In seminary I was a defender of Cromwell and the idea of a specifically Christian republic. In the past five years I backed off that idea. Cromwell is best seen as a good idea gone horribly wrong. He is to be credited with recognizing Roman Catholicism as a political power and doing his best in England to negate it. Still, as a Presbyterian and a descendant of Scottish Presbyterianism, it’s hard for me to like him. It is easy to demonize Cromwell. I won’t do that. I will just lay out the facts as best I can. Pros and Cons.
- In a strange sense, despite his invasion of Presbyterian Scotland, Cromwell shared the same view as the “Protesters” vis-a-vis Charles Stuart II. Cromwell, like Rutherford, saw Charles Stuart II as a degenerate who would butcher Protestants if given the chance. We can say that his invasion of Scotland was wrong, but we cannot deny Cromwell was prescient on this matter.
- It has since come to light that Charles I hired an Army of Irish pagans to butcher Protestants in England. On this point anyway, Cromwell was entirely in the right to resist him.
- Romanists and Royalists on Facebook like to bitch about how evil Cromwell is and how good it would have been to be a Royalist cavalier. Okay. Explain why Cromwell’s New Model Army kicked your ass every time. Cromwell was a military genius.
- Despite his heavy-handed measures, even some Covenanters admit that Scotland had more peace (if also more austerity) under Cromwell.
- Cromwell has been demonized for his Irish invasion. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for the Irish when they had previously slaughtered between 50,000 to 200,000 Protestants, thus calling for a response by Cromwell. A recent book by an Irish Catholic, Cromwell, Honorable Enemy, vindicates Cromwell on this point.
- It’s hard to justify king-killing. Resistance to the king? Absolutely. Killing him? That’s an awful burden of proof.
- His religious toleration suffered the same problems as all pluralistic governments.
- His policy towards the Jew opened England back to Usury.