The Jefferson Lies

Jefferson bible

Jefferson bible (Photo credit: naypinya)

Thomas Jefferson has been upheld as a leading founding father who was liberal and secular, advocated the strict separation of church and state, questioned the Bible, wrote his own version of the Bible, slept with his slave and fathered illegitimate children. David Barton’s new book The Jefferson Lies brings these reports about Jefferson to the table and examines them in light of Jefferson’s own writings and historical evidence. The results are eye-opening. I would like to share a brief description of these here in my blog if you would like a more detailed description I recommend purchasing the book The Jefferson Lies. You can also catch Barton’s discussion of his new book on WallBuilders Live! from the second week of May (2012).

I remember I was a teenager at church camp the first time I heard that Thomas Jefferson had created his own version of the Bible by cutting out certain parts of Scripture. This has been a little gnawing factoid in the back of my mind for three decades. Are these reports true? What did he cut out? How can Jefferson be a Christian or even have a respect for the Bible if he would cut out part of the Scripture? This kind of concern has put Jefferson in the place of the most secular founding father. But let’s look at the facts.

Jefferson created two works which are both referred to as “the Jefferson Bible”, one in 1804, the other in 1820. The first work in 1804 Jefferson created in response to a suggestion from a missionary that said in order to evangelize the Native American tribes a short work embodying the key teachings of the Gospel should be assembled. This work would be much more likely to be read by someone who is interested in the Christian faith but not ready to work their way through a 2 1/2 inch thick book. Jefferson took two copies of the Bible and went through the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and cut and pasted together a chronological version of Jesus’ life. He took the accounts from all four Gospels and put them in timeline order and eliminated accounts that were told more than once by the different gospel narratives. Jefferson called this work An Abridgment of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. He did not call it the Jefferson Bible. He created it solely as a tool for sharing Christian teachings with Native American tribes. While some Christians might object to abridging the Scriptures, we cannot say that this was an act of offense against scriptural teaching. Rather it affirms that Jefferson believed the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to be worthy of spreading in teaching to others. This can also be supported by the fact that Jefferson on a number of occasions contributed money toward Bible societies: groups whose purpose and mission was to distribute copies of the Bible, the full Bible.
The 1820 work of Thomas Jefferson often referred to as the Jefferson Bible is actually the more common of the two. This collection of passages from the Bible distills the moral teachings of Jesus Christ into one short work that Jefferson put together based on his belief that of all the moral teachings through the centuries, the morals of Jesus Christ where the highest, best, and most likely to bring about a peaceful and prosperous society when properly adhered to. If only we would learn this lesson today.
All told, this way of treating the Bible is quite a bit different than what I was led to believe about Jefferson. I’m still inclined to believe that he was one of the more secular founding fathers. However, he seems to have had a great deal more respect for scripture than many Christians do today.
I’ll try to follow up on some of the other points about Jefferson in later posts. In regard to the Jefferson “Bible”: When did you first hear about it/them and what effect did it have on your opinion of Thomas Jefferson?
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America’s First War on Terror 1784-1816

Advancing Against Al Qaeda

Advancing Against Al Qaeda (Photo credit: Third Way)

CBS aired a clip of  Warren Weinstein sharing the demands of his captors in exchange for his life at the hands of his radical Muslim captors. My heart goes out to him and his family.

The tactic to hold Americans hostage in order to influence our country is not new on the scene in our current war on terror. This is not something that Al Qaeda has suddenly come up with to try to even the playing field with the Big Bad American Superpower invading their country.

Over two hundred years ago, radical Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coast (North Africa) regularly captured American ships at sea and then held their passengers and crew hostage for ransom paid by the American government or private American citizens. With George Washington and James Madison, our first and second presidents, a large percentage (growing up to 16%) of the federal budget went toward paying these ransoms. At that time we were helpless because we had no navy and at first no standing army. Navies and effective fighting forces are not built overnight. Until they were ready, our only option was diplomacy and payment.

Thomas Jefferson was one of those early diplomats. He was told quite simply that these Muslims felt it was their religious duty to capture and kill Christians. He obtained a Koran so he could, in the words of Chinese general Sun Tzu “Know thy enemy.” (Incidentally, this is the original reason Jefferson obtained the Koran… not because of a religious interest in the text as is popularly portrayed in the media today. It was because he was in negotiations and later at war with Muslim terrorists.) When the Navy was finally ready to sail in Jefferson’s presidency he immediately ordered the Marines to take the war to the Muslim terrorists. And commenced 10 years of fighting on the ground before a peaceful negotiation was reached. That military action bought us a 150 year peace.

The fact is that we must press in and finish our war leaving no doubt in the radical Muslim mind that they do not want to attack America anymore. If we show a lack of resolve, we will buy more terrorist attacks.

If you’d like to learn more about America’s first War on Terror, I recommend the WallBuilders presentation on the subject.

Bible Helps with Achievement?

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent article on the World on Campus website discussed how students with a personal faith have a tendency to have higher levels of achievement.  Please click the link and check out the article for yourself. I include a few tidbits here.

William Jeynes did a meta analysis of over 1000 studies to discover that for both African-American and Hispanic students having a strong personal faith actually closed the achievement gap with white students. Another key component that indicated achievement was when minority students were raised in traditional two parent homes.

When schools downplay the importance of scripture and scriptural principles, it creates conflicts for students from church-going backgrounds. These conflicts likely make it harder for students to develop the kind of strong internal faith that the study found influences higher achievement.

Excluding religion from the classroom has been the enforced norm since the early ’60s here in America. Since that time our test scores have steadily decreased. Turning back the clock on this would be difficult for many to even imagine let alone put into practice. But some people have already begun to bring the Bible in the classroom to study as literature and history which I blogged about back in January.

Do you think including Bible lessons in our public schools would improve our educational program?

Power Grab or Stop Special Interest Money?

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the ...

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the act on July 5, 1935. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins (right) looks on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year Mark Mix gave a talk at the Pro Family Legislators conference on compulsory unionism which I have found very informative. I’ve blogged about it before.

In 1935 the Wagner Act forced all workers in America to be in unions whether they liked it or not. Mr. Mix talked about Samuel Gompers who was an early union organizer who advocated for volunteerism as opposed to compulsory union membership. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which united, is invincible.” His reasoning was that unions would be more cohesive and stronger if they were voluntary groups. Unfortunately, Other union leaders did not agree. In 1935, at any rate, the Wagner Act made compulsory unionism the law of the land. This was and is in opposition to our 1st amendment freedom of association. In other words, if we have the freedom to choose with whom we will associate, don’t we have the converse right to choose with whom we will not associate?

Unions quickly gained an enormous amount of power. For instance, the Mineworkers Union basically shut down the war effort soon after by refusing to mine coal until their demands were met. Congress amended the Wagner Act with the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. Among other things the act made it so states could enact ‘right to work’ laws. Since that time 22 states have opted for ‘right to work’ legislation. ‘Right to Work’ basically means no one can be compelled to join a union nor be compelled not to join a union. In other words, the only unions in ‘right to work’ states would be voluntary unions. Just like Gompers ennvisioned. Today our most prosperous states are those right to work states. The industries in heavily unionized states have crumbled or are crumbling under the overburden of union demands.

I for one am in favor of voluntary unionism. I am a member of a voluntary teacher association. I am also a member of the compulsory teachers union CTA.

There is legislation afoot that would allow teachers the choice of whether they want their union dues to be automatically deducted from their check as they are currently. I think this legislation has merit. Unions are calling it “The Corporate Power Grab Initiative“. The other side is calling it the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act“. They have very different stories to tell about what the act does and does not do. One point of disagreement is on who gives more to politicians. CTA claims that corporations out give unions 15 to 1. But I was recently told by a CTA officer that CTA is the most powerful voice in Sacramento… Here is a site that tracks giving to politicians.

The Stop Special Interest Money Now Act may be the right act for giving freedom back to workers in California and eliminating the overbearing liberal voice of union officials in our state legislature. I invite you to read the text of the act for yourself and enter the discussion by making a comment here. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this proposed law.

Chuck Colson (1931-2012)

great book

Chuck Colson’s Autobiographical testimony (Photo credit: son.delorian)

Chuck Colson passed away this weekend. He will be missed as a conservative Christian voice. Perhaps because of his time on the inside and living the first half of his life without God, Chuck seemed to be able to find positions on issues that dealt with both the justice and compassion parts of the Gospel. Thankfully Chuck invested time in passing the leadership torch to the next generation. John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxas are currently standing in on his Breakpoint broadcast which I’ve listened to for years. I hope they continue to bring valuable analysis of current events from a Christian worldview.

Colson Center

Manhattan Declaration

The Point Radio with John Stonestreet

Eric Metaxas: Author

Monumental

National Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth...

National Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We just finished watching the movie Monumental on a preview screening night and really enjoyed it. Kirk Cameron did a superb job of walking us through an engaging history lesson of the Pilgrims rise, persecution, and departure from England in 1600s. He traces the journey from their secret meeting places, to the prisons where King James held them after their first escape attempt, to their haven in Holland. He follows their path finally on to the American continent. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, Cameron and his guide explain the rich symbolism set in granite in the National Monument to the Forefathers (pictured) that was erected in 1889 honoring the Pilgrims. Their winning strategy for building a society revolves around starting with faith, then morality, law, education, and finally liberty. We enjoyed the movie and recommend seeing it.

This movie will be received differently by different audiences depending on where they stand on the continuum of liberal to conservative. For instance, if they are pretty aware of the evidence for the religious background of the pilgrims and their foundation in biblical principles and agree with those principles they will probably be encouraged and enjoy this movie. If they have those same leanings of principle but were unaware of the evidence and history surrounding the Pilgrims coming to America, they will probably feel encouraged and somewhat incredulous. They may need to find some more answers to these questions. I recommend the book Original Intent for people in this category. If they find themselves more in agreement with the revisionist misinformation of the last 100+ years they will probably feel either uncomfortable or downright angry about the information portrayed in this movie. Monumental attempts to circumvent a lot of the liberal misinformation that has been brought forth in the last 50 – 100 years in America.

Our Godless Constitution?

Constitution of the United States of America (...

Constitution of the United States of America (page 2) (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

Is the Constitution of the United States a godless document? This idea stems from modernism. Modernism is the belief that the way things are now is the way they have always been. Fortunately that is simply fallacious thinking. Here are a few reasons that show the Founders did not write a godless Constitution.

First of all, the Constitution is not our original founding document. It is based on the Declaration of Independence, which clearly acknowledges God. What is the evidence we can use to see that the Declaration of Independence is our original founding document? Besides its historical significance in breaking our ties with the British monarchy, there are 27 grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence as the reasons we were making that break. Each of those grievances are dealt with and resolved by various clauses in the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution explained that there was a problem/solution relationship between the two.

Here is an example:

Declaration:  “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

Constitution:  “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.”

The problem (listed fourth in the Declaration) of King George requiring the colonial legislatures to convene in far away locations is dealt with in Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution. This is just one such example; there are 26 others.

Another reason involves an acknowledgement of God in the text of the Constitution. The attestation clause (VII) 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 and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.”

While some might argue that it was simply the convention of the time, the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ (our Lord) in the date, is an example of the intentions of the signers. The numbering of twelve years sets the Declaration as the beginning of the United States; laying the foundation as it were. The Constitution is filling out the form; giving structure to the government of the new nation.

The twelve years mentioned above is another piece of evidence for the Declaration being our founding document. The Declaration of Independence is quite clearly a document that recognizes God’s sovereignty over human governments:

“When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s

God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…” (emphasis mine)

There is more evidence that demonstrates that the Constitution was a document acknowledging God. David Barton explains several more in his teaching: God and the Constitution. Please check it out. Read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence for yourself. There’s an app for that! Become informed on the intended structure of our government.