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Thread: Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian?

  1. #1

    Default Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian?

    I hear many contradicting opinions in regards to this issue. Jefferson himself wrote the "Jeffersonian Bible". An edited version of The New Testament in which he removed the parts that he believed were superstition but still seemed to believe in the Christian doctrine, no?


    https://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/peo...jefferson.html

    From the article:

    “Years later, Jefferson drew from the New Testaments in Greek, Latin, French and English to create The Life and Morals of Jesus, commonly known as the "Jefferson Bible." Based on this work, he acknowledged to a close friend, "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." For Jefferson, it was the moral message of Jesus, not claims of his birth, death and resurrection, that lay at the center of the Christian faith.”

    My philosophy professor brought up as an objection to one of my arguments that Thomas Jefferson probably wasn't a Christian. I argued that he was.


    Thoughts?
    Last edited by uncharted; 09-14-2017 at 04:02 PM.
    Lightbearers are immune to the judgment of man.



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  3. #2

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    I think it's almost universally agreed among both Christians and non-Christians that Christianity is the belief that Jesus is divine. So from what I can tell I would say no, Jefferson was not a Christian. He agreed with the parts of the teachings of Jesus that did not relate to what we consider religion. Just as many Buddhists and even atheists would say they do.
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  4. #3

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    I doubt it .

  5. #4

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    Jefferson was most definitely a Deist, like myself.
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  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jllundqu View Post
    Jefferson was most definitely a Deist, like myself.
    The Mormons would say he was most definitely a Mormon.

    Jefferson was probably something like a Deist/Unitarian, at least as of Revolutionary times, and if he believed in a god, it wasn't a Trinitarian god. I think Jefferson was just an inquisitive mind, and he might have died without a definitive opinion about God. Keep in mind, it was very popular at the time - especially in colonial America, far from the Papists and Wars of Religion - to interpret scripture anyway you pleased. I'm not unconvinced many colonials went to church, simply to see their taxes at work, see friends, make acquaintances, and hear the best gossip.
    They fought the Wars
    They lost.
    They turned friends
    into enemies.
    Who became
    friends of our enemies.
    They stood alone, in splendid isolation,
    And said it was their only choice.

  7. #6

    Default

    I believe Jefferson was a Christian, indeed.

    THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE DANBURY BAPTISTS – FULL TEXT
    The address of the Danbury Baptists Association in the state of Connecticut, assembled October 7, 1801.
    To Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America.
    Sir,

    Among the many million in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief magistracy in the United States: And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe that none are more sincere.

    Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty‐‐that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals‐‐that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions‐‐that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors; But, sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our laws and usages, and such still are; that religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men‐‐should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.

    Sir, we are sensible that the president of the United States is not the national legislator, and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each state; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved president, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these states and all the world, till hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that Americaʹs God has raised you up to fill the chair of state out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for your arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you to sustain and support you enjoy administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to raise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

    And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

    Signed in behalf of the association, Nehemiah Dodge
    Ephraim Robbins
    Stephen S. Nelson

    Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association
    To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

    Gentlemen

    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ʺmake no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,ʺ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

    Th Jefferson
    Jan. 1. 1802
    https://www.billofrightsinstitute.or...nburybaptists/
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  8. #7

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    It does seem like he was sympathetic to and in general agreement with the moral precepts of Christianity. He considered the teachings of Jesus as having "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man," yet he held that the pure teachings of Jesus appeared to have been appropriated by some of Jesus' early followers, resulting in a Bible that contained both "diamonds" of wisdom and the "dung" of ancient political agendas.

    Though he often expressed his opposition to many practices of the clergy, and to many specific popular Christian doctrines of his day, Jefferson repeatedly expressed his admiration for Jesus as a moral teacher, and consistently referred to himself as a Christian (though following his own unique type of Christianity) throughout his life. Jefferson opposed Calvinism, Trinitarianism, and what he identified as Platonic elements in Christianity. In private letters Jefferson also described himself as subscribing to other certain philosophies, in addition to being a Christian. In these letters he described himself as also being an "Epicurean" (1819), a "19th century materialist" (1820),a "Unitarian by myself" (1825), and "a sect by myself" (1819).

  9. #8

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    I can't speak for the man myself, but in his papers he took a number of positions. To the extent he was, we can plausibly say he was what we now call "non-denominational". He referred to himself as "a sect unto myself"(or something to that effect) on at least one occasion in his papers.
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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raginfridus View Post
    The Mormons would say he was most definitely a Mormon.

    Jefferson was probably something like a Deist/Unitarian, at least as of Revolutionary times, and if he believed in a god, it wasn't a Trinitarian god. I think Jefferson was just an inquisitive mind, and he might have died without a definitive opinion about God. Keep in mind, it was very popular at the time - especially in colonial America, far from the Papists and Wars of Religion - to interpret scripture anyway you pleased. I'm not unconvinced many colonials went to church, simply to see their taxes at work, see friends, make acquaintances, and hear the best gossip.
    Yeah pretty much . It was a day off and a pitch in dinner for them and that is about it . Maybe a place for business contacts . For them church was about the same as what I used my local bar for when I was still working .






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