‘Historian’ David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson pulled from stores | The Raw Story

August 11, 2012

David Barton, an evangelical activist and writer often cited as a “historian” by conservative political figures like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, stirred up such a firestorm of controversy with his latest book “The Jefferson Lies” that his publisher now claims to have “lost confidence” in the text, opting Thursday evening to pull it from stores.

The announcement by Christian mega-publisher Thomas Nelson comes after readers of The History News Network at George Mason University elected Barton’s latest work as “the least credible history book in print.” It was also challenged by an assemblage of “10 conservative Christian professors” in the recently released book, “Getting Jefferson Right,” which accuses Barton of grossly misrepresenting the nation’s third president.

‘Historian’ David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson pulled from stores | The Raw Story.

You may be wondering why this story matters. In fact, unless you are an Evangelical Christian who believes that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,” it is of little consequence. As the Second Person of the Trinity and the living personification of truth; however, loyalty to Jesus and his gospel demands an unswerving devotion to honesty.

It just  not good enough to say that Barton may have created a fictitious Jefferson who is more acceptable to modern conservative Christians, and that justifies a little lying. Because words have power, because God spoke the created order into existence, and because all Scripture is G0d breathed, Christians respect the gift of communication. We use this human facility to exchange ideas with one another and to make our prayers known in the heavenly places. It is impossible to be faithful and sincere in one breath and a complete liar in another.

There is surely more on the line here than President Jefferson’s reputation, although that certainly should get a fair review by professional historians. Americans deserve to be told a factual version of the cultural winds that blew across this continent in the 18th. century. The founders were strongly influenced by Enlightenment trust in human judgment, Unitarian theories which denied the Trinity, Universalism that teaches salvation for all humanity, and deism that accepts only a distant and uninvolved creator. These forces would have touched the wealthy and intellectual people who formed the nation.

This should not be taken to deny the religious influences that existed in the Colonies. One cannot rightly ignore the first Great Awakening of the early 1700s. This alerted regular people to the evils of human corruption, and the connection between Gospel liberty and actual civil liberty. The Great Awakening sewed some of the seeds of the American Revolution and a good deal of the preaching favored separation from England. America is certainly not an irreligious country, although not all of your colonial folks were “on board” with that church kind of thing.

Barton is not doing Jesus Christ any favors by misstating history. The American scene was not one of harmonious agreement on matters of belief. While I happen to be of the opinion that Almighty God provided this land as a refuge for his people to freely worship and practice the Christian faith, this is surely not a Christian nation. A Christian nation would follow Jesus Christ freely, and out of love with thanksgiving.

American Evangelicals still have it pretty good and we are required by God to get on with the Great Commission command here in this pagan nation and overseas. Jesus never imposed his religious system on anybody. He said, “come follow me,” not “come follow me – or else.” He allowed people to decide without intimidation. Jesus never needed to lie and he never misrepresented his coming crucifixion or that his real followers will pay a price for discipleship.


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