Calvinism and Corporatism

I had always been of the opinion that Puritanism was something that had no lasting effect on America; something strange that didn’t effect mainline America. But professor Guelzo has changed my mind. He is just the kind of thinker I like – but not the kind most Americans like. He is no longer offered by the Teaching Company. I was lucky to grab him and download his good stuff, before he got silenced.

In his course outline he speaks of:

Two souls in the American consciousness, one the product of Puritan religion and the
other the product of America’s embrace of the Enlightenment.

He then goes on to describe what Puritanism was, which was largely Calvinism with some fine tuning. Calvinism has five fundamental points known by the acronym TULIP:

Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistible grace
Perseverance of the saints

Here again, you may be wondering what this has to do with us – with contemporary America. In my opinion, it has a lot to do with the American experience – particularly the corporate experience – which is, for all practical purposes, America itself.

Consider the first: Total Depravity. Beneath the surface of its mandatory optimism this is one of corporation’s key beliefs.  People in their natural, depraved state must be transformed into material suitable for inclusion in the corporate state of grace. This is what the schools are for – and also television, the ultimate teaching tool.

The other points fall right into line too – see the excellent article in Wikipedia for this.

I was even surprised to find its effect on Mormonism, the faith of my family-of-origin – which I had always dismissed as merely one of the oddball movements in American history. They call themselves Latter-Day Saints, which always seemed odd to me. But this is standard Calvinistic terminology:

The word “saints” is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holycanonized, or in heaven.

And to return to the corporate setting, Perseverance of the Saints means that the we must continue to consider the corporation divine – no matter what. It has become our new religion.