Monday, December 06, 2010

Not as Straightforward As You Think:

WorldNetDaily chronicles a Christian Americanist critique of National Park Services tours.

The pastor in question, Todd Dubord, is quoted as stating the information he is trying to peddle is "'straightforward biography' and not subject to conjecture or private interpretation,..." The problem is the pastor's Christian America spin is not as straightforward as he is trying sell.

What follows is an email I sent to the author of the WND piece:


The pastor's history seems as bad as the tour guides. ME Bradford didn't "find 50, perhaps 52, of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention professed to be orthodox, Trinitarian believers who were in good standing at various Christian churches." Rather he found they had some kind of affiliation with those churches. Bradford's figure is worthless. All 55 members, including his 3 Deists, had those affiliations. The problem is one could be affiliated with said churches for social network reasons and NOT believe in their official creeds and doctrines. Thomas Jefferson was Anglican and disbelieved in every single tenet of orthodox Christianity!

Likewise "Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Benjamin Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas McKean, John Morton, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman, Richard Stockton, Thomas Stone" didn't all practice the same kind of Christianity and arguably half on that list wouldn't qualify as "Christians" according to "orthodox" standards. If Jefferson and Franklin qualify as "Christians" you are setting the bar pretty low for who gets to be a "Christian."

Feel free to forward this to Mr. DuBord.


Jon Rowe

I found Dubord's church's statement of doctrine here.

The question I pose to Rev. Dubord is how do you call these men "Christians" if many of them listed (Jefferson, J. Adams, Franklin, Robert Treat Paine, and others) disagreed with a great deal of these doctrines which your church endorses? Because they called themselves "Christian?" Is that the standard?

Listen, I understand the pastor's objection to certain prevailing ideas that the NPS may be parroting (some of the things the NPS is reported to have stated, on the other hand, are perfectly defensible -- for instance, just because the FFs attended a church doesn't necessarily mean they believed in the church's doctrines; or the FFs and religion issue is something, the finer details of which, folks have to research on their own and draw their own conclusions, because things can get complicated). But he and his don't get to write the tale either.

I am available, by the way, to help write a consensus oriented narrative that both sides could agree on.

But, if there is a solution to this culture war issue, that's it: Straightforward consensus oriented lowest common denominator facts that all sides can agree on. And the ME Bradford footnote is not one of them.

For Ben Franklin it would be something like:

1. Was affiliated with the Anglican and Presbyterian churches (even though he was one of Bradford's Deists!).
2. Believed in an active personal God, sometimes quoted the Bible as if he believed at least parts of it as legitimately revealed (i.e., speech at the Constitutional Convention).
3. In one letter wrote there are certain things in the Old Testament impossible to have been given by divine inspiration (i.e., didn't believe the Bible infallible).
4. In one letter doubted Jesus divinity while praising him as the greatest moral teacher.
5. Thought works were more important than faith for salvation.
6. Called himself a Deist at one point but then backtracked. Seemed comfortable with the "rational Christians" who doubted or denied Jesus' divinity (Joseph Priestley and Richard Price, the dissenters in England to whom he alluded in his letter to Ezra Stiles that doubted Jesus' divinity).

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