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Friday, August 31, 2007

More Secularist Distortions

This time the opinion on the religious beliefs of Thomas Jefferson:

"The Declaration was written by a man who believed in a very different "creator" than Barton. Remember, Jefferson explicitly condemned the Old Testament God as "cruel, capricious, vindictive and unjust" and rejected the notion that Jesus was divine or part of any trinity."

Just because Jefferson did not believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ doesn't mean he believed in a different Creator, or a "very different" Creator. It is the same Creator, rejecting the second and third person of the Godhead. Jefferson believed in the God of Israel, his error was his perception on the person of Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ is God, is a distinction of God, just as Jefferson not believing The Holy Spirit is not God. The distortion is Ed Brayton portraying Jefferson as worshiping a different God altogether. Unitarians believe they worship the God of Israel. The Creator is the same, of which Jefferson himself declared he was a unitarian:

"But the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, although I know there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear the questions fairly stated."
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, January 8, 1825

"The pure and simple unity of the Creator of the universe, is now all but ascendant in the Eastern States; it is dawning in the West, and advancing towards the South; and I confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the United States."
Thomas Jefferson to to Rev. James Smith, December 8, 1822.

"To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other."
Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803

No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.
Thomas Jefferson in 1803-Hutson (see n. 8) at p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen.

Jefferson, was deceived about Christianity and its essentials. But his unitarian God, like that of John Adams, was Yahweh, the God of Israel:

"I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem."
Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, January 1, 1802

This common Father to Christians is the God of Israel. Where is the evidence Jefferson was a universalist while forming the nation? Where is this evidence at any point in his life?


Hercules Mulligan said...

Good point.

I don't think Jefferson was really a Christian at the time he said "I am a Christian" in the 1803 letter, for his previous writings do reveal, as you said, his misconception of the essentials of Christianity. However, your point is well-made that Jefferson and Adams, and the other Founders did not view all religions as equally valid, as some claim; but they rather saw themselves (some of them incorrectly) as obedient to the God of the Bible.

The Founders believed that no religious creeds should be persecuted for their theology, but that does not mean that the Founders saw all religions as equally valid. Not even George Washington's reference to the "Great Spirit" proves that he saw Christians and Indian pagans as worshiping the same God. IN the Bible, it says that God is spirit, and the Indians called the Creator (although their view of Him was distorted from the truth) the "Great Spirit," so Washington was just referring to God in an Indian manner. If Washington had referred to God in the "white man's" manner, the notion would have been encouraged among the Indians that the Christian God was the god proper only for the white man, and not the red man. Washington, and many of the other Founders did not want to give the Indians this idea. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, during their presidential administrations, encouraged and supported attempts to send Christian missionaries to convert and educate the American Indians.

Thanks for the post.

Our Founding Truth said...

Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, during their presidential administrations, encouraged and supported attempts to send Christian missionaries to convert and educate the American Indians.>>

This is a great point! If they believed we all worshipped the same god, why would they need to witness to them? Teaching them about Jesus' morality is irrelevant because they would be teaching them the essentials of the faith, not just His morality.

Jefferson, Madison, and Adams were seemingly contradictions, I feel somewhat bad about Madison and Adams. I believe they were once saved, but their relationship with the infidel lead them astray.

I was thinking about Madison last weekend, I firmly believe he lost his salvation.

Three years before he died he called Xtianity amoung the "best and purest religions" Apart from the essentials of Christianity, there isn't a microscopic bit of purity in any other religion. Every deviation from orthodox Christianity is deceit.
Since one of the parties to this correspondence was a confirmed unitarian, that may or may not be what he referred to.

As my other blogs show, Madison and Adams were not rationalists while the nation was formed, and I have yet to see quotes from Jefferson indicating the same before he left office in 1808.

James Veverka said...

God of Israel?

I doubt it very much. Very unlikely. He had a deistic concept which in most cases denied religions by revelations as superstitions. Reason and the senses and a God more like Bruno or "Spinoza's God"; Spinoza and Bruno spoke of Nature's God in ways that indicated a deistic/pantheistic viewpoint. After all, pantheism is a belief that raises nature to the highest level of homage possible. Deism is a compromise between Theism and pantheism. It was enlightened and reasonable men's way of publicly not believing in the Christian God and not getting arrested for being an atheist.

Jefferson said to William Short in his letter of October 31, 1819

"But the greatest of all the reformers of the depraved religion of his own country, was Jesus of Nazareth."

With Jefferson, Judaism, the religion of Yahweh was depraved. In the syllabus below the main text of the letter he explains (e.g.) what he means by "the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from artificial systems, e.g. invented by ultra-Christian sects, unauthorized by a single word ever uttered by him".

The text is revealing because it attacks and rejects everything important that Trinitarian Nicene Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic, requires for believers. Anyone who did not pass this religious test was a dangerous heretic that would lose their civil rights or even their life itself.

As "artificial systems", he lists -

"The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, &c."

Before the enlightenment one was imprisoned or executed for such denials.

Adams has also attacked the "Christian revelation" in a similar way: In his letter to F.A. Van der Kamp on Dec. 27, 1816, he makes a very accurate assessment:

"But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed."

See also: Einstein's and Spinoza's God @

In December, 1784, Patrick Henry's 'Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion' was proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates by the religious right of the day. It is no surprise to me that today's religious right loves Patrick Henry quotes. He had a Medieval religious viewpoint and was not a man of the enlightenment. He participated in the first revolution but was against the Constitutional revolution. He wanted to keep the philosophically impoverished and failed European system regarding government and religion; church and state. Religious evangelism thru the state meant more to him than true liberty in the Constitutional revolution. What the religious right doesn't get when they use Patrick Henry and Noah Webster quotes is that being free from England was not the same kind of revolution that the US Constitution was. The Constitution was a major leap in legal philosophy. A "new order for the ages". It changed things on a far deeper level than the change of sovereign independance. The religious right of that day couldn't take that step.

James Madison, supporting Jefferson's religious liberty statute, addressed the Virginia General Assembly on June 20, 1785 with his 'Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments' @ Here are three excerpts:

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. "

"Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious disscord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion. "

"Because the proposed establishment is a departure from the generous policy, which, offering an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised a lustre to our country, and an accession to the number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the Bill of sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an Asylum to the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persecution. It degrades from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority. Distant as it may be in its present form from the Inquisition, it differs from it only in degree. The one is the first step, the other the last in the career of intolerance."

Melancholy mark. A Bill of sudden degeneracy!

So having religious creationism as science, bibles, Christian prayers or commandments in schools are really 'Distant as they may be in their present form from the Inquisition, they differ from it only in degree. They are the first steps, the other the last in the career of intolerance

Jefferson told his nephew Peter Carr to question the existence of God. He said that
IF there is a God, it prizes reason, not blind and fearful faith.

Jefferson believed in the virtous atheist and defended atheism:

Excerpt from letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

"If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that is pleasing to him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God."

Some think both Jefferson and Voltaire were atheists in desit's clothing. We will never know because politicians are very tactical in what they say. Even Hitler 'used Christianity' in his rise of the 1920s and 1930s.

James Veverka said...

Our founding truth said:

"As my other blogs show, Madison and Adams were not rationalists while the nation was formed, and I have yet to see quotes from Jefferson indicating the same before he left office in 1808."

In his 1808 letter to the Virginia Baptists, President Jefferson clearly points out the importance of equal rights of conscience for all and that meant unbelievers, too. He had a rationalist's view and knew that the only reasonable way for a government to be on these sensitive issues was religion-neutral, putting all civil worldviews on equal footing. Madison's Remonstrance speech says the same thing.

Jefferson said:

"Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society."

That is common sense but the religious right of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not interested in reasonable conclusions. They feel compelled to convert all and if they need the state to do it, that is their aim. Its a control freak thing. They just can't stand to have anyone see the world or live differently than them.

Looking at Christian history when the alliance of church and state arose during the 4th - 6th centuries makes this even clearer. Mixing church and state is downright dangerous for civil society, and approaches what a free nation's people should consider evil in many cases. We dont need founder quotes to think reasonably. Founder quotes are not the supreme law of the land: the Constitution. Anyone can find a founder quote for their viewpoint because the founders didnt agree on anything at times. Between some, there was great differences and at time animosity. That is why the Constitution says so many things that go against what some founders said. Philosophicly, "No religious test" goes deeper than just ending the requirement for a specific religious declaration in the oaths of office.

Will Durant, in Vol 6 of his epic "The Story of Civilization" (p 216) on the Reformation says something that enlightened men of Jefferson and Voltaire's times clearly believed regarding 'revealed religions' and rational thinking:

"A supreme and unchallengeable faith is a deadly enemy to the human mind."

The Rise of Church-State alliances: 306-565

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