B.S., Sec. Edu., The Citadel
M.Div., Columbia Theo. Sem.
Ph.D.(Theo), St. Andrews, UK
Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian?
There has long been a debate as to whether Jefferson was a Christian. He fully realized that he was very hesitant to talk about religion. He himself said "...the subject of religion, a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his maker, in which no other, & far less the public, had a right to intermeddle." (1813 May 31. Letter Of Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush).
In this 21st century we need to remember that in Jefferson’s time the United States was being born out of an ancient kingdom that had an Official State Church. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were two of the principal midwives of the new republic, Anyone in Britain who did not profess submission to the State Church was called a “nonconformist” and was the subject of considerable discrimination. Jefferson’s focus was to eliminate this kind of discrimination in the United States.
"I must ever believe that religion substantially good which produces an honest life, and we have been authorized by One whom you and I equally respect, to judge of the tree by its fruit. Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our God alone. I inquire after no man's, and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life to know whether your or mine, our friends or our foes, are exactly the right." (1814 September 26. Jefferson to Miles King).
By Jefferson’s time there were many churches and groups who all believed that they were right and others were wrong. He knew that they all had to be partly wrong. Today there are many more divergent Christian groups than in Jefferson’s time.
We should let Jefferson speak for himself:
"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; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other." (1803 April 21. Letter Of Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush).
"I too have made a wee little book, from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. a more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel… (1816 January 9. Letter Of Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson).
I believe that even should Thomas Jefferson not agree with my definition of a Christian, he is still a father of The United States Of America who should be taken verily seriously on matters of state and society.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Regarding Obeying Civil Laws
Romans 13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
1 Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.2 Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.
3 For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, 4 for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience. 6 This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
What If Civil Law Is Counter To God’s Laws?
28 “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Who Is The Ultimate Judge?
Ps 94 (NABRE)
18 When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, Lord, holds me up.
19 When cares increase within me,
your comfort gives me joy.
20 Can unjust judges be your allies,
those who create burdens by decree,
21 Those who conspire against the just
and condemn the innocent to death?
22 No, the Lord is my secure height,
my God, my rock of refuge,
23 Who will turn back their evil upon them
and destroy them for their wickedness.
Surely the Lord our God will destroy them!
Who Is Glorified Forever?
1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.