Even Beck’s Favorite Historians Reject Barton


Yet another twist in the ongoing David Barton saga. WORLDmag has an article that cites several historians that have been praised by Barton and by Glenn Beck, who have appeared on their shows, criticizing Barton’s revisionist history in regard to Thomas Jefferson.

Meanwhile, let’s look at one of the key points in contention. Most historians prior to Barton described Thomas Jefferson as a life-long religious skeptic, but Barton writes in The Jefferson Lies that there “never was a time when [Jefferson] was anti-Jesus or when he rejected Christianity.” Barton states that for much of Jefferson’s adult life his faith was “nothing less than orthodox.”

The Jefferson Lies commends Daniel Dreisbach, an American University professor, calling him one of the few Jefferson scholars who employs a “sound historical approach,” so I asked Dreisbach whether he agreed with Barton. Dreisbach replied that he has a “very hard time” accepting the notion that Jefferson was ever an orthodox Christian, or that Jefferson ever embraced Christianity’s “transcendent claims.” …

Louisiana State University professor James Stoner, one of Glenn Beck’s “Beck University” lecturers, says Throckmorton and Coulter’s book seems “entirely in line” with what he knows about Jefferson’s faith. Stoner describes Jefferson as a “rationalist skeptic.”

Professor Kevin Gutzman, who has appeared both on WallBuilders radio and the Glenn Beck program, argues that “Jefferson was not a Christian, if the word ‘Christian’ has any meaning,” because he rejected the Bible’s “supernatural content.” Gutzman thinks Jefferson’s skepticism certainly predated 1813.

Gutzman’s statement is important. Jefferson not only rejected the idea that Jesus was divine, he argued that Jesus had never even claimed to be divine, believing that to be one of the many myths created by the gospel writers that he called a “band of dupes and impostors.” He also rejected the atonement, the resurrection, the virgin birth, the trinity and all claims of miracles. There’s no way in hell Barton would consider him a Christian with those views if he didn’t have to do so to support his absurd revisionist history.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    There’s no way in hell Barton would consider him a Christian with those views if he didn’t have to do so to support his absurd revisionist history.

    Jefferson thought Jesus was a great teacher. That makes him “Christian” when Barton needs to make the case that this country was founded on Christian principles.

    Jefferson was a slave owner. That makes him not a true Christian when he needs to prove that Christian dominated society can only do good things.

  2. jamessweet says

    Gutzman’s comment “Jefferson was not a Christian, if the word ‘Christian’ has any meaning,” is particularly intriguing. Ironically, anti-theist that I am, I probably would more or less call Jefferson a Christian. He believed Jesus was a real person who was a great teacher, he believed in divine revelation, etc… The ironic part being that for people like Barton and his followers, somebody who thought as Jefferson did would most certainly not be a Christian.

  3. Trebuchet says

    I think there’s a parallel here to the Todd Akin fiasco. Barton, like Akin, has taken what they all do just a half step too far and is getting thrown under the bus.

    The first rule of lying is that your lies need to be at least semi-credible. Barton and Akin missed that one.

  4. Artor says

    @ JamesSweet
    I’ll dispute that conclusion. I think the Buddha was a real person and a great teacher. Does that make me a Buddhist? I don’t think so.

  5. Michael Heath says

    Trebuchet writes:

    I think there’s a parallel here to the Todd Akin fiasco. Barton, like Akin, has taken what they all do just a half step too far and is getting thrown under the bus.

    I don’t see it that way at all. I constantly hear popular conservatives making absurd assertions equivalent to and even worse than Adkin or Barton. So in the Adkin case I’m just as befuddled as I am when Republicans and their loyalists (Sean Hannity) threw Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott under the bus for his Strom Thurmond gaffe, which wasn’t nearly as atrocious as current Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claiming his caucus was committed to stopping Obama, not working in the country’s interests, or all the Republicans who blatantly lie about the state of climate change and climatology.

    In David Barton’s case, he’s suffering due to some individual parties rising to a cause. But the jury’s remains out on how this will impact Barton coupled to my perceiving these parties’ objections to Barton has nothing to do with conservative politics; that’s since none of those involved in opposing Barton are even players in the political realm.

  6. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    I probably would more or less call Jefferson a Christian. He believed Jesus was a real person who was a great teacher, he believed in divine revelation, etc…

    By those criteria, there are a whole lot of Jews and Muslims who are Christians too.

  7. d cwilson says

    Akin got thrown under the bus for saying out loud what many republicans privately believe. I wouldn’t go so far as saying Barton is getting thrown under the bus, but he is getting a lot of pushback, not only from genuine scholars but also the pretend ones from Beck U. So, there are some parallels there.

    The is, will Beck back his own lecturers or throw them under the bus because Barton is saying what Beck’s audience wants to hear?

  8. says

    By those criteria, there are a whole lot of Jews and Muslims who are Christians too.

    And yet they still claim that Obama is a secret Muslim.

  9. grumpyoldfart says

    Like the Protocols of Zion, Barton’s books will be around for centuries. He’s telling people what they want to hear.

  10. criticaldragon1177 says

    Grumpyoldfart,

    Unfortunately you maybe right. Hopefully they’ll slowly loose popularity over the years.

  11. Crudely Wrott says

    Barton is no doubt disingenuous and is peddling an agenda spiced with delusions of personal gain. But, hey, it pays the rent.

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Provided a captive and easily amused audience. History has many, many precedents. The reader may supply their own precedents.

  12. Crudely Wrott says

    I neglected to add that the reader may also consider the ultimate fates of those precedents. The instructive part of the exercise.

    *was watching hurricane news while posting*

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