Tag Archives: david barton

Did the Continental Congress Publish America’s First Bible?

The Aitken Bible, the “Bible of the American Revolution,” remains a source of confusion, for many Christians today. A rare copy of this Bible is on display at the new Museum of the Bible.

The Museum of the Bible, which opened in Washington, D.C. in November, 2017, seeks to educate visitors about the role of the Bible in America. We need such a museum, as an examination of the evidence reveals a number of misconceptions people, even some Christians, have had about America and the Bible.

Prior to the American Revolution, most of the colonies embraced some form of public commitment to Christianity. For example, in those days, the Church of England was the official faith of my native state Virginia (then a colony), supported by law and the collection of taxes. If you considered yourself an “Episcopalian” or an “Anglican,” you were in good company.

But if you were a Baptist, you might have problems. For example, weddings performed by Baptist clergy were not legally recognized in the colony of Virginia. So, if you were Baptist, and you could not abide by the wedding liturgy of the Church of England, you were in trouble. For according to the law, you and your Baptist spouse would be “living in sin,” unless an Anglican priest married you.

The favoritism towards the Church of England, in Virginia, lasted through the Revolutionary War period. The Church of England, which became the “Episcopal Church” in America, was finally disestablished in the new state of Virginia, in 1786. This was accomplished by the passing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a document anticipating the religious freedom clauses of the federal Bill of Rights, amended to the U.S. Constitution, in the early 1790s. The traditional link between Christian church and state was effectively broken, by America’s Founding Fathers. But even as late as 1902, Virginia’s religious freedom clause, in the state constitution, still maintained this admonition, originally written in 1776, “it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

Therefore, a common secularist canard, that Christianity was never really part of the founding of America, can be easily dismissed. True, Christianity, broadly speaking, was not, in a strict sense, the “official” religion of America, in the early decades of the young republic. The Founding Fathers, and American leaders after them, were certainly not opposed to the spread of Christianity, but they were increasingly inclined not to make explicit, governmental endorsements of the faith. However, for all practical purposes, Christianity was the de facto standard of faith, towards the latter end of the 18th century, and even into much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nevertheless, a commonly accepted belief today comes under scrutiny here: What about the Continental Congress? Did not the Continental Congress actually print the first American Bible in English? Was not this first Bible distributed for use in public schools? Was this not an explicit, government endorsement of Christianity?

Let us consider the evidence: You should take a minute to view the following YouTube advertisement, promoting the Museum of the Bible’s (MOTB) grand opening. On display is the so-called Aitken Bible, what the museum calls “the Bible of the American Revolution.” Pay careful attention to how the MOTB frames the story, and then keep reading:

Continue reading


“Bible Answer Man’s” Critics Follow-Up: Mormonism More “Thoroughly Biblical” Than Eastern Orthodoxy?

Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man” on many Christian radio stations, has sparked a debate among evangelicals as to what being a “biblical” and “orthodox” Christian really means.

I want to add a short editorial comment, following a curious development involving Hank Hanegraaff, “The Bible Answer Man,” and his recent admission into Eastern Orthodoxy, that I blogged about recently.

The Bott Radio Network is apparently a popular source of syndicated Christian radio, though not available in my state of Virginia. Upon hearing the news of Hanegraaff’s “crossing of the Bosphorus,” Bott Radio Network decided to drop “The Bible Answer Man” from their radio programming, a show that they have hosted since the 1980s. In a news report, the president of the Bott Radio Network, made this statement:

We want to make sure that our listeners know that the programming that we have on Bott Radio Network is thoroughly biblical.

Neither I, nor my Eastern Orthodox friends, are surprised by this. But that is not the whole story. To replace “The Bible Answer Man,” Bott Radio plans to accommodate a new lineup, featuring the teachings of other personalities, including David Barton, of WallBuilders. Presumably, Bott Radio believes that David Barton’s teachings are more “thoroughly biblical” than Hank Hanegraaff’s.

Pause for a moment.

David Barton, a controversial history popularizer, is a frequent guest on a show hosted by TV personality Glenn Beck, a well-known Mormon.

The irony here is that in 2011, a Moody Radio affiliate dropped David Barton from their playlist, when Barton claimed that fellow political conservative, Glenn Beck, another popular radio and TV personality, and an outspoken Mormon, was in fact an orthodox-believing Christian.Three years ago, we explored Glenn Beck’s association between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity, here on Veracity. According to various news reports, including this one, David Barton heard Glenn Beck say that he accepted “the Lord Jesus Christ [as] my Savior and my Redeemer.”  Here is an endorsement by Barton, standing by Glenn Beck’s conversion to Christianity, on Moody Radio:

Glenn says he’s Mormon. Ok, that’s fine. Based on what you heard, if you heard a Baptist say that or if you heard a Methodist say that…what would you say?….Why is it not a real conversion because of the label he wears?…I don’t care what label Beck wears. I don’t care what Glenn thinks Mormon means.

So, is the Bott Radio Network claiming now that Mormonism is more “thoroughly biblical” than Eastern Orthodoxy?

Seriously?

We live in strange times indeed.

It is apparent that the good folks at the Bott Radio Network do not know much about Eastern Orthodoxy, or Mormonism, or perhaps both. Sam Storms, a blogger with The Gospel Coalition, has a good summary of Eastern Orthodoxy belief, geared towards educating Protestants.


Eric Metaxas’ “Replacement Theology” Once Again

Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It, encourages our culture to consider the legacy of American exceptionalism. I like a lot of what Metaxas has to say. But does he take us down the right road theologically?

Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It, encourages our culture to consider the legacy of American exceptionalism. I like a lot of what Metaxas has to say. But does he take us down the right road theologically?

It appears that Eric Metaxas is not taking the criticisms by leading evangelical historians in the best way, regarding his latest book, If You Can Keep It.  You can follow the story from an evangelical historian at Messiah College, John Fea, here. Frankly, I do not understand why Metaxas fails to see what the problem is.

Fundamentally, the issue is one of promoting confusion among evangelical readers. For example, a dedicated follower of Veracity came up to me yesterday and asked if Eric Metaxas is promoting some type of Eastern religious philosophy and mysticism. I had to go back and read my previous post to figure out what he was talking about.

Now, I can assure you. Eric Metaxas is not promoting the New Age Movement, or any other type of Eastern mysticism. But he is confusing people by making statements about American history that are not consistent with established facts.

In his book, Metaxas claims that founding father John Adams was a “committed and theologically orthodox Christian” (p. 56). However, according to the evangelical historian, Gregg Frazer, at the Masters College, John Adams believed that “orthodox” theology can be gained from reading the Hindu Shastra. I think most evangelical Christians would agree that what the Bible teaches and what Hinduism teaches, while sharing some overlapping themes and ideas, represents fundamentally different views regarding the nature of God. So, why then does Metaxas make the strange claim that John Adams was a “committed and theologically orthodox Christian?”

Metaxas’ critics, such as John Fea in the article linked above, say that it is Metaxas’ use of sources which is the problem. Sadly, Eric Metaxas makes uncritical use of the works of popular evangelical spokesperson, David Barton, to put forward many of his claims. In 2012, David Barton had one his books pulled from publication by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, due to numerous errors. So then, why is Metaxas making such heavy use of David Barton? As John Fea, Gregg Frazer, and many other evangelical historians argue, David Barton has some real problems assembling historical material together.

Again, I like Eric Metaxas. I am sure Eric Metaxas sincerely wants to serve the wider Christian community (and others) by raising historical awareness regarding the Christian heritage of America. But he does a great disservice to his readers when he spreads historical misinformation. Having the right intention is no excuse for confusing his readers with historical “facts” that distort the past. Have I made my point?

Christians, of all people, should be those who pursue and promote the truth at all costs. Should we not?


Kirk Cameron’s Monumental Missed Opportunity

Kirk Cameron's 2012 film, Monumental, is worth seeing, but only if accompanied by good, historical scholarship to correct the inaccuracies and misguided theology.

Kirk Cameron’s 2012 film, Monumental, is worth seeing, but only if accompanied by good, historical scholarship to correct the inaccuracies and misguided theology.

I love history. I love it because history tells us who we are. The study of history tells us about where we have come from as individuals and as societies, and it helps to tell us where we are going. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril, as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Sadly, we live in an age where we suffer as a culture, and particularly as a Christian church, from chronic amnesia. We risk fulfilling the prophecy of Santayana with such terrifying disinterest and apathy.

The story of the Christian faith is rooted in history. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the narrative of ancient Israel, are events that exist within space and time. As believers, we are under obligation to get the story right. So, it bothers me when those of us as Christians, who should care the most about history, tend to misrepresent that history, fudging on the story at certain points to advance misguided theological agendas. Even if we deem the motives to be well-intended, we do no favors to the church and the surrounding world with unsubstantiated alterations that distort the telling of that history.

This explains the frustration I felt when I recently viewed Kirk Cameron’s 2012 documentary, Monumental. I was indeed entertained by watching Monumental, but I am not so sure if I was equally educated. As a work of amateur historiography, Monumental is worthy of consideration and a thoughtful discussion starter. But as a serious documentary of responsible scholarship, Monumental falls short. It made me want to plead with Kirk Cameron, the famous actor turned film producer, “can I call for a do-over?” I know that I am just a few years “late to the party,” but please allow me to explain.
Continue reading


%d bloggers like this: