Thursday, June 3, 2010

George Washington's "Gods"

Boston 1775 has the 411. The post, I think, illustrates the perils of reading George Washington's (and other "Founders'") God terms too literally when looking to "find" a particular meaning in them. Using Peter Lillback's method, this letter of Washington's would positively prove that he was a polytheist.


Brad Hart said...

I never knew that Washington referred to deity as "he/she/it." Another significant point when we consider that Christian theology is clearly devoted to a singular male god.

Tom Van Dyke said...

So, Gregory of Nyssa [c. 350 CE] stated that: "God is neither male nor female." and Jerome [c. 400 CE] noted in his Isaiah commentary that "Sexual categories do not apply to the Godhead."

Brad Hart said...

Last time I checked, Jesus was a dude.

I thought you were "bowing out" of these discussions?

King of Ireland said...

You guys need to make up.

Brad Hart said...

Or people could quit with the random quote-grabbing.

King of Ireland said...

"Or people could quit with the random quote-grabbing"

Explain. I am sensing some hostilities but do not understand why?

Tom Van Dyke said...

The "Gods" thing is what's random quote-grabbing. I was illustrating that the idea of God being without gender had been around in Xtianity for over 1000 years. Washington's thought is not terribly radical.

And what I'm going to try to stay out of, Brad, is this culture war nonsense, ad homimems, partisans attacking partisans over trivia about the Founding in order to brand them liars.

Self-published authors dissing self-published authors about being self-published.

Unaccredited "historians" attacking unaccredited "historians." It is to laugh.

But as a great man once said, relax, it's just a blog.

Mark D. said...

God's lack of gender is also well-attested to in St. Thomas Aquinas. Of course Christianity affirms that Jesus was male -- that's part of the doctrine of the Incarnation -- but both the Father and the Holy Spirit are genderless.

Brian Tubbs said...

The Father and Holy Spirit are 'genderless' only in the sense that they are spiritual beings without human male anatomy. But the term "Father" (which Jesus uses) is clearly masculine.

As for Washington, I think people are reading way too much into this. The man loved to read literature, read and watch plays, etc. and he enjoyed employing phrases from said literature in his writings. Chances are this is what is going on with his "Gods" quote.

I will grant, however, that this definitely proves George Washington was NOT a fundamentalist Christian, as a strict fundamentalist would never use such a term even if only using it for rhetorical flourish.

But very few people out there claim GW was a fundamentalist, so I'm not sure what all this accomplishes, other than making an interesting "Hmmmm" kind of observation.