by Robert Dean
Have you heard some things about Thomas Jefferson that made you wonder about what kind of man he was? Listen to this lesson to learn that during his lifetime Jefferson faced tremendous criticism and numerous lies from every side. Hear a brief biography of Thomas Jefferson including his training in Scottish Common Sense Rationalism and the religious beliefs he displays in the body of his writings. Begin a study of fake claims that are leveled against him and the facts about each. After listening to this, you may want to reevaluate what you believe about Thomas Jefferson.
Series:Holiday Specials
Duration:1 hr 11 mins 33 secs

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Thomas Jefferson
Holiday Special Series
Independence Day, July 4, 2019

Opening Prayer

“Father, tonight we come before You as we celebrate our nation’s birthday 234 years ago. Father, we pray that we would see a significant shift in the thinking of this nation. That is our only hope. The hope is not in politics. The hope is not in political leaders. The hope is not in education. These are mere symptoms of the problem.

“The real problem is a spiritual problem, that this is a nation that has departed from its historic, biblical Christians roots and that, as a result of that, it is adrift in terms of a foundation for its sense of freedom and independence. Therefore, the whole concepts of liberty, justice, and freedom are being redefined in terms of extremely pagan notions that are one hundred and eighty degrees contrary to that of the vision of the Founding Fathers and those principles that are set forth in our founding documents.

“As a result we have a much divided nation. We have tremendous conflicts in a nation that is comprised of incredible amounts of anger and hostility toward one another. Father, our only hope and our only solution is for people to return to that unifying foundation that marked our beginnings.

“It was founded on a Judeo-Christian foundation, an understanding of the truths of the Scripture, and a recognition of who we are as those who are creatures created in Your image and likeness. Father, we pray that You would continue to raise up leaders who have a solid foundation and understanding of the truth of Scripture and a solid foundation and understanding of the history of this nation and who would not be swayed by pressure or by bullying or blackmail or whatever may seek to intimidate them.

“Father, we pray that You would raise up leaders who would stand firm, having truth and integrity as the foundation and bulwark of their thinking, that we may preserve our freedoms. We pray that we may continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to teach Your word in this nation and throughout the world.

“We pray that You would help us to understand the issues that face us as individual citizens, issues that challenge us and challenge the beliefs that confront us with open hostility that we may come to understand how we should live and how we should think about these things. In Christ’s name. Amen.”

Slide 1

Tonight what I want to do is have an Independence Day Special. I’m going to try to make it a one-parter but I have 14 pages of notes so that may not be possible. I think I can summarize most of it because, as you will see, it’s something that’s important for us to understand and something for us to talk about.

Slide 2

I want to talk about Thomas Jefferson as the first in a series of studies, biographical studies, on the Founding Fathers. We can have these as Specials at significant times such as the 4th of July, or Constitution Day in September, or other times of the year to help us understand the Christian roots of our culture, of our founding documents, and all that really is what made America great.

America was not made great because of secondary issues related to economy, military, education, or industry. All of those were secondary. What’s primary was what created the frame of reference and a mental attitude that formed and shaped this nation. That was derived from the Scripture, from the Bible.

I want to begin addressing a very important question. Why do we take the time to talk about history? Why do we take the time to talk about the history of this nation? Why do we take the time to talk about and focus on some of our Founding Fathers to understand the foundation of this nation?

Slide 3

I will explain that as we go along. First of all, I want to talk about a passage in 1 Timothy. 1 Timothy 2:1–2. Paul is addressing Timothy, a pastor in Ephesus under the Roman Empire. That was a time that was not positive to Christianity. Christianity at that time was viewed as a subset of Judaism and it was on the verge of being persecuted.

In 1 Timothy 2:1 Paul says, “Therefore I exhort first of all with supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men—those who are our enemies and those who are our friends, for all men—for kings—then he explains that a little more—for kings and for all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence.

This is a passage that isn’t talked about too much when it comes to a Christian worldview and addressing the issue of a philosophy of government and a philosophy of law, but it is a vital one. What we are to pray for is that those in authority would leave us alone and give us the freedom to live out our spiritual life and fulfill the mandates of Scripture, which is to proclaim the gospel and freely teach everything that the Bible teaches without fear of government interference.

If you were to go outside and look at your yard after some of the rain, which we’d been having lately, you would see that it’s all overgrown. Would you say, “My goodness, that yard needs to be cut. I’ll go read my Bible and pray about it.” If you did not, after you read your Bible and prayed about your yard, go and get your lawnmower out of the garage and start it or call someone to come cut your grass, then you would just sit there and do nothing.

You’re praying for something that’s within your power to at least do something to get the answer to that prayer fulfilled. We all know that would be ridiculous to pray that God would have my grass cut today and then not get up and do something about it.

The same is true here. When we pray for kings, for presidents, for governments, and for all who are in authority so that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life, then that entails us doing that which we can to ensure that. In a nation where we have the vote, a nation that is a republic where we elect representatives and send them to city hall, or state, or national capitol, then that is part of our responsibility.

It doesn’t just involve prayer and passivity on our part, but it involves getting involved in the process. As citizens of this nation we have an inherent responsibility to vote. Vote wisely, be involved in the process, and vote intelligently.

We celebrate on this 4th of July in 2019 the birth of our nation. It is the day that the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. It had been passed on July 2nd but on the 4th they approved the final wording and it was probably signed by John Hancock and by Charles Johnson, the secretary, but no one else signed it on that day.

That document has been lost so we don’t really know because it went to the printer and from there it was lost and it wasn’t until August 2nd that they convened and most of the members of the Continental Congress signed on that day. There were a few who had gone home already. There were a few that weren’t available, so they didn’t sign right away.

The Declaration of Independence came about because about three or four weeks earlier on June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut to draft a declaration of independence.

Because the committee did not leave any minutes and there’s no record of who contributed what, we can’t say for sure who wrote what or who influenced which statement or ideas. However, the committee delegated the responsibility of writing the first draft to Thomas Jefferson.

He wrote most of it and according to his testimony years later, he did not consult anyone else. He wrote from that which he understood to be the thinking and the heart attitude of the American people at that time. We don’t know how much of this original language was his wording, but we assume that most of it closely reflected his thinking as well as the thinking of the other four.

Jefferson is significant not simply because he wrote the Declaration of Independence, but also because later he served as Secretary of State under our first president, George Washington. He was the vice-president under the second president, John Adams, and then he was the third president and served two terms.

He was also significant because of his role as the governor of the colony of Virginia and later the state of Virginia following the Declaration of Independence, and because of legislation that he initiated and saw passed while he was governor of Virginia.

When we look at this body of laws that he promoted and passed we see a completely different picture of his view of the role of religion in a culture than that which we have been brainwashed with in our culture today. I think it’s important that we examine these things because it’s important that we understand what the truth is.

We can know the truth. We can look at history and understand the truth and we have numerous records and personal writings that guide and direct us.

Jefferson is significant to study because he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which is what we’re celebrating today, that gave birth to our nation. Also, because of his intellectual stature and his influence among the Founding Fathers, it is important to study him.

His writings regarding liberty and freedom of religion in Virginia during the founding era was significant as well as the phrase that he used in a private letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut where he used the phrase “wall of separation,” which has been co-opted by the judiciary in this century to describe something he did not intend.

We need to look at these things and understand them. As believers we need to understand all of these issues. We recognize, number one, that history is God’s plan that works itself out. We don’t know what God’s plan for tomorrow is, but on Saturday we will know, and it will be history.

By studying history it has been said that we study “His story”. Only those who hold to a biblical worldview have a true sense of history. When you and I went to school, we were probably taught that the father of history was a Greek by the name of Herodotus. Herodotus, unfortunately, lived about a thousand years after Moses who was the real father of history. Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which gave a history of the origin of the Jewish people.

History is God’s plan worked out in our lives. We need to understand those historical issues in our own culture because they are impacting court decisions today. They have taken away freedom of Christians to live out and to practice their faith and they are under daily attacks in the courts.

When we come to talk about politics there are some people who say that there’s no place for politics in the pulpit. I would say there’s no place for liberal politics in the pulpit, which unfortunately is what we usually get, because for some reason conservatives have adopted a rather passive view about speaking about politics.

They are afraid of the Johnson Amendment from back in the 1950s that threatened 501(C)(3) status, but if you understand what the law actually says, it’s that the church as an entity, as a body, cannot get involved in politics, but the pastor has freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to say whatever he wants to say from the pulpit. It’s a freedom-of-speech issue, a First Amendment issue, and the only thing that is prohibited is for the body of the church to make an official statement.

The only time non-profit status has been taken away from a church was for one day after the election in, I believe, 1992, or maybe 1996. It was a presidential election when Bill Clinton was running for president. A church in a small town in Kentucky took out a full-page ad in the local paper saying, “Do not vote for Bill Clinton. He’s the devil”.

The IRS, after much adjudication, took away their non-profit status for a 24-hour period. That’s the only time it’s ever been lost. That was an official statement made by the church. That’s what caused the problem. It wasn’t because of anything said from the pulpit by the pastor.

Why should we talk about politics?

The term politics comes from the Greek word POLIS, which talks about a city. In Greece, cities were rather small. It talks about how a group of people organized together as a POLIS would govern themselves. This relates to how individuals relate to other individuals within a city or within a nation.

That is part of the social application of Scripture. Politics talks about how people organize themselves for governance. That immediately involves values and ethics and principles for social and civil organization and the standards they use to govern and how they’re going to do that.

That is what the Bible teaches us. All through the Scripture there are numerous statements related to government and related to how a king should rule and how citizens should respond to the authority of a king. Government is described in Scripture as being established in the Noahic Covenant, which is described in Genesis 9:1–9.

In that passage there is the delegation of official authority to the human race for laws and judicial actions related to the punishment of those who commit murder. The fact they were to punish or take the life of a murderer indicates or implies there is a process. There’s adjudication. There must be laws that determine differences between different kinds of murder such as accidental homicide versus intentional, pre-meditated murder. And so that is the biblical foundation for government, which is divine institution number four.

While the Bible is not a textbook on geography, it says a lot about geography. While it’s not a textbook on history, it says a lot about history. While it is not a textbook on politics, it says a tremendous amount about politics. As such, we as believers, need to understand these principles.

Slide 4

Look at these passages. In Matthew 22:21 the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him if they should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus took a coin and He asked whose image was on the coin. “They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ ”

There are a lot of things we can say about this. First of all, Jesus recognized that they are to submit to the authority of the rulers in the area of taxes. They were to pay the taxes. He also recognizes that there is a distinction between the obedience given to the secular, or let’s say the civil, government and obedience given to God. Obedience given to God is superior and overrides any demands from the civil government.

Slide 5

In Romans 13:1–4 we’re told we as Christians are to, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. It also prohibits resisting the authority, because that is resisting the ordinance of God and the government is God’s minister for good in verse 4.

Slide 6

Titus 3:1–2, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. We see that throughout Scripture there is this emphasis on our obedience to the rulers.

Slide 7

1 Peter 2:13–15, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors as those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

What we have here is a range of passages teaching in the Scriptures that we are to be involved in government. We are to be obedient. We are to be submissive. Therefore we must ask the question of when and if there is a time or place where we should be disobedient to government. All of those are issues that I’m not addressing tonight.

In the founding era of this nation, if you have read anything about it, you probably haven’t been told much about how involved pastors were in the War for Independence. The British believed that the churches needed to be destroyed because it was the “black robe brigade”, the term they used to describe the pastors, that were their greatest enemies.

The pastors understood the biblical principles of freedom and liberty and the pastors got in their pulpits every Sunday and a large degree of the content of their messages related to political issues. They talked about government. They talked about politics. They talked about taxation. They talked about the limits of government and the rights of man.

This was common. If it were not for the pastors’ preaching, in the period from 1740 to 1776, we would still be speaking the King’s English and be under the authority of the Queen of England. The pastors were teaching how to apply biblical principles to their thinking in relation to government and in relation to all these other areas of the freedom and liberty of man.

During this time we had a period referred to as The Great Awakening. It was the First Great Awakening and it was the time period when Thomas Jefferson was born and reached adulthood, coming to maturity. He heard sermons just about every Sunday in the Anglican churches where his parents attended. It was in this time period of The Great Awakening that he would have been impressed with a lot of this kind of teaching. It would have helped to form and shape his views on the world. When he was a young man, this was very much a part of his particular life.

After the War for Independence and the problems with the Articles of Confederation, once the Constitution was approved and went into action, our first president was George Washington, followed by his vice-president, John Adams. Then John Adams ran for re-election in 1800 and Jefferson ran against him.

Adams represented the Federalist Party, which generally tended towards a stronger government and a less rigid interpretation of the Constitution. The Anti-Federalist [Party] had a more rigorous interpretation of the Constitution and wanted more limited government. That was represented by Jefferson.

Many scholars opine that this was the most vicious, malignant election in the history of this country. If you read the things that were written in the press about each of these candidates by the opposing party you would think that both of them had the horns of the Antichrist and the forked-tail of the devil, and they sought to destroy this country.

You need to understand what was going on in the north in that election. All of those states had denominations that were state-established. All of the denominations got their money from the taxes of the people. It’s a money thing. Always follow the money.

They did not want Jefferson to be president because Jefferson did not believe in having the states establishing denominations that were state-supported. He believed in voluntary Christianity. Many of the things he is quoted as saying as being hostile to Christianity or hostile to the clergy were written at this time. These calumnies, these slanders against Jefferson, go back to that time period.

They get dredged up every now and then and get repeated over and over again by those who just want to denigrate Jefferson and run him down. I’m not here to defend everything Jefferson said and did. That’s not the point. My point is to honestly and accurately investigate him and understand more about this particular complex individual.

Jefferson was charged in that 1800 election with being an atheist. He was charged with being a Deist, a demon, and an anti-American. He was called subversive, immoral, and a racist who had fathered children by one of his young slaves. All of those things were said over and over in the press so many people believed them. None of those charges were proven then or now.

They continue to resurface to serve the same nefarious agenda of those who really want to develop an extremely strong government at the expense of individual liberties.

The first time I really read a book about Jefferson is a book written by Fawn Brodie. It came out in the early 1970s called Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. I didn’t know anything about her, but as I read it my radar would go off. There were things she said that I questioned as to their accuracy and things like that. That was the first time I ran across the whole question of Jefferson having an affair with one of his young slaves who was probably 14 or 15 at the time. It would have lasted over a period of a decade or more and the claim is that he fathered several children from her.

Over the course of time, I’ve read a lot more about Jefferson. I have a book here which I brought from home called Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis. He’s just as nasty and bad and wrong as Fawn Brodie was. We’ll get into this later. But Brodie later wrote a book on Sally Hemmings, the young black slave who allegedly Jefferson fathered several children by.

Ellis affirms the same thing in his writings. He wrote another book called American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson which is a biography of Jefferson. You keep hearing these things, which are what the establishment says about Jefferson. I have my graduate degree in history. That’s the kind of thing I heard in high school to some degree and in college. I’ve heard other ideas about Jefferson that caused me to wonder and question. Over the years I’ve read a lot about Jefferson and the Founding Fathers and their particular backgrounds.

A couple of years ago another book came out written by David Barton. David Barton is a Christian. He’s done a tremendous amount of work on the history of Christianity during the founding years. His book is called The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

A little bit of what I’m saying tonight is kind of a book review of that book, reflecting some of the things Barton says. It came out in the first edition and he was just blasted by everyone who holds to these traditional anti-Jefferson views.

It’s interesting to see that Jefferson is blasted from both the Left and the far Right and it’s all based on a lot of this false information that we have. In Barton’s book he writes a forty-seven page preface in his second edition. He’s responding to the critics who blasted him because they made his case stronger.

He had to dig in his heels. He has a staff. When I first read Barton in the 90s, I was not impressed. I was sympathetic to a lot of things he said, but as someone who did their doctoral work in church history, I saw he didn’t document things well. He made a lot of claims, but they weren’t documented well.

I understand how difficult it is if you’re just doing everything on your own with no staff and no money. It’s difficult to get to a lot of the original documentation. In that time, in the early 90s, it was housed somewhere like the University of Virginia or the Library of Congress or someplace like that.

Over the years, he has always fought back against his critics. His scholarship has improved. He has a staff, according to this book, of eight research assistants. I’ve met a couple of them over the years and they all have degrees in history. He has probably one of the largest private collections of original Founding documents in this country, and they’re buried in a vault somewhere. He has done his homework.

What he did after he got blasted by several people was to go back and document every jot and title of what he said. What I like about it is that in many cases he gives the “url” on the Internet where you can go to that original documentation and find it.

You have to remember that in 1991 or 1992 when he wrote his original book there was a baby Internet, only barely functional. You didn’t have this plethora of sources and archives. People weren’t putting all these original documents from the Founders and everyone else upon the Internet so you can research all this from the comfort of your own home.

All of that is possible now. He’s just done a remarkable work. There are some issues I have with his theology in places. There are some issues I have with some other things, but he does a good job of documenting the claims that he makes about Thomas Jefferson and about others.

We live today in an era when education on these historical, political matters is lacking. Most of us in this room were brainwashed with a very erroneous and gender-driven view of history. Yet no one identified that they had this liberal agenda view.

I’ll tell you right up front that I look at history as God’s history. I come from a Christian background. I believe that history and historical documents should be interpreted the same way I interpret the instructions on the tax code—literal, historical, and grammatical interpretation.

That’s the same way you should interpret the Founding Fathers and the founding documents. It has to be contextual. That’s why tonight we’re going to spend a lot of time just talking about Jefferson, because when you come to the 1948 ruling where Hugo Black turned the historic interpretation of the 1st Amendment on its ear, he just yanked a phrase out of a private letter from Jefferson to a group of Baptists in Connecticut.

He doesn’t do any contextualizing in history. He doesn’t look at how that phrase was used for numerous centuries prior to Jefferson’s use of it. There’s no historical background and he just plucks out of the thin air of his imagination a completely unique interpretation of the First Amendment. It’s important to contextualize these things.

When you talk about this, part of this is an application of Scripture. We need to understand how our biblical, theological worldview addresses these important issues in our culture. They are matters that affect us every single day in many ways that we’re not even aware of, so we have to understand how our biblical worldview interprets and understands what is going on in our government and what is going on with various legislation. I hope that as we go forward over future years that we’ll hit different Founding Fathers and understand their framework.

First of all, what’s the need for this study? Jefferson is attacked from the Left and from the Right. From the Left they accuse him of being a racist. If they’d had a “MeToo” movement in the early 1800s, they would have attacked Jefferson. They accuse him of being a philanderer and a womanizer. He owned slaves so he was a slave owner. They try to completely delegitimize him.

Fawn Brodie, whom I mentioned a minute ago, when she wrote her early 1970s biography on Jefferson, was a radical feminist. I didn’t know that at the time, but I suspected it. She had her agenda and what was happening as we look back on this is that when we look back to the 1960s, there was this revolt against authority. What was happening from the left is that they were re-interpreting the lives of our Founding Fathers in order to destroy the perception of their integrity and their knowledge and their wisdom and to delegitimize them.

That’s a typical leftist assault using ad hominin arguments that if you can prove that so-and-so had an affair with his slave, then that means nothing he said or nothing he did should be listened to. That is a logical fallacy. People listen to that because they don’t know the facts and they don’t study the facts.

Not only has Jefferson been attacked from the Left, he’s been attacked from the Right. There is a John Birch Society video called Myth v. Fact that David Barton had taken apart piece by piece because they attack Jefferson as being anti-America and being an enemy of America. They believe the same lies that the left does. At some point the far Right and the far Left all believe the same lies. That’s not true in everything necessarily, but it is true in this particular case.

The second thing we’re going to look at Jefferson’s life. What do we know about his beliefs and about his thinking? Third, we’ll look at three specific problems that most people ask about or believe because that’s what they were taught.

The first is that Jefferson had an affair with a young slave girl in her early teens and she got pregnant and had at least two children by him. When he was an ambassador to France it was alleged that she was brought over and he impregnated her on the way back. When she comes home, she has her first child. But none of this is true. This is the basis for the claim that he’s a womanizer, a racist, and everything vile that feminists despise.

The second claim is that Jefferson hated Christianity. He is said to be a Deist and an atheist. He hated Christianity and Christians and pastors. The third thing is that he wanted a nation that was purely secular. He really desired a purely secular state where all religious beliefs and religions were cordoned off and isolated from having any impact in the culture. At least, that’s the way he has been presented by the left and has fallen out of favor because of these charges.

The bottom line is that we need to study the Founding Fathers. This whole thing about knowledge about their lives, their beliefs, and the impact of those beliefs on what they wrote is being denigrated today. As I started to work on this I asked why is this even important. It’s sort of like Hillary Clinton’s saying: “What difference does it make?”

Well, you care and I care but more than half of the population in our country couldn’t care less about this. In their opinion they’re just old white men, so who cares what they believed? There’s this large segment that just wants to throw out whatever practices we had for two hundred years because “we live in a different world”. We have to look at this and we have to understand that there was incredible stability here.

Let’s begin to talk just a little bit about Jefferson’s life. Jefferson was born April 3, 1743. He died July 4, 1826, the same day John Adams died. It’s interesting that they both died on July 4th. What’s going on in our country in 1743 when Jefferson was born? We were still twenty years away from any kind of reaction against British control.

It wasn’t as intense at that time, but there is a religious movement taking place in this country that was phenomenal. It was, I believe, a genuine revival, a genuine spiritual renewal that was energized by the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God. Men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. In the South, in Virginia, you had men like Devereaux Jarratt, and Francis Asbury who founded and shaped the American Methodist Church.

These men rode up and down the trails and went from church to church. It didn’t matter what denomination. If they were Anglican, they would be welcomed at a Presbyterian church. The Word of God went forth and there was a massive response to the Word of God. Masses and masses, tens of thousands turned to Jesus Christ and the Scriptures as the only hope for their lives. Then they studied it. The pastors taught the Scriptures.

In fact, it was Patrick Henry’s pastor from whom he learned how to speak. He learned oratory from his pastor and he learned the gospel and was saved and he learned the truth of God’s Word. That was true for many of the Founding Fathers and those that we revere for their impact on this country.

When we talk about Jefferson’s life, we note he was born in 1743 which is near the beginning of the First Great Awakening, which began in the late 1730s and extended into the 1760s. It was in 1760 that Jefferson went off to William and Mary for college, so he is reared in the church environment of the First Great Awakening where there is such great biblical preaching.

In his later life he lived through the Second Great Awakening. In my opinion, there was a lot of good that came out of the First Great Awakening, but not as much out of the Second Great Awakening. There was a lot of legalism, a lot of evil, a lot of heresies, and a lot of cults like Mormonism and Church of Christ Scientists, which came out of that Second Great Awakening. A lot of heresy, a shift to Unitarianism, away from Trinitarianism, and a shift to more of a works salvation, so it was a real mixed bag.

There was a rise of a lot of emotional religion and revivalism that took place in the 1820s and 1830s. Most of that happened on the frontier in Tennessee, in the Ohio River Valley, Kentucky, those places. That which took place on the Atlantic Seaboard was much more stable and historical and biblically correct.

All of this influenced and had an impact on Jefferson’s thinking. More than likely, Jefferson held fairly solid orthodox beliefs in his early life. I don’t know if he was saved or not. Only God knows. He questions things about God during a period later in life. Barton puts forth and defends a thesis that this is very likely a result of the fact that his wife, Martha, dies in 1782 and he is, according to all testimony and witnesses at the time, absolutely paralyzed by grief.

We all know people who go through traumatic loss in this life. I found out about a friend of mine recently who I grew up with and we went to college together. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. The last time I talked to him he was on the skids spiritually and I really didn’t have any reason to talk to him again, but I began wondering what happened to him. I found out that within a year or so of the last time I talked to him, he developed early-onset Alzheimer’s and he died five years ago.

He was clearly a believer. I knew him through his ups when he was going to Bible class every Wednesday night. In fact, his mother drove us to teen class. Later on when he cleaned up his life from drug abuse and a lot of things, he found a wonderful woman who loved the Lord and got very involved in some ministries and returned to the Lord for about twenty years.

Then life didn’t turn out like the way he wanted it to. He was miserable at his job. He had this problem and that problem. God didn’t give him the things he thought God should give him and he turned against God. We’ve all seen people like that.

Probably in Jefferson’s later years after he lost his wife, we see a shift in his thinking about God. He seems to come back to a more orthodox views in the early 1800s, but we don’t really know what his ultimate spiritual condition was. Barton is not sure that he was saved, but Barton tends to be a little “lordship”. I tend to think on the basis of some of his writings it is very likely he was saved during his upbringing. But who knows?

For the first fifteen years of his life, until 1758, he attended the St. James Anglican Church of Northam Parish with his family. The church was pastored by the Reverend William Douglas and it had a school which Jefferson attended for six years.

Then the family moved to Albemare County and attended the Fredericksville Parish Anglican Church, which was pastored by a Reverend James Maury from 1758­–1760. Jefferson attended Maury’s school there, where he was taught all of the doctrines and beliefs of the Anglican Church, as well as history and logic and many other things.

Slide 8

Maury was an advocate of what is known as Scottish Common Sense Realism. Most people that you read, even Barton I think, speaks wrongly when he just treats the Enlightenment as if it’s homogenous, as if it’s all one thing. They’ll say so-and-so was influenced by the Enlightenment.

There were different branches of the Enlightenment. There was the Scottish Enlightenment, which was known as Scottish Common Sense Realism. Here are four basic tenets of Scottish Common Sense Realism. This is the Scottish enlightenment.

Number one, they believe there is a God. Number two, they believe that God placed into every individual a conscience, a moral sense written on his or her heart. Third, they believe that God established first principles in area such as law, government, education, politics, and economics. These first, or transcendent, guiding principles could be discovered by the use of common sense, logic, and reason.

Fourth, they did not believe there was a conflict between reason and revelation. Really, all of the Founding Fathers were taught within the framework of Scottish Common Sense Realism.

That was Jefferson’s background. That was his training. And after he finished school, he went to college at William and Mary. All of these schools had a lot of biblical and theological training as part of their curriculum. He was never influenced by the radical Enlightenment of the French. Notice there is a distinction. French radical Enlightenment is not the same as the Scottish Common Sense Realism.

There’s a modern Enlightenment, the German Enlightenment, and three or four different schools that are described as part of the Enlightenment, so it’s important to distinguish those things. Many European Enlightenment thinkers were not radical. The French Modiste, the British John Locke, the Scottish Thomas Reed and William Blackstone were strongly influenced by the Bible and were all born-again believers.

Jefferson, as a matter of fact, rejected the skepticism of David Hume. During this period when he goes to William and Mary in the 1760s until the Declaration of Independence, he is still involved in church. In 1768 he became a vestryman in his local Anglican church. That is a leader in his church. The Anglican Church, at that time, like all the denominations, was still biblical, orthodox, solid, and fact based. Liberalism doesn’t affect anything for another seventy-five years. It is still biblically sound.

As a vestryman, Jefferson had to swear to his belief that he would conform to the doctrines and discipline of the Church of England, so that is somewhat positive in terms of his spiritual life. He was friends with some of the Great Awakening preachers like Devereaux Jarratt. The Great Awakening revivals had a tremendous impact on the churches at that time.

In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, who was a devoted believer. So this also indicates he is not antagonistic to Christianity or to Christians or to clergy.

He was a brilliant man. He was well read. He was very complex in his thinking, which grew and expanded and transitioned over the years.

It’s often claimed Jefferson was a Deist, but there’s no evidence of that at all. He’s often said to be an atheist, but there’s no evidence of that at all.

Slide 9

In the Declaration of Independence we read this statement, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, …” Those terms sound a little foreign to us but that’s how they wrote then. He believes in a God who is not only a Creator God, but is involved in His creation. That is not Deism. That is not atheism.

Slide 10

He then goes on to say, “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 ...” I just love that statement. The government just recognizes that we have these rights. They are inherent to us.

About ten years ago I was at a gun show and I picked up a tee shirt, a couple of them, and I love what’s written on the back. It says, “Liberals evolve from monkeys. Constitutionalists were endowed by their Creator.” I love it!

Slide 11

At the end of the Declaration we read, “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world …” “The Supreme Judge of the world.” This is not an uninvolved god here. In Deism God is pictured as a watchmaker. He builds the watch, winds it up, throws it out there, and goes away and does something else and is completely uninterested and uninvolved in the watch. A Supreme Judge of the world is not a Deist god. It ends, “… to whom we will all be answerable.”

Slide 12

Then he says, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence …” That is not that uninterested, absent landlord, Deist god, and it’s certainly not atheism.

Some months after writing the Declaration of Independence Jefferson prepared a speech to go before the legislature in Virginia to argue for the disestablishment of the Anglican Church. Most of the colonies had an established denomination. If you were in Virginia, it was Anglicanism. If you were in Pennsylvania, it was the Quakers. If you were in Connecticut, it was Congregationalists. If you were in Maryland, it was the Roman Catholic Church.

That established denomination was funded by tax-payer money. Jefferson was totally against that. He wasn’t against Christianity. He was against it being supported by tax-payer money, so he put together a speech where he was arguing before the legislature that they should disestablish the Anglican Church.

Slide 13

In his notes for that speech which have been published he writes these two things. “The fundamentals of Christianity”—he abbreviates that Xty. When I was a little kid my mother used to say she wished people wouldn’t use Xmas. The “X” has been an abbreviation for Christ since at least the second century. It is the first letter in the word Christ. It’s the “Chi” in the Greek alphabet. That’s what he’s doing here. You can go back and look at my notes in seminary, all my hand-scribbled notes BC (before computers). I had a “Chi” for Christ and a “Xy” for Christianity. I wrote those words all the time. This is no disrespect. These are his notes.

“The fundamentals of Xty (Christianity) as found in the Gospels are 1. Faith 2. Repentance. That faith is everywhere explained to be a belief that Jesus was the Messiah Who had been promised.” Did you hear what he writes there? He says Christianity everywhere is explained to be a belief that Jesus was the Messiah who had been promised. “Repentance was to be proved by good works.”

His understanding is a little “lordship,” but it’s orthodox in a broader sense. Then later he writes, “The fundamentals of Christianity are to be found in the preaching of our Savior—notice the pronoun—which is related to the Gospels. ... The Apostles’ Creed was by them taken to contain all things necessary to salvation and consequently to a communion.”

Does that mean he had a personal faith in Christ as Savior? I don’t know. Neither do you, but it’s not the writings of a Deist. This is in 1776, three or four months after the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

Slide 14

Now I want to talk about these three fake claims. Claim number one: Jefferson fathered children by a young slave girl, Sally Hemings, and therefore is a racist, womanizer, abuser of women, etc. That is the modern liberal narrative. Many of you, if I asked how many think he fathered a child by her, would raise your hand to say yes.

This has been a rumor about Jefferson since Jefferson was alive. In 1998 there was a journal article that came out in the Science Magazine and it said they had definitive proof according to DNA analysis that Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings’ children. That made all the news shows. It made the evening news with Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw and everyone else. It made all the morning shows. It made Good Morning, America.

Guess what was going on at that time! January, 1998. Anyone remember? What was William Jefferson Clinton doing? He was trying to avoid being found guilty of an impeachment on the issue of lying about having sexual relations with “that woman”.

If you could come out and say that Thomas Jefferson was just as naughty and he’s so great, what’s the big deal with William Jefferson Clinton? That was what was happening.

Slide 15

It was all political. You have to know the context. Then eight weeks later, Science Magazine had to come out and retract everything they said. That did not make the front page of the newspaper. It didn’t make the morning talk shows. It didn’t make the news or the night talk shows. No one heard about the retraction. They had to retract everything they had said.

DNA had to be tracked from the paternal side, the father. Jefferson had only one son and he did not have progeny. He died young, so there’s no male line that is a descendant from Jefferson’s son. They had taken DNA from an uncle so at best, all they could demonstrate was that one of possibly thirty Jefferson men could have been the father.

What they did disprove, which was ignored in the initial report was that the first son which Sally was allegedly pregnant with when she came back from France, could not have been Jefferson’s son so they ruled him out. The bottom line is that after several commissions and several other investigative groups, including a scholar’s group from the University of Kentucky and representatives of University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, and University of Kentucky, they came to the conclusion that there are at least ten possible fathers for Sally Hemings’ children that could have passed down genetic material that might have produced children physically resembling Thomas Jefferson.

They were thought to have visited Monticello regularly during the years Sally Hemings was having children. Another commission that came out said that according to genetic evidence the father could have been Jefferson or could have been Randolph or one of Randolph’s sons or presumably his Uncle Phil or his son George or one of his sons. Any of these men had access to Monticello and could have been capable.

David Barton goes through a host of information and a host of detail to demonstrate that numerous commissions came to the conclusion that it was impossible for Jefferson to have been the father of any of them. So this was just a lie to destroy Jefferson’s reputation at the time he was alive.

We see that it’s disproven by DNA. It’s probably Jefferson’s younger brother because at the time that she got pregnant seems to fit within a period of time where Jefferson’s younger brother, who was a widower and lonely, was there during that period of time.

Slide 16

The second claim is that Jefferson hated Christianity and Christians. Part of the evidence for this is that Jefferson had his own Bible. How many of you have heard this? I said this from the pulpit that Jefferson took out his razor and took out a lot of verses and he put things together so he had his own Bible and it excluded everything supernatural, all miracles, and things of that nature.

There were actually two Bibles he put together. One was in 1804. The other one was in 1820. You have to ask the question why he did this and what was his purpose. The 1804 Bible was an abridged version of the Bible. His purpose was to create a Bible that could be printed, published, translated, and distributed among the Indian tribes.

Rather than having the repetition of the synoptic gospels, he went through and picked key events in the life of Jesus where He did things and taught things and then Jefferson pasted that together so that would be an understanding of who Jesus was and what His teachings were.

We have Bibles like this today. Synoptic Bibles, parallel-text Bibles, and abridged Bibles that make it simple for some people to get a grasp as to what the Bible is saying. It’s not being done to cut out God. It’s being done to create a simplified text so people who read it get the big picture.

When I was a senior in college I bought an abridged Bible based on the Living Bible and read it from cover to cover. When I finished I said, “Now I understand the framework of the Old Testament.” It was great. I wasn’t reading it for doctrine or teaching or anything like that. I was reading it to understand what the framework was so I could put all the details together.

Jefferson’s 1820 Bible is when he witnessed a rise of immorality in the nation. He went on an investigation and searched through all the ethical writings he knew about in history. The Greeks. The Romans. The Enlightenment thinkers. He said that the writing and teaching of Jesus was far superior to anything ever written.

What he did was go through and created a parallel Bible, English, Latin, and French, of all the ethical statements of Jesus for his own personal purpose of reading through all the things Jesus said so he would be reminded of what his ethics should be. It was not an attempt to remove miracles or the supernatural.

In fact, in the 1804 edition there were a lot of miracles. Jesus healed people. Jesus cast out demons. There was a heaven. There were angels. All of that is present in the 1804 edition.

The 1820 edition was not known for a long time and then it was rediscovered in 1904 and published as an encouragement to ethical living. Yet people took it wrong saying “he cut out all the Bible”. That wasn’t his purpose. He didn’t hate the Bible. In fact, he invested in the publication of several Bibles over the years so printers would have the money to be able to publish them. That was called a subscription then.

You subscribed and you’re basically investing in these printers. Today we would call it a pre-publication investment. Logos does this all the time. They want to publish something but they want to know if they have enough people to buy the end product so you get to pony up your money and give them your credit card. If they think they have enough people who are going to pay for the product when it’s done, they go and do the work to turn it into electronic text.

This was what Jefferson was doing. He was also responsible for legislation that would send missionaries to the Indians. He was responsible also for other things that took tax-payer money. One of the most interesting things is what happened in the Capitol Building.

I am seven and a half pages into my notes. I’ve not hit the third one yet which is the important one. It’s church and state and I have four and half pages of notes on that. I don’t think I can synthesize that so we’ll come back and talk about the wall of separation and finish this up next Thursday night.

Closing Prayer

“Father, thank You for this opportunity to go through these things and to understand that Your Word had a tremendous impact on our Founding Fathers. The two that are typically used as examples of Deists and atheists, Franklin and Jefferson, were probably far from that. We don’t know if they were actually saved, but they were not what is often claimed.

“Father, we recognize that just as in our culture we have a lot of believers who think like unbelievers, at that time there were a lot of unbelievers who thought like believers, because they were surrounded by the Judeo-Christian culture. They wrote these documents. They had tremendous wisdom. As a result of that wisdom we have the freedoms and liberty we do, and when that foundation of Judeo-Christianity is removed, then the edifice of our liberty and freedom will not stand.

“Father, our only hope is in a restoration of Your Word and the truth of Your Word. We pray that You would raise up men and women to teach the Word and tell one another the gospel, and we will see a genuine return to the Scripture in our country.

“It’s happened before. We just pray that it will happen again. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”