As I mentioned in part 1, I am reading through Gregg Frazer’s book The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders and responding to his erroneous quotations from and conclusions about the founders of our nation. Frazer claims that the most important founders were not Christians but rather followers of a hybrid belief system that he refers to as “Theistic Rationalism.” I’m currently in the chapter on John Adams, and Frazer’s second error follows immediately after his first. According to Frazer:
It’s been nearly four years since I purchase my copy of The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders in which Gregg Frazer claims that America’s founders were not Christians but were actually followers of a hybrid religion that Frazer termed “Theistic Rationalism.” I previously wrote about the theological errors of Frazer’s claim, and my goal at the time was to present a detailed analysis of his quotations from and his conclusions about our nation’s founders. Unfortunately, life forced me to put off that goal for a few years, but now that I have a bit more time available for research, I’ve decided to return to Frazer’s book and respond to as much of it as I can.
I recently received a request from a friend informing me that he was preparing for a public debate with a secularist on the topic of the Christian nature of the American Revolution. My friend wanted me to put together some suggestions to guide his study, so I quickly gathered up some of my notes and started jotting down a quick reply... Five pages later, I decided that I should probably stop before I completely overwhelmed him. I sent those five pages off to my friend a few days ago, and now I would like to share them here for the benefit of my readers. Here is the text of that letter:
In recognition of the Fourth of July, I was invited to discuss the faith of our founders on the Deeper Waters podcast. The audio from the podcast is now available online, and I would like to invite all my readers to listen to it. It was a two hour broadcast, so we were able to cover a lot of topics. I've included a mostly accurate rundown of topics below if you want to jump to a few in particular.
In the book The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, Christian historian David Holmes made the following statement about John Adams:
Like many of his contemporaries, he brought the religion in which he was raised into the court of his reason and common sense and judged it by what he found ... "Let the human mind loose," Adams once wrote in an outburst of Enlightenment passion. "It must be loosed; it will be loose. Superstition and despotism cannot confine it." He followed these words with the assertion that Christianity would surely triumph if the human mind were loosed. This statement indicates that Adams belongs somewhere in the category of Unitarian Christian or Christian Deist.
Yesterday, as I sat at home enjoying a day off because of the snow, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article by Richard Carrier entitled “Christianity Was Not Responsible for American Democracy.” This article was intended to be included in the 2010 book The Christian Delusion edited by John Loftus, but was instead published on the book’s accompanying website. Carrier’s claims sparked a lot of interest among atheists, and he was asked to give a speech on this topic at the 2013 convention of the National Atheist Party. Carrier later published the transcript of that speech on his blog under the title of “That Christian Nation Nonsense (Gods Bless Our Pagan Nation).” And it is rumored that he will be publishing similar material in Loftus’ next book Christianity is not Great which is slated to be published at the end of this year. I will eventually be writing a point-by-point critique of Carrier’s claims, but I would like to take just a moment to point out some of the more obvious flaws in his position which show that he is just as wrong in this area of historical research as he is in denying the existence of Jesus.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)