Aug

10

2012

Joe Carter|5:03 AM CT

Publisher Pulls David Barton's Revisionist History of Thomas Jefferson

The Story: After being criticized as factually inaccurate by historians and boycotted by evangelical ministers for glossing over racism, publisher Thomas Nelson decided to cease publication and distribution of David Barton's controversial book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson.

The Background: Barton, president of Wallbuilders, an organization "dedicated to presenting America's forgotten history and heroes," recently published a book claiming that America's third president was a "conventional Christian" and a a civil rights visionary.

As World magazine reported, several Christian historians who have examined Barton's books and videos agree, as Jay W. Richards says, that the works are full of "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims." Additionally, a group of Cincinnati pastors and church leaders initiated a boycott against Thomas Nelson because, they claim, the book glosses over Jefferson's racism and justifies his ownership of slaves.

"David Barton falsely claims that Thomas Jefferson was unable to free his slaves," Damon Lynch, pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, said in a press release. "In fact, Jefferson was allowed to free his slaves under Virginia law, but failed to do it. The Jefferson Lies glosses over Jefferson's real record on slaveholding, and minimizes Jefferson's racist views."

According to World, Thomas Nelson evaluated the criticisms, and after doing their own review, determined that the historical details "were not adequately supported."

"Because of these deficiencies," Casey Francis Harrell, Thomas Nelson's director of corporate communications told World, "we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution."

Why It Matters: In 1950, British biologist Sir Peter Medawar said that French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin "can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself." A similar criticism could be made about Barton. While his books and videos have deceived thousands of Christians about the historical record, Barton appears to be sincerely convinced of the superiority of his own interpretations.

Yet despite his claims to being an "historical expert," Barton tends to make sloppy, factual errors and extrapolations that are wholly unsupportable. For instance, he claims the U.S. Constitution is laced with biblical quotations. As he told James Robison on Trinity Broadcast Network:

You look at Article 3, Section 1, the treason clause, direct quote out of the Bible. You look at Article 2, the quote on the president has to be a native born? That is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim. I mean, it drives the secularists nuts because the Bible's all over it! Now we as Christians don't tend to recognize that. We think it's a secular document; we've bought into their lies. It's not. [emphasis in original]

Needless to say, nowhere in the Constitution is the Bible quoted verbatim. Consider Deuteronomy 17:15 (because the verse is only a clause, I'll include the previous verse):

When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. [Deuteronomy 17:14-15]

Now lets look at part of Article 2 of the Constitution, the section Barton thinks is a direct biblical quote:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;

While there is a vague similarity, without additional evidence it is hard to imagine how anyone could make a connection  between the two passages. Does Barton have a quotation from a "founding father" making that connection? No, because none exists. Indeed, the fact that no professional historian---secular or Christian---ever noticed this "verbatim" quotation before would lead most people to assume that such an interpretation should be viewed with skepticism. But not Barton. He appears to subscribe to a type of gnostic contrarianism, thinking that secret knowledge that goes against the conventional wisdom is not only correct but self-confirming.

Unfortunately, many evangelicals who would dismiss the use of such revisionist methods by someone like historian Howard Zinn or novelist Dan Brown unquestionably accept them when used by a fellow Christian like Barton. Many are unaware, of course, that Barton has long been considered an unreliable source. But too many are aware of the legitimate criticisms and dismiss them because they want to subscribe to Barton's vision that America was founded as a "Christian nation." Indeed, as Tom Gilson laments, "Inevitably some Christians will be angry with those who have shined a light on David Barton's errors."

However, Gilson recommends a better approach: "Far better they recognize that the best way to rally around him is to encourage [Barton] to stick close to the truth. Far better we all stick close to the truth."

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Books and Reviews
  • Jeff Schwandt

    There is a degree of idolatry behind the patriotic Christian right movement that seeks to redefine American history as Christian. It's almost as if they think they can bring America back to Christ if they show America was found on Christ. What will bring America back to Christ is the Word, the Blood, the Spirit and a praying, working Church.

    • William Brown

      So!So!So!True! I wish I had written this comment. I'm a conservative (both theologically and politically) and the "degree of idolatry" among some of my peers is disturbing.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      You're right about the solution. One can make a concrete case that several of the New England states were originally founded to be "Bible Commonwealths". But after having proved that, New England will still be the most secular and spiritually hardest part of America.

  • http://www.churchfurniturepartner.com Church Chair Guy

    Thanks for this post. I have heard Barton quoted by many prominent preachers over the years. So much so, that you tend to believe he has been vetted thoroughly. To now see this is really surprising in light of that common practice.

  • http://fobbymaster.blogspot.com Caleb T

    Although pulling the book is a good move, the damage may have already been done. There is a prevailing notion in the religious right that the United States began as a "Christian Nation" and should remain that way, when there is much evidence to the contrary - that many of the founding fathers were actually quite far from the Christian faith.

  • http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com Wesley

    The pulling of the book was good and right, if - for no other reason - than to maintain intellectual integrity in historical writings. If we are not careful to make ourselves informed, we could easily be mis-led by this kind of hagiography, imagining it to be "new evidence" or some mis-understanding of old facts "only now" understood. It doesn't mean we can't ever find new things about our historical understandings, but simply that we need to be more discerning in doing so.

  • Robin K. Wiggins

    I, in no way can possibly know Mr. Barton's intentions, but what I can tell you is that at 46 years old, and after extensive personal bible study, I personally sat through two semesters of a secular American History class and I was amazed at the similarities that I could have in no way seen without extensive personal bible study. My point being that Christians who know their bible through revelation from the Holy Spirit in no way hear or interpret things as do people who have simply studied secular history. You can see the hand of God move throughout history. People that do not hear God's voice are simply not listening or do not know the word of God.

    • Andy

      Amen, Robin. And while Mr. Barton often comes to wishful conclusions with his research, it's very clear that we have Biblical underpinnings in the founding of our nation.

      Even the Three Branches match the pattern of the NT church: House = Deacons, Elders = Senate, Presbyter/Pastor = President. Mr. Barton has been brave enough to make this kind of research his focus. Let's thank him for the work he has done and criticize the mistakes he made.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Except for the fact that the Bible doesn't teach that "Deacons" are a legislative body or that pastors are something other than elders. (Pastors and elders are the same office in the NT.) I think you've been reading the Bible through the lens of the constitution.

        Some of the New England colonies were founded overtly to be "Bible commonwealths", for the purpose of worshiping God, "plantations of religion" they were called by the founders (like Increase Mather). But other colonies were simply business ventures, "plantations of trade". The United States constitution was a treaty of alliance between those various states founded for different reasons. The purpose of the US constitution is self-described in the preamble: "to form a more perfect union."

      • David Zook

        Andy:

        Your instinct is correct, the three branches of government are inspired by the Bible, but it's not deacons, elders, and pastors. Rather it comes from Isaiah 33:22 - "For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us." (ESV)My understanding is that this verse along with the writings of Montesquieu inspired James Madison to create the equal, but separate idea of our federal government.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          The three branches of government and the bicameral legislature was adapted from the British, with it's parliament consisting of a House of Lords and a House of Commons, a King who was supposed to be restricted by the magna carta, and judges applying the laws.

          Do you have any evidence that James Madison read Isaiah 33:22 and was inspired by it to develop a separation of powers?

  • Robert

    I blame TN and their editors, not Barton, for this.

    This book has been out since April. Thomas Nelson made their money in the first month or two, with Glenn Beck pushing this book on his show and their own campaign. This book has made its money and now TN is distancing themselves from it.

    Everyone who can read with any care knows that Barton handles facts poorly. TN knew that. No one would touch him prior to this--I think he was only self-published up to this point.

    This was Barton being Barton--that's no surprise. And TN and their editors did not fact-check it, published it, made their money, and then acted like they were the victim and withdrew the book. Just because I disagree with Barton's fast-talking hagiography doesn't mean I'm happy when I see an author get treated this way. It's horrible. I feel sorry for the guy and view Thomas Nelson as the one who should be explaining themselves.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      If he wrote fiction in the guise of history -- even if he convinced himself first it is true -- there is no one else to blame. A publisher should be able to assume that a book purporting to be history is a good-faith attempt at telling the truth.

      So, are you saying that if someone writes a pack of lies presented as facts, sends it to a publisher who decides to print it, that the original liar isn't to blame, only the publisher who trusted the liar?

  • Matthew LaPine

    Thank you!

  • Jon Hall

    Tim,

    Just from simply reading this article you should know that David Barton has been repeatedly told of his errors and has ignored them.

    Besides, do you not see the gross irony in your comment?

  • http://www.seektheholy.com/ Chris Roberts

    Tim,

    Except in this case the error is something which is deceiving people and bringing dishonor to the cause of Christ (not to mention people have approached Barton about these and other issues before). If a well known individual publishes a book full of errors, it isn't enough to just approach the individual; people need to know the book is no good.

  • Andy

    Here's how it all went down:

    1. The People for the American Way (secular humanists) posted an obscure video with Barton on James Robinson back around March.

    2. A few liberal Christians in Northern states launched a boycott.

    3. This caught fire among the "emergent" Christians, and put pressure on Thomas Nelson. NPR plagarized People for the American Way's blog post on the subject and word spread even further.

    4. Thomas Nelson caved.

    Barton's critiques are no more speculative or selective than are revisionist views on Jefferson from the other side of the fence. Jefferson was a man who went through many "phases" and it's hard to pin down what he consistently believed in his life.

    Make your own judgments. But let's not pretend that Thomas Nelson made this decision in a vacuum.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Hi Andy,

      Did you actually read the Joe Carter article above. I believe he factually demonstrated errors. I've never known the Gospel Coalition to just go with the flow or cave to the politically correct.

      Bad history makes Christians look bad. How can we claim to love the truth if we won't tell the truth about the past?

    • mel

      It doesn't really matter who is behind it if it isn't the truth then we look foolish to stand behind it. It certainly doesn't serve the cause of the gospel if we look like gullible fools.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        You're exactly right. It will make us look "like gullible fools." The intentions to further a good cause won't change the fact that we'll be associated with falsehoods and so, if they can't trust us with the history of America, why should they trust us with the history of salvation? That's what people will think.

      • Andy

        I did read it.

        A few questions (some of which were addressed in the previous comments) remain unaddressed:

        1) Why didn't Thomas Nelson catch the alleged errors sooner? It's been four months since the book's release.

        2) Why is the James Robison interview (originally plucked from obscurity and spread by People for the American Way, after Barton's book came out in early April) such a focus? I don't see Gospel Coalition members being regular TBN viewers, do you? Here's the source of the "controversy," by the way: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/barton-constitution-quotes-bible-verbatim

        3) David Barton has been cherry-picking factoids and coming to questionable conclusions in his books for at least a decade. Why is everyone acting surprised?

        Something is fishy, here.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          According to the article, the publisher became aware of the errors when people pointed them out to them. People couldn't point them out until after it was published. Most people lack perfect foreknowledge!

          It really doesn't matter who is behind exposing (or spreading) a truth. If the "People for the American Way" did it, good for them. That we know that they have an agenda and aren't always so eager to spread every truth, is beside the point. "All truth is God's truth."

          Are you at a Red Lobster? :)

        • Cheryl

          I agree Andy. Something is fishy here. People for the American Way have been far left, anti-Christian for decades. My mother (who has since passed away) used to warn me about them back in the 80's. I don't know if Barton's book is factually correct, but I do know that People for the American Way is biased.

        • Joe Carter

          ***1) Why didn't Thomas Nelson catch the alleged errors sooner? It's been four months since the book's release.***

          I suspect most people would be surprised to find that the vast majority of books (even one's on history) are not fact-checked by publishers. Indeed, with the exception of academic books, I've never heard of any publisher thoroughly vetting a book. Generally, the responsibility for ensuring the factual content of the book is left with the author.

          The real question is why Thomas Nelson agreed to publish Barton's book when no other publisher would touch it. I think we can all guess the reason (hint: money).

          ***2) Why is the James Robison interview (originally plucked from obscurity and spread by People for the American Way, after Barton's book came out in early April) such a focus? I don't see Gospel Coalition members being regular TBN viewers, do you? Here's the source of the "controversy," by the way: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/barton-constitution-quotes-bible-verbatim***

          You are certainly right that TGC readers are not regular TBN viewers (at least I hope not). But the Robison interview wasn't really the focus of my article. In fact, the reason I chose to use that quote is because (a) it is a prime example of the type of historical claims that Barton makes and (b) it requires no special historical knowledge to see the error. I can't assume that TGC readers know enough history about Jefferson to discern fact from fiction. But I do assume that they have above-average reading comprehension skills and can tell when a claim about a biblical quote begin "verbatim" is not even close.

          ***3) David Barton has been cherry-picking factoids and coming to questionable conclusions in his books for at least a decade. Why is everyone acting surprised?***

          I can only speak for myself, but I would say that I'm not surprised, just concerned. Barton has been a bad influence on evangelicals, but before now it was rather limited. It was only recently that he got a book published by the largest Chrisitian publisher in America. And it was only recently that he has influential media figures like Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee (full disclosure: my former boss) praising his work.

          Also, the fact that Barton's book was pulled by a Christian publisher is noteworthy in itself. That very rarely happens and when it does it tends to make news.

  • Brent

    I'm completely in favor of the truth being told in books, but this article and the one that preceded it seem to be nothing more than hit pieces designed to stir up anger at something or someone without offering any scholarly evidence to the so-called errors. If someone wants to volunteer to actually read the book and debunk it line by line with a balanced, understanding approach, then go for it. Otherwise, this article is nothing more than self-aggrandisement through the possible slander of another.

    The trend seems to be:

    Person A: Hey, I think this guy is wrong.

    Person B: Oh, well, yes I think I might have heard that he is wrong also, so I agree with you.

    Person C: Hey, you all seem to have a consensus about this guy's being wrong, so I'll agree that I think you guys are right in your thinking that this guys might be wrong.

    How about let's show some real scholarship and balance to our attacks.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Did you read the article. It's true the article is brief. Gospel Coalition articles are. But Joe Carter examined the specific claim that clauses from the constitution were quoted verbatim from the Bible. He compared the clauses with the actual scriptural quotations and proved that it isn't so.

      The Puritans had laws in some of the New England states that were borrowed verbatim from the Bible. But the constitution does not, contrary to what Barton claims.

      • Brent

        Of course, I read the article. There does not appear to be a reason to believe the tv quote was a part of the book we are discussing.

        It seems as if the author of this article has an agenda. Does no one else see this? To make statements like "While his books and videos have deceived thousands of Christians about the historical record, ..." is highly pretentious.

        If Mr. Barton's works were so well known to be fallacies, what drove TN to publish it in the first place? Was it just for kicks? Something else is going on here. Like I said before, the tone of these articles is certainly not in keeping with legitimate scholarship and critiquing. I would warn anyone against passing judgment just because of the angry rant of liberal scholars. There is more than one side to this.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Do you deny that Barton's alleged statement that the constitution contains verbatim quotes from the Bible is fallacious?

          Everyone always has an "agenda". And unless you're prepared to defend the misrepresentations documented by Mr. Carter here, then you'll have to admit there is more going on than "the angry rant of liberal scholars." Maybe there is the grieved lamentation of evangelicals who are tired of being embarrassed by frauds.

          • Brent

            Is the quote you're talking about in the book? Because I'm pretty sure we're talking about one book here.

            I'm quite positive this uproar is politically motivated. NPR did a long hit piece on Barton tonight. They tied him to Rubio, Palin, and others in an attempt to make Republicans seem "scarey".

            I have no opinion one way or the other, but I know a hit piece when I see it. Everyone would do well to reserve judgment until the truth about all this comes out lest you have to eat our words about Barton.

            • Cheryl

              I agree. Totally a hit piece and politically motivated. Especially if they tried to tie him to Rubio. It is so easy to see what is going on.(For those who are paying attention) I am surprised that The Gospel Coalition would be a part of this.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              So, if the lie wasn't in the book, do you care?

              I'm struck by the complete lack of concern for integrity in your comments. The thrust of your comments is entirely consumed with an "us" vs "them" conspiracy theory with no expressed concern if the author has lied about history.

    • Joe Carter

      Brent,

      You say, "nothing more than hit pieces designed to stir up anger at something or someone without offering any scholarly evidence to the so-called errors."

      You are right that my article does not provide scholarly evidence of Barton's "so-called errors." If you are interested in that evidence, I recommend Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter's ebook "Getting Jefferson Right" (http://gettingjeffersonright.com/). They go into detail explaining why Barton is wrong.

      But the primary reason that I don't provide "scholarly evidence" showing that Barton is wrong is the same reason I don't present evidence debunking Dan Brown's claim that Jesus married and had children: because nobody who is familiar with the subject believes it is true.

      Imagine if two hundred years from now a self-educated "historical expert" tried to make the claim that President Obama was an orthodox evangelical Calvinist. Historians—and even moderately educated lay people—would snicker at such a claim. It would be pretty tough to make that case since there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. The same is true of Jefferson. While he admired the "morality" of Jesus he did not think Jesus performed miracles, much less was the Son of God. He did not found the Virginia Bible Society, or fund missionaries to the indians, or help publish a version of the Bible, or any of the other things that Barton claims.

      • Brent

        Thanks for your responses, Joe. I just feel that something else is afoot here in the guise of protecting truth.

        I have also heard that there were two Jeffersons --- an early more orthodox Christian Jefferson, and then a more agnostic, free-thinking Jefferson later in his life. There seemed to be a pivot.

        Like I said, there needs to be a loving study of the facts and the handling of the facts.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    The Eastern Orthodox Church is based on a fictitious historical claim that they've preserved the doctrines and practices of the Apostolic church unchanged. The claim is (1) historical -- in that it makes a representation about the events of the past -- and (2) factually absurd. The documentation from the early church is clear that one of the central practices of Eastern Orthodoxy, their use of icons, was strictly opposed by the early church. Their spurious claims about history not only undermines the legitimacy of their tradition but casts a doubt on the integrity of their character and maybe one of the factors as to why Eastern Orthodoxy has been uniquely susceptible to apparently preparing the societies in which it is dominate to apostasy. It is in formerly "Orthodox" societies that Islam and Communism became prevalent.

    If evangelical Christians in America adopt a similar mythological foundation story -- that we were founded as a Christian United States, by devoutly evangelical leaders who worked Biblical quotations all through the constitution, etc, we're first lying to ourselves, creating a "Christian" sub-culture of deception and so, the Lord Jesus said, are salt that has lost is savor, fit only to be thrown out and trampled down. The temptation is to lie for temporary rhetorical advantage. But in the long term, the consequences are disastrous.

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  • Jack Adkins

    From a recent statement (on facebook) by David Barton:

    "As is the case with all of our published items, we go above and beyond with original source documentation so that people can be thoroughly confident when they see the truth of history for themselves. We find it regrettable that Thomas Nelson never contacted us with even one specific area of concern before curtly notifying us they had dropped the work. Had they done so, we would have been happy to provide them with the thorough and extensive historical documentation for any question or issue they raised; they never asked."

    • Joe Carter

      If Barton actually had such documentation, he would make it available online. That would vindicate him and shame his critics. But of course he won't do that because he can't.

      One of the reasons people don't take Barton seriously is because his reasoning is self-serving. For example, twelve years ago he was called out for using unsubstantiated quotes (note that Christians have been criticizing his shoddy work for over a decade). Barton wrote an article in response: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=126

      As in the case with the "verbatim" biblical quotes found in the Constitution, Barton tends to think even a vague resemblance supports his case. For example, he justifies his use of the following "unconfirmed quote" by George Washington:

      "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

      Barton admits that the following is the closest that has ever been found:

      "It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being."

      Now the latter quote is something that is believed by Jews, Christians, Muslims, deists, and Unitarians (like Washington). Yet Barton seems to think they are essentially equal:

      "The similarities are obvious; a paraphrase of these quotes could have easily generated the words in question."

      Of course the latter quote is nothing like the first. Saying that it is impossible to rightly govern without the Bible is something that many people who believe in a "Supreme Being" would not agree too. It's unlikely that Washington would agree to that claim either. Yet Barton is comfortable giving people the impression that the first quote is either something that Washington did say (and just can't be documented) or would say.

      As I wrote in my article, I think Barton believes his own claims which is the only reason I wouldn't say he is being intentionally dishonest.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi Mr. Carter,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to give very thoughtful responses to the responses to your article. I genuinely appreciate it.

        I'd say, that I don't believe believing one's own falsehoods mitigates the moral guilt for spreading them. Lying to oneself is still lying.

      • Marli

        Thank you so much for the article. I have been waiting for years for Christians to finally expose David Barton. I am so glad you have brought to light his past materials that have also been very questionable. His materials are religiously used by many home schoolers. He appears to appeal to Christians who(I hate to say it)practically idolize what they think America was and needs to get back to.
        Years ago I checked out one of his books and looked up some of his quotes. He seemed to use elipses at the end of his chosen quotes.
        What comes after the elipses? I challenge people to look them up yourself if you don't believe he does questionable research.
        I have read many different blogs where non-Christians actually respect and agree that Christianity had a huge impact on the founding of America, but say Barton is the worst example of a historian. They would respect historians like Mark Noll and George Marsden and a professor at John MacArthur's school, Gregg Frazier.
        One of his books that got alot of controversy was Bullet-Proof George Washington. The story he told about George Washington and an Indian chief original sources to back it up cannot be validated. Why tell the story if it so questionable?
        Sadly, I don't think he has been exposed because no one paid attention to him except the homeschool audience and those in far Right political arena connected to homeschool type. He messed up, one might say, when he connected with Glen Beck and became more noticeable.

  • Johan

    I am heartened to learn that there was sufficient protest among evangelicals to result in the pulling of this book from publication. The church I used to attend showed one of Barton's videos, and it was embarassingly superficial. I was appalled that some fellow church members thought highly of it.

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  • Brent

    The Jefferson Lies: Taking on the Critics

    Please read this.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=118208

  • Robert

    Brent, I read it. It's a fine example of his ad hominem attacks and lack of teachability.

    "It is striking that the negative critiques of The Jefferson Lies revolve around the academic arrogance that says “Unless we tell you so, it just can’t be; we are the sole gatekeepers of historical truth.” But Governor Mike Huckabee, in speaking of my approach to history, stated: “In typical Barton style, every syllable is given scholarly research and backed up with source documents. Those who hate America and God’s Word won’t like it, but they won’t be able to discredit it.” Clearly, academics such as Throckmorton, Coulter, Jenkinson, Crawford, et. al., simply don’t like what the self-evident documentation actually proves."

    Then his final paragraph:

    "For those who may have been influenced by seeing a negative critique of The Jefferson Lies, I urge you to read the book yourself, examine its 756 footnotes, and allow Jefferson to speak on his own behalf. I predict that if you do, you will be persuaded by the abundance of primary source documentation and will quickly see through the shallow motives behind the critics’ self-serving and disingenuous attacks."

    I've defended Barton and blamed the publisher, in this discussion, mind you.

    We've all been critiqued. Fairly, unfairly, it has to happen or else you aren't communicating to people. Barton needs to take a deep breath and learn from this and not go into defense-at-all-cost mode. Wallbuilders should not be a name used in irony after this is over.

    • Brent

      Are the detractors somehow now the victims, making Barton the aggressor? I find it hard to criticize a man for defending his work.

      People criticized President Bush for years, and he took the route of not defending his record. It did much harm to the country as a result.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        If his work is lies then he is defending lies.

  • J.F.

    Well, he does teach at Glen Beck University. What do you expect people?

    http://www.glennbeck.com/becku/

  • Barbara Kidder

    Are the folk commenting on this article by Joe Carter: "Publisher pulls David Barton revisionist history of Thomas Jefferson", aware that there is an almost identical article entitled: "Thomas Nelson ceases publication of David Barton's error-ridden book on Thomas Jefferson" by Justin Taylor, posted on this blog one day earlier?
    Both articles display a colored picture of the front cover of the book in question.
    The first article, which ran on August 9, was very critical of David Barton, not just this book. There have been, to date 89 'comments' in response to the article. Perhaps Mr. Taylor felt it had become a bit of a 'hot potato', hence a second article, appeared a day later, exposing this same 'error-ridden' book, this time written by an editor of the Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter, which has prompted 44 'comments'.
    Most of those who comment are probably unaware of just how deep-seated is the animosity towards this book and the premise it rests on.
    The notion that "America was founded as a Christian nation" is the real bugaboo here. It is a dividing issue in all U.S. seminaries today.
    When you read some of the comments criticizing Barton, you would think that he was a child-molester or a David Duke type!
    I agree with Brent, when he said: "Something else is afoot here, in the guise of protecting truth."
    There's far too much energy and emotion invested here for the Gospel Coalition to be just trying to set the record straight.

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  • Barbara Kidder

    I agree with Brent when he said: "Something else is afoot here, in the guise of protecting truth."
    There is too much energy and emotion invested here, for the Gospel Coalition to be just trying to set the record straight.

  • Courtney Joy

    Thanks Mr. Carter. I have heard Mr. Barton speak, and I think his approach is really concerning. He basic argument seems to be that, "the founders were Christians, therefore the founders ideas were right." There are deep problems with essence of that argument, and the way he goes about proving that argument also has problems. However, the pathos of his argument has carried a lot of people with him and may be distracting from the Gospel.

  • S. Brown

    I am a regular reader of David Barton's books and find him extremely accurate in his research. If the people coming against Barton read the original documents of Jefferson and others in his day they would see how wrong they are to be doing what they are doing. Mr. Barton has a right to his point of view and as long as he can back up his statements with historical accuracy of the original writings the non-historians should go quietly into the night. A psychologist or pastor quoting inaccuracies from other books or papers should not have the power to be banning books. Shame on the publisher and shame on the misguided persecutors.

  • Jim Fulton

    Damon Lynch! The reprobate revolutionist who tried to destroy Cinncinati. I'm not an expert on TJ. But I do know a little bit about character. Dave Barton does not need vetted. However the Cinncinati pastors should be ashamed of themselves for associating with this spawn of Satan.

  • http://www.premiercleanandrestore.com Ethan David Ellingson

    Stick to the truth? Indeed, far better we all stick to the Truth, the Way and the Life.

    If the constitutional framers were so Christian, why did they tear the theonomy out of the hands of the colonists and hand them a polytheistic, antithetical toward God, document of lawyers?

    Dare you to read all of this and apply it:

    "The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.""

  • John S

    I'm thankful that Barton has been called out. A good reminder not to believe everything you read. But there seems to be a counter-surge by some to distance themselves from anything Christian about the founding of America. Can't it at least be said that many, if not most, of the founders were influenced in some way by Christianity and reading the Bible or others who were influenced by the Bible? Even some of the theists among them, like Jefferson, were highly influenced by principles and ideas they read of it the Bible were they not? Didn't most all of these guys get their ideas and beliefs about God and humanity primarily from the Bible? If that is true then America may not have been a Christian nation, but couldn't we say it was a nation established on principles and ideas heavily influenced by the Bible?