No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Were the founding fathers Christians?


Were these men Christians?

So I was setting out to write something for the 4th.  I thought to myself…. ”Self, why not write a post that talks about the faith of the founding fathers.  It should be pretty easy to do.  Common knowledge is that the founding fathers were religious.  Piece of cake.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What I discovered is that there are some misconceptions surrounding the faith of our founding fathers.  To be honest, I understand the misconception.  The word “God”, is used in the Declaration of Independence.  The manner in which it is used lends it’s self to this misconception.   There are letters written by the founding fathers calling on a Supreme Being, or God.  But does that mean what we think it means?

Before we go forward it is important to define the word deism.  Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion.  Deists do not believe in miracles.  They do not believe in the Trinity.  They do not believe that Christ is the Son of God.  They do not believe in atonement or the resurrection.  I look at deism as the intellectual’s view of Christianity – It’s agnosticism in that it believes there is a god, but that god cannot be known. 

Why is this important?  Because, MANY of our founding fathers identified themselves as or communicated in a manner that was deistic. 

Take a look at the following charts I found on THIS WEBSITE

  Communion Confirmation Attendance Vocabulary
Washington No No Yes Mostly Deist
Adams, John not applicable not applicable Yes Both
Jefferson No No Yes Deist
Madison No No Yes Deist
Monroe No No Yes Mostly Deist
Franklin No No Yes Deist
Paine, Thomas No No No Deist
Adams, Samuel not applicable not applicable Yes Orthodox

 

Beliefs: Resurrection, Christ-Divinity, Trinity, Miracles

  Resurrection Christ-Divinity Trinity Miracles
Washington ? ? ? ?
Adams, John Yes Yes No Yes
Jefferson No No No No
Madison ? ? No ?
Monroe ? ? ? ?
Franklin No No No ?
Paine, Thomas No No No No
Adams, Samuel Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

As you review this chart think about the definition of deism.  Of the 8 listed founding fathers (some of the most popular) 6 were deist…not Christian.  3 do not believe in the resurrection or the divinity of Christ.

To avoid diving too far into this rabbit whole let me just say this.  We have to be careful in how we characterize our founding fathers.  In looking at the above charts the statement that “The founding fathers were Christians” might not hold as much water as you think.  Of those mentioned here Samuel Adams was the only one who identified himself as a Christian (as we identify with today).

Now, is it fair to say that America was founded on Christian ideals?  Sure I believe it to be.  The Nation may have been founded on Christian Ideals, but not by Christians… However, this is not reason to despair! The religious underpinnings of our country’s foundation matters very little in comparison to our present circumstances.  Remember this… what makes America great (or not) is you.  What can make America better?  You living in and living out the Word of God.  What can destroy America? A continued moral decline and turning away from the God of the Bible. Will you stand up for THE CAUSE of Christ? Our nation depends on it.

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One response to “Were the founding fathers Christians?

  1. Joey July 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    This is entirely new news to me. Even that being true, our country turned out pretty good. What’s happening now leaves me to wonder how long our country will survive.

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