A Few Statements about God, Truth, & Life

Nothing fancy today . . . or long. I just want to make a few statements to help provide some understanding for why I am so dedicated to speaking out about righteousness in government and culture. I don’t do so from some position of presumed authority or because I think I’m the fount of all wisdom. In fact, it’s precisely due to the failures in my own life over my 61+ years that I feel called to write and teach.

When I was 25, I knew everything. I wouldn’t have said so at the time—who would be that foolishly bold?—but as I look back now, I see that I thought I had captured most of the truth about God and life. That confidence was shaken, though, when I went through a time of estrangement from the Lord. I walked away from the faith and tried hard to find another way. God’s grace, however, prevailed as He allowed me to follow a path that led to a dead end.

At the end of that path, I had nowhere to turn but back to Him, and for that I’m eternally grateful. He gave me a second chance. He showed me the devastation of sin in one’s life, the cleansing nature of repentance and faith in His atonement, and hope for a new start—a new path. I’ve traveled this new path with Him now for about 25 years. It has not all been easy. I’ve had to live with some consequences from that period when I wandered, and the path has contained some rather large potholes, some of which I navigated successfully, others into which I fell. Yet even in times of near-despair, He has shown me His faithfulness.

I am more attuned to some things now. Sin is uglier than ever to me. A culture awash in sin makes me grieve. The politics of hypocrisy and self-centeredness brings pain to my heart, even as I know it does to God’s heart. Falsehood, whether in theology or political philosophy, brings the response of wanting to correct all such falsehood with declarations of truth. As a teacher, which is God’s calling on my life, I have a natural tendency to discern error and counter it with Biblical principles.

Yet I am also more attuned to God’s mercy. He showed mercy to me when I deserved judgment. Even as I point out error and talk of God’s potential judgments, I must leave room for His mercy, particularly toward those in the culture and government who are deceived and are deceiving others. God’s judgment may fall, but I will continue to pray that it be forestalled and that spiritual renewal may increase.

We are to judge. That is Biblical. We are to evaluate men’s hearts and actions. We need to do so, though, only when we have first taken the beam out of our own eye.

A couple of sentences from a small devotional book that I’m reading stand out to me today. The first deals with sin:

It is no secret that when a man sins he ever so rarely does anything unique or original or new or different. Sin is monotonously the same, generation after generation.

My sins were not unique. God’s forgiveness is not unique. But it was uniquely applied to my life. It gave me a new life.

The devotional also noted this:

There is a perpetual power of renewal in the Christian religion. It is forever producing prophets and saints who keep calling it back to the heart of its message.

I have been the recipient of a renewal. God continually calls me back to the heart of His message. My goal is to spread that message in any way I can. This is why I write.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Theology/Worldview

Most political analysts refuse to enter the field of theology and worldview. They prefer instead to just look at the externals of a person’s policies. Yet all externals proceed from what is internal. The questions need to be asked: What does a person believe to be ultimate reality? What principles guide his thinking? How are those ideas then translated into policy? For Obama, as with anyone, we must begin at the beginning.

Both of Obama’s parents were decidedly on the Left with respect to culture and politics. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was an American anthropologist. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Kenyan who resented and fought against British rule in his native country. That resentment pushed him into being a revolutionary.

Dunham and Obama met at the University of Hawaii and got married in 1961, with the younger Barack already on the way. Barack Sr. neglected to tell her he had a wife and children back in Kenya. After graduation, she stayed in Hawaii while he took off to Harvard for graduate studies. They were divorced in 1964.

The only time he saw his son after that was in 1971 when he visited Hawaii. So the son never really knew his father, yet for some reason, he practically idolized him. This romanticized version of dad helped lead him toward the anti-colonial views his dad held dear.

His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian also studying at the University of Hawaii. They moved to Indonesia. Although that marriage officially lasted until 1980, it was strained as Dunham became more enamored of Indonesian culture and Soetoro was drawn more and more into Western culture. Whereas Barack Sr. was an atheist at the time of his marriage to Dunham, his family had been Muslim. Soetoro also was Muslim. That has led to speculation by some that Obama is a closet Muslim as well. There’s no real evidence for that. He’s actually more of an anti-colonialist who sympathizes with Muslims because he perceives them as being an oppressed people by the West.

Soetoro’s Western leanings became the impetus for the young Obama to be sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham. They were also radical in their worldview and wanted to ensure that Obama was properly trained in that perspective. One can see that Ann Dunham obviously followed in her own parents’ footsteps ideologically.

In order to fulfill that mission, Stanley Dunham turned to Frank Marshall Davis to serve as a mentor for Obama. Davis was a committed communist who had joined the Communist Party early in World War II. He also was the founding editor-in-chief of the Chicago Star, a communist newspaper. In Davis’s columns for the Star, he wrote against Wall Street, profit-based companies, tax cuts, and anyone he considered wealthy. He also pushed for universal, government-sponsored healthcare and major public works projects. According to Grove City College professor Paul Kengor, who has recently authored a biography of Davis, Dunham introduced Obama to Davis in 1970, and until Obama left for college, he was his primary influence. As a result, when Obama entered Occidental College, he was a full-fledged Marxist. That insight, says Kengor, comes from Dr. John Drew, an acquaintance of Obama’s during that period of his life, and a Marxist himself at that time. Kengor comments of Drew,

He’s totally credible, no axe to grind, no story to sell. Drew contacted me because he knew I was researching Davis. Drew sees himself as the “missing link” between Obama’s time with Frank Marshall Davis and with later radicals like Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. . . . Drew told me about Obama’s belief in what Drew described as the “Frank Marshall Davis fantasy of revolution.” Drew, who was a more realistic, chastened Marxist, was stunned at Obama’s unwavering belief in the imminence of a Marxist revolution in the United States.

The link between Davis and later radicals. When Obama moved to Chicago, he came under the sway of Jeremiah Wright, so much so that he was a member of his church for twenty years. Wright performed the wedding between Barack and Michelle. Most people are aware of Wright’s most famous/infamous quotes, particularly his call for God to damn America. But most people don’t realize that Wright, bolstered by his radical black liberation theology, also claims that Jesus was black, that Israel is a terrorist state, and that the U.S. government created the HIV virus to carry out genocide against minorities. His “church” also supports terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Obama, during the 2008 campaign, distanced himself from Wright, straining belief by saying he had never heard Wright make those kinds of statements. After twenty years at the church? How credible can that be?

Wright had a mentor as well, a theologian by the name of James Hal Cone, who is considered the godfather of black liberation theology. He’s also Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. So what does this distinguished theologian believe? Here are a few choice quotes:

  • Black hatred is the black man’s strong aversion to white society. . . . But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism.
  • All white men are responsible for white oppression.
  • Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man “the devil.” The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by the demonic forces.
  • We cannot solve ethical questions of the twentieth century by looking at what Jesus did in the first. Our choices are not the same as his. Being Christians does not mean following “in his steps.”
  • The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. . . . There is no use for a God who loves white oppressors the same as oppressed blacks. . . . What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God’s love.

So much for reaching out to those who disagree. So much for the nature of God as seeking to lead all men out of sin and into righteousness. For Cone and Wright—and by implication, Obama—Jesus is little more than the first human revolutionary. He is all about liberation from worldly oppressors, not liberating all men from sin.

A Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Cathleen Falsani, interviewed Obama about his faith in 2004. Here’s some of what he said:

I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, that we are connected as a people. . . . The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they’re going to hell.

The columnist commented, “Obama doesn’t believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he’s not sure he’ll be going to heaven either.”

So what is Barack Obama’s worldview? He’s a devoted anti-colonialist with strong Marxist underpinnings who has adopted a false Christianity based on black liberation theology. This worldview is dangerous for the future of the United States. It’s not just theoretical with him; he is committed to carrying it out. This is the first, and most foundational, of all reasons to vote him out of office.

9/11 & the Two Visions of America

Can anything new be said on the anniversary of 9/11? Maybe we don’t need to hear anything new; perhaps we just need to be reminded that there are those out there who hate us. However, what is meant by “us?” America, you say? Yes, in the abstract, but what comprises America anymore? Do I with my Biblical worldview represent the true America, or do Planned Parenthood—as one example—and Barack Obama constitute the real America?

On 9/11, eleven years ago today, members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang together. At the moment, I can’t recall if they sang “America the Beautiful” or “My Country Tis of Thee” or another similar tune. That specific memory eludes me. But sing they did, although some commentators noted that the Republicans seemed to be leading it and a good number of the Democrats looked reluctant to add their voices to the chorus. What a wonderful image it presented: a united nation.

But it was a false image.

It played well for the camera, but the camaraderie was short-lived. The chasm between two very different visions of America is too deep and wide to be bridged for long, even with a common enemy. After the initial shock of the attack, the progressive visionaries began to downplay the severity of the terrorist threat. They even began seeing in their minds’ eye, though not in reality, a kind of pogrom instituted against Muslims in the U.S. All of a sudden, we were the problem, not them. We weren’t sensitive enough to the way they had been treated; we had brought this on ourselves.

That vision of an America that was too big for its britches, and that needed to be slapped down, clashed with the other vision—that of an America that, while often making mistakes in foreign relations, nevertheless had attempted to do the best for others most of the time. It’s the vision of an America that has helped rid the world of truly evil dictators and totalitarian movements such as communism. It’s the vision of an America that retains basic moral values stemming from its faith in God.

These two visions cannot mesh; they are too opposed to each other.

For too long, we have tried to ignore this massive chasm and assured ourselves that we are all Americans who will pull together despite our differences. We need to face reality.

There is no real external union without internal unity.

These two separate visions of America stem from two contrasting worldviews. One is Biblical and God-centered, while the other is secular and man-centered:

  • Beliefs are different on both sides of this divide
  • Purposes/goals are not the same
  • Christian morality battles humanistic immorality
  • One holds to the sacredness of life while the other aborts it
  • One supports traditional marriage and the family while the other redefines sexuality and the very nature of marriage
  • Limited government and constitutionalism inspire the one, whereas a socialistic welfare state is the dream of those who would transform our society and make it into something neither God nor the Founders ever desired

It would be a fascinating object lesson to be able to separate these two groups and let them have their way completely—two entirely distinct nations with two distinct worldviews—and then compare the results. One would go the way of every socialist/communist experiment that has ever been tried, while the other would be an energetic, thriving society where innocent children would be safe in their mothers’ wombs, the family structure would dominate, Biblical morality would be enacted into law, and the government would not be overseeing all aspects of one’s life.

But that won’t happen; we cannot separate the two; we have to make it work somehow the way it is.

What have we learned, eleven years later? Unfortunately, we’ve learned we are not really one people. We are not united. Our foundations are crumbling and we are in danger of turning our backs on the God who gave us life and liberty. If we choose that path, we are lost.

God didn’t make 9/11 happen. It was the brainchild of perverted individuals. Yet when sin abounds, He seeks to use the consequences to get our attention. He will use every circumstance to try to reach into a people’s hearts and lead them to repentance. By all means, may we never forget what happened on 9/11, and may we honor those who displayed great courage on that day. But the best way to honor them is to return to the truth, and to the One who is Truth. That is our only hope.

Nadarkhani’s Release

Youcef Nadarkhani is free. The pastor who has languished in an Iranian prison for nearly three years was released on Saturday. He had been condemned to die for his faith, but he is now with his family. This is a personal victory for him, and I am grateful he has persevered and overcome the privations he suffered. He has proven his faith is genuine; he was willing to suffer a martyr’s fate for standing up for the truth of the Gospel.

But as an analysis of the situation notes, he was not fully exonerated by the Iranian regime. Although the apostasy charge was dismissed, he still was found guilty of conducting evangelistic activities. The penalty for that was three years in prison. He had served two years, eleven months, so upon payment of a fine, he was allowed to go free at this time. This is not real leniency on Iran’s part; it’s another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a confused and distracted West. His release also follows only one day after Canada cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran. “See,” they are saying, “we’re not that bad; it’s the evil Western countries like Canada that are the real problem.”

Meanwhile, other Christians remain in Iranian prisons for precisely the same reason Nadarkhani was incarcerated. For a fuller treatment of this story, and how this episode doesn’t indicate a softening of the Iranian stance, I highly recommend an article from Commentary, which you can access here.

What does the future hold for Nadarkhani and his family? Will he stay in Iran or leave? Biblically, he is under no obligation to remain where he and his family are in danger of death. He could leave with a clear conscience. On the other hand, each Christian must seek the Lord’s guidance as to where he will do the most good for the advancement of the Gospel. Perhaps he may believe the Lord is calling him to stay. Whatever he decides, I rejoice today that he is free to fulfill God’s will for him. His imprisonment was a testimony to the truth; the rest of his life can be as well. May he continue to draw close to the Lord, and may his efforts for Him be blessed.

The New Zeitgeist

I’ve been thinking more about how Christianity and the absolute morality it embraces are experiencing a new, and more vociferous, round of condescension. The culture’s disdain for what are usually termed traditional values seems to be increasing. As I told one of my classes this past week, what was considered basic morality forty years ago is now criticized as hateful. I’m not the only one noticing this:

In the entertainment portion of our culture, one doesn’t have to search long and hard to find the new “zeitgeist.” We are preached at from almost every television program that homosexuality is not only permissible, but that anyone who opposes it is either hopelessly backward or evil. How many shows celebrate saving sex until marriage compared with the number that assume everyone lives together before marriage? When was the last time you witnessed a strong Christian portrayed as a model for how one should live rather than as a bigoted hatemonger? Do you remember when you didn’t have to be bombarded with vulgar language, particularly before 10:00 p.m.?

We’ve come a long way out of many closets in the past few years. As a result, politicians have become bolder in their pronouncements against traditional morality. For the first time in my lifetime, a major political party is set to endorse homosexual marriage. When the Democrats hold their convention next week, reports are that they plan to spend a lot of time advocating the right to abortion and same-sex marriage. They think we’ve reached that tipping point in our society when pushing for those measures will actually increase their likelihood of victory. They’re going to make a big deal over the artificially trumped-up/imaginary Republican “War on Women.” How many will see past that hypocrisy?

Will this really help the Democrat ticket? If it does, we are in worse shape as a nation than I thought. Naturally, I’m hoping that tactic backfires, but I’m only cautiously optimistic.

I’ve stated this before, but it bears repeating: Christians need to come to grips with the fact that we’re not necessarily a majority anymore. We are quickly becoming a despised minority group subject to increasing pressures to conform to the modern zeitgeist. If we continue to resist, we will be hated. Yet we were told in advance this would be the case. This happened to the One we follow as well. As He told His disciples shortly before his crucifixion,

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . All these things they will do to you . . . because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also.

The reason the prevailing culture of the time rose up against Jesus was because He revealed the sin in their hearts. If we are steadfast in pointing out the sins of our culture, it will rise up against us also. We need to be prepared. As the apostle Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

I teach and write with the hope that we’re not that far gone yet as a culture, that a semblance of Biblical thinking may still remain and can be fanned into a flame once more. But if I am wrong, and the hostility toward the Biblical worldview has become so dominant it cannot be reversed, I will continue nonetheless. God has called us to faithfulness, and my purpose for living is to please Him by doing His will, regardless of the results. He looks at the heart and rewards accordingly. He’s seeking a faithful army that will remain steadfast. As His word abundantly demonstrates, He always works with a godly remnant. I want to be part of that remnant.

 

A Harbinger of Things to Come?

My fear is that the violence is going to escalate, and that Christian organizations are going to be the target. The shooting at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday may be a harbinger of things to come.

You see, the FRC is courageously taking the lead on calling for upholding traditional moral beliefs such as the Biblical definition of marriage. For their stance, they are being classified as a “hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others of like mind. This is the same organization that designated Chick-Fil-A as a purveyor of hatred as well.

The man who entered the FRC headquarters was carrying a Chick-Fil-A bag, pretended to be an intern so he could infiltrate the building, and when questioned by a guard because he seemed suspicious, shouted out that he opposed what FRC stood for, and then began shooting. As you can see from the photo of him when he was taken away by the authorities, there was ample reason for the guard, who was injured during the scuffle, to be suspicious. The man, it turns out, volunteers for an LGBT “community center” in D.C. I wonder how many of those letters in the acronym he claims for himself?

FRC is only standing for what society has always called marriage. Christians who speak out against homosexuality are doing what Christians have done throughout the centuries: identifying a sin, calling upon those who are engaged in the sin to repent, and offering a new life free from the bondage of that sin. That’s not hate; that’s showing the way to true life. It’s an attempt to help people who have succumbed to a sinful lifestyle that separates from God.

Except for fringe groups like the small Westboro Baptist crowd [well, “crowd” is too generous a term], no genuine Christian hates people trapped in homosexuality. Instead, they want to reach out to them and speak the truth in love, seeking to turn them from an activity that has eternal consequences. It’s the Christian pattern for dealing with all sins, and it’s based on what Jesus said needs to be done.

The LGBT “community,” on the other hand, has become nearly hysterical over any disagreement with their lifestyle choice. Of course, they don’t consider it a choice; they claim they are born that way, without any scientific backing for a homosexual gene. They have become adept at classifying anyone who critiques them as “haters.” This is incendiary language that can only breed more incidents like the one at FRC. That’s why I say we may be witnessing the start of a series of such episodes. They hope to silence Christians through intimidation.

Will it work? I’m concerned that far too many evangelicals are already drinking the kool-aid on this issue. Some will be so afraid of speaking up that their voice will be absent just when it is most needed. Others will decide that perhaps the Scriptures are being misunderstood and will take sides with the homosexual agenda because, they say, Jesus loves everyone unconditionally. They will buy into the lie that God made some people homosexual, and that it is as valid as heterosexuality.

The pressure will be even greater if the federal government forces religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriage by threatening to withhold funds to students at evangelical universities, for instance. How many Christian colleges and universities will hold firm in the face of threats like that? Those threats may be coming; more violence is in the offing. The first may be allayed by a Republican sweep in November, yet that very Republican sweep could lead to an increase in the violence.

Here’s a little reminder from the short book of Jude:

I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in . . . ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Contending for the faith is about to become more of a necessity than ever.

Barton & Jefferson (Continued & Concluded)

Last Friday, I wrote a post about the controversy over Thomas Nelson ceasing publication of David Barton’s latest book, The Jefferson Lies. My aim was to offer a balanced perspective: I appreciate Barton’s ultimate goal of restoring the knowledge of our nation’s Biblical heritage, yet I take issue with him over trying to force someone like Jefferson into the Christian mold. From my own study of the Founding era and of Jefferson himself, I cannot subscribe to the view that Jefferson was an orthodox Christian.

Barton has written a response at his Wallbuilders site to some of the critiques that others have leveled at him. I read his response, and I now have a response to that. Without going into all the details he presents, I will focus on two of his points.

First, Barton takes aim at academic elites who think they are the absolute experts with respect to historical knowledge and proper understanding of primary documents. I have a lot of sympathy with this critique, but a few qualms as well. After successfully navigating through a doctoral program myself, I can say with complete confidence that having letters such as “p,” “h,” and “d” after one’s name does not confer omniscience. There also is a great temptation to believe you are now in a select fraternity of the privileged; there’s almost a gnostic “special knowledge” quality to this temptation. And yes, there are some professional historians with an agenda who want to rip out all the vast evidence of the Biblical underpinnings of American society and government. But one must be careful not to paint all those with history doctorates with that broad stroke.

After what I wrote on Friday, some may view me as part of that fraternity. Well, that would be almost laughable. I’ve spent most of my post-doctoral existence critiquing that very fraternity as a close-knit group of thinkers and writers who think with and write to one another. Very few of them write a book that the general public is aware of. My desire has always been to provide well-documented, scholarly writing that is geared more toward a general audience. When I penned my doctoral dissertation on Noah Webster, for instance, I determined to break from dissertationese and write in a fashion that could be understood and appreciated by a wider audience than merely my dissertation committee.

So, yes, I agree with Barton that a fraternity of the elite does exist; however, many of his critics do not belong to that fraternity, so to lump everyone together into an amorphous academic elite does not effectively answer the criticisms of his book.

Another part of his defense that I found weak was his assertion that Jefferson only wandered off the Christian path toward the end of his life. I think it is pretty obvious Jefferson was a good Anglican in his younger days only as an external convention; it was how he was raised and what was expected of him. I doubt he ever made any kind of real commitment to orthodox Christian faith. Even when Barton writes of Jefferson’s deviations from some points of doctrine, he does not emphasize that Jefferson denied the deity of Christ. No one who denies the deity of Christ can be a Christian. And this deviation didn’t wait until his later years; his time in France in the mid-1780s marks a decided turn in his views. Jefferson loved French society with its permissiveness in both thought and action. It was this very permissiveness and decadence that turned the stomach of John Adams when he went to France.

I think Barton has chosen the wrong person to try to redeem historically. In my view, Jefferson doesn’t rank very high in a list of Founders who deserve our admiration. Yes, he wrote the Declaration of Independence, but even he later noted he didn’t contribute anything original to the document; he was simply putting into words the general consensus of the time. Yes, he attended church services in the Capitol, but he did so primarily because he thought it important that the chief executive give his approval to religion. He saw religion as beneficial to society with respect to its morals, but he never submitted his life to the One who set the moral standard.

I also defend Jefferson as the author of the “separation of church and state” letter. That letter was not a declaration of complete separation of faith from public office, but only an affirmation to Baptists that the federal government was not going to set up an official church. Further, I use some Jefferson quotes that are quite pithy with respect to federalism and taxes. He is very quotable, and sometimes says exactly what I wish to communicate to my students. So I don’t despise Jefferson, but I do have a critique of his character and worldview throughout his long tenure in public office.

Before we put Jefferson on a pedestal, consider the following:

  • There has been much controversy over his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave on his plantation. It is not conclusive that Jefferson fathered children with Hemings; it could have been his younger brother Randolph. Yet I personally believe it is more probable that the elder Jefferson is the father. Honest people can disagree on this point, but Jefferson’s close relationship with Maria Cosway [a married woman] while he was in France and his general acceptance of lax French morality lend themselves to that probability. Jefferson also freed Hemings’s children at the end of his life. He didn’t do that for any of his other slaves.
  • In the 1790s and beyond, Jefferson was enamored of the French Revolution, which, at one point, carried out a policy of dechristianization. He never came to grips with the violent nature of that revolution and supported it completely.
  • As George Washington’s Secretary of State, Jefferson continually worked behind the scenes to undermine Washington’s policy toward France, which was neutrality. He even sponsored a newspaper that was set up for the express purpose of lambasting the Washington administration and Washington personally. Jefferson harbored the belief that Washington was trying to set himself up as a king. Early in his second term, Washington lost patience with the disloyal Jefferson and would have sacked him had Jefferson not resigned his position.
  • John Adams was elected president in 1796. In a quirk that was later corrected by a constitutional amendment, Jefferson became his vice president even though he was in the opposing party. Adams, to his credit, reached out a hand of friendship to Jefferson and sought to bring him aboard as an active colleague in his administration. Jefferson rejected the hand of friendship and worked to replace Adams with himself in the next election. He placed his own personal political interest ahead of the nation’s well-being.
  • As president, Jefferson, in tandem with a Congress dominated by his party, placed an embargo on all American goods in an attempt to keep American shipping out of the Napoleonic wars. This relegated an entire section of the nation, New England, to potential poverty. It also just happened to be the section that was the most anti-Jefferson politically. The embargo was a major disaster for American commerce and prosperity, it had to be repealed as one of the final acts of the Jefferson administration, and Jefferson left office a defeated man. His presidency was looked upon as a failure due to this.
  • Although fiscally prudent as president, Jefferson was profligate in his personal finances. He continually spent more money than he had. At one point, he sold his entire library to try to pay his debts. It became the foundation of the Library of Congress. However, he fell back into debt again, and at his death his home, Monticello, along with all his slaves, had to be sold to cover his obligations.

Jefferson’s contributions to the American Founding were mixed. His positives were either balanced by his negatives or his negatives outweighed his positives. That’s a judgment call. However, I would advise Barton and others not to spend so much time resuscitating Jefferson’s reputation. There are other Founders who deserve more attention. To Barton’s credit, he has not ignored other Founders who have a Christian foundation, and when he focuses on them, he can continue to perform a valuable service. But it’s time to stop attempting to defend the indefensible.