Western Christian orthodoxy, in which American culture is rooted, came out of the dispute with the eastern Christian Church. There was a time when Christianity was the predominant faith throughout what is now known as the Middle East and it reached all the way to modern China. The eastern Christian empire, however, did not hold to the same beliefs as the western one. Today, except for a few pockets of Christians in what is now an Islamic dominated region, Christianity in that area has all but disappeared. The eastern Christian empire and their different understanding of the nature of Christ are vital, not only to the story of Christianity, but to the understanding of American culture and reasonable expectations concerning the future of our nation given its present political course.
In a nation that appears to be doing everything possible to expunge the remnants of its Christian foundation and heritage, it is no wonder that John Calvin has been forgotten as the virtual founder of our nation. John Adams, America’s second President; Leopold von Ranke, a nineteenth century leading German historian; and George Bancroft, a Harvard educated historian known as the “father of American history”, all testified to the significant influence Calvin had upon the foundation of America.
Unlike Locke or Montesquieu, however, Calvin did not write a political treatise on how to organize civil government. Instead, he wrote Biblical expositions that completely changed how people in western culture thought about their relation to God and, subsequently, how they thought about their relation to their civil government.