As a country, we’ve drifted so far in the last 50 to 60 years from our origins…and not necessarily in a good way. Even that short time ago liberals were able to say that the basis of the principles and foundations of our country and law were found in the Bible. Now if you claim that our legal and moral foundation is based on the principles of biblical scripture, you are labeled a hate-monger and exclusionary bigot.
It’s fascinating to look at the history of the people who came to this country and settled in places like Virginia and Massachusetts. Their charters clearly speak of the Christian and missionary reason for the establishment of these colonies.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: October 23, 2011
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, as the announcer says, welcome to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, as always along with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, how are you sir?
Bill: Brian, I’ve never been better in my life. Good to see you this morning. It’s fall, the season’s here and it’s starting to cool down. I think it’s supposed to be in the 30s here in beautiful, sunny Thomson so it’s an interesting … I love the fall. I love football and hunting season and all that stuff.
Brian: Congratulations – I saw the Packers won the other weekend.
Bill: Thank you very much. The Bears won too. Today we’d like to talk about something, Brian, that’s near and dear to my heart. We’re talking about the fall season but we’re also in the political season, aren’t we? You and I before the show were talking about a guy leading the Republicans in the polls, Rick Perry. We were talking about the fact that he’s doing prayer breakfasts a lot and he’s appealing to that segment. We started to talk about other prayer breakfasts before and, specifically, in 1954 – what I wanted to do today with the help of our guest that you can introduce is compare and contrast a Republican prayer breakfast today versus a very liberal prayer breakfast, and I’m again saying Earl Warren’s prayer breakfast then, and how that shakes out. If one could look at the drift between the two, if nothing else the substantive area of the drift – just what is a Christian prayer breakfast – then compared to what it is today. With that in mind, maybe you’d like to introduce our guest. Maybe after you introduce our guest we’ll have you read that little piece from Earl Warren to set this up for a guest.
Brian: Sure. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure today to have with us for the entire show, Dr. Schultz who is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Liberty University. He previously served as the Chair of the History Department at Liberty and he has also taught at Virginia Intermont College, the University of Arkansas, the Oak Hills Christian College and he is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. His specialty is American religious history, Bill, which is why he’s the perfect guest for today. He is interested in the interaction of religion and culture. His recent work deals with Christians in the American Revolution, biblical principles of government and American fundamentalism. You’ve heard him speak, you’ve seen his essays and, although we’re not going to have time today – you know me, Bill, digging outdoors the way I do – he was also a canoe guide in what I consider to be one of the coolest places on the face of the earth and that’s the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.
Bill: Oh, you know that country.
Brian: I know that country – not as good as our next guest. Ladies and gentlemen, please say hello – and he’s going to be with us, as I said earlier, for the entire hour. We’re here with Dr. Roger Schultz. Good morning, Dr. Schultz.
Dr. Schultz: Good morning. It’s good to be with you.
Brian: Well, I lied a little bit. Real quick, 30-second sound bite – how cool are the Boundary Waters?
Dr. Schultz: They’re just wonderful. They’re beautiful. I loved my time up there. I still love taking my children up there when I have occasion too.
Brian: You know what? And Bill – we’d probably have to do it sometime off air – Bill has a moose story as well. It says you dig talking about black bears and moose interactions, you and Bill should get together and tell some moose stories because he’s got a great one as well. But Dr. Schultz, I could talk all day about that, but we’d like to go ahead and jump in. If it’s cool with you … Bill and I were discussing the 1954 prayer breakfast. Most specifically, sir, we were discussing Earl Warren. There’s a pretty cool – and we’ll put the link up on our website for the people that want to read the Time Magazine article – but it’s a reflection back of Monday, February 18, 1954. The article was titled, “Religion: Breakfast in Washington.” There’s all kinds of big wigs there, Bill, as you know, and Dr. Schultz. All kinds of people line up to talk and then there’s this one and that one. But the very last speaker was Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren. He was raised as I was, as a Methodist. According to the article, he is now – he frequently attends Baptist services with his wife. I was going to read you all, if it’s cool Bill, the quote. It says “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses … Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia … or the Charter of New England … or to the Charter from Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut … the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles.” He then picks it up and says “I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law and the reservation of powers to the people. I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion.” Just to pick up, just as importantly – “I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.” Again, Chief Justice Earl Warren at a prayer breakfast in 1954. Pretty powerful stuff, Bill.
Bill: That’s powerful stuff. I guess I’d like to ask Dr. Schultz that you’ve spoken before about this and you’ve articulated what you’ve called the “Warren Thesis.” Do you want to take us through that city on the hill, America’s Christian roots? Lecture a little bit given this Warren Thesis?
Dr. Schultz: Sure. Warren’s points are absolutely clear and I think they’re undeniable, that America had Christian foundations, that America was governed by Christian principles, our law order is based upon the Bible, our Bill of Rights – all of the guarantees that we have about representative government are anchored in Scripture. There is a great respect for Christ and the Christian religion and that God providentially protects a nation. This isn’t my gloss on what Warren says, these are the things Warren emphatically states. Then he even explains how you know these things are true and he points to all of the early documents and charters in American history. You can actually go back and read the documents to see if Warren understands things correctly. I think it’s a powerful thesis. I think it’s an undeniable thesis. What’s particularly intriguing is that this wasn’t articulated by a right-wing conservative but it’s rather a leftist jurist who 50-something years ago pointed out what was obvious if you look at the original documents.
Bill: Let’s walk into a little bit … let’s take some of his thesis and walk into both Massachusetts and Virginia, if we could. Do you want to start with Virginia and maybe talk a little bit about just what things were like in Virginia early on and work into some of those documents?
Dr. Schultz: Sure. The whole Colonial enterprise was governed by certain religious expectations. If you go back to the late 1500s, before Virginia was actually planted, the leading advocates for colonization argued that the colonies would be important for England for a variety of reasons, some of them military reasons or economic reasons, but some were specifically religious reasons. These colonies would be a place where those who were persecuted for religious reasons – Protestant Christians would be able to find a place of refuge – and that the colonies would enlarge the glory of the gospel. Queen Elizabeth’s Chief Advisor makes that point. That theme is replicated in the colonial charters. Virginia is an excellent example in 1606, when the colony was being chartered, there’s an explicit purpose statement given that the colonies being undertaken for the glory of His Divine Majesty for the propagating of the Christian religion to people who live in darkness. There’s a clear Christian purpose and evangelizing or mission statement with the Virginia establishing.
Bill: So in Virginia, you have specifically – and I know in the lecture that I’ve heard previously you talked about what things were like. You talked about some of the laws that govern the land. You and I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that we think that that’s the way Christianity ought to be enforced but talk about some of the land – maybe Dale’s Law – some of the stuff that existed. What was going on that was really indicative in Virginia?
Brian: Dr. Schultz, before you start, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break. We’ve only got 30 seconds and I want to hear this answer and I want to give it its full breadth. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to go to a quick commercial break. Come on back. The guest for the full hour here at Off the Grid News, Dr. Roger Schultz. You’re not going to want to miss the rest of this show.[0:10:15 – 0:14:334 break]
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid Radio. We’re going to get right to Bill Heid. Bill, would you ask that question again? I want to give Dr. Schultz the whole run to be able to answer that.
Bill: Sure. I guess what I’m thinking about, Brian, is what was the lay of the land during that period of time? Early colonial Virginia. I know Dr. Schultz knows about John Hammond’s promotional material that was used, some of Dale’s Law. What was it like to live? Brian, if the Huffington Post hates us now, they would have really hated us then. Don’t you think, Dr. Schultz?
Dr. Schultz: [laughs] Certainly. If they read the charter documents, the early proclamations, they would be horrified at the straightforward affirmation of Christ, the Bible, and the colonies’ Christian purposes. Early Virginia had a really rocky start. If you read Colonial history, you’ll know that the Virginia colony had a terrible time getting started. They faced problems with starvation, disease, bad water, Indian attacks – all kinds of problems. But throughout that, they had a Christian purpose that’s stated in the charter. One of the earliest events that was celebrated by people of Virginia and then people of the nation was the baptism of Pocahontas. For a colony with a mission purpose, it was significant that the chief’s daughter embraced Christianity and was baptized into the Christian faith. If you go to Washington, DC, in the Capitol Rotunda, you’ll see this beautiful picture of the baptism of Pocahontas. Of the paintings that are used to define the American enterprise at its beginning, that is one, the conversion of the Indian chief’s daughter which was a token or a fruition of that early charter. There is a beautiful collection of paintings at a website with the Architect of the Capitol and you can see different paintings commissioned largely in the 1800s, representing America’s Christian foundation dealing with the Pilgrims, with Rebecca Rolfe or Pocahontas and so forth. The legal character – Christian legal character, biblical legal character – can be seen in a collection of laws in Virginia commonly called Dale’s Laws. The laws were pretty stiff because they wanted to guarantee order but the purpose was to preserve a pious and Christian plantation. Virginians defined the Virginia colony as a pious and Christian experiment but it required church attendance and if you didn’t go to church you could lose some rations or you could be put on the galleys to work or you might be beaten. If you were a multiple offender you could even be executed for not going to church. I’m not advocating that but that was the seriousness of emphasizing religion. We oftentimes think of Massachusetts as being a religious colony and Virginia being more secular. But if you read the laws there’s a real Christian focus, even in their promotional literature, which you alluded to. There’s an emphasis that Virginia and Maryland are devoutly Christian colonies. They are depicted as being Rachel and Leah to use biblical imagery. The people promoting the colonies say that they’re full of sober, modest people – men and women that truly fear God and follow the perfect rule of our Blessed Savior to do as they would be done by. I just love that brief formulation of the Golden Rule to do as they would be done by, just filled with good, neighborly Christian people. The promotional material says there are some folks that misbehave and no country is free of them but we’ve got laws to take care of them. The point is, come on over to Virginia or Maryland because they’re Christian colonies with good Christian neighborly people in them. Certainly the colonies presented themselves as being Christian experiments in the Americas.
Bill: Talk about Pocahontas again. You touched on Pocahontas – if I walk up to Chad Ochocinco and say Chad Johnson, he’d probably take offense to that. I know the NFL calls him Ochocinco. Why don’t we just call her Rebecca Rolfe?
Dr. Schultz: [laughs] That would be the appropriate thing to do. Usually when people change their religion and take a new name, we follow their wishes and call them what their new name is. If you were to call that famous boxer Cassius Clay rather than Muhammad Ali people would think that you were being disrespectful. Pocahontas was the name, or actually the nickname, of the chief’s daughter. But her Christian baptized name was Rebecca and then she married John Rolfe who was a well-known settler at the time. She became Mrs. Rolfe. I think it’s most appropriate to call her then by Rebecca Rolfe. The earliest portrait that we have of her when she was still alive identifies her as being Rebecca Rolfe and it identifies her by her baptized name. It was clearly important to the colonists that she was a convert to the Christian faith. She had married one of the colonists which also suggests quite a bit too about what was permissible in Virginia. Here’s this colonist, he married the Indian chief’s daughter. Certainly the colonies were not free of racism. There’s going to be a problem with that periodically. But you find this Christian man marrying this Christian woman of Indian descent and Americans celebrating that and being particularly proud if they have ancestry going back to that union.
Bill: That’s fascinating. Let’s move – we’ve had maybe someone of your acquaintance, Dan Ford, on our show before and we’ve talked about Massachusetts. Do you want to talk about what the Massachusetts folks considered to be ultimate for them in terms of sovereignty and so forth? When they came, they were definitely interested in “who’s in charge?” That predicated their idea of government – who ultimately is in charge – right?
Dr. Schultz: Certainly. They’re Puritans so religious concerns, particularly the Bible, proper worship and honoring Christ, are going to be paramount for them. As people of the book who valued the Bible, they believed that every area of life was under the direction of God’s word which would be worship, church government, civil government as well. They make this clear at the very beginning. If you look at the Pilgrims you’ll find them coming together to covenant together in the name of God at the Mayflower Covenant. We typically called it the Mayflower Compact which is a title given to it nearly 200 years later when compact theories became more common, but the Pilgrims themselves said that they were covenanting and combining together in their colony which they undertook for “the glory of God, the advancement of the Christian faith and the honor of our King and Country.” The Puritans who had similar religious convictions and established the Massachusetts colony were straightforward about their reasons. When John Winthrop gave the reasons for emigrating it’s so they would “carry the gospel into these parts of the world to help in the coming into the fullness of the gentiles. There was an eschatological sense that God was going to save the Indians, bring in the fullness of the gentiles and to raise up a Bulwark against the kingdom of AntiChrist which the Jesuits labor to rear up in those parts.” The hope is that you can convert the Indians and save them from the Jesuits who are working their mischief up in Canada. The Massachusetts charter in 1629 says that the colony is established in part to win the natives of the country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind and the Christian faith. There’s a specifically religious rationale with establishing Massachusetts that’s reflected in their charter, in their seal – the picture of an Indian who’s calling out for the Puritans to come and help them, the Macedonian call as it were in Massachusetts. It’s shown in their law code which was emphatically based upon the Bible. I don’t know why people can miss that Christian focus at the foundation. And if it’s so obvious that it can’t be denied then they turn the tables and say “well those are hateful people, they’re bigoted people. We don’t like them at all.” But it’s really sad what has been done to the country’s heritage and history.
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to run to a quick commercial break. Come on back. Dr. Roger Schultz with us for the full remainder of our show, here at Off the Grid News.[0:24:39 – 0:28:54 break]
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, back once again – Off the Grid Radio, the audio version of offthegridnews.com. Here today with Mr. Bill Heid and Dr. Roger Schultz, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Liberty University. Bill, I know we have a list of questions so I want to jump right back into the discussion between you and Dr. Schultz. Take it away.
Bill: Thank you so much, Brian. Dr. Schultz, here we are, it’s 1630 and you’ve got John Winthrop talking about … giving his famous sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” or “A City on the Hill.” Do you want to discuss that? I think what’s important about it, and I’m always thinking, if these guys were worried about something – de-leveraging, disconnecting or derailing their purpose – what did Winthrop see as … what’s a black swan, maybe not even a black swan, for Winthrop? What’s going to come and get him? How does he see “if we do this well something good can happen but if we don’t then bad things could happen.”
Dr. Schultz: It’s a marvelous sermon and it is a sermon preached at the very onset of the Puritan settlement in Massachusetts in 1630. “A Model of Christian Charity” is the title of the sermon commonly called “A City on the Hill” sermon. Winthrop goes back to the book of Deuteronomy and he uses that as the platform to explain what will happen as the people obey God and are blessed by him or disobey God and are cursed by him. If you read the last few chapters of Deuteronomy as a context, you’ll see that his language has a covenantal foundation. It replicates what the warning and the encouragement of Moses was to the people. It’s really a powerful text. Winthrop explains to the people that if they follow God and obey him then God’s blessing will be upon them. But if they turn their backs on him then there’s going to be cursings to following. He said that “if we disobey His voice then we will become a byword and taunt song to the whole world.” The closing lines of that sermon I think are so powerful because I think it speaks across the centuries to our own situation today. He said “if we follow other gods our pleasures and our wealth, then God’s curses will come upon us.” When he identifies materialism and hedonism as two new kinds of idolatry, it seems to me he’s speaking directly to 21st Century Americans. 21st Century Americans aren’t likely to crank up literal idols like the Children of Israel did back in their exodus wanderings but they are likely to make gods of their pleasures and their riches. It’s a powerful sermon and I think it’s so strong because it gets right to the problems inherent and persistent problems of the human heart. If we raise up other gods and serve them, our pleasures and our wealth, then God’s anger will be visited upon us. It’s a sobering sermon and it’s so powerful because it reaches back to the covenantal language of the Old Testament in Deuteronomy as the Puritans are ending their exodus wanderings, as it were, in crossing the sea to come to the New World and they drew upon those Exodus motifs in their sermons. Then as it comes to the New Testament, and talks about the importance of charity within the community and as for the “City on the Hill” imagery comes from the “Sermon on the Mount.”
Bill: I think you’re totally right about that. I think that really was the body of thought. I think as we move into the next phase of what I wanted to talk about, I think where Americans too are misguided – I’d like to talk about what the most foundational document towards building the Bill of Rights was. I know a lot of people are going to say that the charters were influential and they were. A lot of people would say maybe the Magna Carta or some of the English civil war material. But from your research or perhaps Don Lutz’s research, what do you think the most foundational document is?
Dr. Schultz: The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641. Lutz has a marvelous body of literature regarding this. I remember being in the U.S. Capitol for a special celebration of the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights in 1991 and Lutz was the featured speaker. The folks who were gathered there were lawyers, constitutional historians and so forth. We met right on Capitol Hill in the Russell Senate Office building. Lutz’s presentation was so capably argued. He’s really the leading scholar in this area. But he posed a rhetorical question – I can still remember him saying this – “what is the pedigree of our Bill of Rights? If you were to look back through all the documents of time, where could you find most of those rights collected in one spot?” People are shrugging their shoulders and looking around, wondering where he’s going. He says “the Magna Carta – some are in there but that’s not the most. The English Bill of Liberties? Bill of Rights from 1689? Well, some there but not the most. The various charters – certainly some there but not the most.” Then he finally concluded, as everyone’s out of guesses, is the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641, a document largely written by Puritan ministers. You could see these historians kind of gasp. I remember the one fellow sitting up in front of me with the long ponytail, he looked like a college professor someplace, recoiling in horror as he heard Lutz’s words. But Lutz is emphatic that this is such a key document – the first post-medieval bill of rights or body of liberties. If you read through it, you can find an enumeration of liberties as well as Scripture verses attached to it. There’s a reminder that there is a higher law and that’s God’s word and then God’s word provides certain limitations on government and thus provides certain guarantees of our liberties. The king doesn’t have a right to come in and kill us or mess with our worship or the things that had gone on in England but rather the power of the throne is limited. All kinds of human powers are limited by God’s word. One of my favorite examples is an enumeration of liberties for women, even though Puritans don’t have this reputation they were concerned about rights of women. It’s made explicit that no man had a right to beat his wife, to strike his wife with a rod. But then it has this fascinating addition to that statement, “except in his own defense upon her assault.” Of course in my mind I’m trying to figure out what poor minister, what poor Massachusetts legislator wanted to make sure that final clause was listed in there so there was a reasonable right to self defense as well. A right to self defense also arises from Scripture and you can look at Bible verses which identify that. The Puritans were mindful of the supremacy of God’s word and the way in which God’s word gave order to governments and the way in which God’s word also provided a foundation for liberties. That’s not just me talking, that’s Earl Warren talking as well. When the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, and arguably one of the most influential chief justices ever, Earl Warren, for good or for ill, but when Earl Warren looks to the Massachusetts Body of Liberties as being important as a foundation for our country, that’s really significant.
Bill: I think that’s very significant. I don’t think Rick Perry, for example, probably would bring up the Massachusetts Body of Liberties at a prayer breakfast because of this reason, Dr. Schultz, I think – as you start to unpack and unpeel all of this, isn’t it true that legal systems of all kinds, whether they’re Islamic or Hindu or the system that we have which is a hybrid maybe, but legal systems of all kinds are all anchored in some sort of version of religious truth, wouldn’t you agree?
Dr. Schultz: Absolutely. At the time of the American War for Independence they would talk about fundamental law. It was a nebulous term, I suppose, but there was this idea that there was and there had to be some higher law order, some law system, that governed things. I think the real advantage to the Puritan system is that people were straightforward about what that was. Now there’s a mixed system and no one wants to say too much about a religious foundation because that might push you in ways that you wouldn’t want to go. But I think every legal order rests upon some religious system, axioms of some higher transcendent order, whether those are recognized and affirmed or not. Otherwise, it’s just a mish-mash of popular opinions. I think we want to have some kind of transcendent law undergirding the laws of man, otherwise it’s chaos and a mess.
Bill: You’ve got to give the Muslims credit, and I think you’ve got to at least at the same time spot liberal hypocrisy because liberals seem to be not that interested in Sharia Law. Brian and I were talking about that before the show. Yet they get the fangs out very sharply if you start talking about a Christian foundation for law, which is the very liberties that they rest on, the very liberty that they have the ability of free speech to speak against the Christian religion. I think Earl Warren would say “you have those freedoms to attack Christianity only because of Christianity.”
Dr. Schultz: Absolutely. I’ll tell you a story about this. I was giving a presentation on early American history and I talked about the Warren thesis at law school recently here at Liberty University. I gave this quote from Liberty which is in the Time article that you’ve already referenced. A law professor said “can you get me that reference? I think that’s really interesting.” So I sent that to the law professor, didn’t hear anything more about it until I ran into her some months later. She said “that quotation in that link was so useful because I sit on the board of a Texas commission that deals with textbooks and there’s been a big controversy there. They knew I was a Christian so they asked me to give a prayer at some function. I prayed ‘we thank you, our Father, that we’re living today in a land guided by the spirit of the Christian religion and we’re thankful that as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.’” The law professor said you can imagine the outrage that faced me immediately after this invocation because people said “that’s so parochial, that’s so Christian-centered, it’s so religious, it’s so exclusionary.” The professor said “it was set up perfectly. All I had to do was say ‘you know? I think those are great words in the prayer that I gave and I would love to take credit for them but I’m not the author of those words. The words that I used in that prayer came directly …’ – and you could see people starting to get nervous because they knew this conversation was going in a way that they didn’t want it to go – ‘those words came from Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren.’” It’s really a testimony to how far we have drifted in the last 50 or 60 years. At one time, even liberals were able to say the principles of our country and the principles of our legal system are found in the Bible. We believe that the Bible gives us wisdom for our national jurisprudence. We’re governed by moral principles, the Scripture. Today they no longer do that. If you say those things are important they will call you hateful and exclusionary. Yet what they’re offering up instead is utter chaos. So now the court, or at least some justices on the court, are influenced by the latest popular theories in Europe – we need to be more like Europe and whatever socio-, psychobabble comes down the pike. I think we’re looking at a real revolution in our legal system and understanding of jurisprudence.
Brian: Dr. Schultz, I have to ask you – Bill and I said before that a lot of times some of the websites we go to you’ve got … someone asked me the other day, “why do you read a particular book?” I said “you’ve got to know who the enemy is.” I’d like you to get the comment on this because here’s where I think we run into a little trouble. We want to quote the Massachusetts Body of Liberty and we go “this is a document that we’re going to use.” Although I’ve said in the past, I think we get the Bill of Rights from the Garden of Eden, if there’s no conception of free speech, the serpent doesn’t get to talk to Eve. If there’s not a right to assembly, the serpent and Eve don’t get to hang out in the first place. If there’s not a freedom of press, Eve doesn’t get to tell Adam what the serpent told her. So for me, it predates any of these documents. But if you want to talk about the Massachusetts Body of Liberty, it also says it’s OK to have slaves. It also says it’s OK to put witches to death. So I think what happens is – and I would love your opinion – my estimation is that sometimes when we quote some of these documents the liberals will look for any little thing and say “OK, Bri, you’re going to use the Massachusetts Body of Liberty but let me remind you that one of the capital laws says it’s OK to put a witch to death. Now you believe that there are witches? And you also further believe, Bri, that that mindset which would call for the death of a witch – that’s legitimate as well?” So how do you argue when people that will take a document and dissect it and go “great, there was some great things in our Constitution, in our Bill of Rights, but you couldn’t vote if you were a woman until recently. The Constitution said nothing about the abolition of slavery.” You’re a lot smarter than I am, how do you counter those people that will look at one portion of a document like the Massachusetts Body of Liberty and say “great, Bri, you’re going to wrap yourself in that so now you believe in witches?”
Dr. Schultz: Sure. It’s really easy for us to jump back 400 years and to pick apart a legal system that touched a different people in a different context with different cultural realities. The first thing I always encourage my students is to read things in the time, in the context, and use that as a format for discussion. We could talk about particular instances – slavery and witchcraft and so forth – but I think it’s inappropriate to jump back and then start to beat the Puritans about the head and shoulders for 16th and 17th Century issues when we feel we’re so far beyond that. But the other thing that I think really puts it in relief is to flip it the other way, to say “we’re criticizing the Puritans here from our 21st Century perspective. Let’s jump back and allow a 17th Century perspective to critique 21st Century perspective.” Any American history textbook that you’ll pick up will deal with the Salem witch trials. For instance, you mentioned witchcraft and execution of witches. That is a fascinating episode in history, both for what happened, for the evidentiary issues involved with it and I’d talk more, if we had time, about the spectral evidence which is a new kind of evidence that was used and the violation of the biblical requirement for due process and capital crimes with the testimony of two or three witnesses. But there is space given in every American history textbook that I have ever seen to the Salem witch crisis in the 1690s. 20 people died. My guess – by all accounts we say this is unfortunate, what happened in Salem. Now if you fast forward to the 20th Century and you look at the tens of millions of children who are aborted and then you look at the relative or respective coverage given to that, you think “why in the world are the liberals complaining about the witch trial and then saying nothing about the tens of millions aborted in the 20th Century.”
Bill: Dr. Schultz, let me interrupt you for a second, this is Bill. I used to be on the board – on the education committee of a Christian school board and I’ll direct this back to Brian too – what I would find fascinating, sometimes we would review public school books as part of what we did. I was always fascinated to find that most public school books want to spend more time on the Sale witch trials than they would on Stalin massacring people or Hitler or – Hitler they’ll give – somehow Hitler remains a bad guy no matter. Hitler gets his press. But Mao and Stalin – you’re going to get more people mad about 20 witches. As Dr. Schultz was saying, who in the trials you had violation of biblical law, violation of probably the document itself. These people are sinners. These people that lived in this period of time weren’t perfect people. As you said, you had spectral evidence and things that weren’t biblical. You had, just like in the Garden of Eden, you had mentioned, you had violations of what should have went down. Even there in what was an ostensibly perfect environment. Here you come over here – Rousseau would have been so happy, right? Here you come over here and you have the same thing, you have good people doing bad things or people that sometimes profess to be good who weren’t good doing bad things. I think it almost lends itself to an additional discussion some other time about what is it that a Christian nation is? I think Dr. Schultz would say a Christian nation doesn’t mean everybody’s baptized, everybody’s living like someone who’s baptized – should be living – and so on. I think that there’s very real issues. On the matter of slavery, I think a guy could talk – and sorry I’m rambling here – but I think a guy could talk a little bit about what kind of slavery was legal? We have to make a distinction between biblical law, Brian, would require death for kidnapping. If you had God’s law in operation in New England and Virginia, you’d have – if they really went to the wire, it’s against the law to steal a man or to be a fence to take an African and bring him in, or of any nationality. However, you could take someone as a “slave” who owed some money, who wanted to be an indentured servant for six years to work off some money. That was also called slavery. Liberals don’t want to talk about the distinction between those two things. Dr. Schultz, do you want to make any comments about that?
Dr. Schultz: No, that’s quite right. The earliest slaves in indentured relation in Virginia were people who came for a certain amount of time and then receive their liberty. There were places where that system did not work either but that was a system that encompassed both white indentured servants and black indentured servants. Gradually, in the 1600s, the institution changed so it became a lifetime and chattel arrangement. But there’s cases in the 1660s that to my mind are fascinating because black servants sued for their freedom upon their baptism to Christianity and reflected their conversion to Christianity and baptism. It reflected their understanding of biblical law. In the Old Testament, a Hebrew could not serve perpetually as a slave without special arrangements. It was their contention that following the model of biblical law they were supposed to be freed. At one point the courts determined that a person’s baptism of profession of religion would make no difference in their status of servitude. Then there’s an official change within the system. But I’m fascinated the understanding that these servants had of Old Testament biblical precepts and how that would give them a right to legally argue for emancipation.
Bill: That’s fascinating. That’s something that should be – again, as Brian said, when you get challenged on something, and I think there’s an apologetics issue here – how can we defend … some things, Dr. Schultz and I and others are not going to defend. I’m not going to defend something that’s not biblical. In other words, in some cases someone stepped outside. I would say, Dr. Schultz too, that Puritans – sometimes the fundamental documents, because they’re human, they stepped out and forgot too. Deuteronomy 4, as you’ve talked about before, calls us to remember and teach our children about these statutes. Yet somehow that whole chattel slavery thing got forgotten. Here’s some sinners … it doesn’t call us to scrap the system of biblical law and God’s law but it calls us rather to be vigilant about that system. These guys lost it. You want to throw the baby out with the bathwater saying all these guys … and if all you read is Hawthorne you really have done yourself a disservice because these people weren’t the people that Hawthorne portrayed them to be. There’s much that needs to be discussed. I don’t know, Brian, how much time we’ve got left. Jeremy, are we running out of time? We’re definitely running out of time.
Brian: But that’s a great discussion to have because another question that I would ask Dr. Schultz, if he’ll come back for the second show, is given all these documents, how everything works, why wasn’t the Constitution written in such a way to make it as unequivocally clear as the documents Chief Justice Earl Warren mentioned in 1954? When they had the ability to pen the Constitution, what was it?
Bill: There’s some great reasons for that, by the way, and he’s got them. We will talk …
Brian: If you can come back, that would be great. Dr. Schultz, thank you so very much for your time. We know you’re busy and we’ll look forward, as Bill said, to having you back and help us with some other questions that we get.
Dr. Schultz: I’ll look forward to it.
Brian: Thank you so much, sir. As always, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to Off the Grid Radio. You can email us your comments, your questions, your critiques, even the information of a guest that you may want to hear interviewed. Please do so at [email protected]. Of course you can find us on Facebook – facebook.com/offthegridnews. And, as always, follow us on Twitter @offgridnews. On behalf of everyone here at Off the Grid News, this has been Bill Heid and Brian Brawdy.[0:53:46]