Colonials vs Native Americans, Round 1

“The English policy toward the Indians becomes shocking only when we recognize what it really meant.”  David Bercot

Sir George Peckham, in The Advantages of Colonization says that there are only two conditions in which it would be lawful for Christians to take land from ‘savages’:  “The First is when Christians, by the good feelings and willing assent of the savages to have quiet possession.  The second is when Christians are unjustly repulsed, and they seek to attain and maintain the right for which they come.”

Bercot comments:  “That, of course, is nothing more than a clever way of saying that it’s always right for English Christians to establish settlements among “savages.”  After all, what other situations could there be than the two that Peckham described?  Either the native people would voluntarily allow the English to plant settlements in their lands, or the native people wouldn’t allow the English to plant settlements and would try to repulse them.”

Puritan minister John Cotton said pretty much the same thing as Peckham:  “no nation is to drive out another without special commission from Heaven, such as the Israelites had, unless the natives do unjustly wrong them, and will not recompense the wrongs done in a peaceable way.  And then they may right themselves by lawful war and subdue the country unto themselves.”

Bercot:  The English policy toward the Indians becomes shocking only when we recognize what it really meant.  The English Christians were saying that they had the right to come to America and settle on any land they chose that appeared to be “vacant.” The native inhabitants would, of course, object to this and attack them.  Once the natives did this, the English had the right to annihilate the natives in retaliation.  That’s what the English Christians were saying, but couching it in innocent language.”

God:  Thou shalt not steal.  Turn the other cheek . Love your enemies


9 thoughts on “Colonials vs Native Americans, Round 1

  1. Allan

    This is a recurring theme in your posts. I still struggle to understand the point – we know that WASPS took this land hundreds of years ago and yet it doesn’t change the fact that our Constitution is a system that is more fair (taking into account human nature) than anything else out there. I’m all for a Theocratic Monarchy…the one God picks, which isn’t going to happen so, therefore, I support the fairest system I see. Everyone in the scriptures did sinful and immoral things (we’re all sinners) to reach the point where they did something Godly and noteworthy enough to be mentioned in the scriptures – some of those acts were recorded, most weren’t. Consider the example of Paul. My point is that, just as in the Micro (individual peoples’ lives) the past doesn’t matter when you decide to do better in the future, the Macro (civilizations) can be judged the same way – the past is the past so if this country did things it shouldn’t have done, it doesn’t necessarily change the nature of the Constitution, our laws, our current economic system, etc. The U.S. Constitution is, by comparison, one of the fairest systems of government ever devised (note that I didn’t call it comprehensively “fair” or “Godly”) by humans so what does taking land from “natives” (who weren’t the first ones here) have to do with anything. IF I am from ancestors who “stole” from thieves, our system of Government still is what it is – either more or less Godly than other known systems of Government. I am genuinely curious about this. How is this applicable to our Christian lives?

  2. I know this is a sensitive subject, but the reason the book was written and why I am sharing it, is that some look at history through rose-colored glasses and propagate things that aren’t true. It’s a matter have having an accurate view of the situations instead of assuming they they were all godly, men and women and that God was okay with theirs sins because of the “good” (material) that come from it.
    I understand many being sensitive, but it’s not an all out attack on America. neither the author nor I hate america. just not willing to go along with the mythology for the sake of peace.

  3. Allan

    I honestly don’t know that it’s a sensitive subject since I’ve never heard anyone take offense when reminded of points like the ones you quoted. Maybe i’m just wrongly assuming you’re making a religious point since you included a quote from God in the post.

    Are you saying that there are Christians making the case that everything that happened in American history was Godly or that taking land from the “natives” (who got there by stealing and violence) was OK because the colonials were somehow better? Are there Christians making the case that this country has been Godly from the English colonization but has been falling from that condition ever since? In other words, are there Christians who are using the English colonization of this continent as the standard by which to measure the current Godliness of our nation?

    I didn’t know if this was a new trend that Christians were battling or what the case was.

  4. I have heard plenty of Golden Age, Christian Nation stuff that all goes back to our colonists and founding fathers. and usually when these ugly parts of our history are brought up, people assume an America-Hating, God-hating agenda.

  5. Allan

    Do you think it should be or that we should work toward it? What do you think would be the criteria by which it could be considered a “Christian Nation?”

  6. I believe the only Christian Nation that can and will be is the church. Dan Cathy said it well, that Chick Fil A was not a “Christian business” because Jesus didn’t die for a company but for people. The Bible itself says that the way of Christ is the narrow one that most people don’t want to take. I am not expecting one. A nation full of godly people will happen if and when a LOT of people are completely committed to Christ as his disciples, and that’s a lot different than believing in God or being a church goer.

  7. Allan

    I think that would be like me saying my home isn’t a Christian home. It is because the rules of the home, the activities, the leadership, the focus, etc. is on Christ. Jesus didn’t die for my home but my “home” is made up of people who happen to be Christian. A nation is just a group of people (for whom Christ died). I don’t expect it, either but sometimes I wonder if we should be striving for it. I wonder if there’s a line and where/when it’s to be drawn.

  8. Allan

    I didn’t proofread that post and I wrote it in a hurry…I meant to say that the nature of my household makes my home Christian.

  9. understood that. and I do believe we should try to make our nation as Christian as possibly, I just dont believe that politicians and legislation are helping one bit. Jesus gave us the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, prayer, Eph 6 stuff. that’s how we change our communities. God already tried the theocracy, it served its purpose. laws are good, but not the answer

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