacular would achieve that, I don't see how.

I suppose it would depend on what is intended by the term "set the people free." By my understanding, some early translations of the Bible into English afforded the opportunity for education of the common masses of folks. Granted, the interpretation of what was read still remained the province of religious this case English Protestants...but there was a growing "check and balance" becoming available to the laity.

I think it's pretty well proven that the reformation in England was all about the king getting a divorce — it was not about introducing Protestant ideas (Henry was an opponent of that).

In an official capacity, I can see what you are saying. But there were English translations that predated Henry by quite a while. In that much Mee has pointed to a few significant developments in that regard previously, and it is reasonable to believe these literary pioneers represented a small but growing sub-culture that by and large at the beginning posed no serious threat to the monarchy / political powers. Over time that changed, and to that much you are correct, Henry and other monarchs did from time to time respond by persecuting (we can say in hindsight) these challenges to the religio-political structure.

At his death, the emerging aristocracy saw their chance and, the Duke of Northumberland, acting as Regent, set about a series of Protestant reforms that upset a lot of people, including Parliament (he amassed considerable personal wealth via 'the Dissolution of the Monasteries'). He tried to engineer a declaration of illegitimacy against Mary and Elizabeth, to favour Lady Jane Grey as queen, to whom he had married his son, when it was clear Edward had contracted TB. Mary beat him to it, and Northumberland lost his head.

Thank you for this, some elements of English history just seem vague and unappreciated in the States...little realizing how much is it a part of our own history.

Really, religion was a distraction to mask the political intent of the main players ... it was a sideshow to deflect blame and recrimination ...

Some things never change, do they? All the way back to Constantine. Or as Solomon said, "There's nothing new under the sun..."

I really don't think they did? I think people like to insist they did, but I'm really not sure. Remember the 'Protestant masses' were 'Catholic masses' before they were told they were Protestants by those who came to power. The people never had the choice, for example, to say which side they would favour.

If by "masses" here you mean the bulk of the population, then perhaps I can agree...but there was for a considerable time previously a small and growing Protestant undercurrent. This is manifested later by the Puritans, but it began long before that group.

And history also shows they did not embrace the new Protestant theologies with any great love.

If you are speaking of the political "bait and switch," then yes. But it is ignoring the Protestant sub-culture.

A 'proof' is not in Scripture, but in the interpretation of Scripture ... that's my point. The Protestant Reformers proclaimed sola scriptura in the face of tradition, but that did not mean, nor allow, personal interpretation. They replaced one tradition of authority with their own.

Granted...but it was more than that. There is something to be said for disseminating power...particularly if that power is prone to abuse, and frequently was abused.

The Reformation was a revolution in every sense of the word; political and theological. I hesitate in how deep I wish to take this here, if this thread is dedicated to other matters. The Reformation was a response to the zeitgeist of the Dark Ages. Without the Reformation, the Western world would be in much worse shape than it is. And one must admit, the Reformation even caused the Catholic church to do some serious and long-overdue soul searching to refocus on its core values...which it is still struggling to come to terms with but is doing much better now. Left to its own devices to continue to run amok, I don't think I could say that.