Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Of Statesmen, Scholars, Soldiers and Spark Plugs

Samuel Rutherford. Edmund Burke. George Washington. John Adams.

Each of the above contributed in a unique way to the Founding of the American Republic. Each was unique --a type. Rutherford laid the intellectual foundations for "a republic of laws and not of men." Burke modeled statesmenship --a principled conservatism that argued (contra Lord North, and the idiot king George III) for the rights of free Englishmen, wherever they happened to reside. Adams, by sheer force of intellect, will and obnoxiousness, goaded a recalcitrant Continental Congress towards Independence (if you haven't seen William Daniels in 1776, or the excellent HBO biopic on Adams, or read McCullough, you simply must!)

Each of these represents a type --not without some overlap to be sure. Scholar. Statesman. Soldier. Spark-plug (or firebrand, but it didn't start with S). One can think of other colonial figures who would fit these categories: Henry the firebrand, etc. Often, this bred intense dislike and rivalry between these men (Jefferson and Henry, Jefferson and Adams, Hamilton and Adams) etc etc.

Which leads me to the church. God gives us all sorts of types. Paul was different from Peter was different from Apollos, and on and on. And, thus, life is often difficult.

In the current REformed milieu, we have all these types, given to us by God. And, it makes us somewhat tense. I would put myself more in the spark plug category, incidentally.

The statesmen wonder what the spark plugs are all worked up about this week, and why everything is such a big deal, and needs to be dealt with immediately.

The spark plugs think the statesmen are far to moderate and accommodating of sin and error, and far too captive to the culture.

Both spark plug and statesmen think the scholars are too detached from the reality of life in the war.

And the scholars think the spark plugs are overly simplistic and incautious, and the statesmen are overly simplistic, and too cautious.

Meanwhile, the soldiers keep their heads low, march where they are ordered, plead for more troops for the battle, for better rations and uniforms, for more armaments, and are fighting the war. They are inspired by the statesmen and spark plugs, and fed by the scholars.



  1. Um, I'm a spark plug and usually I get glazed over stares from people who want to tell me to get a life. Loved 1776, George Washington was fascinating. I love how personal writings from that time period always referred to the Lord as Providence. It really emphasized His sovereignity. I feel we have lost that concept in this generation.


  2. Cheryl,

    You're a spark plug? Really? Hadn't noticed that! :-)

    Good points.

  3. The Lord knew what he was doing. I'm female and don't have a pulpit. Praise God!


  4. Like Frank Costanza of Seinfeld fame, "I've got a lot of problems with you people and now you're going to hear about it!"

  5. I think I'm somewhere in between. I used to be more of a sparkplug but I find myself chewing things over more now, doing more research, reading a few more books before I put myself out there. It seems that both extremes need the other for balance. Isn't there a *sissy* category for those who kind of just hide in the corner? I'm that sometimes too...