War of Northern Aggression Had Theological Reasons–Part One
by Al Benson Jr.
Although the War of Northern Aggression was fought for many reasons, economic, constitutional, and political, one of the main reasons for the war has been the most well hidden. That was the theological reason. "History" books have, for decades, almost totally ignored the theological implications of the war as though they never existed. Sad to say, many Southerners have done the same, framing their view of the war on many secular premises and avoiding the theological ones.
The Northern "historians" also do not want to touch on the theological issues–they raise too many questions among those still able to think and reason. So the Northern historians would just as soon ignore anything to do with theology (except their own, which they subtly don’t define as theology). In this they all become allies to the Unitarians and the radical abolitionists and they display the influence of the Yankee/Marxist mindset in their thinking.
To ignore the religious questions that brought on the War is to ignore the noblest aspirations of men like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Alexander H. Stephens. Men of this caliber did not fight for mere economic reasons, or so they and their friends could keep their slaves. To think such is to trivialize their efforts and sacrifices in our minds.
History, accurately read, tells us that in the three decades prior to the War, the North had become permeated with Unitarian thought and influences. One major consequence of both Unitarian and Marxist thinking is the ever-growing tendency toward strong, centralized government.
During this same period, the South was leaning more and more toward a stronger, orthodox, Reformed Christian faith, which may have culminated in something of a national revival if given enough time. The South was producing some theologians of the stature of Robert L. Dabney and James Henley Thornwell, while the North was producing apostates like Henry Ward Beecher, who went about shedding biblical doctrines as if they were greatcoats in the middle of Summer. So there was clearly a theological cleavage between the North and the South.
The late Professor M. E. Bradford, writing in the Southern Partisan magazine for the fourth quarter of 1991, quoted William H. Hall in his The Historic Significance of the Southern Revolution (1864). Hall wrote: "We are permitted to vindicate the supremacy of Jehovah’s word and the purity of his government." Obviously, for Mr. Hall, the War had much deeper meanings than mere economic ones. Bradfor continued: "The disposition of Northern clergy to deify human nature and to glorify human reason, Hall deplored." Bradford went on to mention Professor Bell Wiley who observed that southern churches had constantly warned their members to guard against "extreme confidence in human endeavor."
For the average Southerner, a belief in the sovereignty of God and man’s utter dependence on God was part and parcel of his thinking. This biblical view was at complete variance with the Unitarian reasoning so noticible in many cases north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Content ©2009 Al Benson Jr.
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