Monday, December 10, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's bible and the danger of doubt

I love God and I love Jesus. I honor the Holy Spirit who dwells within me as a deposit of the guarantee from Jesus as to my adoption and future inheritance. I acknowledge God as the Creator of all the universe and everything that is within it.

The Old Testament is overlooked by today's liberal, superficial, felt-needs Christian. I am a fundamentalist- I believe everything the bible records is literally true. That means I believe and celebrate the fact that God made the world and all the animals in six days. He sent the global flood. There was an ark and two of every kind of animal was on it, along with 8 God-honoring people. He is the all-powerful, supreme creator and has dominion over everything. The miracles happened. Hell exists. Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected by the power of God. He ascended in a cloud and will return the same way, the second time to judge the living and the dead.

You would not believe how many people disbelieve one or more of those fundamentals. Christians, even church leaders, have said to me point blank, "Oh, I just take the Old Testament with a grain of salt." The reason so many Christians disbelieve the basics of the bible is that for many decades now, centuries even, non-literalists have chipped away at the truth of God's word.

They say that slow evolution and a Creator God are compatible doctrines. They say that there is no hell and our spirit expires at death. They say that all the animals could not possibly have fit onto the ark, and a flood could not possibly have covered all the world's mountaintops. (Genesis 7:19).

In the recent Presidential election cycle, I read much from the Republicans and the conservatives vaunting America's supposed Christian status as a nation. They turn to the Founding Fathers as "proof" that the writers of the Constitution were Gospel-saved, bible believing Christians and that their foundational documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution spring from biblical precepts.

Not so.

The main writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. He wrote the famous line that opens the second paragraph:
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.
Not many people know that Jefferson had in mind a different Creator than the bible presents. Jefferson was a product of the new secular humanism and the naturalism sweeping French and British philosophical circles. Jefferson was a Deist, which the LA Times defines in their article about Jefferson as,
Deists differed from traditional Christians by rejecting miraculous occurrences and prophecies and embracing the notion of a well-ordered universe created by a God who withdrew into detached transcendence.
To that end, Jefferson took a razor blade and carefully cut out every single reference in the bible to the supernatural miracles of Christ. He also disbelieved "receiving of the Holy Spirit, angels, Noah's Ark and the Great Flood, the Tribulation, the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, a future kingdom, and eternal life, Heaven, Hell and punishment in everlasting fire, the Devil, prophecy, and the soldiers falling backwards to the ground in response to Jesus stating, "I am he." (source)

If necessary, Jefferson would even cut a sentence in half if the latter part of it contained a reference to a miracle.


In a letter to William Short in 1820, Jefferson wrote:
Among the sayings and discourses imputed to [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence: and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate therefore the gold from the dross; restore to him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of his doctrines led me to try to sift them apart. (source)
He called the resulting text The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. We know it now more informally as The Jefferson Bible. "Jefferson said his "wee little book" of 46 pages was based on a lifetime of inquiry and reflection and contained "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."

Imagine, excising God's word from its full and glorious revelation of our Holy and Graceful God, down to a wee little book of sayings.

I want to state with all fervency, that to begin to unravel one verse because it doesn't suit your sensibilities, or to excise one passage because it does not agree with your version of possible occurrences, is traversing down the same dangerous road Jefferson traveled. Cutting away the flood means you also call Peter a liar because he preaches the flood in 2 Peter 2:5. Disbelieving Jonah was swallowed by a fish makes Jesus out to be a liar because he said Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, in Matthew 12:40.

The bible is a tightly woven tapestry of truth and beauty. Either you believe all of it or none of it. The good news is, God gives us the faith to believe and the courage to proclaim. He opens our mind to the truths He has delivered to us. He is great and wonderful.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:45)

Will you turn to the left just a bit, and begin to doubt the 6-day creation, the Flood and the ark? Or will you turn to the right a little bit and step into the eternal glory of His truth, all of it, without doubt?

If you are beginning to doubt, ask Jesus for help! He will give it! The Holy Spirit will strengthen you and bring to mind all the things you should know, if you read His word and pray for knowledge.

Here is Daniel of the T.R.U.T.H. Group showing what happens when you start to disbelieve the fundamentals. He is pointed from the beginning. He really gets going at 3:30 and at the end watch even after the music starts. He comes back to say something funny.

Beware of Jefferson's razor. He doubted. He began chipping away. At the end he was left with only a wee little book ... and a long eternity.

5 comments:

  1. Hi elizabeth!

    Well, obviously God has given you truth and understanding. I find it very telling when someone claims one part of the Bible true (or to be the true gospel) and turn all the rest of it down. I thought we were to view the WHOLE Bible as true. =)

    God made the natural universe, and science (if studied with integrity) is just a study of that creation. I think the Big Bang did happen (if I'm wrong it doesn't change anything) but if it did, God made it. Also, in the original Hebrew I believe day is written as "yom" which has multiple definitions: day, 24 hour day, a period of time. (to name but a few)

    My point is, six distinct periods of time from the viewpoint of Earth, that is centered on the events of earths creation process. I do believe that it is possible that the universe since the Big Bang is 14 billion years old, I also believe it is entirely possible that God created all of it in six 24-hour periods. Either way I trust that the Bible is true, all of it.

    Love, from Drew

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    Replies
    1. Hi Drew,

      The earth is not 14 billion years old.

      We determine how yom should be interpreted in Genesis 1:5-2:2 simply by examining the context in which we find the word and then comparing its context with how we see its usage elsewhere in Scripture. By doing this we let Scripture interpret itself. The Hebrew word yom is used 2301 times in the Old Testament. Outside of Genesis 1, yom plus a number (used 410 times) always indicates an ordinary day, i.e., a 24-hour period. The words “evening” and “morning” together (38 times) always indicate an ordinary day. Yom + “evening” or “morning” (23 times) always indicates an ordinary day. Yom + “night” (52 times) always indicates an ordinary day.

      The context in which the word yom is used in Genesis 1:5-2:2, describing each day as “the evening and the morning,” makes it quite clear that the author of Genesis meant 24-hour periods. http://www.gotquestions.org/Genesis-days.html

      If you add the ages of the men listed in genealogies in the bible they add to a record of life on earth as being about 6000 years old.

      It is not "possible" as you say that God made the earth in six literal days, HE DID, because HE TOLD US HE DID. You must understand that the whole bible is true.

      You can learn more at Answers in Genesis on these topics
      http://www.answersingenesis.org/

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    2. Dear Sister, Thank you for ministry to the body. Jesus blesses me so through your posts. See you soon..

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  2. I do not consider Jefferson to have been a Christian, but I think that you are doing the founding fathers an injustice by focusing solely on the beliefs of only one of their members. Of all of the founding fathers that I have studied so far, Jefferson is the only one for which I have not discovered a solid testimony of salvation. I have included the testimonies of several others including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, James Wilson, etc. on my new website: http://christian76.com.

    I have also included a quote in which Alexander Hamilton called Jefferson an atheist and suggested that congress take legal steps to prevent his becoming president. Here's an excerpt from a letter that he wrote to John Jay:

    “The scruples of delicacy and propriety, as relative to a common course of things, ought to yield to the extraordinary nature of the crisis. They ought not to hinder the taking of a legal and constitutional step to prevent an atheist in religion, and a fanatic in politics, from getting possession of the helm of state.”

    You can find a link to the original source of this quote on the Christian76.com website.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The religious beliefs of most of the main founding fathers ranged between Deism and atheism, with an unhealthy dollop of secular humanism thrown in.

      It's important to remember that just because they mention "God" or the "Creator" it does not mean they mean the same God as a bible believing Christian. Muslims claim God and so do Mormons.

      John Adams was a Unitarian, which was a non-trinitarian Protestant Christian. Adams rejected many fundamental doctrines of conventional Christianity, such as the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, therefore we cannot call him a Christian.

      Ben Franklin was a deist and identified himself as such in his autobiography. He believed that in order for government to be good, man must be virtuous, and that organized religion was the vehicle to that virtuousness. (He believed mostly a works based religion, at root). However, he did not adhere to the Christian beliefs of Jesus as the only way and salvation by justification as a necessary part of that virtue. At the end of his life he retained a strong faith in a God as the wellspring of morality and goodness in man- just not especially Jesus per se. He had a passion for virtue and good works but denied Jesus and the personal, indwelling Holy Spirit as the regenerator of those. We cannot call him a Christian.

      Geo Washington's religious beliefs were a muddle even to those who were his peers during Washington's lifetime. He never proclaimed Jesus or Christ publicly or privately and was more Deist than a believer in a personal God.

      It is the same with most of the founding fathers. They adhered to the notion of God or Creator as a philosophical construct but in varying degrees denies the personal divine and rejected most of the fundamental tenets of our faith.

      I focused on Jefferson in this essay because I wanted to point out about the Jefferson bible. This essay was mostly about Jefferson.

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