Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thomas Nelson pulls Barton book

I read today that Thomas Nelson has pulled David Barton's book on Thomas Jefferson because of factual errors in it: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/09/158510648/publisher-pulls-controversial-thomas-jefferson-book-citing-loss-of-confidence#more

Of course we all suspect that TN has pulled it because of bad press, but given that evangelical historians (who actually have a degree in history) are declaiming the book, that's probably a good thing.  We all know that people of all stripes, both liberal and conservative, rally to people and books that say what they want to hear.

But I don't live around liberals and I don't come from a liberal background. I get riled up when people in my circles make God look stupid. There are such things as experts, and they are to be listened to by those who aren't.

6 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

How can anyone be an "expert" on "God"? Even if God exists, "God" could not be directly observed? But, this is the case with any of the disciplines, as observation is observing, forming a theory and testing/experimenting for validation, or falsifiablity.

One can only be an expert on understanding a particular religious/theological/denominational history, when it comes to "faith claims". What one really studies are the people who claim belief, not "God", and what impact it had on the world.

This is where Barton's projection of "faith" upon Jefferson runs amiss with historical scholarship. Jefferson was not a supernaturalist, or evangelical (Trinitarian), far from it. He was heterodox. But, he did argue for religious liberty.

John C. Gardner said...

This truly was an unscholarly book both factually and for its superficial interpretation. There are many good Christian historians(e.g. John Fea of Messiah College) who provide intelligent discourse on America as a Christian country). Christians should be embarrassed by a false history that we were founded as a Christian nation(if by that we mean that we have a mission from God analagous to Israel). I consider myself a patriot but one who is critical of slavery, segregation, the war with Mexico, etc. However, we have a generally good constitution, an independent court system, capitalism(though too much crony capitalism today), and the Bill of Rights. We also have a vibrant civic society.

Angie Van De Merwe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Van De Merwe said...

John C. Gardner,
How are you using "Christian", then?
America allows for diversity regarding definitons of "Christian". There was no ruling authority, other than creedal assent. But, then, America believes in the right to dissent from a "creedal viewpoint", which is the value of free thought (Jefferson's value). That means that "Christian" cannot be defined, it is an anomaly...

John C. Gardner said...

I believe that each person has the freedom of conscience and freedom to worship and practice his or her faith without restrictions by government(except if that faith is not peaceable). I mean of course the consensus of 2000 years of Christianity which Vincent of Lerens stated(my paraphrase from memory) as that which was believed everywhere by everyone(It would encompass the creeds, something similar to CS Lewis's Mere Christianity, and which has been defined in the numerous writing of the Methodist theologian Thomas Oden. I certainly do not mean that coercion of beliefs should be permitted. See the work also of the scientist-theologian Alister McGrath on Christian doctrine or dogma.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for this link. Unfortunate, but all too true, I'm afraid.

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