Saturday, September 24, 2022

Lillback Repeats Phony Quotation

In 2022

Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary has done some legitimate scholarly work on the history of theology. I've criticized his 1200 page book that purports to show George Washington was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian. Though, let me note the book does have its virtue as a reference for all of Washington's words on matters of religion and government.

I would assume that Lillback is well aware of the "controversy" regarding the phony quotations that the "Christian America" crowd has spread which caused them much egg on their faces. 

But, alas, in 2022, he steps in it.

Now, if you turn to page 16, Patrick Henry, do you remember what he said? The man who said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” He said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The problem is Henry didn't say the "it cannot be emphasized ..." quotation.  I've been noting this since around 2005. 

I know that the older Patrick Henry backed off from his militant anti-Federalist sentiments; but around the time that the US Constitution was ratified, calling America a "great nation" probably would have made Patrick Henry want to puke. This was a man who objected to the phrase "We the People" in the preamble to the US Constitution because it intimated the US was a single consolidated nation as opposed to a collection of free, sovereign states. He wanted "We the States."

This was back when the United States was commonly referred to in a plural sense, as in "The United States are," as opposed to "The United States is." 

But in any event, Patrick Henry still didn't say it


Jonathan Rowe said...

Thanks for the background. Yes, often with these quotations, what I've observed is some second hand writer analyzes something a founder says and paraphrases it according to their particular understanding. Often "spinning" it.

Then another author comes along and quotes the "spun" 2nd hand paraphrase as though the Founder actually said it.

sbh said...

I see that Dr. Peter Lillback also said:
"As we continue on, there are other examples that we can turn to on April 18, 1775. Now, this is a contested story, but it reflects this so I’m going to read it as a possibility rather than a fact. It’s Reverend Jonas Clarke, a Lexington pastor and a militia leader. When he was confronted by the demand to turn over the armaments of the militia and to surrender to the British troops, Jonas Clarke or one of his company said, 'We recognize no sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.'”
It is disingenuous to describe this as a "contested" story or "as a possibility"; it is in fact a baseless story first circulated on the internet without any evidence to support it. It's a possibility only the same sense that Daniel Webster might have defeated the devil in a contest over a man's soul; it's a story someone told. Since Dr. Lillback knows that it is "contested" he must know why it is "contested", or rather debunked. Jonas Clarke's own account makes no mention of this event and leaves no room for it. No other contemporary account makes mention of it. The oldest version of the story so far found is Charles A. Jennings' 2001 account on the Truth in History website; Dr. Lillback's version appears to be based on it.
I actually kind of like that story, but that's all it is--a story.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Indeed. Dr. Lillback is a more reputable scholar than say David Barton. But he still makes certain problematic claims.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, unnecessary. Christianity was abundant in the Founding and there is no need to gild the lily.

Our Founding Truth said...

Christianity was not abundant in the founding. Enlightenment rationalism was abundant. By the time of the founding, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Great Awakening started by Edwards was long gone, evidenced by many institutional proofs