Life and Morals of Jesus of
Compiled by Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has
ever seen. In compiling what has come to be called “The Jefferson Bible,” he
sought to separate those ethical teachings from the religious dogma and other
supernatural elements that are intermixed in the account provided by the four
Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the
life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative.
Modern progressive statists would have us to believe that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were either deists or atheists with the exception of a very few of their number. The truth is that the vast majority of the Patriots were in fact deeply sincere Christians. The principles undergirding the American Revolution and the resulting National Documents, including our Constitution, are grounded in the Bible and the Christian Religion.
These detractors like to point out President Thomas Jefferson as an example of what they want to believe are deists or atheists among the Founding Fathers. If President Jefferson was in fact a deist, he was a Christian deist; he calls himself a Materialist as opposed to a Spiritualist. In a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush (another of our Founding Fathers) he writes “[my opinions of Christianity are] very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian . . . .” In a letter to Charles Thomson (another Founding Father, Secretary of the first Continental Congress) he makes this statement about this book he called The Philosophy of Jesus (the so-called Jefferson Bible); “it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” In fairness to Mr. Jefferson, he may never have believed in the deity of Jesus and some other critical tenets of the Christian faith, but he did consider himself to be a Christian. Regardless of whatever theological shortcomings he may have had, his sense of Christianity was more practical and evident in his life than many calling themselves Christians today. Mr. Jefferson was indeed reluctant to express his beliefs to the general public because he knew that, because they were somewhat less than orthodox, there was a tendency in those days for them to be misrepresented—just as they are in our day. He continues in his letter to Mr. Thomson, “And in confiding it (his opinions) to you, I know it will not be exposed to the malignant perversions of those who make every word from me a text for new misrepresentations and calumnies. I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public, because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience which the laws have so justly proscribed.”
Thomas Jefferson would have been opposed to public endorsement of Christianity
and the Bible by either public or private persons or entities is a notion of
modern invention by those who would remove Christianity and the Bible from
public expression—if not from private belief and practice as well. It is far
from the truth. What is here called the Jefferson Bible, actually The
Morals and Life of Jesus of Nazareth, was intended by