How did Jesus influence America's founders?

There is an on-going debate on whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Were our early leaders devout believers in Jesus? Well, what did they write about themselves?

BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

 

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 John Adams, the first vice president of the United States and America’s second president wrote in his diary on July 26, 1796:

The Christian religion is above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and Humanity.  Let the Blackguard Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man.

On December 25, 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:

I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world.  It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.

On November 4, 1816 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:

The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813:

I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.

Jesus is benevolence personified, an example for all men… The Christian religion, in its primitive purity and simplicity, I have entertained for more than sixty years. It is the religion of reason, equity, and love; it is the religion of the head and the heart.

Thomas Jefferson in America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, edited by newspaper columnist William J. Federer is quoted frequently. In the 1781, Query XVIII of Jefferson’s “Notes on that State of Virginia” he notes that: 

God who gave us life gave us liberty.  And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

On April 21, 1803 in a letter to Dr. Benjamin, Jefferson wrote:

My views…are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions.  To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself.  I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be;  sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others…

The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.

Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus….I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.

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