Letter From American History – October 2011

Keeping the Faith

Any diligent student of American history finds that our great nation was founded by godly men upon godly principles to be a Christian nation,” the Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote in a 1980 book Listen, America! But he might have quarreled with the variety of Christianity practiced by at least one of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. Falwell, a Baptist fundamentalist, believed that the Bible was literally the word of God. Jefferson twice edited the Bible, taking a knife and cutting out the parts he felt were “superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.” As Peter Carlson points out in our cover story, “The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson,” Jefferson’s religious views, the product of lifelong Bible study and contemplation, were eccentric and personal, and conformed to no church’s doctrine. Today, historians still debate the meaning of “Jefferson’s Bible,” but they agree that his most heartfelt religious belief was that there should be a separation of church and state. Ironically, that belief made Jefferson a hero to the Virginia Baptists of his day—Falwell’s theological forefathers—who resented that their tax money was used to support the state’s officially sanctioned Anglican Church.

3 Responses

  1. Mark Hines

    In the October 2011 issue of American History magazine , Peter Carlson notes that Thomas Jefferson’s religious views were “complex.” He notes this, evidently, as a way of avoiding being honest about Jefferson and avoiding being competent about religion. Carlson shares a lot with R. Stephen Humphreys. In the vol. 16 no. 3 2011 issue of Skeptic, there is an interview with R. Stephen Humphreys, Professor of History and Islamic studies at the University of Callifornia at Santa Barbara. Whenever the Skeptic interviewer presents Hmphreys with Qu’ran verses telling muslims to kill unbelievers ( and there are about half a dozen such verses), Humphreys dodges the question with some variation of the “it’s more complicated than that” argument, or he lies and paints Islam as a peaceful religion. In my opinion, Humphreys is a shoddy historian and a coward, on level with Carlson.

    To Carlson, I would ask, “Do you think that Thomas Jefferson is consigned to hell forever? Can one completely reject the fundamentals of Christianity, as Jefferson does, and avoid hell? From a scientific, logical, rational, competent, educated, sane point of view, one has to answer, “Of course not!”

    By the way, I notice that you have an upcoming article in American History on Jevoah’s Witnesses, who do not believe in the Holy Trinity. Did you know that there is solid math evidence for the Holy Trinity? See http://www.palmoni.net/gematria.htm

    If your magazine were anything but incompetent and cowardly drivel, you would include this evidence. The reason math evidence is solid is that there are formal proofs for math. Only somebody who is in denial or mentally ill will try to dismiss math evidence.

    Mark Hines

    • Joseph

      Very harsh words Mark, but that’s the point of America, is it not? Jefferson is free to choose a pathway which very well may lead him to hell. But its his choice and his freedom. He was free to say to the bickering denominations of his era, “You think and believe your way, and I will think and believe my way.”

      This is what America is all about – freedom of conscience and voice. We are not a religious theocracy, like Iran, even though it is true we have a strong Christian heritage, of which I am personally glad. But Christians aren’t to use their freedom as a platform to brow beat everyone who doesn’t believe, or disagrees with them; but rather to use cogent arguments, knowledge, and grace to lead others to Christ, to defend scriptural teachings by practice and wisdom.

      Why is this magazine incompetent and cowardly drivel? Because they are not jumping through your hoops? Because they are allowing a diversity of views and opinions? Allowing you the freedom to express your drivel?

  2. Nicole

    It is unique and wonderful that our Christian heritage is the bedrock of western freedom to believe or disbelieve. However, that doesn’t mean that the scriptures are only true for those who believe. Truth is true wether you believe it or not. This truth–that there is a God and it is the triune God found in the Bible– is prophetically, logically, historically and mathematically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Grasping this truth is so important that your eternal destiny depends on it. God didn’t create hell for people, he created it for the devil and his angels. People go to hell for willfully choosing to reject God and his truth.


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