Sunday, November 4, 2012

Destroying the Christian Sense of Place


An excellent summation of the religious differences between and antebellum South and North from Chronicles, the magazine of American culture. See

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Destroying the Christian Sense of Place:

“A study of [Southern] Christian civilization on the North American continent offers a way to reestablish a Christian sense of place, and we should set aside the intellectual arrogance that makes some of us think that we are superior to those who went before us.

Southerners lived on their land and in community, interdependent with their neighbors. They knew that their unchanging religious tradition gave meaning to life and destiny. Their society gauges how far we have fallen away from a Christian sense of place and reveals how much our culture has surrendered to a narcissistic and hedonist sense of self that engenders peoples’ obsession for individual freedom of choice, unconstrained by any source of authority outside themselves. The insatiable demand for such choice, regardless of how it may adversely affect others, added to the increased mobility of our society, has made us rootless and placeless.

To compare our culture with that of the antebellum South, we need to look at the theological changes that occurred in New England and the other Northern States. Those changes opened the way for the emergence of a gnostic distortion of Christianity, which inevitably spawned a secular humanism that, in turn, transformed the culture of the North and has subsequently become the state religion of the United States.

The traditional conservative religious and practice of the Southern people wove into their society the firm faith that the One God revealed and experienced in the Holy Trinity is the Father of all Creation. They believed that God’s law was revealed completely in the Holy Bible. They believed that the Holy Spirit of this One Triune God welded into a unified society all of the Southern people: the planter, the businessman, the tenant farmer, the small farmer, the frontiersman, and the slave.

Most Southerners believed, quite correctly, that the people of New England (and, generally, of the North) had rejected traditional Christianity, which they had inherited from their Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors. In the three decades before Lincoln’s armies invaded and pillaged the South, a steady stream of New England intellectuals went to Europe where they studied and embraced….radical and revolutionary ideas [regarding Christianity and government].

The elitist New England intellectuals were convinced that Southern biblical Christianity should be suppressed because it was a stumbling block to the progress of mankind. They declared that virtue and salvation were attainable through education and social reform rather through adherence to a traditional Christian religious belief. They advocated an unrestrained freedom of choice, guaranteed by the man-made laws of the state, which would supplant the biblical laws of God.

Many New England clergymen imbibed the ideology of the radical European theologians and philosophers who invented the “scientific” analysis of the Bible, cast aside the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and came to believe the doctrine of the Trinity was false, that Jesus was not divine, that men and women are not miserable sinners who needed a Savior.

There was indeed a profound difference in theology between the North and the South in antebellum America. The Northern intellectual leadership preached a heretical Social Gospel. The South held on to a robust, traditional, Trinitarian Christianity. The North experimented with a philosophy of ethical culture under the guise of religion.

Antebellum Southerners were well aware of what we today call “secular humanism.” Boldly, they declared it a heresy, a gnostic distortion of Christianity. It is the eclectic summation of a rootless, placeless, individualistic American experiment with utopianism, Unitarianism, Transcendentalism, and Jacobinism. Secular humanism destroys the Christian sense of place. It presupposes that a better world can be achieved without God’s love, mercy and judgment.

The War Between the States and the North’s determination to destroy the Southern homeland as well as her culture during the Reconstruction Era (which is still going on) could not completely eradicate her sense of place. The South was and remains the Bible Belt. Her religious legacy gives all Americans a chance of regaining a Christian sense of place, which is the only guarantee of a stable civilization.”

(A Southern Legacy, The Christian Sense of Place (excerpt), Fr. Alister Anderson, Chronicles Magazine, December 2004, pp. 20-21.


  1. An excellent article. It really gives a concise overview of what's been going on since the various heresies came in vogue in New England. Funny how its the same attack as in Genesis. "Come on, you don't need God. You can become like God. Just do what I say..."

    1. "Come on, you don't need God. You can become like God. Just do what I say..."

      Be good little Collectivists.

  2. I was on some site the other day looking at maps of where 19th century immigrants settled. Almost none settled in the South. That tells me that the South was made up of people who could trace their ancestry to the Revolutionary War or before. Tradition vs neophilia.

    1. That tells me that the South was made up of people who could trace their ancestry to the Revolutionary War or before.

      Good point.