Whaaa…?

May 21, 2006 — 21 Comments

America not a Christian nation. What’s your response?

Update: Reader David Macmillan sent in a letter to the editor. How about doing the same?

Tim Sweetman

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Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

21 responses to Whaaa…?

  1. My response? Amused. Sad, but very amused.

    The only accurate statement in this letter to the editor of the Daily Record was the opening sentence:

    A recent letter claimed that the United States was founded on Christian thought.

    It pains me to see someone who thinks that they are so intelligent and yet have no grasp of historical fact.

    I think I am going to be writing a response to that letter right now. If they publish it I will link to it from In Rejection of Mediocrity.

    In Him,

    David S. MacMillan III

  2. Wow…
    Well, either all the history we’ve ever learned was a lie, or somebody needs to go back and read some history textbooks. I’m inclined to believe the latter. Where did he pull the claim that several of the founding fathers had no personal God? He can’t possibly back that up.

  3. The writer had one quarter-truth… that the founders were influenced by Inlightenment thought. To a *small* degree some of them were, although they were primary and largely guided by a thoroughly Christian worldview.

    The writer scores a major error in this sentence: “The founders wanted government to leave religions alone and equally wanted religions to leave government alone.” The first amendment and the founders’ writings make it abundantly clear that that there was to be a one-way wall of separation, preventing the government from officially instituting a state religion. Religion was to be free to exert whatever influence on the government.

    That’s my two bits. The writer was coming from a different ideological planet, so it is hard to know where to start. :)

  4. The author of this tidbit of “historical misrepresentation” is Jeffrey Huppert. A google search reveals that Jeffrey Huppert could be the EDUCATION Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club. You could drop him a note personally to find out his reference and expertise for such a claim.

    I guess the Declaration of Independence should be “clarified”:

    …the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Mother Earth and of Nature’s God (Mother Earth) entitle them…

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men have evolved equally, that they are endowed by Mother Earth with certain unalienable Rights…

    And Washington’s 108th Rule of Civility:

    108 ~ When you speak of Mother Nature or her Attributes, let it be seriously; reverence, honor and obey your natural parents although they be poor.

  5. Where to start? This is almost humorous, and it would if not for how horribly sad that the poor man is so misguided.

    He obvious does not realize that the Consitution was built on the Declaration of Indepence, which references multiple times a Creator God!

  6. “English ‘common law’ predated Christianity in Britain” — I’d like to see the sources on this. Christianity in Britain dates to the third century, and I doubt that common law is older than that.

    Franklin and Jefferson didn’t believe in a personal God that was active in the world, true — but there are plenty of scholars who believe the evidence shows that Washington did.

    The letter writer sounds like the kind of person who is used to making bombastic statements and not having them questioned.

  7. Warren,

    Good point about the common law.

    However, I must disagree with another of your statements. At the Constitutional Convention, as the plans for the nation were going awry, Franklin stood up and said, “Gentlemen wait. We should consult Almighty God for help in this matter. If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?” [paraphrased]

    You may have noticed that it is and has been a common practice for deists and atheists who subscribe to Jesus’ doctrines but deny His Godhood to refer to Him as “Jesus bar-Joseph” or “Jesus of Nazareth”. No deist would ever refer to Him as “Jesus Christ”, for this would imply that He was the Messiah. In a letter to an aquaintance, Thomas Jefferson boldly stated, “I am a real Christian; that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Christ.” Although many feel that Jefferson’s views of Jesus were unorthodox, he nevertheless was a firm believer in Jehovah as Almighty God.

    Just making a little correction. . . .

    David Barton’s Ministry is an excellent resource on this type of debate.

    In Him,

    David S. MacMillan III

  8. Hey, Tim–I’m doing a blog roundup on bloggers going to TeenPact National Convention. Just thought you might like to know…

  9. I just found a very interesting site –
    http://www.sunnetworks.net/~ggarman/

    Go check out the book he wrote called America’s Real Religion, which can be d/loaded as a pdf file. Very enlightening as to what our forefathers thought – lots of excerpts from various documents/papers.

  10. _At the Constitutional Convention, as the plans for the nation were going awry, Franklin stood up and said, “Gentlemen wait. We should consult Almighty God for help in this matter. If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?” [paraphrased]_

    Franklin’s request for prayer was rejected. Franklin himself said: “The Convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary.”

    _In a letter to an aquaintance, Thomas Jefferson boldly stated, “I am a real Christian; that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Christ.” Although many feel that Jefferson’s views of Jesus were unorthodox, he nevertheless was a firm believer in Jehovah as Almighty God._

    Jefferson once took a copy of the New Testament and deleted all sections containing supernatural aspects, including miracles and references to the trinity and the divinity of Jesus. Today his version of the New Testament is known as “the Jefferson Bible.” Jefferson showed it to friends but never published it during his lifetime–it was later published in 1903.

  11. Nope, he’s waaaay out there. All you have to do is read the thousands of quotations from our founding fathers, and you’ll see they wanted to found a CHRISTIAN nation, and they did, at first…

    It’s only been our own negligence to the things of God that has made people think that way now. God help us to remember where we came from so we as Christians can look forward to where we’re going!

  12. America may have been founded on Christian principles, but it is quite clearly not a Christian nation any longer, if it ever was. While many founding fathers acknowledged the existence of God, they certainly were not all Christians as we would define them. That said, when military chaplains are not allowed to pray in Jesus name, we know our country has whole-heartedly rejected God.

  13. Derek,

    Franklin’s request for prayer was rejected. Franklin himself said: “The Convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary.”

    The fact was that this particular motion for prayer would have required an “official” prayer that would involve professional clergy – and at the time the Convention had no funds. Earlier, however, one of Franklin’s similar motions was met with extreme approval on all sides … why don’t you take a look at the source documents?

    Jefferson once took a copy of the New Testament and deleted all sections containing supernatural aspects, including miracles and references to the trinity and the divinity of Jesus. Today his version of the New Testament is known as “the Jefferson Bible.” Jefferson showed it to friends but never published it during his lifetime–it was later published in 1903.

    Jefferson himself said that this so-called “Jefferson Bible” was never intended to be looked upon as an actual rendition of the Scriptures. Rather, he said that it was intended to be a primer to introduce the pagan Indian tribes to the moral example of Jesus Christ. Again, feel free to take a look at the source documents rather than quoting hearsay.

    I am pretty sure that my letter to the editor of the Daily Record will be published soon. The title is “Get Your Facts Straight!”

    I am not trying to pummel you, Derek; I am just exposing a few myths here.

    In Him,

    David S. MacMillan III

  14. Not that this is important, but the sites you gave me weren’t really “source documents.” But I digress.

    Can you provide a quote from Jefferson showing that he “intended [the Jefferson Bible] be a primer to introduce the pagan Indian tribes to the moral example of Jesus Christ”? You link to wallbuilders, but they simply restate the claim with no references or sources whatsoever.

    How do you explain a letter Jefferson wrote to a friend in which he described his process of editing the New Testament as “arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill”?

    And in the same letter, Jefferson wrote: “We must reduce our volume to the simple Evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphiboligisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves.” (http://www.ffrf.org/day/?day=13&month=4,http://www.answers.com/topic/jefferson-bible, http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=6040) It certainly sounds like Jefferson held a high view of the New Testament, doesn’t it?

    And from the Monticello: Home of Thomas Jefferson website: “In 1819 Jefferson began isolating the passages from the Bible which he believed to be the authentic words and teachings of Jesus.” (This is from a page selling a version of the book).

    Other quotes from Jefferson: “I made, for my own satisfaction, an extract from the Evangelists of the text of His morals, selecting those only whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his own…. It was too hastily done, however, being the work of one or two evenings only, while I lived at Washington, overwhelmed with other business, and it is my intention to go over it again at more leisure. This shall be the work of the ensuing winter.14″ (http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=6040)

    A description of some of the Jefferson Bible:

    “In accordance with his plan to give extracts from the life and morals of Jesus, Jefferson simply eliminated everything in the Gospels which involves what are technically called strict mysteries, as well as all comments of the Evangelists on the doctrines of Christ. Thus every reference to the Divinity of Christ, Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Primacy is omitted. For this reason also the fourth Gospel is practically ignored. Not a single miracle of Christ is listed; so much so that where a moral precept occurs in a miraculous context, the precept will be cut out of its setting, verses skipped if necessary, in order to avoid quoting a miraculous event. To illustrate this prejudice against miracles, we may examine what Jefferson does when he quotes the long instruction of Christ regarding divorce, recorded in the first Gospel. Verses 1 to 3 of chapter 19 in Matthew, which begin the instruction, read as follows in the full text:

    And it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan.

    And great multitudes followed him, and he cured them there.

    The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?19

    Jefferson quotes these verses in sequence, and beyond them to verse 26 inclusive. Yet out of all these twenty-six verses, he cut out of the printed English text just five words, italicized above in verse 2, namely, “. . . and he cured them there.”20 In the Greek, the words excised with a knife and a blank left are . . . Kai etherapemsen autos ekei, with corresponding blanks also in the Latin and French versions.

    The same sort of excision is found throughout the collection, not only with regard to the miracles of Christ but in every case where reference is made to the supernatural life or to supernatural means of sanctification. To take only one example each from the other three Gospels, St. Mark in the first chapter, verse 4, relates that: “John did baptize in the wilderness and preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Jefferson carefully cut out the italicized portion.21 St. Luke in the second chapter describes the return of Jesus from Jerusalem to Nazareth at the age of twelve, saying, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; and his mother kept all these things carefully in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace before God and men.” Again the italicized phrases are deleted.22 In the Gospel according to St. John, the Evangelist begins the narrative of the Last Supper with the words: “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come forth from God and was going to God, he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself.” The whole center portion of the narrative is excised.23

    (http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=6040)

    I don’t have time to go indepth on Franklin and prayer, since I’m already involved in something about Joe McCarthy at the wilted rose, and two discussions I’m lagging behind in at Virtue Magazine. Suffice to say, I am not the one spreading myths here. Perhaps I’ll write a future article about this for Virtue.

  15. I left a comment that was really long . . . not sure if it’s awaiting moderation or if it was too long to be published or something.

  16. Yes sir, sorry about that. Any comment with more than 2 links has to be moderated (I know, I hate that too…I’ll see if I can lift the ban soon.)

  17. Either way, I’m going to be doing an article on the Jefferson Bible for next week’s issue of Virtue Mag, and perhaps another one later on Franklin, congress and prayer. Blogs aren’t really the greatest places for providing detailed evidence and rebuttals.

  18. Thanks for the update Tim, I appreciate it!

  19. One quick note…this guy claims that the constitution has no religion mentioned in it, this shows that the guy hasn’t even taken the time to read the thing through.

    In Article VII. line II the text reads:

    “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven…”

    In the year of our what? Say it with me now. In the year of our LORD.

    Pfft, liberals.

  20. Did my last comment not go through?

  21. Derek,

    Not that this is important, but the sites you gave me weren’t really “source documents.”

    What I meant by that is that Wallbuilders has the largest collection of source documents relating to the Founding Fathers aside from some museum in DC. And you can generally find the direct quotes from that on their website – which is why I pointed you there.

    Can you provide a quote from Jefferson showing that he “intended [the Jefferson Bible] be a primer to introduce the pagan Indian tribes to the moral example of Jesus Christ”? You link to wallbuilders, but they simply restate the claim with no references or sources whatsoever.

    I was unable to find the citation for that particular quote; however you can see a somewhat lengthened version of what I linked to before here with several citations in and around the text relating to Jefferson.

    How do you explain a letter Jefferson wrote to a friend in which he described his process of editing the New Testament as “arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill”?

    Jefferson believed, as did Franklin, that the Scriptures as they existed at his time had been corrupted. This is well-documented. However, this in no wise meant that “Jefferson did not believe in a personal God” (as claimed in the Letter to the Editor that we are arguing about); in the case at point Jefferson was simply isolating the teachings of Christ that he believed were absolutely authentic. Considering that he held the heretical view that Scripture was corrupt, his authorship of The Life and Morals of Jesus Christ is perfectly understandable.

    I don’t have time to go indepth on Franklin and prayer, since I’m already involved in something about Joe McCarthy at the wilted rose, and two discussions I’m lagging behind in at Virtue Magazine. Suffice to say, I am not the one spreading myths here. Perhaps I’ll write a future article about this for Virtue.

    It is not my intention to become embroiled in an argument; rather I simply wish to point out that, in fact, there is only one accurate statement in the letter to the editor that we are discussing. Just don’t tell people that Jefferson was a deist or that he didn’t believe in a personal God. . . .

    In Him,

    David S. MacMillan III

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