Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Walters on America's Deist Founding

Here.  Kerry Walters of Gettysburg College is one of the leading promoters of the Deist Founding thesis.  Ed Brayton takes him to task, arguing for a more accurate and nuanced view.

One thing I liked about Walters' article is the discussion of Bishop James Madison (President Madison's first cousin).  I'm not sure whether BJM was orthodox.  However he did promote Enlightenment theories, like the perfectibility of man, seemingly at odds with traditional Christianity and intermixed them with his "Christian" theology.

Bishop Madison was the kind of "Christian" that Jefferson liked.  Here is Jefferson's letter to BJM, dated Jan. 31, 1800.

1 comment:

Kerry Walters said...

So many people have pointed out Ed Brayton's article to me that I think I must respond.

He takes me to task on two counts. The first is that the Founding Fathers must've believed in a personal God who interferes in nature because some of them write about Providence. But when they used the word, the context is always in reference to natural physical and moral laws, not divine intervention.

Second, Mr. Brayton claims that I misspoke when I said that Thomas Paine wasn't an admirer of Jesus's ethics. While it's true that in Age of Reason Part 1, Paine praises Jesus's ethics, in Age of Reason Part 2, Conclusion (which must be considered his final word on the matter), he savages them, especially the injunctions to turn the other cheek and love one's enemies.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond, and for a fantastic blog.