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The Influence of the Reformed Tradition on the American Founding

  • Westminster Theological Seminary, Carriage House 2960 Church Road Glenside, PA 19038 (map)

The John Jay Institute and Westminster Theological Seminary cordially invite you to attend the following lecture:

Vindiciae, Contra Tyrannnos
The Influence of the Reformed Tradition on the American Founding

Dr. Mark David Hall
Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics
Faculty Fellow, William Penn Honors Program
George Fox University

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In his magisterial history of religion in America, the late Yale historian Sydney Ahlstrom estimated that the Reformed tradition was “the religious heritage of three-fourths of the American people in 1776.” Yet scholars often neglect the influence of this prominent religious, moral, and intellectual tradition in the founding era. In our more secular age there is a tendency to read history with the biases of our own times and to be insensitive, if not blind, to the central and culturally integrative religious themes of a by-gone era. Vindiciae, Contra Tyrannnos (Defenses Against Tyrants) was anonymously published in 1579 as a Reformed theological treatise arguing for lawful resistance against monarchial tyranny in 16th century France, and its ethical argument has had enduring influence on Anglo-American political thought and action. In the early days of the American Revolution the British Earl Horace Walpole (1717-1797) opined, “Cousin America has eloped with a Presbyterian parson.” As a contemporary political observer, Walpole made the connection of Reformed theology to American political resistance.

In this lecture Dr. Mark David Hall will highlight ways in which the Reformed ideas and concerns exacerbated tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain, how Calvinist convictions helped to inform the creation of the new republic, and what Reformed ideas may mean for sustaining the American order today.

A reception for Dr. Hall will follow the lecture.