Friday, March 23, 2012


Here at my home blog, this post on Alexander Hamilton's religion, for some reason, is generating a lot of views.

It summarizes the scholarly consensus on Hamilton's religion. While he may have had a conventionally religious youth (as did virtually all of the Founders) and died a Christian death, in between he was not identifiably a "Christian" as defined by orthodox standards. But he was something. What was it? Most scholars would use the term "deism." Dr. Gregg Frazer says no, "theistic rationalism" is better. Dr. Frazer has a book coming out soon that I hope we all get. If things go according to plan I am going to be involved in an "event" this summer with Gregg on the book.

Some interlocutors at American Creation object to the term "theistic rationalism." I didn't use it in my above linked piece on Hamilton. As a courtesy to them when discussing what a particular Founder believed, I try not to load the writing with terms to which they would object, but rather find a denominator.

So this is the term I used, in context:

... I'm not so sure how seriously to take Hamilton's crack on "purgatory." That's certainly part of Roman Catholicism, an orthodox faith; but most reformed/evangelical Protestant creeds of the Founding era, like those today, reject purgatory. The more "enlightened" Protestant Christian unitarian-universalists, however, did believe in Protestant Purgatory, where good people went to Heaven, bad people were temporarily punished there.

"Enlightened" Protestant Christian-unitarian-universalism. Both with small "u's" on purpose (so as not to confuse with official denominations). I think it's without question an accurate description of what Jefferson, J. Adams, and Franklin clearly believed. AND what Hamilton probably believed during the time in which he did his work "Founding" America, until his son died. Though that term is too cumbersome. It is important to note, this creed DID usually present itself as a form of "Christianity" -- "rational Christianity."

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