Thursday, August 03, 2006

American Revolution & Founding Era Blog:

Brain Tubbs often disagrees with my portrayal of the Founders in the way that I stress the key Founders who happened to be freethinking theistic (unitarian) rationalists.

I would say that, for the other side, he has a good blog -- one that points out facts that perhaps go unstressed by me -- except that he has a permalink to Wallbuilders. And that I think destroys any credibility that he might hope to achieve.

My list of scholars associated with the more social conservative side on church/state issues, whom I greatly respect (though I have some serious disagreements with some of them) include James H. Hutson, Philip Hamburger, Daniel Dreisbach, and Vincent Phillip Munoz.

David Barton, William Federer, D. James Kennedy, and Tim Lahaye (yes, Lahaye, a number of years ago, wrote a book on the Founders and Religion that is as bad as anything Barton has put out) are ahistorical hacks who offer quotations either badly taken out of context so as to be grossly misleading, or sometimes downright fraudulent.

Even Hutson recognizes this. Indeed, in the preface to his fine book of quotations he mentions as the prime motivation in writing this work that previous quote books offered by religious conservative "scholars" (I put that word in quotations because none of them, it seems, are trained historians) have been so shoddy. His words:

Few compilers of the religious quote books are academic historians....The[ir] contempt for professional historians seems, unfortunately, to have fostered a corresponding contempt for the craft of history, for some of the compilers display a cavalier attitude toward factual accuracy and the use of evidence which comprises the integrity of their work....Convinced that the subject, Religion and the Founding, deserves better treatment than it has received in the religious quote book genre, I offer a quote book that is as objective as possible and that conforms to the canons of historical scholarship.

P. x.

It is a great, and very useful book.


Brian Tubbs said...


Thanks for the mention.

Say, if I do a permalink to your blog as well as Wallbuilders, will that redeem myself somewhat? :-)

To be honest, I haven't completed my link list. So, I'm open to recommendations.

I think Wallbuilders represents a side of the discussion that needs to be heard. I don't agree with everything they say, and I acknowledge some of the errors you've caught them in.

But I think you've made some mistakes too, and so have the folks at the ACLU, Americans United For the Separation of Church & State, and so on -- mistakes, that is, when it comes to discussing the Founders and religion.

So, perhaps we all (myself included) need to cut each other some slack.

-Brian Tubbs

Brian Tubbs said...

Done! You're now a permalink too.

Even though I am right-of-center (though not as - I hope you recognize - as far to the right as D. James Kennedy and David Barton when it comes to the Founders), I try to be fair. And that's why I plan to continue contributing to discussions over here on your site. Helps keep me accountable.

-Brian Tubbs

Jonathan said...

Yes, you have redeemed yourself. I'd say the link to me definitely cancels out the Barton permalink.

I'll return the favor tomorrow.

I'd also highly suggest ordering a copy of Gregg Frazer's Ph.D. thesis on Theistic Rationalism (it cost 40 bucks for an unbound copy; that's the downside).

Greg is an orthodox, evangelical Christian, (he believes in a literal 6-day creation) who teaches at a conservative Christian college, which makes his thesis all the more interesting. He's not a "secularist" either, as he agrees the original public meaning of the Establishment Clause is not what the ACLU or the Supreme Court for that matter, make it out to be.

But everything I've read in the historical record confirms his thesis on the Key Founders not being Christians (or strict Deists) and that whatever the statistical number of their makeup, that their ideological view on how civil governments ought to be constructed was the one that dominanted the Founding.

Gary North has a similar thesis, on how the key Whig Founders' political ideology broke with the traditional Christian understanding of government far more so than many religious conservatives realize. Except North's is downright hostile to our Founders, and goes off on an anti-Masonic conspiratorial rant.

Frazer does criticize (more reasonably though) the at times arrogance of Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin in their theological assertions.

The one on Adams is my favorite: that even if God himself told him the Trinity were true, he wouldn't believe it.

Brian Tubbs said...

I'll check out Frazer. That sounds interesting.

What do you think of Mark Noll's America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln?

Noll pretty much agrees with you in your categorization of Washington, but in spite of that, it's a great resource. :-)

-Brian Tubbs

Jonathan said...

I haven't read Noll's work, but I plan on doing so. In the meantime, see my post on Madison.

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