J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Follow by Email

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fact-Checking the Huckabee Campaign

A week ago I wrote about Mitt Romney’s attempt to invoke the First Continental Congress in his speech on religion in politics. Now it’s Mike Huckabee’s turn—which makes sense, since Huckabee’s growing poll numbers prompted Romney to speak on a topic he’d tried to avoid.

At a Republican presidential debate in October, Huckabee said:

When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, those 56 brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen, they said that we have certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator, and among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life being one of them.
On C.N.N. yesterday, Huckabee’s campaign manager Ed Rollins answered a question about the propriety of religion in politics by starting out:
You go back to the signing of the constitution I think 26 of the people that signed it were ministers.
Huckabee and Rollins appear to have been pulling their numbers and facts out of the air. (Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the tip.)

There were indeed fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, but only one, John Witherspoon of New Jersey (pictured above, courtesy of Adherents.com), was a minister. He was the president of Princeton College at a time when all college presidents were ministers.

Two or three other Congress delegates had once preached, according to different sources. It was common for a young man with a college degree and no clear career plan to try either teaching or preaching to see how he enjoyed that work. Often the experience was enough to galvanize him into putting all his energy into law or medicine or business. In any event, three or four men out of fifty-six is far less than “most.”

As for the U.S. Constitution, thirty-six men signed that document out of fifty-five who attended the Constitutional Convention. Only two ever had professional affiliations with a church:
  • Abraham Baldwin of Georgia was a Continental Army chaplain. After the war, he declined the position of Professor of Divinity at Yale and instead went into the law. He was “a fervent missionary of public education,” according to a U.S. Army website. Curiously, it’s unclear to Adherents.com what Baldwin’s religious affiliation was; different sources say different things.
  • Hugh Williamson of North Carolina taught college Latin for three years, studied theology for two and “was licensed to preach the Gospel” by the Presbyterian church in Philadelphia. Instead, he became a mathematics professor for two years, then studied medicine for eight years and also went into the mercantile business.
Rollins’s own understanding of the place of religion in politics might have been revealed after the New Jersey governor’s race in 1993 when he boasted, “We went into black churches and we basically said to ministers who had endorsed [his candidate’s opponent] Florio, ‘Do you have a special project?’ And they said, ‘We’ve already endorsed Florio.’ And we said, ‘That’s fine, don’t get up on the Sunday pulpit and preach. . . . Don’t get up there and say it’s your moral obligation that you go out on Tuesday and vote for Jim Florio.’” Rollins said his campaign contributed to cooperating ministers’ “favorite charities.”

After this became a scandal, he denied that he had actually done anything of the sort, saying that he’d told a false story to unnerve an opposing consultant. The same attitude toward honesty seems to be at play in Rollins’s remark about twenty-six signers of the Constitution being ministers.

To my knowledge, no U.S. President was ever a religious minister. Either Huckabee, ordained in the Southern Baptist church, or Romney, who has served as bishop and stake president in the Latter-Day Saints church, would therefore be the first.

18 comments:

Larry Cebula said...

An excellent post! I usually throw up my hands when I see historians trying to claim relevance in modern politics (think of the tiresome pieces over at the History News Network). But sometimes the politicians actually do lob one right into our court. And then it is our duty to speak up.

Jonathan said...

If you do some google on this, you'll see the source of the myth traces to David Barton, a notorious "Christian Nation" revisionist who is, alas, quite popular among Christian conservatives. The source of his claim is that given early colleges were founded with explicitly Christian missions, any degree they granted were "divinity" degrees which makes any college graduate of those schools de facto ministers.

J. L. Bell said...

There's no doubt the early American colleges, including Harvard, were founded to produce ministers friendly to the locally prevailing church.

I remember finding it interesting how well before the Revolutionary period, only a minority of any Harvard class went on to a clerical career. Most graduates chose to become lawyers, doctors, merchants, or gentleman farmers.

Even so, the percentage of ministers in each class was higher than the small fraction of ministers or former ministers in the Continental Congresses and Constitutional Convention. Which indicates those founding politicians were less interested in religious careers than their college peers.

Jonathan said...

Very true. Also notable is many of the actual ministers Harvard produced in the 1700s had "unitarian" theological positions that weren't all that different from those held by Jefferson, Franklin, and John Adams. I'm thinking of Jonathan Mayhew, Charles Chauncy, Ebenezer Gay, Samuel West and many others. The Trinitarian Calvinists considered these Unitarian Arminians to be downright "heretics" if not "infidels." Harvard officially went "heretic" around 1805 or so.

Tom Chatt said...

Good post, but alas the last claim of your fact-checking article (that no prior president was a preacher) begs a fact-check. It appears that James Garfield was a preacher in the Disciples of Christ church.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the additional nineteenth-century info!

Garfield was one of the most talented men ever elected President, clearly. I recall learning in high school that he also published an original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem of right triangles.

That intelligence and accomplishment helps to explain the depth of the national mourning after his assassination. Since he never had the chance to accomplish anything as President, Garfield's become a historical footnote to us now, but he was obviously much more then.

Our Founding Truth said...

Thanks for the info on Garfield, yes, he was a minister of the Gospel.

As to your comment "Only two ever had professional affiliations with a church:"

It seems this may not be entirely accurate, as most of the framers in some capacity could be considered to have a professional affiliation with a church. Is not a Bible society affiliated with Jesus Christ? Is not a church officer, Army Chaplain, or manager of a bible society, not considered affiliated with Jesus Christ? Is the ordination of a Pastor the sole requirement?

What about these men?

ROBERT TREAT PAINE (SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION): Military Chaplain. HELPED WRITE THE MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTION. ATTENDED HARVARD, WAS ORTHODOX.

JONATHAN TRUMBULL, GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT, ATTENDED HARVARD, WAS ORTHODOX, ORDAINED PASTOR.

JOHN COTTON SMITH (GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT; U. S. CONGRESSMAN): President of the Litchfield County Foreign Missionary Society; first President of the Connecticut Bible Society; President of the American Bible Society; President of the American Board of Foreign Missions. ATTENDED YALE, WAS ORTHODOX, A PURITAN MINISTER.

JOEL BARLOW (DIPLOMAT UNDER WASHINGTON AND ADAMS): Chaplain in the American Revolution for three years. ATTENDED YALE, WAS ORTHODOX, NOT BECOMING A LIBERAL UNTIL 1794.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS: SIXTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, Vice-President of the American Bible Society; of the Massachusetts Bible Society. ATTENDED HARVARD, WAS ORTHODOX.

RUFUS KING (SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION): Selected as manager@ of the American Bible Society, Signer of the Constitution, Ratifier of the Bill of Rights, ATTENDED HARVARD, WAS ORTHODOX.

Does being a Member of the Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians and Others account for affiliation with Jesus Christ?

Maybe we should re-evaluate the term Clergy?

OFT.

J. L. Bell said...

Most people use “professional” to indicate that someone receives money for such work, does it as his or full-time profession, and/or does it at an advanced level. Being an officer in a voluntary association doesn’t qualify.

Of the men you’ve named, only two of them (Paine and King) were signers of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, the groups that Huckabee and Rollins mentioned. The rest have no bearing on the question of those men’s accuracy.

You’ve labeled Robert Treat Paine as “ORTHODOX.” (I’m not sure why you see a need to shout.) He moved from Congregationalist orthodoxy to Unitarianism over his life. Paine was a military chaplain for a few months in 1755, a shorter time than he worked as a Latin School teacher in Boston and as a sailor. For most of his life, Paine was a professional attorney.

You label Rufus King as “ORTHODOX.” Orthodox what? Sources differ on whether King was Congregationalist or Episcopalian, which define orthodoxy differently.

Your remark about Joel Barlow indicates that you see “ORTHODOX” as opposed to “LIBERAL.” Yet you also label John Quincy Adams as “ORTHODOX.” Most historians say he was a Unitarian, which was also the liberal form of faith that his father adopted.

You state that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., was “ORDAINED PASTOR.” According to the Connecticut State Library, he was “never ordained.”

You say that John Cotton Smith was “A PURITAN MINISTER.” According to the U.S. Congress’s capsule biography of him, he was a lawyer from the age of twenty-two. Even American Bible History doesn’t claim he was a minister.

Please check the sources of your information because they’re leading you astray.

Jonathan said...

Heh. I've tried, many times, to caution OFT from making such wild, speculative, unsubstantiated claims. I think it can be shown that huge majorities of Founding Fathers were in some way formally or nominally associated with Christian Churches that professed orthodoxy. However, absent a thorough investigation of each Founder, there is no grounds for stating that almost all save a handful were "orthodox" (meaning accepting the Trinitarian creeds that served as a lowest common denominator between these Churches), which is what OFT believes.

On the surface, Jefferson, Madison, G. Morris, and Washington were all formally associated with the Anglican/Episcopal Church which in the 18th Century was orthodox Trinitarian. But it's only after meticulous investigation that most scholars agree that none was an orthodox Christian, but deistic or unitarian. Likewise, the Congregational Church had its origin in Puritan orthodoxy but by the mid-18th Century many of them preached Unitarianism.

A number of Founders I've conclude are orthodox include Sam Adams, John Witherspoon, John Jay, Patrick Henry, and Elias Boudinat. But even with them, there are problems. Jay in one letter, doubted the Trinity's validity. Witherspoon downplayed the Trinity's importance and taught Scottish Enlightenment rationalism, not Calvinism, to his students at Princeton. Henry was certainly influenced by enough non-Christian, Enlightenment sources that he was accused of being a "Deist" (which he, unlike Washington, explicitly denied and asserted his Christianity). And Sam Adams, Witherspoon, Henry and lots of orthodox figures incorporated Locke's "state of nature" teachings into their public arguments, which concept has nothing to do with traditional Christianity.

Otherwise, with the few hundred other Founders, it simply is not known whether collectively they were "orthodox Trinitarian Christians." The furthest I'd be able to go is that it's possible that a statical majority [meaning 50%+] were.

Our Founding Truth said...

Forgive me for the caps, if was from my blog that I copied. I did not mean to shout.

As to your earlier question, of Rev. Paine, he did not become unitarian until 1780, after he helped form the nation.

As to King, Christian orthodoxy is the foundational tenets of the Bible; inerrancy, Virgin Birth, and Deity of Jesus Christ(Triune Godhead), Sacrificial Blood Atonement, Death and Resurrection, His physical return to the earth, and future judgment.

These are foundational, throughout scripture, known throughout the centuries in church history. A departure of these, seems heterodox?

King, believed in these tenets.

While forming the nation, Barlow was orthodox.

John Quincy Adams, despite the unitarian label, seems orthodox:

After hearing his minister, Robert Little, preach against the Trinity, he wrote in his diary,
"But neither this, nor any other argument that I ever heard, can satisfy my judgment that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ is not countenanced by the New Testament. As little can I say that it is clearly revealed. It is often obscurely intimated; sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly, asserted; but left on the whole, in a debatable state, never to be either demonstrated or refuted till another revelation shall clear it up."
John Quincy Adams, 1819?
http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/johnquincyadams.html

You state that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., was “ORDAINED PASTOR.” According to the Connecticut State Library, he was “never ordained.”>

Trumbull was licensed to preach and called to a church at Colchester 1731.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Trumbull

I think I mixed up the name for John Cotton Smith, his father was a Puritan Minister
http://www.americanbiblehistory.com/john_cotton_smith.html

Smith's involvement in propagating the Gospel, as well as most of the founding fathers is well documented.

Maybe the word clergy was not the proper term to use. In my humble opinion, getting paid by a church isn't the issue, rather, was the founding father involved in active ministry for the church, which is a resounding yes.

OFT

J. L. Bell said...

Thank you for acknowledging your error on John Cotton Smith, OFT. Unfortunately, your latest comment contains more error and shifting standards. Those problems make its argument less convincing rather than more so.

To support the notion that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., was “ORDAINED PASTOR,” you cited a Wikipedia entry that doesn’t even contain the word “ordained.” As the link to the Connecticut State Library biography of Trumbull clearly states, he was invited to become a minister and decided against that career. The word “ordain” had a specific meaning for Trumbull and his contemporaries, as it does for many people today. Trumbull was never ordained.

Similarly, words like “pastor,” “clergy,” and “minister” had specific meanings. When Huckabee, Rollins, and you try to stretch those terms to fit how you wish to portray the past, that does the people of the past and us a disservice.

I’m not sure how you feel that John Quincy Adams’s remark that “the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ is not countenanced by the New Testament“ shows that he believed in “Deity of Jesus Christ,” one of your personal requirements for orthodoxy. That passage from Adams’s diary showed that he didn’t believe in that idea, though he also didn’t see clear proof to the contrary. He expected no one to know whether it was true until “another revelation.” The webpage on Adams that you cited clearly states that over his life Adams “moved from a near-Calvinist to a Unitarian position,” and in 1819 helped found the First Unitarian Church of Washington.

Your comment rests on standards that seem to shift with what you wish to believe. You refer to Paine as “Rev. Paine” because he served as an unordained chaplain for a short time early in his life. You want to ignore the decades he served Massachusetts and the U.S. of A. as an attorney and judge, both before and after the Revolution. And the reason is obvious: because for most of those years Paine was not what you consider an orthodox Christian, and thus not what you wish to believe about the nation’s founders.

As I said, this selective approach to historical facts isn’t convincing.

Jonathan said...

Heh. Wait till he starts calling them "born again." Even among the orthodoxy Trinitarians, most of them never referred to themselves as "born again,"; the orthodox Trinitarian Anglicans/Epicopalians especially tended to eschew such zeal.

As regards JQA from my reading of the record, he vacillated between Unitarianism and Calvinism his entire adult life. But, given that he is buried at a Unitarian Church, it's safe to conclude where he ended up.

Our Founding Truth said...

To support the notion that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., was “ORDAINED PASTOR,” you cited a Wikipedia entry that doesn’t even contain the word “ordained.” As the link to the Connecticut State Library biography of Trumbull clearly states, he was invited to become a minister and decided against that career. The word “ordain” had a specific meaning for Trumbull and his contemporaries, as it does for many people today. Trumbull was never ordained.>

You're playing semantics, feel free to if you wish, but Trumbull was licensed and called at Colchester for a reason, he was a theologian; I'm sure the general would consider this guy a preacher.

" three years after graduation (during which time he studied theology under the Rev. Solomon Williams at Lebanon, and was licensed to preach at Colchester, Connecticut), this became a Master of Arts degree."

I agree, Trumbull was not a Signer of the documents Huckabee mentioned, I never claimed he was, only as an example of Christian ministry.

There are many authors and organizations who believe Paine was Clergy, so I am on a solid foundation.

From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), page 115-116:
"A clergyman turned lawyer-jurist, Robert Treat Paine"

Similarly, words like “pastor,” “clergy,” and “minister” had specific meanings. When Huckabee, Rollins, and you try to stretch those terms to fit how you wish to portray the past, that does the people of the past and us a disservice.>

The meanings are derived in your strict interpretation; however,
Huckabee mentioned clergy, I never did.

and in 1819 helped found the First Unitarian Church of Washington.>>

That quote proves he wasn't a unitarian, because he didn't affirm that unitarian belief, so I am correct. As well, as I have his other quotes, supporting my assertion.

In 1815, at the height of the controversy, Adams concluded that the Calvinist Samuel Adams had bested William Ellery Channing, the Unitarians' leader, in a debate on the doctrine of the Trinity. Then a year later, when in an exchange of letters his father good-naturedly drew him into a theological debate, the junior Adams revealed that, while not approving their intolerance, he tended to follow the doctrines of the Trinitarians and Calvinists; moreover, that he wanted no part of Unitarianism. He suggested that his father read a sermon on the divinity of Christ by a Bishop Massilon, "after which be a Socinian if you can."
http://www.theinfidels.org/zunb-johnquincyadams.htm

JQA did not ascribe to the fundamentals of unitarianism, and was only affiliated with it by name.

And the reason is obvious: because for most of those years Paine was not what you consider an orthodox Christian, and thus not what you wish to believe about the nation’s founders.>

Actually, you have this backwards, for most of Paine's life, he was orthodox, it wasn't until 1780, he departed from orthodoxy.

Signer of the Declaration Lyman Hall was a minister, if you have a problem with his ordination, take it up with his congregation. Was he on the payroll?
http://www.adherents.com/people/ph/Lyman_Hall.html

"Hall graduated from Yale College in 1747 and studied theology with his uncle, Rev Samuel Hall (1695-1776; Yale 1716) in Cheshire, CT. In 1749, he was called to the pulpit of Stratfield Parish (now Bridgeport, CT). His pastorate was a stormy one"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_Hall

And, Constitution Signers:
Abraham Baldwin
From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Constitution: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Constitution, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1976), pages 140-141:

"He graduated in 1772. Three years later, he became a minister and tutor at the college. He held that position until 1779, when he served as a chaplain in the Continental Army."

Was Baldwin on the payroll?

To me, being on the payroll is irrelevanti If a guy was licensed, and call to preach, and preached for one day, that is sufficient for me.

However, based on the framers' last will and testament, and involvement in organized propagation of the Gospel, almost every one was involved in orthodox Christian ministry, despite the confusion the word "ordained" has brought on, my approach and label of the framers is convincing.

J. L. Bell said...

That evidence is convincing for you, OTF, but you’re already so convinced that you don’t acknowledge contrary evidence.

It’s obvious that it doesn’t matter to you that Robert Treat Paine was one of Massachusetts’s leading lawyers for decades, and spent at least thirty-four years as a Unitarian. All you care about is that for a few months as a young man he was a Congregationalist military chaplain, so you want to call him “Rev. Paine.”

It doesn’t matter to you that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., declined Colchester’s invitation to become a minister, or that Lyman Hall left the ministry and became a doctor. No, all you care about is that they once preached, so you want to count them as ministers.

Remarkably, you’re able to quote John Quincy Adams’s statement that “the Divinity of Christ is...on the whole, in a debatable state,” and yet believe that he did not express Unitarian ideas. You’re obviously desperate to label him as “ORTHODOX.” Your ability to see only what you want to see is astonishing.

I’m sorry you don’t recognize the difference between “semantics” and accuracy. When Huckabee said that half the signers of the Declaration were ministers, that wasn’t a matter of word choice; that was a falsehood. When Rollins said something similar about the signers of the Constitution, that was equally false.

The only semantic games that I see are your insistence that you can define ”professional,” “orthodox,” “ordained,” “minister,” and other terms as you choose. Perhaps on your website, but I think that such standards would render a website unreliable.

Let me be clear about the historic facts for you. Americans of the eighteenth century were careful about whom they referred to as “the Rev. Mr. ----.” They did not refer to Robert Treat Paine that way. They did not consider him a minister.

As for Abraham Baldwin, my original posting noted his work as a Continental Army chaplain before he became a doctor and then a Constitutional Convention delegate. Your mention of him in your latest comment is significant only as yet another example of not seeing what was in front of your eyes.

Our Founding Truth said...

It’s obvious that it doesn’t matter to you that Robert Treat Paine was one of Massachusetts’s leading lawyers for decades, and spent at least thirty-four years as a Unitarian. All you care about is that for a few months as a young man he was a Congregationalist military chaplain, so you want to call him “Rev. Paine.”>

Sir, it is clear you are misinterpreting my words. I could care less if Paine was a minister for half a day, he was still employed by a church, which means he was Ordained as Webster's shows:

ORDA''INED, pp. Appointed; instituted; established; invested with ministerial or pastoral functions; settled.
http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?action=search&word=ordained&resource=Webster%27s&quicksearch=on

Webster's on Chaplain:
CHAPLAIN, n.
1. An ecclesiastic who has a chapel, or who performs service in a chapel. The king of Great Britain has forty-eight chaplains, who attend, four each month, to perform divine service for the royal family. Princes also, and persons of quality have chaplains, who officiate in their chapels.
2. A CLERGYMAN who belongs to a ship of war, or to a regiment of land forces, for performing divine service.

Paine was Clergy:
"He acted as chaplain of the troops on the northern frontier in 1755 and subsequently preached in the pulpits of the regular clergy in Boston and vicinity."
http://virtualology.com/declarationofindependence/RobertTreatPaine.com/

I could care less if Paine was a unitarian a hundred years, that, is irrelevant, the important point is his beliefs while forming the nation, which was orthodox Christian.

It doesn’t matter to you that Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., declined Colchester’s invitation to become a minister, or that Lyman Hall left the ministry and became a doctor. No, all you care about is that they once preached, so you want to count them as ministers.>

I concur with you on this point, although Trumbull wasn't a signer, and you admit Hall left the ministry, I agree.

Remarkably, you’re able to quote John Quincy Adams’s statement that “the Divinity of Christ is...on the whole, in a debatable state,” and yet believe that he did not express Unitarian ideas.>

We agree again,:^)

You’re obviously desperate to label him as “ORTHODOX.” Your ability to see only what you want to see is astonishing.>>

My definition of orthodoxy, is not my opinion, but of the Creator, Savior, Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, in His Word. There is no need for me to make up JQA's beliefs, he never affirmed the fundamental doctrines of unitarianism, unless, you can provide the quotes.

I’m sorry you don’t recognize the difference between “semantics” and accuracy. When Huckabee said that half the signers of the Declaration were ministers, that wasn’t a matter of word choice; that was a falsehood. When Rollins said something similar about the signers of the Constitution, that was equally false.>>

I never said it wasn't false. Another instance of you putting words in my mouth.

The only semantic games that I see are your insistence that you can define ”professional,” “orthodox,” “ordained,” “minister,” and other terms as you choose. Perhaps on your website, but I think that such standards would render a website unreliable.>>

Since Webster's confirms my definitions of said terms, this makes my website the more reliable, I humbly implore your participation on it.

Let me be clear about the historic facts for you. Americans of the eighteenth century were careful about whom they referred to as “the Rev. Mr. ----.” They did not refer to Robert Treat Paine that way. They did not consider him a minister.>>

Webster's considers him a minister, maybe there is correspondence without that appellation, which is irrelevant to the issue of whether he was employed and licensed as a minister.

As for Abraham Baldwin, my original posting noted his work as a Continental Army chaplain before he became a doctor and then a Constitutional Convention delegate. Your mention of him in your latest comment is significant only as yet another example of not seeing what was in front of your eyes.>>

This, is in front of my eyes:

"Three years later, he became a minister and tutor at the college. He held that position until 1779, when he served as a chaplain in the Continental Army."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Baldwin

Baldwin was a minister employed at a college.

John Maass said...

Very well done post. You do note that no US pres was a minister/clergyman--but Washington was a prominent Mason. Isn't that a religion?!?! (wink, wink)

J. L. Bell said...

OFT, Noah Webster and Robert Treat Paine were contemporaries. Webster wrote a great deal about the politics of his time. And Webster never referred to Paine as a minister or as “Rev. Paine,” as you’ve chosen to.

Webster and Paine were New Englanders of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and understood words in a certain way. You’re choosing to apply your chosen understandings of those terms onto those men. You don’t understand Webster’s use of “invested” and “settled,” and it’s apparent that you don’t care as long as you can read history in the way you want.

Your first comment on my posting was a complaint that one statement was “not...entirely accurate.” But the evidence you provided (a) was based on your own definitions, inappropriate to the statement; (b) mostly not pertinent to the men I’d written about; (c) partial and selective; and (d) in some respects completely wrong. That’s not putting words in your mouth; that’s pointing out the words everyone else is willing to see.

Since then you’ve done nothing but insist that your understandings of words, evidence, and orthodoxy are all that should matter. Now you’re claiming to speak for Jesus. Your convictions are clear; your information is murky, selective, and not worth any more of my time.

Brad Hart said...

Amen Mr. Bell. I've been following this debate and completely agree with you. Our Founding Truth has simply jumped off the boat and missed the ocean when it comes to his "scholarly" interpretation on this topic.