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Was Thomas Jefferson a Deist?

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  • Was Thomas Jefferson a Deist?

    I believe Thomas Jefferson was a Deist. Others may post their citations that may support he was a traditional Christian.

    Source: http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/age-jefferson-and-madisonreligion/essays/thomas-jefferson-and-deism



    Thomas Jefferson and Deism

    by Peter S. Onuf

    Of all the American founders, Thomas Jefferson is most closely associated with deism, the Enlightenment faith in a rational, law-governed world created by a “supreme architect” or cosmic “clockmaker.” For many modern Americans, deist and “Christian” are antonyms, juxtaposing prideful reason—the apotheosis of man—and a humble faith in an all-powerful, triune Godhead. But the terminology is misleading and the opposition false.

    Deism never constituted a coherent, organized force either in Britain or the United States. With other statesmen of the Revolutionary age, Jefferson expressed familiar deist sentiments. For this apostle of reason, the natural world was like a great book, made legible to scientists (or “natural philosophers”) through its predictable and lawful patterns. Enlightened men who discerned nature’s laws could begin to master the world, promoting the improvement of man’s lot and fulfilling God’s original intentions for His creation. Even politics could be reduced to a science, Revolutionary law-givers insisted, as they crafted new constitutions for self-governing peoples in the states and for the federal union. These constitutions were like machines or instruments for determining and enacting the will of a progressively more enlightened political public: they were something like the great clock that the deists’ clockmaker God had set in motion at the beginning of time. Of course, Jefferson and his fellow Revolutionaries did not presume to take God’s place in creating their own new world. To the contrary, they (metaphorically) killed King George III—a false god and illegitimate sovereign—in the name of their true sovereign, the God who pious patriots worshiped in their churches. With the break from Britain Revolutionaries sought to align their purposes with God’s plans for them and the world. The hubris of rebels who made their own law was thus transformed into a providential imperative, as self-declared “Americans” assumed “the separate and equal station” among “the powers of the earth . . . to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.”

    © Copyright Original Source



    Other founding Fathers ay have been Deist or Deist sentiments also.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 07-11-2015, 05:16 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    This source references Jefferson's correspondence supporting Deism.

    Source: http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/jefferson_deist.htm



    There is no question Jefferson rejected the Bible as divine revelation and rejected the divinity of Jesus. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson's appeal was to the God of the Deist, "Nature's God," not specifically to the God of Christianity (see letter dated Sep. 14, 1813, to Jefferson from John Adams equating "Nature's God" with "the revelation from nature").

    As President, Jefferson occasionally attended church services; but, he was not a communing member of any Christian church. Further, he refused to proclaim any national days of prayer or thanksgiving.

    Jefferson says he was a "Materialist" (letter to Short, Apr. 13, 1820) and a "Unitarian" (letter to Waterhouse, Jan. 8, 1825). Jefferson rejected the Christian doctrine of the "Trinity" (letter to Derieux, Jul. 25, 1788), as well as the doctrine of an eternal Hell (letter to Van der Kemp, May 1, 1817).

    Further, Jefferson specifically named Joseph Priestly (English Unitarian who moved to America) and Conyers Middleton (English Deist) and said: "I rest on them ... as the basis of my own faith" (letter to Adams, Aug. 22, 1813). Therefore, without using the actual words, Jefferson issued an authentic statement claiming Deism as his faith.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes he was, and so was Benjamin Franklin. I read the history books. Are you posting this for anything more than the attention?
      A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
      George Bernard Shaw

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
        Yes he was, and so was Benjamin Franklin. I read the history books. Are you posting this for anything more than the attention?
        Not everyone agrees with this version of the history books. Seer in another thread stated that Thomas Jefferson was not a Deist, and has voiced objections of others like John Adams being a Unitarian. There are many who argue against Deism as having a influence on the Founding Fathers of our country.

        If there are other sources that I am not aware of that questions that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist I would like to hear from seer and others.

        In post #106 The Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against 10 Commandment monument

        Originally posted by seer
        Just so we are clear, your claim that Jefferson was a Deist was false.
        Last edited by shunyadragon; 07-11-2015, 05:49 PM.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Did Jefferson ever claim that he was Deist? Please give a reference in his own words.

          "For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. 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 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 for ever . . . ." - Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII
          http://www.monticello.org/site/jeffe...erson-memorial

          So Jefferson believed that God interfered with human affairs. Something no Deist of the time believed.
          Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

          Comment


          • #6
            Jefferson was protective of his religious identity.

            1803 April 21. (Jefferson to Benjamin Rush). "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."
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
              Yes he was, and so was Benjamin Franklin. I read the history books. Are you posting this for anything more than the attention?
              Jefferson was not a Deist. Franklin left Deism:

              Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography, "Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but each of them having afterwards wrong'd me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards me (who was another freethinker) and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho' it might be true, was not very useful."[53][54] Franklin also wrote that "the Deity sometimes interferes by his particular Providence, and sets aside the Events which would otherwise have been produc'd in the Course of Nature, or by the Free Agency of Man.[55] He later stated, in the Constitutional Convention, that "the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men."[56]

              For his part, Thomas Jefferson is perhaps one of the Founding Fathers with the most outspoken of Deist tendencies, though he is not known to have called himself a deist, generally referring to himself as a Unitarian.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism#..._United_States
              Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                Jefferson was protective of his religious identity.

                1803 April 21. (Jefferson to Benjamin Rush). "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."
                Unitarian Deists of the time considered themselves Christians, and may still do today even though they also believe in deism.
                Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                go with the flow the river knows . . .

                Frank

                I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  Unitarian Deists of the time considered themselves Christians, and may still do today even though they also believe in deism.
                  Deism of that day did not believe that God interfered with human affairs. Jefferson did.
                  Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by seer View Post
                    Deism of that day did not believe that God interfered with human affairs. Jefferson did.
                    The difference at that time was not as clear as it is today. I believ inn these letters Thomas Jefferson declared his Deist belief.

                    Source: Source: [url

                    http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/jefferson_deist.htm][/url]

                    Jefferson says he was a "Materialist" (letter to Short, Apr. 13, 1820) and a "Unitarian" (letter to Waterhouse, Jan. 8, 1825). Jefferson rejected the Christian doctrine of the "Trinity" (letter to Derieux, Jul. 25, 1788), as well as the doctrine of an eternal Hell (letter to Van der Kemp, May 1, 1817).

                    Further, Jefferson specifically named Joseph Priestly (English Unitarian who moved to America) and Conyers Middleton (English Deist) and said: "I rest on them ... as the basis of my own faith" (letter to Adams, Aug. 22, 1813). Therefore, without using the actual words, Jefferson issued an authentic statement claiming Deism as his faith.

                    © Copyright Original Source

                    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                    go with the flow the river knows . . .

                    Frank

                    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Jefferson considered himself a Christian as did most other Unitarians, but not a traditional Christian. He edited the Bible to create his own scripture making it more in line with his Deist beliefs.

                      Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-thomas-jefferson-created-his-own-bible-5659505/?no-ist



                      How Thomas Jefferson Created His Own Bible

                      Thanks to an extensive restoration process, the public can now see how Jefferson created his own version of the Scripture

                      Thomas Jefferson, together with several of his fellow founding fathers, was influenced by the principles of deism, a construct that envisioned a supreme being as a sort of watchmaker who had created the world but no longer intervened directly in daily life. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, Jefferson was keenly interested in science and the perplexing theological questions it raised. Although the author of the Declaration of Independence was one of the great champions of religious freedom, his belief system was sufficiently out of the mainstream that opponents in the 1800 presidential election labeled him a “howling Atheist.”

                      In fact, Jefferson was devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But he didn’t always agree with how they were interpreted by biblical sources, including the writers of the four Gospels, whom he considered to be untrustworthy correspondents. So Jefferson created his own gospel by taking a sharp instrument, perhaps a penknife, to existing copies of the New Testament and pasting up his own account of Christ’s philosophy, distinguishing it from what he called “the corruption of schismatizing followers.”

                      The second of the two biblical texts he produced is on display through May 28 at the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) after a year of extensive repair and conservation. “Other aspects of his life and work have taken precedence,” says Harry Rubenstein, chair and curator of the NMAH political history division. “But once you know the story behind the book, it’s very Jeffersonian.”

                      © Copyright Original Source





                      Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-c...3RjhIvZZfx4.99
                      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                      go with the flow the river knows . . .

                      Frank

                      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                        The difference at that time was not as clear as it is today. I believ inn these letters Thomas Jefferson declared his Deist belief.

                        Source: Source: [url

                        http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/jefferson_deist.htm][/url]

                        Jefferson says he was a "Materialist" (letter to Short, Apr. 13, 1820) and a "Unitarian" (letter to Waterhouse, Jan. 8, 1825). Jefferson rejected the Christian doctrine of the "Trinity" (letter to Derieux, Jul. 25, 1788), as well as the doctrine of an eternal Hell (letter to Van der Kemp, May 1, 1817).

                        Further, Jefferson specifically named Joseph Priestly (English Unitarian who moved to America) and Conyers Middleton (English Deist) and said: "I rest on them ... as the basis of my own faith" (letter to Adams, Aug. 22, 1813). Therefore, without using the actual words, Jefferson issued an authentic statement claiming Deism as his faith.

                        © Copyright Original Source

                        No Shuny, Jefferson never - ever claimed to be a Deist. I mean what is the difference between a Theist and a Deist if the Deist believed that God interfered in human affairs.
                        Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Complete letters by Thomas Jefferson make his beliefs ore clear.At the foundation of his Unitarian belief was the rejection of the Trinity. His belief would not be remotely considered Traditional Christian. His belief may be described as Deism/Monism

                          Source: http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl154.php



                          The Letters of Thomas Jefferson

                          April 1803



                          In a comparative view of the Ethics of the enlightened nations of antiquity, of the Jews and of Jesus, no notice should be taken of the corruptions of reason among the ancients, to wit, the idolatry & superstition of the vulgar, nor of the corruptions of Christianity by the learned among its professors.

                          Let a just view be taken of the moral principles inculcated by the most esteemed of the sects of ancient philosophy, or of their individuals; particularly Pythagoras, Socrates, Epicurus, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, Antoninus.

                          I. PHILOSOPHERS. 1. Their precepts related chiefly to ourselves, and the government of those passions which, unrestrained, would disturb our tranquillity of mind. In this branch of philosophy they were really great.

                          2. In developing our duties to others, they were short and defective. They embraced, indeed, the circles of kindred & friends, and inculcated patriotism, or the love of our country in the aggregate, as a primary obligation: toward our neighbors & countrymen they taught justice, but scarcely viewed them as within the circle of benevolence. Still less have they inculcated peace, charity & love to our fellow men, or embraced with benevolence the whole family of mankind.

                          II. JEWS. 1. Their system was Deism; that is, the belief of one only God. But their ideas of him & of his attributes were degrading & injurious.

                          2. Their Ethics were not only imperfect, but often irreconcilable with the sound dictates of reason & morality, as they respect intercourse with those around us; & repulsive & anti-social, as respecting other nations. They needed reformation, therefore, in an eminent degree.

                          III. JESUS. In this state of things among the Jews, Jesus appeared. His parentage was obscure; his condition poor; his education null; his natural endowments great; his life correct and innocent: he was meek, benevolent, patient, firm, disinterested, & of the sublimest eloquence.

                          The disadvantages under which his doctrines appear are remarkable.

                          1. Like Socrates & Epictetus, he wrote nothing himself.

                          2. But he had not, like them, a Xenophon or an Arrian to write for him. On the contrary, all the learned of his country, entrenched in its power and riches, were opposed to him, lest his labors should undermine their advantages; and the committing to writing his life & doctrines fell on the most unlettered & ignorant men; who wrote, too, from memory, & not till long after the transactions had passed.

                          3. According to the ordinary fate of those who attempt to enlighten and reform mankind, he fell an early victim to the jealousy & combination of the altar and the throne, at about 33. years of age, his reason having not yet attained the maximum of its energy, nor the course of his preaching, which was but of 3. years at most, presented occasions for developing a complete system of morals.

                          4. Hence the doctrines which he really delivered were defective as a whole, and fragments only of what he did deliver have come to us mutilated, misstated, & often unintelligible.

                          5. They have been still more disfigured by the corruptions of schismatising followers, who have found an interest in sophisticating & perverting the simple doctrines he taught by engrafting on them the mysticisms of a Grecian sophist, frittering them into subtleties, & obscuring them with jargon, until they have caused good men to reject the whole in disgust, & to view Jesus himself as an impostor.

                          Notwithstanding these disadvantages, a system of morals is presented to us, which, if filled up in the true style and spirit of the rich fragments he left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man.

                          The question of his being a member of the Godhead, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others, is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merit of his doctrines.

                          1. He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.

                          2. His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.

                          3. The precepts of philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

                          4. He taught, emphatically, the doctrines of a future state, which was either doubted, or disbelieved by the Jews; and wielded it with efficacy, as an important incentive, supplementary to the other motives to moral conduct.

                          Thomas Jefferson

                          © Copyright Original Source

                          Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                          Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                          But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                          go with the flow the river knows . . .

                          Frank

                          I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                            Complete letters by Thomas Jefferson make his beliefs ore clear.At the foundation of his Unitarian belief was the rejection of the Trinity. His belief would not be remotely considered Traditional Christian. His belief may be described as Deism/Monism
                            Again Shuny? What is the difference between theism and deism if deism taught that God interfered with human history? And who ever claimed that he was a Traditional Christian?
                            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              Again Shuny? What is the difference between theism and deism if deism taught that God interfered with human history? And who ever claimed that he was a Traditional Christian?
                              The difference is how Thomas Jefferson defines 'Nature's God,' which is not the traditional Theist God. Jefferson did not believe in revealed Revelation, and viewed Christ in human philosophical terms. More to follow . . .
                              Last edited by shunyadragon; 07-11-2015, 07:06 PM.
                              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                              go with the flow the river knows . . .

                              Frank

                              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                              Comment

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