Novak reacts to some early reviews. He stresses the same points which I reacted to in an earlier post on the matter:
The reviewer in the Sun gave several reasons why Washington was probably not a Christian, but so did we -- in fact, we gave the very same ones the reviewer offered as his own, and several more to boot. We never supposed we could prove that Washington was a Christian -- not from what he wrote, at least. But we did conclude that, taken altogether, the evidence from his life favored the claim that he was. So we laid out all the evidence we could find, pro and con, and argued for our conclusion.
What we did prove, and quite conclusively, is that Washington cannot be called a Deist -- at least, not in a sense that excludes his being Christian.
It's the same Christian v. Deist box. As I've noted before, in all likelihood, Washington believed in the same natural theology in which Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Adams believed. Simply pointing out repeatedly that Washington invoked a warm intervening Providence does not come close to establishing Washington's orthodoxy given that each of the above mentioned Founders, including Franklin who never referred to himself as anything other than a Deist, likewise invoked an interventionist God.
As to whether, given the tenets of the natural theology, its adherents (our key Founders) may be properly deemed "Christian," all depends on how we define that term. Certainly, Jefferson and Adams referred to themselves as Christian, while advancing this heterodox Enlightenment-influenced creed.
What are the tenets of such a creed?
1) Belief in an all powerful, warm intervening Providence;
2) Disbelief in the Trinity, belief that Jesus was not God, but a great moral teacher;
3) Disbelief in Eternal Damnation, belief that upon death, the good experience eternal happiness, and the bad are temporarily punished, but the eventual redemption of all men;
4) Disbelief in the inerrancy of Revelation; and
5) Belief in Man's Reason, as opposed to Biblical Revelation, as the ultimate discerner of Truth.
Note, this system doesn't categorically reject the Truth in all Revelation, but rather Man's Reason is the filter for determining what Revelation is legitimate, and what should be regarded as corrupted.
Now, whether this theology qualifies as "Christian" -- and indeed many its adherents were members of professing Christian churches, and Adams and Jefferson, whose writings confirm each and every one of the above tenets, called themselves "Christian" -- is a matter of debate. But it looks to me that this creed is much closer to modern so-called "cafeteria Christianity" than the type of traditional orthodox Christianity posited by those who wish to claim the Founders as "Christians."
Finally, if any publication wants to send me an advance copy of Novak's book (I'll buy it when it comes out) for review, let me know.