Actor James Woods Gets In On The Fake Quote Fun With A Fake Hillary Quote

So James Woods appears to be a none of the above type. Anyway, he posted this on Twitter.


A quick search of the book reveals no such quote. Snopes has already been there.


Crazy season is just getting started.

Eric Metaxas: The Fake Bonhoeffer Quote Was a Joke

Scroll to the end for updates:
Now Metaxas says he was playing the mountebank with his fake Bonhoeffer quote:


In May, Metaxas tweeted the following:


In the ensuing response of tweets from his followers, several disagreed with the quote (as if it was a real quote) but no one challenged it. Recently, twitter user Michael Goff asked Metaxas for help to find it. Several people had hunted for it and asked Metaxas about it with no response. Now he says it was all a joke.
In looking into this joke, I found another possibly more serious issue. The fake voting quote was a take off of another fake Bohoeffer quote which Metaxas has seriously attributed to Bonhoeffer.
For instance, in his student guide, Metaxas has this image:
metaxas st edition silence quote
Elsewhere, including this tweet, Metaxas has attributed this quote to Bonhoeffer.


According to three Bonhoeffer scholars I consulted, the quote doesn’t appear in Bonhoeffer’s writings, nor is he known to have said this. For instance, Victoria Barnett told me in an email:

You’re correct that the quotation (“Not to cast a vote for the two majors IS to cast a vote for one of them”) doesn’t appear in Bonhoeffer’s writings. It may be a variation of another “quotation” that has been circulated and is supposedly on the Metaxas website: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I’ve gotten a few inquiries on the source of that one, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in DB’s [Bonhoeffer’s] writings either.

Barnett’s bio indicates her qualifications to speak on the subject:

Victoria J. Barnett is director of the Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is a general editor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works published by Fortress Press.

I don’t know if Metaxas thinks misleading his public is a joke or not, but he should take responsibility for it.
UPDATE: Continuing to focus on “the joke,” Metaxas has not addressed the ongoing representation of the “Silence in the face of evil…” quote as coming from Bonhoeffer.

Compare What Christian Leaders Said about Bill Clinton in 1998 to Trump Endorsements Now

Wayne Grudem caused quite a stir with his endorsement of Donald Trump last week. Matthew Boedy responded on this blog yesterday with a brief analysis of Grudem’s rhetoric. Others have come out in favor of Grudem’s reasoning and still others have expressed sharp disappointment.
Last night, a Twitter user asked what Grudem thought of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Curious, I looked for something on the subject and found this Baptist Press article from 1998 which included reaction to the Clinton scandal. Grudem was mentioned as a signer of a statement from 150 Christian scholars on the subject:

More than 150 scholars — many whose schools are not identified with conservative Christianity — affirmed a statement declining to take a position on impeachment or resignation but expressing concern the religion community is in danger of providing “authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts.” The signers included Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago, Wayne Grudem of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Robert Gundry of Westmont College, Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, Eugene Merrill of Dallas Theological Seminary, Max Stackhouse of Princeton Theological Seminary and Timothy Weber of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. Signers from schools affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or state Baptist conventions were A.J. Conyers and Barry Harvey, both of Baylor University; Mike Garrett of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; David Gushee of Union University; and Mark Seifrid of Southern Seminary.

The statement is fascinating. Acknowledging that I am biased, I nonetheless believe I see a shift from then to now in the willingness to tolerate character problems for political expediency.  Read it and see what you think.

Declaration concerning religion, ethics, and the crisis in the Clinton presidency
The following declaration can be found at moral-crisis.org, November 16, 1998
To be released on 13 November 1998
As scholars interested in religion and public life, we protest the manipulation of religion and the debasing of moral language in the discussion about presidential responsibility. We believe that serious misunderstandings of repentance and forgiveness are being exploited for political advantage. The resulting moral confusion is a threat to the integrity of American religion and to the foundations of a civil society. In the conviction that politics and morality cannot be separated, we consider the current crisis to be a critical moment in the life of our country and, therefore, offer the following points for consideration:
1. Many of us worry about the political misuse of religion and religious symbols even as we endorse the public mission of our churches, synagogues, and mosques. In particular we are concerned about the distortion that can come by association with presidential power in events like the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on September 11. We fear the religious community is in danger of being called upon to provide authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts. While we affirm that pastoral counseling sessions are an appropriate, confidential arena to address these issues, we fear that announcing such meetings to convince the public of the President’s sincerity compromises the integrity of religion.
2. We challenge the widespread assumption that forgiveness relieves a person of further responsibility and serious consequences. We are convinced that forgiveness is a relational term that does not function easily within the sphere of constitutional accountability. A wronged party chooses forgiveness instead of revenge and antagonism, but this does not relieve the wrong-doer of consequences. When the President continues to deny any liability for the sins he has confessed, this suggests that the public display of repentance was intended to avoid political disfavor.
3. We are aware that certain moral qualities are central to the survival of our political system, among which are truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power. We reject the premise that violations of these ethical standards should be excused so long as a leader remains loyal to a particular political agenda and the nation is blessed by a strong economy. Elected leaders are accountable to the Constitution and to the people who elected them. By his own admission the President has departed from ethical standards by abusing his presidential office, by his ill use of women, and by his knowing manipulation of truth for indefensible ends. We are particularly troubled about the debasing of the language of public discourse with the aim of avoiding responsibility for one’s actions.
4. We are concerned about the impact of this crisis on our children and on our students. Some of them feel betrayed by a President in whom they set their hopes while others are troubled by his misuse of others, by which many in the administration, the political system, and the media were implicated in patterns of deceit and abuse. Neither our students nor we demand perfection. Many of us believe that extreme dangers sometimes require a political leader to engage in morally problematic actions. But we maintain that in general there is a reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall, because the moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician or the protection of a particular political agenda. Political and religious history indicate that violations and misunderstandings of such moral issues may have grave consequences. The widespread desire to “get this behind us” does not take seriously enough the nature of transgressions and their social effects.
5. We urge the society as a whole to take account of the ethical commitments necessary for a civil society and to seek the integrity of both public and private morality. While partisan conflicts have usually dominated past debates over public morality, we now confront a much deeper crisis, whether the moral basis of the constitutional system itself will be lost. In the present impeachment discussions, we call for national courage in deliberation that avoids ideological division and engages the process as a constitutional and ethical imperative. We ask Congress to discharge its current duty in a manner mindful of its solemn constitutional and political responsibilities. Only in this way can the process serve the good of the nation as a whole and avoid further sensationalism.
6. While some of us think that a presidential resignation or impeachment would be appropriate and others envision less drastic consequences, we are all convinced that extended discussion about constitutional, ethical, and religious issues will be required to clarify the situation and to enable a wise decision to be made. We hope to provide an arena in which such discussion can occur in an atmosphere of scholarly integrity and civility without partisan bias.

Grudem said Trump is a good candidate with flaws. He said one could support a flawed candidate if one believed it would do the most good. The 1998 statement said:

We are aware that certain moral qualities are central to the survival of our political system, among which are truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power. We reject the premise that violations of these ethical standards should be excused so long as a leader remains loyal to a particular political agenda and the nation is blessed by a strong economy. Elected leaders are accountable to the Constitution and to the people who elected them. By his own admission the President has departed from ethical standards by abusing his presidential office, by his ill use of women, and by his knowing manipulation of truth for indefensible ends. We are particularly troubled about the debasing of the language of public discourse with the aim of avoiding responsibility for one’s actions.

To my eye, a vote for Trump contradicts every paragraph in this statement. The religious leaders in 1998 questioned Clinton’s repentance. Trump says he doesn’t ask for forgiveness. In 1998, the leaders feared authenticating a political leader, now they rush to do it. In 1998, the leaders affirmed certain virtues (truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power). Now, pro-Trump Christian leaders excuse the absence of them or make a pragmatic bet that they aren’t important enough to stand for. This assertion from 1998 applies today:

But we maintain that in general there is a reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall, because the moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician or the protection of a particular political agenda. Political and religious history indicate that violations and misunderstandings of such moral issues may have grave consequences. (emphasis mine)

People like James Dobson, Eric Metaxas and now Wayne Grudem are telling us that it is our duty to throw this reasoning aside and lower or abandon the threshold.
I still believe there is a “reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall.” And I believe that the “moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician.” In this case, I believe these principles are more important than getting Donald Trump elected or furthering whatever aspect of a political agenda of importance to those who support him.
 
UPDATE: A question has come to me about Wayne Grudem’s status as a signer of the above Declaration. The Declaration was the subject of a 1999 book edited by Gabriel Fackre and titled Judgment Day at the White House. On page 5, about mid-way down the page is Grudem’s name on a list of signers of the Declaration (See also this image). Thanks to Declaration signer Barry Harvey for the image.

Declaration signers pg 5

Getting Pumped for the Launch of The Trinity Church!

Hey all you guys and gals in the greater Phoenix area, get ready for the big launch of The Trinity Church.
[youtube]https://youtu.be/ZNecZCIPJoI[/youtube]
The backstory on Phoenix is that Mars Hill Church had a church location there before Mars Hill closed down. When the church was viable, Driscoll complained to his inner circle that he disliked the drab Seattle climate and wanted to be in the sunshine. The church even rented a house for Driscoll to use as a get away in Southern California which he was still pastor at Mars Hill. Phoenix has been on the radar for quite awhile.

The Rhetorical Maneuvers of Wayne Grudem: A Guest Post from Matthew Boedy

On Thursday, theologian Wayne Grudem came out for Donald Trump with a long column justifying a vote for Trump as an acceptable moral choice. In response, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of North Georgia, Matthew Boedy sent the following thoughts which I am glad to present as a guest post. Dr. Boedy is on Twitter @matthewboedy
The Rhetorical Maneuvers of Wayne Grudem
by Matthew Boedy
Wayne Grudem has put his name on a growing list of evangelical leaders who were first against Trump and are now for him. Grudem’s change is interesting because Grudem has written extensively and rather recently about how he thinks Christians should interact with government and its political process. In that frame, as one who has argued for certain “winsome” and “loving” behaviors and attitudes from Christians in the political sphere, Grudem’s endorsement of one of the most unliked and ill-mannered candidates in political history seems at least unethical and at most immoral. Does Trump meet the standards Grudem lays out? To me, the quick answer is no. But my main question for this analysis is: Does Grudem follow his own advice?
Grudem’s 2010 book Politics According to the Bible argues Christians should seek to have “significant influence” on government. Such influence “does not mean angry, belligerent, intolerant, judgmental, red-faced, and hate-filled influence, but rather winsome, kind, thoughtful, loving, persuasive influence that is suitable to each circumstance and that always protects the other person’s right to disagree, but that is also uncompromising about the truthfulness and moral goodness of the teachings of God’s Word” (p. 55).
The negative traits above are of course how Grudem described Trump in the beginning on his endorsement in his TownHall column: “He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements… He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages.”
In a common rhetorical maneuver, Grudem tries to defuse the “bomb” of Trump’s highly negative traits before the “other side” tries to use it. Grudem admits them out front. So while it is clear from Grudem’s own words that Trump wouldn’t fit the categories of leader in his church, it is not clear why Grudem thinks such a “flawed” man should lead a country.
Grudem dismisses a “character fight” altogether and instead attempts to make objective policy standards for supporting Trump. To rebut or argue them all would take a lot of space and also would be a waste of time. It is more interesting for me as a rhetoric professor to note that Grudem’s essay fails to live up to his own positive qualities for Christian influence on government. I am hopeful by making this case you will find better advice about how you might participate in our democracy.
Let’s begin with the adjectives from Grudem’s definition: “winsome, kind, thoughtful, loving, persuasive influence…”
As a professor of rhetoric I feel I can write convincingly that Grudem does not pursue persuasion as much as he pursues dictating in his essay. And if my claim is accurate, he fails to be the kind of Christian he calls us to be. That should deter anyone from giving his opinion any weight on the matter.
First, he claims a vote for Trump is imperative because of the federal judiciary consequences, specifically the Supreme Court. He notes “judicial tyranny” has brought on America abortion and same-sex marriage. That same tyranny would continue under Clinton, he argues: “The nation would no longer be ruled by the people and their elected representatives, but by unelected, unaccountable, activist judges who would dictate from the bench about whatever they were pleased to decree. And there would be nothing in our system of government that anyone could do to stop them.”
Grudem here trots out a common GOP talking point that can be neatly summarized in a phrase used repeatedly after same-sex marriage was legalized: “five unelected judges.” He adds another GOP favorite “activist.” Now, since Grudem played his expertise card – 29 years of teaching Christian ethics – I am obliged to point out he is not even close to being an expert in the centuries-long disagreement over the role of judges. What is new in that debate – and I as an expert on debate can say this – is the phrase “unelected.” Supreme Court judges have, of course, always been unelected. A few local and state judges are not. All federal judges are. In any case, to suggest the authority of SCOTUS to rule is somehow misused because of the fact of appointment (and consent by Senate in case of SCOTUS judges) is the worst form of populism. It is actually a threat to democracy.
The founders of this country put in place “separation of powers” to balance the power of each branch. Those have not disappeared. Grudem’s claim that “nothing in our system of government” can stop “activist” judges is not only inaccurate, it is an abuse of his position because he knows better.
It is inaccurate because Grudem goes on to state the very mechanism in our government that could stop them – the election of the president who appoints judges. And of course don’t forget the Senate.
And this is where Grudem fails to live up to his own standards. It’s “judicial tyranny” when the decisions go against what he believes or thinks the Bible teaches. But it is perfectly normal if the judges he likes – and could be appointed by Trump – overturn such decisions. Who is unelected now, Wayne?
Grudem goes one step further in his Trump endorsement to suggest SCOTUS isn’t a democratic institution: “We lost – not at the ballot box, but because we had a liberal Supreme Court that nullified the democratic process regarding the definition of marriage.”
He blatantly strips the court of any authority all the while saying his judges would rule in the opposite way but by the same manner. Let me be snide by suggesting that if a member of Grudem’s church made this argument to their elders, they would be quickly disciplined and/or excommunicated.
In regard to secular government, clearly Grudem – like all who makes this unsound argument – does not believe in the rule of law. He doesn’t want to be ruled by the law. He wants to be ruled by something else. Strange from a guy who extols democracy so much.
And that brings me to what standards he does use. He names them in his definition of “significant influence:” “… that is suitable to each circumstance and that always protects the other person’s right to disagree, but that is also uncompromising about the truthfulness and moral goodness of the teachings of God’s Word” (p. 55).
He surely isn’t protecting anyone’s right to disagree by suggesting the “disagreements” SCOTUS put into law (abortion and same-sex marriage) go against the American system of government. Translation: you can’t be patriotic if you think SCOTUS was right.
He isn’t protecting disagreement in a future Trump administration when he suggests that liberal “power” could further criminalize political dissent. This from a supporter of a candidate who has on numerous occasions banned media from covering his campaigns, called for further crackdowns on media freedom, and routinely belittles reporters and his critics in both parties. If liberal activists want to criminalize dissent, Trump is not the man who can fix that. He will just be a one-man version of it.
And so that leads me to Grudem’s attempt to be “uncompromising about the truthfulness and moral goodness of the teachings of God’s Word.” He has left out a few of those words from his unethical call for Trump votes. Proverbs and its call about fools come to mind. We can debate terms like justice all day. But surely someone of Grudem’s training and experience can recognize a fool in his midst.
But most interesting to me as a rhetorical scholar is the phrase “suitable to each circumstance.” Not only is it a phrase from Grudem’s definition of masculinity and femininity and the ways in which he wants men and women to apply his principles of gender, it is also a traditional part of a rhetorical education. Both uses suggest a form of judgment is needed. Rhetorical education aims to teach judgment – when to know to use which rhetorical tactic, for example. It is a virtue-backed judgment, not a sinister “say what the polls tell me to” decision making process. It is a formation of a quality that not only affects the words we say, but how and when and to whom we say them. This is why Augustine taught it.
Another word for such a judgment is character. Character isn’t born; it is made. Yet Grudem dismisses those who vote “only” on character. He writes such is “a fallacy in ethical reasoning” called “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered.”
He is correct on one thing – that is a good definition of reductionism. But it is not a good summary of the historical use of character by Christian leaders and the manner in which Christian voters see character. To many in the church, character is not “an” element – it is the umbrella concern. It is not a “single issue” – it is the issue. And this comes from the teaching they hear every Sunday. It is why so many have succeeded in bringing ‘character education’ to public schools. It is why so many are NeverTrump.
And it is exactly why Grudem himself highlights character so well in his definition of “significant influence.” He wants Christians to use their judgment, not merely be robots for pastors and leaders like himself. Or parties for that matter. He wants them to practice their politics in “winsome” and “loving” ways – character traits. This is why Grudem spent so many pages in his famous Systematic Theology on the attributes or character of God. This is why he discourages “mob mentalities” and wants us to use “persuasive influence.” This is why he calls for patience, kindness, and other fruits of the spirit (character traits) in citizens who are Christians.
He just doesn’t hold Trump or himself to the same standard. What a shame from a man who teaches Christian ethics. And this is why his reasoning on his vote for Trump is not to be heeded. What a shame from a man many look to for guidance.
Finally let me address Grudem’s theory on voting. He argues that voting “for a write-in candidate instead of voting for Trump” will help “Clinton because she will need one less vote to win.” He then addresses those who won’t vote at all: “But the teachings of Scripture do not allow us to escape moral responsibility by saying that we decided to do nothing.” He cites Obadiah 1:11.
His use of this verse is a shameful and willful misreading and misapplication from the context. But outside the interpretative issues, it grounds a profoundly misguided voting theory. A write-in vote isn’t helping Clinton; it helps the write-in. This line of thinking assumes one does not want Hillary to win. Fine. It should also assume one does not want Trump to win. Both desires can be found ethically in a Christian or any voter. Someone voting for Gary Johnson (or anyone else) should honestly believe he is the best person and most likely to help the country.
As for the non-voter, like me, I am not escaping any moral responsibility. I talk to others, I write, I even teach like Grudem. I haven’t decided to ‘do nothing.’ I am doing something – listening like a good citizen to the voices of our better angels. Something Grudem refuses to do. How sad from a person who claims Jesus.
 

Did Hillary Clinton Plagiarize Alexis de Tocqueville?

Tonight in her speech, Hillary Clinton said:

But here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump…This is it. And in the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn’t get: that America is great – because America is good.

Did she plagiarize de Tocqueville? No, because de Tocqueville didn’t say that. According John Pitney in the Weekly Standard:

These lines are uplifting and poetic. They are also spurious. Nowhere do they appear in Democracy in America, or anywhere else in Tocqueville.

Read Pitney’s explanation at the Weekly Standard. Quick, Twitter’s going crazy over it.
Now having established that, can we talk about Bonhoeffer author Eric Metaxas tweeting a spurious Bonhoeffer quote to promote Christians voting for Donald Trump?

Eric Metaxas Promotes Trump Vote with Fake Bonhoeffer Quote

UPDATE (7/30/16) – Now it appears that Metaxas is making fun of the fact that his fans trusted his Bonhoeffer quotes. Instead of addressing the concerns of those who checked the quotes, today he offered up a Freddie Mercury lyric as a Bonhoeffer quote.


Hilarious.
UPDATE (7/29/16): Barry Harvey, a professor of theology at Baylor University and member of the content team for the Bonhoeffer Center told me via email: “Not only do I know of no place that Bonhoeffer says this, it doesn’t sound like him at all.” He added, “The German index to the collected works also contains no such reference.”
Because the tweet resembles another, more famous quote falsely attributed to Bonhoeffer, I also asked Harvey if there is any evidence that Bonhoeffer said

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Many people incorrectly attribute this to Bonhoeffer and Metaxas has the quote in bold print on his website.
metaxas website silence
However, again Harvey told me “I know of no place where he [Bonhoeffer] says this.” (see also Clifford Green’s book on interpreting Bonhoeffer).
Several people have tweeted Metaxas for an explanation without response. Metaxas has advanced the “Not to speak…” quote on at least two occasions (here, and here attributed to Bonhoeffer. He also included it in a study guide for his biography of Bonhoeffer.
Finally, I just heard from Bonhoeffer expert Victoria Barnett (with the Holocaust Museum) who also said neither quote is found in Bonhoeffer’s work. She told me:

You’re correct that the quotation (“Not to cast a vote for the two majors IS to cast a vote for one of them”) doesn’t appear in Bonhoeffer’s writings. It may be a variation of another “quotation” that has been circulated and is supposedly on the Metaxas website: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I’ve gotten a few inquiries on the source of that one, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in DB’s [Bonhoeffer’s] writings either.

………………………………………………….. (original post)
Today, Eric Metaxas was asked on Twitter where to find the following quote in Bonhoeffer’s writings.


If you read through the comments, Metaxas was criticized severely for his support for Donald Trump (see this post).
What is also puzzling about this quote is that I can’t find it in Bonhoeffer’s book on ethics. Metaxas cites pages 265-266 but in the two Google versions at those pages, I can’t find it. Actually, a search of both version turns up nothing for the quote. I can’t find it anywhere except in Metaxas’ tweet.
For those who know Bonhoeffer well, help me crowd source this. Is this a real Bonhoeffer quote?

Eric Metaxas and David Barton: Show Me the Miracles

Barton Metaxas picOn Tuesday, I posted an audio clip of David Barton on Eric Metaxas’ radio show talking about the two times when Thomas Jefferson cut up the Gospels to create an extraction of the morals of Jesus. During Jefferson’s first term, he revealed his beliefs about Christianity to some of his closer friends and in the process decided to cut out of the Gospels portions which Jefferson believed were actually from Jesus, leaving the rest behind.
On the program, Barton told Metaxas a made up story about what Jefferson did and mixed in a little truth with some error to create a flawed picture. Metaxas took it in without question. In my Tuesday post, I debunked Barton’s story about how Jefferson got the idea to cut up the Gospels and today I want to set the stage for what is a more difficult aspect of this story: identifying the verses Jefferson included in his first effort to extract the true teachings of Jesus from the Gospels.
The reason it is more difficult to know what Jefferson included in his 1804 effort is because the original manuscript has been lost. There isn’t a copy we can look at. The version completed sometime after 1820 is the one commonly known as the Jefferson Bible. That version can be purchased from the Smithsonian and viewed online.
Do We Know What Jefferson Cut Out of the Gospels?
Reproductions of the 1804 version exist but for reasons I will address in this series, there are some disputed verses which Jefferson may or may not have included. There really is no way to be sure.
Jefferson mentioned both versions in a letter to Adrian Van Der Kemp in 1816, Jefferson wrote about both extractions:

I made, for my own satisfaction, an Extract from the Evangelists of the texts of his morals, selecting those only whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his own: and they are as distinguishable from the matter in which they are imbedded as diamonds in dunghills. a more precious morsel of ethics was never seen. it was too hastily done however, being the work of one or two evenings only, while I lived at Washington, overwhelmed with other business: and it is my intention to go over it again at more leisure. this shall be the work of the ensuing winter. I gave it the title of ‘the Philosophy of Jesus extracted from the text of the Evangelists.’

The “work of one or two evenings only, while I lived in Washington, overwhelmed with other business” is a reference to his 1804 effort which was done for his “own satisfaction.” When he referred to “his intention to go over it again at more leisure” in an “ensuing winter,” he referred to the version he later completed sometime after 1820. It should be obvious from this letter that Jefferson viewed the second project as a completion of the 1804 work which was “too hastily done” while attending to his presidential duties. Jefferson does not refer to them as two separate projects with separate purposes. Rather, the 1804 version was more like a trial run and the latter was the product of more time and concentration.
How Do We Know What Verses Jefferson Included?
There are two primary sources for our knowledge of what verses Jefferson included. First, ever meticulous and organized, Jefferson prepared a listing of texts he planned to include. Michael Coulter and I included images of the originals (housed at the University of VA) in our book Getting Jefferson RightThe second source is the cut-up Bibles Jefferson used to cut out the verses he pasted together to form the 1804 version. In contrast to Barton’s claim, Jefferson didn’t cut out only Jesus’ words and he certainly didn’t cut them all out and paste them end to end.
Although these sources are critically important, they are not sufficient to be sure about what Jefferson included. A major barrier to certainty is that Jefferson cut out some verses which were not listed in his table of texts. This can be discerned by reviewing the parts of the Gospels which were cut out. What can never be known for sure is why Jefferson cut out more verses than he intended. We cannot assume that he intended to cut out any verse other than what he listed in his table of verses. However, we cannot assume he didn’t decide as he was doing it that he wanted to include something on the fly.
There are good arguments to be made for both possibilities. Jefferson said he did the 1804 version “too hastily.” Thus, he may have made some errors in cutting and cut too many verses or simply cut some in error from the wrong page. Anyone who has literally cut and pasted any kind of craft project can probably relate to that possibility.
On the other hand, it is certainly plausible to think that Jefferson changed his mind as he read through the Gospels again. He may have decided he wanted a particular verse that he didn’t include in the table. Nothing would have stopped him from clipping it.
Another possibility exists for the 1804 version which we know is true for the 1820 version. At times, Jefferson surgically extracted miraculous content from within a verse. In other words, he cut out a verse from the Gospels but when he included it in his manuscript, he only included a part of the verse.  For instance, Jefferson included Matthew 12:15 in his 1820 version, but he left out the end of the verse where the healing took place.*
jefferson bible mt 12
Mt. 12:15 in entirety reads:

But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all.

Jefferson intentionally left out the healing (“and he healed them all”) even though he included the verse. Clearly, it is not enough for us today to know what Jefferson cut out of those Gospels in 1804. For a perfect reconstruction, we would have to know what parts of the verses he included. A few disputed verses do have some miraculous content but that is no guarantee that Jefferson included that content in his compilation. We know he used partial verses in his second attempt; it is very plausible that he did the same thing the first time around.
Barton’s story to Metaxas completely glosses over these facts. If we really want to get inside Jefferson’s thinking about Jesus in the Gospels in 1804, we should first look at the table of texts he constructed (click here to examine those tables). Then we can look at the verses which Jefferson cut out but didn’t list. However, we must approach those disputed verses carefully. We don’t know why he cut them out and we don’t know what parts, if any, he actually included.
Barton Also Uses a Flawed Secondary Source
In The Jefferson Lies, Barton links to two secondary sources for his information about what is in the 1804 version. In at least one case, the source has a major error which we point out in Getting Jefferson Right. In the next post, I will address that secondary source error.
 
I challenge Eric Metaxas to bring on an actual historian and/or me to discuss the issues raised recently about his book, If You Can Keep It or this series.
*Jefferson Bible, ch 1:59-60.

Evangelical Trump Supporters: Why Do You Trust Trump When He Breaks His Promises?

During the primary season, Donald Trump told the press he would release his tax returns when his IRS audit was complete. The IRS then said nothing prevented him from releasing them just as other presidential candidates have done for decades.
Now Trump through his spokesman Paul Manafort has again said he will not release them. This statement comes in light of allegations that Trump has a financial connection to Russian power brokers.
For me, this raises an important question for evangelicals who support Trump because he promised to name conservative Supreme Court justices. Why do you trust him? There is absolutely no basis for trust.
Releasing tax returns is something candidates have done for decades. It is not a novel act of transparency. Not releasing them is a significant red flag. This is especially true because he promised to do it. Now he says he won’t do one of the basic things presidential candidates do.
At some point, I hope evangelical supporters of Trump wake up and recognize that they are being played. The alternative is not to vote for Hillary Clinton. The alternative is to get behind a third party option. According to Better for America, a third party candidate will be announced at the end of July. Evangelicals should at least wait to see who is tapped to lead a third (or fourth or fifth I guess when one considers the Libertarians and Greens) party run.

David Barton Told Eric Metaxas an Untrue Story about the Jefferson Bible

Barton Metaxas picLast week, Eric Metaxas had David Barton on his radio show and told the audience that he loved Barton and his work. He also said he used some of Barton’s work to help write his new book If You Can Keep It. That book has been the subject of many critical reviews.
They also briefly discussed Barton’s pulled-from-publication book, The Jefferson Lies. In particular, Barton claimed to enlighten the audience about what is commonly known as the Jefferson Bible. Metaxas started to ask Barton a question about Jefferson’s editing of the Gospels, and Barton jumped in to explain.
I have addressed this story before but want to write a series of posts to show that Barton’s story is mostly fiction. Today, I start with the audio, the transcript and address a few of the key claims. First, the audio segment:

Transcript (the words in bold print are either untrue or highly questionable):

Metaxas: Jefferson is perceived as being rather secular, that he excised the Bible, rather the New Testament to remove the miracles and the…
Barton: Can I jump in on that one for a second because that is the one that Christians will repeat the most often?
Metaxas: Right, of course.
Barton: And I say Jefferson cut out all the supernatural, the stuff he didn’t like? And they say, Yeah. What are you talking about? They say, the Jefferson Bible. I say, really? Yeah, the Jefferson Bible. I say, which one? First off, they didn’t know there were two. And I say, yeah there’s the 1804 and an 1820 so which one so which one are you talking about? And so then I say, have you read either one of them? Well, no. How do you know he cuts it out? Well, that’s what they always say. Well, let me tell you about the 1804 and then go to 1820.
In 1804, Jefferson was given a sermon by a friend named, excuse me 1803, he got a sermon by a friend named Edward Dowse and the sermon was by William Bennet an evangelical in Scotland that says if you want to reach the American Indians do not give them the Bible because they might read Leviticus, they might read the genealogies, he said give them excerpts out of the Bible.
So Jefferson read that sermon, he then goes to the White House and takes two White House Bibles and he cuts out the teachings of Jesus, what we would call the red letters of Jesus. He pasted them end-to-end. He gave that to a missionary friend and said look, this is a lot cheaper than printing the Bible and its got the teachings. In that, he has the dead being raised, Jesus is raising the dead, Jesus healing the sick, Jesus cleansing lepers, Jesus is the son of God, resurrection, heaven, hell, angels. But wait! I thought he cut out all that sp__, no, it’s there.
The second one he did was in 1820. And he said, and by the way, every University in America back then required you to take a course in moral philosophy, every theological school, same thing. And so he [Jefferson] lists nearly 20 writers where he read their moral writings and he concluded that Jesus was better than all of them.
So he went through in 1820 and found 81 moral teachings of Jesus, he compiled them end to end. He called the book the life and morals of Jesus of Nazareth, and it was the stuff like the great commandment, love God with all your heart soul and mind. It was turning the other cheek, it was forgiveness, it was the good Samaritan, it was the Golden Rule, and that’s what he did in four languages. Nobody knew that existed until 1886, and Cyrus Adler the Secretary of the Smithsonian found it from Jefferson’s grandson, they bought it , they got it to Congress and in 1902, US representative John Lacey said you know this is so great, if we could just live by the teachings of Jesus. So Congress printed 9,000 copies and for 50 years if you were a Freshman in the House or Senate, they gave you the life and morals of Jesus, read this and you’ll stay out of trouble.
Metaxas: Unbelievable.
Barton: Now wait a minute what happened to this stuff about hating. Let me point out that Jefferson was a lifetime member of the Virginia Bible Society, the third largest contribution he gave in his life was to the Virginia Bible Society, when his kids and grandkids learned to read, he gave them a Bible to read, he’s a funder of the John Thompson Bible, the largest Bible ever done in America, he’s a funder of the Thomas Scott Bible, he tried to fund the Charles Thomson Bible. If Jefferson hates the Bible, why does he keep doing this stuff? See that’s one of the seven lies we’ve been told about Jefferson. And everybody repeats what they’ve heard. Read it for yourself. It doesn’t cut out the miraculous, or the supernatural. Read it for yourself.

William Bennet’s Sermon
The first false claim is that William Bennet’s sermon gave instructions about how to reach the Indians with the Gospel. I don’t know why Barton keeps making this claim. He made it in the first edition of The Jefferson Lies and often repeats in his media appearances (e.g., Jesse Peterson show) but he walked it back in the recently published second edition. Furthermore, Mark Beliles, an writer used by both Barton and Metaxas as an authority, told me that Barton is wrong about the content of that sermon. In an email, Beliles said:

Yes, Barton overstated the case about that sermon itself. But the sermon clearly promoted the importance of getting Jesus’ morals found in the gospel into the hands of missionaries of the society, and they of course were going to Indians as well as other groups.

Barton did more than overstate the case. Bennet in his sermon didn’t mention mission work to Indians and certainly didn’t tell readers to withhold a Bible from Indians because they might read Leviticus or the genealogies. He didn’t encourage readers to cut up the Gospels and give the Indians a resurrection-free version of the Gospels. Barton just made that up. Don’t believe me? Click the link and read the sermon for yourself.
Why Did Jefferson Cut Up the Gospels?
Barton makes it sound like Jefferson read this sermon and then immediately went to the White House Bibles with knife in hand. One must pause to understand the timing. Edward Dowse sent Bennet’s sermon to Jefferson in April 1803 (read the entire correspondence here). Jefferson didn’t make his first extraction from the Gospels until March 1804.
In this case, we have Jefferson’s own words about why he cut up the Gospels. To Adrian Van Der Kemp in 1816, Jefferson wrote about his extraction:

I made, for my own satisfaction, an Extract from the Evangelists of the texts of his morals, selecting those only whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his own: and they are as distinguishable from the matter in which they are imbedded as diamonds in dunghills. a more precious morsel of ethics was never seen. it was too hastily done however, being the work of one or two evenings only, while I lived at Washington, overwhelmed with other business: and it is my intention to go over it again at more leisure. this shall be the work of the ensuing winter. I gave it the title of ‘the Philosophy of Jesus extracted from the text of the Evangelists.’

Jefferson referred to this extraction to John Adams, Benjamin Rush and others. In no place, did he refer to the sermon from Bennet or the letter from Dowse as having anything to do with his desire to cut up the Gospels. Jefferson said he selected only those texts “whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his [Jesus’] own.” Jefferson said the real words and deeds of Jesus were “as distinguishable from the matter in which they are imbedded as diamond in dunghills.”
Regarding the 1804 effort, Jefferson refers to it as a text “of his [Jesus] morals.” In both efforts, Jefferson was going for a compendium of the moral teachings of Jesus which Jefferson believed to be the actual teachings (diamonds) and not material added by the disciples and Gospel writers (dunghill). Let that sink in a minute. Jefferson presumed to know what parts of the Gospels were really true and which were added and not genuine.
Barton is correct that there were two efforts but because of his story about Bennet’s sermon, he artificially makes Jefferson have two purposes. This is misleading.
Relevant to that point, I challenge Barton or Metaxas to identify the missionary who received Jefferson’s 1804 version. No primary source evidence exists that Jefferson ever gave the extraction to anybody.
What Is In The Jefferson Bible?
In fact, when Barton tells Metaxas’ audience to go read the 1804 version, he knows they can’t. There is no actual copy in existence. We have the tables of texts Jefferson wrote to help guide him in his work and we have the cut up Bibles as well. However, we don’t know for sure what ended up in the version since we don’t have it. We do have the 1820 (in the neighborhood of 1820, it is not known exactly when he finished it) which you can read here.
In the next post on Barton’s story on the Metaxas show, I will take up the question about miracles in the 1804 version. We can’t be as sure what was in that one as in the 1820 version but we aren’t completely in the dark as I will discuss in that post. In the mean time, one can see the following posts on that topic, or get my book with Michael Coulter, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President.
Is the Jefferson Bible All the Words of Jesus? Part One
Is the Jefferson Bible All the Words of Jesus? Part Two
Are the Miracles of Matthew 9 in the Jefferson Bible?