Christianity of the Founders

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The definition of a Christian
A Christian is someone who believes and confesses Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, physically died for his/her sins, was buried, rose again the third day according to the scriptures, and was seen by hundreds of people after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-6 and 1 John 4:1-3).

The definition of a deist
A deist is someone who believes God created the world which thereafter operates only by natural and self-sustaining laws of the Creator without His miraculous intervention. A deist does not believe the divinity of Christ in His claim, "I and the Father are one (John 10:30)," because they don't believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible. Observations of nature and reason are his only guides in doctrine and practice.

The definition of an infidel
An infidel is someone who does not believe in the existence of a God who will reward or punish people in this world or that which is to come, and who does not recognize the inspiration of or obligation to the Bible. Most of the founding fathers were Christians; none of them were infidels or complete deists.

Since a deist only believes in a Creator-God and does not believe in Jesus Christ, a deist can not be a Christian. Since a Christian does believe God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to save people from their sins, a Christian can not be a deist. An infidel does not believe in a God who judges peoples’ actions nor in the Bible that dictates which actions are good and bad, so that they can live how they please. An atheist doesn’t believe God even exists. Benjamin Franklin wrote the following in "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America": "...that serious Religion, under its various Denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great Age in that Country, without having their Piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel."

John Jay told atheists he believed in Christ
John Jay served as the President of the Continental Congress from 1778-1779. He wrote five articles in the Federalist Papers. In a letter to John Bristed, April 23, 1811, Jay recounted a conversation he had with several atheists while in France for the signing of the Treaty of Paris: "I was at a large party, of which were several of that description. They spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. I took no part in the conversation. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ. I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did. ...I frequently observed him drawing the conversation towards religion, and I constantly gave it another direction. He, nevertheless, during one of his visits, very abruptly remarked that there was no God, and he hoped the time would come when there would be no religion in the world. I very concisely remarked that if there was no God there could be no moral obligations, and I did not see how society could subsist without them."

Alexander Hamilton could prove the truth of Christianity

Alexander Hamilton was an author of the Federalist Papers and the first Secretary of the Treasury. He stated, "I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man." Robert Troup, his roommate at King's College described Alexander Hamilton as: "Attentive to public worship and in the habit of praying upon his knees both night and morning. ...I have lived in the same room with him for some time, and I have often been powerfully affected by the fervor and eloquence of his prayers. He had read many of the polemical writers on religious subjects, and he was a zealous believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. ...I confess that the arguments with which he was accustomed to justify his belief, have tended in no small degree to confirm my own faith in revealed religion."

George Washington, the first President, was noted for his prayer life
The following is from a 24 page devotional book credited to have been prepared by Washington for his own use: "Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and forever for His sake, who lay down in the grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

John Adams, the second President, was "a fellow disciple"
John Adams wrote the following in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush on January 21, 1810: "The Christian Religion, as I understand it, is the brightest of the glory and the express portrait of the eternal, self-evident, independent, benevolent, all-powerful and all-merciful Creator, Preserver and Father of the Universe, the first good, first perfect, and first fair. It will last as long as the world. Neither savage nor civilized man could ever have discovered or invented it. Ask me not then whether I am a Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian. As far as they are Christians, I wish to be a fellow disciple of them all.

James Madison, the fourth President, studied his Bible and took notes
The following are some of the notes James Madison made in his personal Bible: "Christ's Divinity appears by St. John -- 'And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God!' Resurrection testified to and witnessed by the Apostles -- 'And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.' Apostles did greater Miracles than Christ, in the matter, not manner. Grace, it is the free gift of God. Jesus is an Hebrew name and signifies a Saviour. Christ is a Greek name and signifies Anointed. Christ did by the power of his Godhead purify our nature from all the pollution of our Ancestors."

John Adams wrote the following to Thomas Jefferson on June 28th, 1813 regarding the founders: "Who composed that Army of fine young Fellows that was then before my Eyes? There were among them, Roman Catholicks, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anababtists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists; and "Protestans qui ne croyent rien ("Protestants who believe nothing")." 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." Horse Protestants had ministers who traveled on horses from town to town to deliver sermons. House Protestants often discussed the Bible without a preacher.

Signer of all three documents suggested a creed for his church in 1788
Only two men signed all three of America's founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States: Robert Morris and Roger Sherman. In his own handwriting Roger Sherman provided suggestions for a creed for the Congregationalist church he attended: "I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance equal in power and glory. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him."

"At least 50 out of the 55 men who framed the Constitution of the United States were professing Christians." (M.E. Bradford, "A Worthy Company," Plymouth Rock Foundation., 1982). Most of the founding fathers were Christians; none of them were infidels or strict deists.

Public school textbooks claim the founding fathers were not Christians but deists. Public university textbooks claim the founding fathers were atheists (those who don’t believe in the existence of a God). According to the US Department of the Interior, except for Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic, and a few deists, every one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence subscribed to Protestantism.

Deists wrongly claimed founding fathers among them very early
In a letter to his daughter in 1796, Patrick Henry wrote: "Amongst other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number; and, indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is the character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast." Just because a religious group claims someone is a member does not make him a member.

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were neither Christians nor deists
Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were not Christians, but they weren't very good deists either. Their writings both denied the divinity of Christ, but they proposed Biblical miracles for the great seal of the United States. (Deists don't believe in miracles or divine inspiration of the Bible.) Jefferson first recommended the "Children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night." Franklin proposed "Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the red sea, and pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto: 'Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.'" Then they combined the two. Franklin and Jefferson were among the most theologically liberal of the Founders, yet they often referred to the Bible in the course of their governmental duties.

After the failed attempt to revise the Articles of Confederation in 1786, a new convention was called the next year; but the same arguments persisted. Fierce debates concerning representation between delegates of smaller and larger states became so hostile that some delegates left the convention. As the crisis ensued, Benjamin Franklin, host and senior member (age 81), rose to speak of the need to pray to God, and James Madison recorded his words in his detailed records of the proceedings.

Benjamin Franklin requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention (part 1)
Benjamin Franklin requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention, saying, "We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exists And we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances. In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights, to illuminate our understandings."

Benjamin Franklin requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention (part 2)
Benjamin Franklin reminded delegates of former answers to prayer at the Constitutional Convention, part 2: "In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?"

Benjamin Franklin requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention (part 3)
Benjamin Franklin told delegates at the Constitutional Convention, "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain those that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war and conquest."

Benjamin Franklin requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention (part 4)
Benjamin Franklin made a motion for prayer to open meetings of Congress at the Constitutional Convention, saying, "I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."


Term Definition
atheist someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of a God
Christian someone who believes and confesses Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, physically died for his/her sins, was buried, rose again the third day according to the scriptures, and was seen by hundreds after His resurrection
deist someone who believes God created the world but that it continues without His miraculous intervention
disciple student of a master, often used in reference to a follower of Jesus
divine inspiration spoken by God to man
divinity the essence of God, the Supreme Being
Holy Bible sixty-six books beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelations describing the history of the Hebrews (Jews) and Jesus, and the letters of Jesus’ apostles
infidel literally 'no faith'; someone who does not believe in a God or the Bible that judges between good and bad actions
miracle a wonder brought about by God’s power
subscribe to sign a covenant or to give written consent