Amongst other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number; and, indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory [i.e., being called a traitor]; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast.—Founding Father Patrick Henry
So I remember you mentioning that the founding fathers were deists. I decided not to engage in any discussion on this since we were talking about something else. So I thought I would take a moment and maybe show some things you didn’t know. The founders were not deists, at all. Only a few were (those are the only ones ever mentioned), the rest would be considered Bible-thumping-wingnuts today. This is easily proven by just reading what they wrote. This idea has only become popular in the last 50 years or so, as they try and erase Christianity from our founding.
The founding fathers is one of my favorite topics and I’ve had the chance to read many biographies as I work. A good portion of the founders went to seminary, started Bible societies, and spoke eloquently on God, Jesus and religion. Anyway, here’s an article that will explain more.
“The Founding Fathers & Deism”
I notice that your newspaper has an ongoing debate concerning the religious
nature of the Founding Fathers. A recent letter claimed that most of the Founding
Fathers were deists, and pointed to Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine,
Hamilton, and Madison as proof. After making this charge, the writer acknowledged
the “voluminous writings”” of the Founders, but it appears that she
has not read those writings herself. However, this is no surprise since the
U. S. Department of Education claims that only 5 percent of high schools graduates
know how to examine primary source documentation.
Interestingly, the claims in this recent letter to the editor are characteristic
of similar claims appearing in hundreds of letters to the editor across the
nation. The standard assertion is that the Founders were deists. Deists? What
is a deist? In dictionaries like Websters, Funk & Wagnalls, Century, and others,
the terms “deist,” “agnostic,” and “atheist” appear
as synonyms. Therefore, the range of a deist spans from those who believe there
is no God, to those who believe in a distant, impersonal creator of the universe,
to those who believe there is no way to know if God exists. Do the Founders
fit any of these definitions?
None of the notable Founders fit this description. Thomas Paine, in his discourse
on “The Study of God,” forcefully asserts that it is “the error
of schools” to teach sciences without “reference to the Being who
is author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin.”
He laments that “the evil that has resulted from the error of the schools
in teaching [science without God] has been that of generating in the pupils
a species of atheism.” Paine not only believed in God, he believed in a
reality beyond the visible world.
In Benjamin Franklin’s 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania,
he insisted that schools teach “the necessity of a public religion . .
. and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or
modern.” Consider also the fact that Franklin proposed a Biblical inscription
for the Seal of the United States; that he chose a New Testament verse for the
motto of the Philadelphia Hospital; that he was one of the chief voices behind
the establishment of a paid chaplain in Congress; and that when in 1787 when
Franklin helped found the college which bore his name, it was dedicated as “a
nursery of religion and learning” built “on Christ, the Corner-Stone.”
Franklin certainly doesn’t fit the definition of a deist.
Nor does George Washington. He was an open promoter of Christianity. For example,
in his speech on May 12, 1779, he claimed that what children needed to learn
“above all” was the “religion of Jesus Christ,” and that
to learn this would make them “greater and happier than they already are”;
on May 2, 1778, he charged his soldiers at Valley Forge that “To the distinguished
character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished
character of Christian”; and when he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief
of the military on June 8, 1783, he reminded the nation that “without a
humble imitation” of “the Divine Author of our blessed religion”
we “can never hope to be a happy nation.” Washington’s own adopted
daughter declared of Washington that you might as well question his patriotism
as to question his Christianity.
Alexander Hamilton was certainly no deist. For example, Hamilton began work
with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help
spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great:
(1) Christianity, and (2) a Constitution formed under Christianity. Only Hamilton’s
death two months later thwarted his plan of starting a missionary society to
promote Christian government. And at the time he did face his death in his duel
with Aaron Burr, Hamilton met and prayed with the Rev. Mason and Bishop Moore,
wherein he reaffirmed to him his readiness to face God should he die, having
declared to them “a lively faith in God’s mercy through Christ, with a
thankful remembrance of the death of Christ.” At that time, he also partook
of Holy Communion with Bishop Moore.
The reader, as do many others, claimed that Jefferson omitted all miraculous
events of Jesus from his “Bible.” Rarely do those who make this claim let
Jefferson speak for himself. Jefferson’s own words explain that his intent for
that book was not for it to be a “Bible,” but rather for it to be
a primer for the Indians on the teachings of Christ (which is why Jefferson
titled that work, “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”). What
Jefferson did was to take the “red letter” portions of the New Testament
and publish these teachings in order to introduce the Indians to Christian morality.
And as President of the United States, Jefferson signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia
tribe wherein he provided—at the government’s expense—Christian missionaries
to the Indians. In fact, Jefferson himself declared, “I am a real Christian,
that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” While many might
question this claim, the fact remains that Jefferson called himself a Christian,
not a deist.
James Madison trained for ministry with the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, and
Madison’s writings are replete with declarations of his faith in God and in
Christ. In fact, for proof of this, one only need read his letter to Attorney
General Bradford wherein Madison laments that public officials are not bold
enough about their Christian faith in public and that public officials should
be “fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.” And while Madison did
allude to a “wall of separation,” contemporary writers frequently
refuse to allow Madison to provide his own definition of that “wall.”
According to Madison, the purpose of that “wall” was only to prevent
Congress from passing a national law to establish a national religion.
None of the Founders mentioned fit the definition of a deist. And as is
typical with those who make this claim, they name only a handful of Founders
and then generalize the rest. This in itself is a mistake, for there are over
two hundred Founders (fifty-five at the Constitutional Convention, ninety who
framed the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights, and fifty-six who signed the
Declaration) and any generalization of the Founders as deists is completely
The reason that such critics never mention any other Founders is evident.
For example, consider what must be explained away if the following signers of
the Constitution were to be mentioned: Charles Pinckney and John
Langdon—founders of the American Bible Society; James McHenry—founder of the
Baltimore Bible Society; Rufus King—helped found a Bible society for Anglicans;
Abraham Baldwin—a chaplain in the Revolution and considered the youngest
theologian in America; Roger Sherman, William Samuel Johnson, John Dickinson,
and Jacob Broom—also theological writers; James Wilson and William
Patterson—placed on the Supreme Court by President George Washington, they had
prayer over juries in the U. S. Supreme Court room; and the list could go on.
(look below to the link for others)
And this does not even include the huge number of thoroughly evangelical
Christians who signed the Declaration or who helped frame the Bill of Rights.
Any portrayal of any handful of Founders as deists is inaccurate. (If this
group had really wanted some irreligious Founders, they should have chosen
Henry Dearborne, Charles Lee, or Ethan Allen). Perhaps critics should spend
more time reading the writings of the Founders to discover their religious
beliefs for themselves rather than making such sweeping accusations which are
so easily disproven.
Click this link:
The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible - WallBuilders
1: Don't follow your heart.
This is a tough one in your worldview. I've read many times that you NEED to follow your heart. This may be the worst advice you can make yourself believe. It can be very destructive. Following your heart is based on a worldly notion that the heart is trustworthy. Whenever I see "just follow your heart," I want to pull out my hair...that I don't have. What that's really saying is that you should just "go with whatever is convenient, comfortable or feels good. Your heart can't be wrong!" Moments like that can really screw up one's life. Imagine if I would have "gone with my heart" when I met you. I'd be in a false religion. Thankfully, I had enough sense back then, not much but some, to realize my heart doesn't always have my best interest in mind. Here's the truth, the human heart is evil. (The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jer. 17:9)
This is very unpopular today, I get it. "Do what you want! You can be whatever you can dream! Follow your heart! etc etc." You see these tropes everywhere because who are we to judge? You can tell a kid to follow his heart to be an astronaut but if he's terrible at math, he will never be one.
You cannot depend on your heart (James 1:14), not when emotions are involved, your heart is always changing, your mind and even preferences are always in a state of flux. It can lead you into terrible relationships, bad financial decisions and like above, a complete waste of time following a dream job that can never be.
Instead, GUARD your heart. Learn how to make wise decisions. The scriptures tell us that God's wisdom is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). He promised to give wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5) and he gave us the Bible to guide us (1 Timothy 3:16). You're not gonna understand everything, but wisdom comes with some study and patience. Your heart isn't always wrong, but when it contradicts truth, you're in for some hurt. Don't follow your heart, follow the TRUTH.
I know following your heart is a big part of your worldview now, but give the scriptures a chance. It is a guide for us on earth, it's steady and doesn't change--people hate that. It doesn't need you making things up as you go, looking for signs, it's just there, you don't have to follow your heart. And if you ask for guidance, you will get it.
"If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if ... you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well" (1 Samuel 12:14).
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” -Blaise Pascal
"Most people are on a happiness quest, not a truth quest." -Dr. Frank Turek
I was gonna write my own little essay on truth, but no need to reinvent the wheel, so I found this from a trusted source. It gets to the point very succinctly. You may think this is unnecessary, but you wouldn't believe how many people today will say "There is no truth." This is a self-defeating statement because it can't live up to its own claim. To show the fallacy, you just ask "Is that true?"
Another one is, "all truth is relative." Is that a relative truth? Learning to find self-defeating statements is very helpful is seeing flawed thinking. And it's very important when beginning a search for truth. Anyway...
The “Real World” view of truth is, well...true. An explanation of this view should help demonstrate that it is the accurate description of truth.
Simply put, the Real World view says that my thoughts, ideas, or statements are true if they correspond to reality—the real world. Put another way, a statement is true when it matches up with the way the world really is. The ancient philosopher Aristotle captured the idea of correspondence this way: “If you say that it is and it is, or you say that it isn’t and it isn’t, that’s true. If you say that it isn’t and it is, or you say that it is and it isn’t, that’s false.” Let me illustrate.
If I said to you, “There is a cup of Starbucks coffee on your desk,” that statement would be true if it was actually the case that a cup of Starbucks coffee was sitting on your desk. Or, if you had a belief the grass outside is green and you walk outside and notice the grass is not red but indeed green, your belief is true.
Now, you’re probably saying, “Duh,” and thinking to yourself that these are really unexceptional illustrations. Well, in one sense yes, because the Real World view is the common sense view of truth. In fact, I know I am not saying anything that you don’t already know. Indeed, this is your view of truth. How do I know? For the simple fact that you live life in accordance with this very description of truth every day.
Why do you look both ways before you cross the road? Because you hold to a Real World view of truth. We know that reality dictates the truth of the matter in such circumstances. If you cross the street without looking both ways and in reality a Mack truck is barreling down the road and runs over you, your physical appearance is going to change quite a bit. Reality will hurt. Reality is what you bump up against when your beliefs are false. In the case of the Mack truck, reality is what runs you over, chews you up, and spits you out when your beliefs are false.
Now, reflect for a moment. On this view, is reality a matter of your subjective opinion? In other words, does reality depend on what you believe? Absolutely not. Reality is what we call an objective fact. It exists independent of what anyone believes or thinks. It is not relative to our beliefs but indifferent to our beliefs. And since truth is grounded in reality, truth itself is objective. The truth of reality does not change based upon your beliefs or mine. Therefore, you want to be careful that your beliefs match up with reality. -Brett Kunkle
So, Mormons believe the Bible “so far as it is translated correctly.” This is what you were taught from birth, so I know it's in your head. This is wrong. It was curious to me, so eventually I started asking Mormons, well, which parts aren’t translated correctly? I almost always got blank faces. Before, I didn't have much knowledge myself if they had answered anything. I wouldn’t have known if they were right or pulling my leg. But now I’ve studied textual criticism (part of completing my certification from BIOLA), which is the science of dating ancient manuscripts, both religious and secular. I now know what the methods used and how reliable the scriptures really are.
So before we get into that, the first thing a “new” prophet, teacher or guru does when trying to start some new movement is what? Cast doubt on the Bible.
ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard, Mohamed, Mary Baker Eddy, any of the New Age gurus and many more, always attack the Bible first. If they can get people doubting the reliability of the Bible, they’re halfway there. But I’m telling you, in the scholarly world, the Bible is the most reliable ancient document we have. Not to mention the sheer numbers of manuscripts. You may be saying, so what? The reason this is important is because we can then compare manuscripts with all the others we have found and see where scribal mistakes were made.
One manuscript may say “John went to the marketplace,” but compared to the other 300 manuscripts which say “Timothy went to the marketplace,” we can then tell that the first scribe made a mistake by writing the wrong name. Therefore, we can get back to the original meaning, because we have so many copies to draw from.
In fact, here’s a comparison; If you were to add up all the other ancient manuscripts that came from antiquity, like the Iliad, the The Peloponnesian war, Julius Ceasar etc. (which no one questions their validity by the way), the stack of manuscripts would reach about 4 feet high. If you were to stack the New Testament manuscripts, it would reach a mile high! That’s how many copies we have.
Many people will say that you can’t trust them because they’ve been translated countless times from when they were first written, so we can’t possibly know what they say by now. But here are the facts, modern translations go back to the original language which was GREEK and Aramaic and HEBREW. Guess what, we have people who speak and study those languages today and can translate those old manuscripts. SO there is only ONE step in the translation process, the original language to the modern language. Every modern translation has only been translated ONCE. It’s in languages people can translate today. It's not a translation of a translation of translation etc etc, which is ridiculous. There are countless memes out there touting this. We have scholars who can read the languages. (what they really mean is transmission of the texts, but that’s a different thing).
The Bible is so reliable, no archeological find has EVER contradicted it. In fact, they keep finding things that skeptics say are just made up or myths, like King David and Pontius Pilate.
Here’s the thing, unlike any other religion, Christianity is rooted in history. It wants you to know that these things happened in certain places at a certain times, to a certain people. No other religious book does this. (BTW no archeological find has ever corroborated the Book of Mormon, nothing. Not even a coin. And these are the guys casting doubt on the Bible. (The Smithsonian Institute came out a while back and said that the BofM is not a historical guide for them.) The Bible wants you to check things out for yourself, it says to test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
Check this out: This is how Luke (considered a great ancient historian) begins chapter 3 of his gospel,
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”
See how he puts you right in that moment of history so that all who are reading can check it out? It’s amazing historicity. It’s been said that if you don’t believe the events of the NT, then you have to say goodbye to all other ancient figures. No more Ceasar, Plato or Alexander the Great because the NT has mountains of more evidences then them.
Ok, this is getting long, one more thing. People make a big deal about how old the manuscripts are. The gap between today and when they were written is not as important as the gap between the events happening and the time it was written down. That’s the important gap. All those secular ones we have, Ceasar, Plato, Thucydides-- all come from copies written over 1000 years after the events. The NT gap is less than 100 years, some only within 25 years after the events! THERE IS NO COMPARISON. The Bible stands alone as the best preserved literary works of antiquity. This is why we can trust what it says happened.
Look, if the same GOD that created the universe out of nothing wants to preserve his Word, He can do it. Preserving a book would be child's play after creating everything out of nothing, including any other miracle recorded. Walking on water? Healing the blind? Turning water into wine? Piece of cake.
I’ll include pages from my kids book I’m working on and a comparison chart. Anyway, if you have questions, just ask.