Let me first thank you all for your gracious invitation to the American Creation website. I am excited to be a part of this forum.
I want to dedicate my first post to what I deem is a gross misunderstanding of orthodoxy by some on this website. If I understand their arguments correct, they are defining Christian orthodoxy in the following manner:
1. An orthodox Christian must hold fast to specific dogmatic creeds that are inflexible. Any variation from said creeds serves as sufficient evidence of a person's "heresy."
2. Deism, Universalism, Unitarianism, Arianism, etc. played as large of a role (or larger) as did Christianity. Therefore, any reference to the aforementioned beliefs shows the lack of orthodoxy of many of our founding fathers
3. A person's choice of words indicates their suspicion of Christianity.
Simply put, this "template" for orthodoxy is incomplete.
To be certain Orthodox Christianity can be a difficult term to define. What one may esteem to be the path of salvation another will proclaim to be heresy. It is for this very reason that the aforementioned definition of "orthodoxy" is incomplete. We cannot (no matter how convenient it may be) categorize one's Christian leanings according to a dogmatic set of creeds that may or may not be supported by the individual. Take the often misunderstood case of John Locke. To be certain, Locke was neither an agnostic or a heretic as he is often portrayed. In Locke's
"Letter To The Right Reverend Edward, Lord Bishop of Worcester," Locke affirms his belief in both Jesus Christ as the supreme savior of mankind and in the divine nature of God's word as found in the Bible. In his own words Locke states:
"And if your lordship has brought in the mention of my book in a chapter, entitled, 'Objections against the Trinity, in Point of Reason, answered;' when, in my whole Essay, I think there is not to be found any thing like an objection against the Trinity..."
"The holy scripture is to me, and always will be, the constant guide of my assent; and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth, relating to things of the highest concernment. And I wish I could say, there were no mysteries in it: I acknowledge there are to me, and I fear always will be. But where I want the evidence of things, there yet is ground enough for me to believe, because God has said it."
Despite this obvious acknowledgement of Christ as Lord and the Bible as His word, there are still those who refute Locke as an agnostic. Skeptics will point out that Locke's Tabula Raza is somehow indicative of his stance against orthodoxy. How exactly is this possible? It is as if skeptics maintain a dillusional belief that free thought is somehow not allowed in Christianity. Yet Locke's Tabula Raza is actually very compatible with Christianity. As Acts 10:34 states, God is "no respecter of persons." In other words, "all men are created equal."
The same mistake is made when it comes to our first Commander-in-Chief, George Washington. In my perusing of this website I have noticed the tendency of many to classify Washington as anything but Christian, simply because he allegedly backed out on Communion, confirmation, etc. These individuals are essentially making the same mistake that is made when it comes to Locke. They are merely picking and choosing from an assortment of statements that they believe serve as a body of conclusive evidence against Washington's Christianity. Again, this is incomplete. As Washington stated in his 1779 Speech to the Delaware Chiefs:
"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are."
Strange that a "Deist" or "Universalist" would make such a bold claim!
And again, in his March 6, 1776 General Orders, Washington stated:
"Thursday the seventh Instant, being set apart by the Honourable the Legislature of this province, as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation, 'to implore the Lord, and Giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness's, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favour and protection.'"
Again, strange that a "Deist" would invoke a "pardoning" of sins.
Of course my opposition will point to the fact that Washington rarely if ever used words like "Jesus," "Christ," "Savior," "Redeemer," etc. This point, however, misses the larger point. Colonial America, especially amongst elites, was a culture of eloquent speech and articulate vocabulary. For Washington and others to speak or write of "Providence" or "The Divine Author of our Blessed Religion" was both typical and accepted of a devout Christian. It does not, however (as some on this site may suggest), point to a lack of Christian conviction. Reverencing the name of Christ was a proper practice for a gentleman of Washington's caliber. What I am trying to get at here is that his choice of words is hardly a representation of his "heresy." If anything it helps to prove his devotion to Christian principles, because he is following the accepted practice of reverencing Jesus.
In conclusion, let us keep in mind that orthodoxy is a relative term. Instead of dwelling on the ins-and-outs of this impossible to define term one should center his/her scholarly focus on the larger picture. Christian principles were at the very heart of our founding and the majority of our founding generation accepted the basic tenants of Jesus Christ's gospel (i.e. his Holy Word as found in the Bible, accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, etc.).
Thanks for including me in this forum and I look forward to future debates!