John Fea Watched Jim Bakker and David Barton So You Don’t Have To; About That Founders Bible

I watched the whole thing because I study this stuff, but John Fea did his readers a favor by summarizing a truly bizarre segment of the Jim Bakker Show (and that is saying something) with David Barton and Brad Cummings as guests. You should go read it.

I really can’t improve on Fea’s piece, but I want to highlight a few things. It is being reported around social media that David Barton predicted that a second civil war might happen if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Barton believes “liberal states” like California will secede. He believes that might trigger a war.

First, I seriously doubt this prophecy. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion regulation will return to the states and California will keep it legal while Alabama will outlaw it — at least for now. I believe there will be strong feelings and some might call for drastic actions, but I believe a return of regulation to the states has been anticipated for many years by both sides of the issue.

The second thing I want to notice here is the crew which cooked up this religious stew. According to Barton and Cummings (co-publisher of The Shack), they got together with Mormon Glenn Beck, seven mountain dominionist Lance Wallnau, and Rick Joyner to discuss where America is heading. I wonder which person’s god gave Joyner “the dream.”

Cummings then said that Joyner had a dream of America’s timeline from heaven’s perspective (because of course America is central in God’s mind). The bottom line is that Joyner said the time line ended with a second American civil war which this time will be “successful” in achieving equality. Let me quote what Fea had to say about this segment of the video:

Barton then affirms Joyner’s vision, and in doing so he says some accurate things about the failure of the founders to deliver on matters of racial equality.  This is a huge step for Barton. It led me to wonder where he was going this.  Where was the culture-war hook?

And then it happened.  At about the 4:50 mark Barton adds an additional layer to his interpretation of Joyner’s dream.  Rather than continuing with his mini-lecture on America’s failure in matters of race, he suggests that Joyner’s vision about a “Second American Revolution and Civil War” was actually about Roe v. Wade.  Barton says that we should expect a Civil War “over the abortion issue.”  If Roe v. Wade is overturned, California and other pro-choice states will secede from the Union and it will end in violence.

Eating this gnostic stew could be dangerous. Barton said he had to be careful how he said it, but there is no careful way to say that it may be God’s will to go to war over abortion. This is lunacy and every sane person should reject it publicly.

As I noted above, the issue will be decided by the states if Roe is overturned. However, even if states do attempt to secede, it is unthinkable to have a war where people die for a pro-life cause.

These people are so far removed from war that they don’t know what they are doing or who they are radicalizing. To them (especially Bakker and his end time food buckets), these sensationalized shows are ways to move products. Cummings and Barton are making the rounds right now to sell The Founders Bible as if it is a new thing. Rather, Barton and Cummings brought that out in 2012 after the failure of The Jefferson Lies.

About That Founders Bible

Barton and Cummings should do some soul searching on their messaging regarding slavery. In the first edition of The Founders Bible, they called slave holder and slavery advocate James Hammond of SC an American leader because he was an advocate of America as a Christian nation (see also here and here). Hammond was just alright then.

For more on historical errors in The Founders Bible, click here.

The Founders’ Bible: Did Thomas Jefferson Base the Declaration of Independence on the Bible?

The authors of the Founders’ Bible want readers to believe that America was established to be a Christian nation. By that, they mean that the basis of civil law is Christianity. One important claim in support of the Christian nation theory is that the Declaration of Independence was based on the Bible.

In an article titled “Inseparably Linked: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” editors Brad Cummings, Lance Wubbels and Paul Jehle describe their view of what Thomas Jefferson did when he wrote the Declaration.

In writing the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson staked the legal claim for lawful separation from England on “the Laws of Nature,” which were widely understood as the will of God revealed in nature, “and of Nature’s God,” being God’s will revealed in the Bible — those two entitled America to be a free and independent nation. The Declaration is America’s birth certificate and legal basis that is bedrocked in Christian principles.

Also, in the Declaration’s second paragraph, Jefferson declared that we “are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Clearly, he was stating facts the Founders already knew. God’s charter for the nations via Creation (Genesis 1:28; 9:1), with mankind’s God-given rights of life, liberty and property, is the foundation upon which the charter or the mission statement for the United States stands.

Perhaps you can see where this is going. The Founders’ Bible authors want you to believe that Thomas Jefferson was writing in code. Instead of explicitly basing the Declaration on the Bible, he wrote general words that really meant something else. The authors conclude:

As was true for the Jamestown Charter and the Mayflower Compact, the same is true for the Declaration of Independence — the basis of law in our civil society is Christianity, as based on the Word of God. This is the foundation and blueprint that informs our purpose and destiny. It is out nation spiritual birthright. To conclude otherwise is to ignore the basic history anchored in fact. (p. 1248)

What is ignored by the Founders’ Bible is Jefferson’s own words about the Declaration. He wrote several times about the reasons and source of the document. When Jefferson wrote about the Declaration, he did not credit the Bible or Christianity.

First, to Henry Lee on May 8, 1825, Jefferson wrote:

But with respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles or new arguments never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before: but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c. The historical documents which you mention as in your possession ought all to be found, and I am persuaded you will find to be corroborative of the facts and principles advanced in that Declaration.

Who wrote the “elementary books of public right?” Moses? The Apostle Paul? No, Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney contributed to the “harmonizing sentiments of the day.” A case could be made that some of that harmonizing sentiment derived from religious sources with religious references, but Jefferson did not mention them or appeal to them as primary influences.

In 1823, Jefferson told James Madison (referring to Lee’s theories about the source of the Declaration):

Richard Henry Lee charged it as copied from Locke’s treatise on government. Otis’s pamphlet I never saw, and whether I had gathered my ideas from reading or reflection, I do not know. I know only that I turned to neither book nor pamphlet while writing it. I did not consider it as any part of my charge to invent new ideas altogether, and to offer no sentiment which had ever been expressed before.

According to Jefferson (and in contrast to what the authors of the Founders’ Bible want you to believe), he did not turn to the Bible when writing the Declaration of Independence. Christian historians Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden got it right when they wrote in 1989:

Here then is the “historical error”: It is historically inaccurate and anachronistic to confuse, and virtually to equate, the thinking of the Declaration of Independence with a biblical world view, or with Reformation thinking, or with the idea of a Christian nation. (p. 130).

The Founders’ Bible is full of these kind of errors. While I don’t know if the authors intend to do so, it seems clear that the idea of Christian nationalism has so captured them that claims are assembled (some with some truth, some completely false) in order to prove an ideological position.

Related posts:

Founders’ Bible Rewrites Exodus 18 to Fit Christian Nation Narrative

Confirmed: David Barton’s Founders’ Bible Cites Pro-Slavery James Hammond as Proponent of America as Christian Nation

David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is Wrong about the Aitken Bible

Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President

David Barton’s Founders’ Bible and Thomas Jefferson

As I feel up to it, I am gradually working my way through the massive Founders’ Bible published by a subsidiary of Windblown Media (publishers of The Shack). In this post, I want to briefly address the Founders’ Bible articles on Thomas Jefferson and the Jefferson Bible.

On page 64, a biography of Jefferson appears. It is generally accurate but it seems oddly placed in the Old Testament. Jefferson had little good to say about the way God was presented in those books.

On page 1445-1449, Barton summarizes the material from his ill-fated The Jefferson Lies regarding what Jefferson included in his two Gospel extractions (aka The Jefferson Bible). As in The Jefferson Lies, Barton claims Jefferson included miraculous healings from Matthew in his 1804 version. As I pointed out in a previous post (and we detail in Getting Jefferson Right), this claim is false. Jefferson’s list of texts did not include miracles from Matthew 9 and there is no evidence that he included them. Moreover, Barton does not provide any primary source evidence; he simply cites an erroneous citation from a tertiary source. The Founders’ Bible publishers place the article on the Jefferson Bible in Matthew 9 which makes the situation all the more absurd.

Barton also says on page 1446 that Jefferson included passages referring to the Resurrection. He probably would defend himself by saying he meant the general resurrection of people on judgment day. However, the average reader would not know that.  The article may as well been placed at the end of Matthew closer to the Resurrection of Christ which is another passage not included in either of Jefferson’s extractions.

Even though The Jefferson Lies is no longer available from Thomas Nelson, you can get the same faulty claims now in The Founders’ Bible.



David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is Wrong about the Aitken Bible

David Barton is certainly consistent. In his Capitol Tour, in the movie Monumental and now in the Founders’ Bible, Barton claims that Congress printed the first English language translation of the Bible. Here is the claim from page xiii of the Founders’ Bible:

America’s commitment to the Bible was unwavering and was demonstrated in many ways, one of which was evident at the conclusion of the American Revolution. With the victory at the Battle of Yorktown, America was finally free from British policies, including the longstanding one against printing a Bible in English in America.

Consequently, in 1781, a plan was advanced in Congress to print America’s first English-language Bible. On September 12, 1782, the full Congress approved that Bible, and it soon began rolling off the presses. Printed in the front of the Bible is a congressional endorsement declaring, in part:

Resolved, that the United States in Congress assembled… recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States. (emphasis in the original)

This claim is so easily checked that it is amazing to me that Barton persists in saying that Congress printed it. The truth is that Robert Aitken approached Congress for an endorsement after he had printed the Bible himself at his own expense. A committee of Congress passed the Bible over to the chaplains who vouched for the accuracy of the work. Congress then recommended the Bible as an accurate version to the people.

Here again are the pages from the Journals of Congress dated September 12, 1782 which detail what Congress did with Mr. Aitken’s Bible. Continue reading “David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is Wrong about the Aitken Bible”

David Barton’s Founders’ Bible: John Adams and the General Principles of Christianity

The purpose of David Barton’s Founders’ Bible is to make a case that the founders intended America to be a distinctly Christian nation. This is a multi-layered claim that has been taken up by many historians with many opinions. On this question, I recommend John Fea’s book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: An Historical Introduction. I do not recommend the Founders’ Bible for reasons I have outlined here, here and here today.

In the Founders’ Bible, historical information is selectively cited to craft a political message. In the Founders’ Bible article, “America: A Christian Nation,” Barton provides a dramatically abbreviated quote from John Adams to bolster his position:

This quote is cobbled together from a letter Adams sent to Jefferson as a part of their retirement correspondence.  When Jefferson was Adams’ vice-president, there were great disputes about the direction of government and the men became leaders of opposing sides. After the bitter presidential race of 1800, the two men drifted apart. It was only later after Benjamin Rush played the intermediary that the two men began to explain their positions to each other. The quote in the Founders’ Bible is lifted without context from an exchange of letters which addressed some of those differences in philosophy. On June 15, 1813, Jefferson wrote to Adams about one of those divisions:

One of the questions, you know, on which our parties took different sides, was on the improvability of the human mind in science, in ethics, in government, &c. Those who advocated reformation of institutions, pari passu with the progress of science, maintained that no definite limits could be assigned to that progress [Jefferson’s party]. The enemies of reform [Adams’ party], on the other hand, denied improvement, and advocated steady adherence to the principles, practices and institutions of our fathers, which they represented as the consummation of wisdom, and acme of excellence, beyond which the human mind could never advance. Although in the passage of your answer alluded to, you expressly disclaim the wish to influence the freedom of inquiry, you predict that that will produce nothing more worthy of transmission to posterity than the principles, institutions and systems of education received from their ancestors. I do not consider this as your deliberate opinion. You possess, yourself, too much science, not to see how much is still ahead of you, unexplained and unexplored.

The passage Jefferson referred to is a letter that Adams wrote in reply to certain young men of Philadelphia in 1798. At that time, Adams had urged the men to hold to principles derived from their ancestors. Here is a particularly relevant portion:

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction that, after the most industrious and impartial researches, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions, or systems of education more fit in general to be transmitted to your posterity than those you have received from your ancestors.

The new nation was still looking for solid ground and faced with many challenges at home and abroad, citizens were staking out political territory. According to Jefferson, the parties disagreed about the nature of science and progress with Adams viewed as more of a traditionalist and Jefferson as the progressive. In the June 28, 1813 reply to Jefferson’s letter, Adams explained his position in more detail. Note the words in bold, these are the ones Barton selectively quoted in the Founders’ Bible. Speaking about the patriots who made up the revolution, Adams wrote:

Who composed that army of fine young fellows that was then before my eyes? There were among them Roman Catholics, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists, Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants, and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists, and Protestants “qui ne croyent rien.” Very few, however, of several of these species; nevertheless, all educated in the general principles of Christianity, and the general principles of English and American liberty.

Could my answer be understood by any candid reader or hearer, to recommend to all the others the general principles, institutions, or systems of education of the Roman Catholics, or those of the Quakers, or those of the Presbyterians, or those of the Methodists, or those of the Moravians, or those of the Universalists, or those of the Philosophers? No. The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young men could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system. I could, therefore, safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles. In favor of these general principles, in philosophy, religion, and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from Frederic of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, as well as Newton and Locke; not to mention thousands of divines and philosophers of inferior fame.

Barton obscures Adams’ meaning by failing to provide the context of the quote and by failing to provide the entire quote. Adams does not give sole credit for achieving independence to the “general principles of Christianity.” He also includes the “general principles of English and American liberty.” The general principles where all could agree would have to be a pretty small subset of principles given the long list of sects and denominations listed by Adams. Also note the religious skeptics (e.g., Bolingbroke, Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau)* in his list of philosophers.  The inclusion of these skeptics makes clear that Adams was looking beyond explicitly Christian influences and lauding some general set of principles which could be derived from both Christian and non-Christian sources.

Look again at the fuller quote from Adams. It would be easy to lift several portions of it to say that the nation was founded based on the American and English principles of liberty or on the list of people from Frederic of Prussia forward. Adams clearly saw many influences converging to provide support for independence, a fact obscured by the Founders’ Bible.


*For a tongue-in-cheek review of religion by Voltaire, click this link.