Thomas Jefferson and Calvinism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Oct 20, 2011.

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  1. Van

    Van
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    “There are a myriad of people and videos claiming Paul a false teacher who invented Christianity.

    What is going on here?”

    “Thomas Jefferson held to this view.”

    The attacks on Paul predate even Thomas Jefferson.

    Here is a typical charge from a website:

    "Thus, Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven will be filled with those who lived their lives in active compassion and childlike innocence, while Paul envisions a heaven of crusty, serious "mature" grouches who merely have to profess "acceptance of" or "belief in" Jesus without ever actually performing a single kind, compassionate, cheerful or childishly playful deed." (And yes, this statement misrepresents heartfelt faith as mere profession, i.e. lip-service.)

    As Paul would say, those who attack "faith alone" stumble over the stumbling block which is Christ. Among those who think works is the key to salvation, we would have atheists who say works is everything, Jews, Catholics and Muslims. No wonder we see so many trying to drive a wedge between Christ and Paul.

    When I was a young man, Thomas Jefferson was considered a great man, a founding father of this free and independent nation. We have no national church, no relic of the dark ages, where know it alls used compulsion to foster faith in the inventions of men.

    Jefferson, today, seems to have become a punching bag for liberals.

    Both Calvin and Jefferson tried to untangle truth from the corruptions of churchmen, and both were successful in some areas, and not so much in other areas. We should build on their greatness, and relegate the rest to the trash heap of history.

    Why not reveal what is really going on and post what Jefferson said about Calvin? Calvin's attack on Paul is far worse than Jefferson’s because Calvin’s false doctrines mislead far more people.

    Here is Thomas Jefferson's view of Calvin:

    DEAR SIR, -- The wishes expressed, in your last favor, that I may continue in life and health until I become a Calvinist, at least in his exclamation of `mon Dieu! jusque à quand'! would make me immortal. I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5. points is not the God whom you and I acknolege and adore, the Creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a daemon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.

    The revisionism going on in Texas today is that Thomas Jefferson is being removed from history textbooks and John Calvin put in his place. Socialism must destroy freedom fighters like Jefferson in order to enslave the governed. God said it is better to be free than slave, but Socialism says it is better to be slave than free. Lincoln say every human no matter their origin had the God given right to keep what they earned by their own hand, but the godless say humans may only keep what other human lawmakers say they can keep. Human rights come not from God but from Government, and therefore Government can take the life of the unborn, and whatever you earn, and squander money on whatever fits their agenda.

    Why did Jefferson reject the church united with state view of John Calvin where government compulsion was used. Because God is love and love does not demand its own way.

    Now lets turn to the chief corrupter of Paul’s message, John Calvin. He accepted unconditional election. He accepted irresistible grace. He accepted total spiritual inability. And he may or may not of finally come down on the side of limited atonement.

    So Calvin rejected the gospel proper and turned God into a monster, hindering the ministry of Christ. Jefferson's views were off the mark, to say the least, but his position was he could hold them, and government power should not make them illegal.

    The government does not have the right to declare the views of men illegal. But those who believe in the God of compulsion would disagree. Burn the heretics they would cry. Thomas Jefferson stands today and forever against every form of tyranny over the minds of men.

    Jefferson was opposed to claims of supernatural power, or claims for things incomprehensible. Thus in his mind, corruptions flowed from taking the simple truths of Jesus, which a child could understand, and adding on the inventions of Plato's metaphysics. Neo-Platonics holds that men must free themselves from the bondage of the material, and Augustine wrote the concept into his view of Christianity. Jefferson rejected the incomprehensible elaborations added to Christianity in his mind, by Paul, Augustine and Aquinas.

    So while it is true there is no need to defend Jefferson’s unbiblical understanding of religion, there is also no need to misrepresent his views.

    In his letter to William Short, dated April 13, 1820 he wrote the following:

    "Among the sayings & discourses imputed to him 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 seperate therefore the gold from the dross; restore to him the former & 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 firm corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of his doctrines led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that his part composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man."

    *Coryphaeus refers to the leader of a group.

    Calvinists shift discussion from the basis of Thomas Jefferson's disdain for the corruptions of Calvinism upon the doctrines of Jesus. According to Jefferson, as per a quote provided by a Calvinist, Calvin introduced more corruptions into Christianity, than Jesus corrected.

    Here is the quote:
    "Calvinism has introduced into the Christian religion more new absurdities than its leader [Jesus] had purged it of old ones,"

    So lets see, Augustine's neo-Platonism was adopted and expanded in the dark ages, and it was from this corruption Jefferson sought to untangle the doctrines of Jesus. He (Jefferson) missed by a great deal. However, those that advocate for the God of compulsion, i.e. Calvinists, created part of the morass Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to excise.

    Here is Thomas Jefferson's view of Calvin:

    DEAR SIR, -- The wishes expressed, in your last favor, that I may continue in life and health until I become a Calvinist, at least in his exclamation of `mon Dieu! jusque à quand'! would make me immortal. I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5. points is not the God whom you and I acknolege and adore, the Creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a daemon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.

    Works based salvation is false doctrine, but faith without works is dead. Salvation is by faith alone, but the faith is the kind from which faithfulness flows. So Jefferson recognizing the need to walk the talk was close to the mark, but alas his solution threw the baby out with the bath water. However, in the above quote, Jefferson was addressing the idea that God would punish people forever for doing the only things they are able to do. Such a god would be a malignant spirit created by Calvin’s doctrines.

    Now returning to Jefferson's view of Calvinism, he considered unconditional election an absurdity added to Christianity by Calvin. So if Jefferson misunderstood Ephesians 1:4, and I have not seen where he specifically talked about it, then he would reject Paul as providing the basis of unconditional election. However, since Paul did not actually provide any support whatsoever for this false doctrine, Jefferson's scorn rightly should fall on Calvinism alone.

    "The serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind it's improvement is ominous. Their pulpits are now resounding with denunciations against the appointment of Dr. Cooper whome they charge as a Monarchist in opposition to their tritheism. Hostile as these sects are in every other point, to one another, they unite in maintaining their mystical theology against those who believe there is one god only. The Presbyterian clergy are loudest. The most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical, and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one, and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic creed. They pant to restablish by law that holy inquisition, which they can now only infuse into public opinion."

    Thomas Jefferson wrote this in a private letter in 1820. He was trying to create a wall between church and state such that the government could not use the law to make views differing from the lawmakers illegal.
     
  2. The Archangel

    The Archangel
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    The only thing your post makes clear is that you know neither Calvin nor Jefferson.

    Furthermore your statement:

    is offensive and out of line. What you are doing here is questioning the salvation of Calvinists.

    What is more, you are attempting to make Jefferson look more orthodox than Calvinists--a case that simply cannot be made by anyone who knows Jefferson.

    The Archangel
     
  3. preacher4truth

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    I whole-heartedly agree with your entire assessment here.

    God forbid a Calvinist makes such an indictment towards non-cals.
     
  4. Tom Bryant

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    I'm not a Calvinist, but if Jefferson hated Paul as a corrupter and hated Calvin as a Corrupter... maybe there's something to Calvinism. :laugh:

    I like what Jefferson did for our country. I respect his ideas to the country he helped to found. But it ends with his political ideas. I am more a friend of any believer in Christ than anyone who would take the miraculous out of the Bible.

    Van - it seems like you're more friends with an avowed opponent of Biblical Christianity than you are to someone who was a brother in Christ, even if we both feel he was mistaken in some areas. But then we all are mistaken in some areas, whether we know it or not.
     
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