Rodda And Her Minions

After Chris Rodda had her personal account banned from David Barton and Wallbuilders’ official Facebook page, it became common place for her so called “minions” to pick up where she left off. Today brought a typical troll attempt by a user named “Master Gibson“.  A quick glance at the information available on his and Rodda’s accounts, it is revealed that the two are “friends” on Facebook. Per Master Gibson’s sharing of one of Rodda’s recent blog posts three times in three different places on the Barton/Wallbuilders’ page, it can be concluded that Master Gibson is but another Rodda minion out to spam attacks against Barton on his own page. As to the meat of Rodda’s attack in question, perhaps we should have a more in-depth investigation.

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Master Gibson linked up a blog post by Rodda in which she provides a portion of her most recent self-published “Barton-Basher”(available on Amazon), along with some added commentary, aimed at taking cracks at the credibility of Barton’s conclusions in his recent book, The Jefferson Lies. Before we get into Rodda’s “scholarly” (I’m being generous there) assertions against Barton, her amateurish, childish blog post should be addressed.

What is Ms. Rodda’s deal in constantly referring to Barton as a “pseudo-historian”, or her more favorite but lengthy title of “Christian-Nationalist-Revisionist-Pseudo-Historian”? Rodda has previously attacked Barton for not having a formal education in history or a history degree, whilst she also has no such training. According to her requirements for what constitutes “being a historian”, if Barton fails, then ironically so does Rodda as she also has neither the formal training or degree (whereas I, for example, do).

Let’s just cut right to the chase: Rodda calls Barton a pseudo-historian because she doesn’t agree with him or consider his work valid. That’s her opinion. I could just as well call her a “pseudo-historian” because my opinion of her work is that it is shoddy and would be considered disgraceful coming from a formally trained historian, or even a high school graduate for that matter. But I’m not going to call her a “pseudo-historian”, I’m just going to say that she produces terribly researched and poorly argued works dealing with historical topics.

Rodda concludes her blog post by calling Barton a “lying sack of Christian nationalist crap.” While her words here are expressed through the medium of a mere blog post, I’m questioning why anyone should be taken seriously as a scholar when they use such language in any setting. This is the kind of childish rabble I expect from a preteen in middle school, not from the blog post of a “professional” author/researcher/scholar who appears to at least be over the age of 40. Then again, Rodda lists herself as a “highschool dropout”, so perhaps there is a potential correlation to be left for further investigation.

Now, on to the actual substance, or lack thereof, of Rodda’s assertions in the portion of her work she references. In the quoted portion of her work, Rodda writes,

“With his two examples of Hume and Raynal – both of which are complete misrepresentations of what Jefferson wrote…”

Ironically, in attempts to show that Barton misrepresented Jefferson, she is guilty of misrepresenting Barton (as well as Jefferson). Rodda literally spent pages talking about how Barton misused a quote of Jefferson in which Jefferson referred to Raynal as a “mere shrimp”. Indeed, Rodda is right to say that in the cited quote, Jefferson was not referring to the intellect of Raynal, but his physical stature. I can see how in the form of Barton’s usage, a reader could make the stretch to pose that Barton was trying to indicate that said quote was being applied to reference Raynal’s intellect. But making this stretch is supposition and thus logically fallacious when formulating an argument.

The real problem however, is how after making such a supposition  Rodda essentially claims “ha! I got you Barton! You are a liar and nothing you said is correct!” Here, Rodda is clearly guilty of making a straw man argument because she fails to address the entire section and overall point made by Barton. She beats away at an arguably valid, yet minor point in question, whilst acting as if by doing so she has debunked Barton’s overall point, despite that not being the case.

Simply put, all Barton was doing in the section in question was explaining how Jefferson was critical of Raynal. If Jefferson referred to a man as a “shrimp” in regards to his physical stature, is that not a bit, well, demeaning? Would you go up to a close friend, one who has inspired and mentored you, and call them a “midget” just because they were short? Why be offensive when you could easily just say “short”? A simple reading indicates that Jefferson was being derogatory towards Raynal. Why? Because he didn’t much like the man or his ideas. Even if Barton fallaciously tried to massage the “shrimp” quote into referring to Raynal’s intellect (which I’m not fully convinced this is what Barton tried to do), was not the quote still an example of Jefferson being critical of Raynal, which was the whole point Barton was making?

Rodda didn’t have the courtesy to quote the entire context of this section from Barton’s book, which is as follows:

“Jefferson was similarly forthright in his criticism of other secular Enlightenment writers, including Guillaume Thomas Francois Raynal (known as Abbe Raynal). Jefferson described his works as “a mass of errors and misconceptions from beginning to end,” containing a “great deal of falsehood” and being “wrong exactly in the same proportion.” He even described Raynal as “a mere shrimp”. Such vehement denunciations of leading secular Enlightenment writers are generally not consistent with a Jefferson who was supposedly greatly influenced by them.” (Jefferson Lies, p. 38)

Ms. Rodda, after hammering away on the “mere shrimp” comment, did not even bother to address the other quoted portions (“a mass of errors and misconceptions from beginning to end”, “great deal of falsehood”, “wrong exactly in the same proportion”). Had Barton not even included the short sentence “He even described Raynal as ‘a mere shrimp'”, Rodda has nothing to say about the rest of the quoted evidences revealing Jefferson’s apparent distaste for Raynal’s postulations.

As Rodda continues:

“Barton then proceeds to explain that the reason Jefferson admired and was influenced so much by Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke was because of their theological writings.”

“The reason given by Jefferson for his choice of Bacon, Newton, and Locke as the three greatest men who ever lived was that they had “laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences,”(1) not that they were his favorite theologians”.

“Barton is just once again making something all about religion that wasn’t all about religion.”

Barton identifies Bacon, Newton and Locke for who they were, philosophers, attorneys, mathematicians, statesmen, scientists, AND also theologians. He does not explicitly say that Jefferson was only influenced by the “theological works” of these three thinkers, nor that “the scientific works of these three men did NOT influence Jefferson.” All Barton does is point out that Jefferson was heavily influenced by these three men, three Christians who happened to develop their understandings through the lens of a biblical worldview; in other words, that their theological beliefs formed their other theories, thoughts, beliefs etc. regarding various matters of science.

Nowhere does Barton make the explicit claim that Jefferson considered those three men to be his “favorite theologians”. Rodda quotes Jefferson’s letter to John Trumbull, February 15, 1789 but apparently fails to note  Jefferson’s differentiation between the physical and moral sciences. Moral sciences are those that stem from theological and philosophical principles, thoughts, and teachings. Here, by using Jefferson’s own words, Rodda only and quite ironically supports the exact opposite of what she was going for! She says that Barton falsely claims the “trinity” of scholars as theological influences of Jefferson, yet the quote of Jefferson she uses indicates that he was in fact influenced by them in regards to “moral” (or theological/philosophical) sciences. Yes, Jefferson also was influenced by their ideas regarding the “physical” sciences, but at no point did Barton ever claim the contrary.

Because she already hadn’t levied a terrible enough argument, Rodda apparently felt the need to continue with more:

“First of all, it is impossible for Jefferson to have even read Newton’s theological writings because almost none of them had been published at the time that Jefferson was alive.”

Firstly, Rodda references, but not properly cites, a portion from Wikipedia which states that “Newton did not publish any of his works of Biblical study during the time he was alive.” So if Newton died in 1727, we can deduce that his theological works would have started being published after that date. Knowing that, could Jefferson have possibly read the following “theological” works of Newton:

  • “Notes on Early Church History” (written c.1680, publication unknown, referenced by Barton on p.39)
  • “Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John” (published in 1733, referenced by Barton on p.40)
  • “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” or simply, “Principia” (first published in 1687, again in 1713 and 1726, referenced by Barton on p.40)

Considering these three works were apparently available during the years Jefferson had lived, why yes, he could have “possibly read” those works. Though not mentioned by Barton, other works of Newton likely available to Jefferson include Newton’s A Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews and the Cubits of the several Nations (1737) and his An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture (1754).

The main source of Rodda’s illogical arguments is her fallacious implication that “science” and “theology” cannot mix. She falsely argues that Jefferson could not have read Newton’s theological works, but then stretches even further by implying that Newton could not have touched on theological points in his other “scientific works” as if theology is separate from “science”.

Theology and philosophy are actually sub-fields within the broad field of “scientific” study, the term science simply meaning “the gaining of knowledge.”  This is a common mistake of those who equivocate the term “science” to refer to only a specific branch of science, in this case “physical science”. As Founder John Adams once explained in a letter to Rev. Andrew Norton  (November 24, 1819),

“The science of theology is indeed the first philosophy – the only philosophy – it comprehends all philosophy and all science, it is the science of the Universe and its Ruler – and what other object of knowledge can there be… there can therefore never be more than one perfect theologian in the Universe, and that is the eternal omnipotent Jehovah.”

If Newton was a scholar, a philosopher, a theologian, a mathematician, a scientist, then would not his theological beliefs influence his beliefs concerning everything else? Theology formed the man’s “worldview” and we can clearly see it evidenced through ALL of his scientific works.  For instance, just look at the section Barton quotes of Newton’s Pincipia (considered a “mathematics” and “philosophy” book):

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must all be subject to the dominion of One.”

I sense quite a significant theological feeling from what somebody like Rodda would apparently consider “not a theology” work, but a strictly scientific work. This is because the reality of the matter is that Newton approached all scientific study from a stance of believing in the all powerful Creator, who through understanding His Creation, he would be able to better understand God. An atheist approaches scientific study with a theological foundation just as a theist (in this case with Newton, a Christian) does, it just happens that these are opposite stances. One believes in God’s existence while the other rejects His existence. Regardless, each has formed and adhered to said theological belief/foundation.

Rodda lastly accuses Barton of  “very deliberately [trying to hide] this inconvenient little fact by chopping it out of the article he quotes about Newton’s theological writings…” which again, is using supposition to support her conclusion. Did Barton intentionally take the section out of said quote that talked about Newton’s “non-scientific writings” (please reference the previous paragraph… theology is a scientific study) not fully being publicized until centuries after Newton’s death?

Regardless of whether Barton did or didn’t (only he knows) is besides the point as this issue in no way impacts the previously analyzed facts. If anything, it only helps discredit the atheist/secularist argument even more! If Isaac Newton wrote a ton of works completely focused on theology and he actually believed in God and was a “Christian”, how exactly does that help a person like Rodda’s cause? Rodda says “The reason that Newton’s theological writings… were rejected… [was] because of Newton’s heretical religious views.” Aside from Rodda again making a false equivocation saying that theology is not scientific, she points out nothing new or that has any impact on whether or not Jefferson was influenced by the theological ideas of Newton.

So in the end, we are left with the following conclusions:

  • Rodda says “Thomas Jefferson never even read Newton’s theological writings” when this is pure supposition and actually quite refutable seeing as Jefferson himself says that he was influenced by the likes of Newton (and others) and his personal writings evidence that fact.
  • She claims that “without a time machine, Jefferson obviously could not have read something that wasn’t even published until over a century after his death.” This is again false because as shown, several of Newtons “theological” works had been published and were available to Jefferson during his life, as well as the fact that Newton’s “scientific” works incorporated various scientific fields such as physical science and moral science, physics, mathematics, geology and even theology.
  • Finally Rodda having not provided a single instance of valid, evidence supporting argumentation, fallaciously asserts that “Jefferson considered Newton great because he was a scientist, not a freakin’ theologian!” And on top of all that, the use of the word “freakin'”, even on an informal blog, is pretty amateurish and franking speaking, quite insulting to those of us who actually engage in scholarly research and writing.
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44 thoughts on “Rodda And Her Minions

  1. As insulting as trying to make a case that Jefferson was a Christian, or in any real form influenced by them, since he clearly and repeatedly says in his writings that he did not believe Jesus to be divine in the first place, and did not believe in any of the miracles in the Bible, which I am assuming would include Jesus rising from the tomb, since it wasn’t included in his compilation of “Diamonds in a dunghill”. Last I knew, belief in such things is pretty important in Christian circles. You folks are pathetic, to anyone that actually knows anything about the writings of the founders. Rodda at least has read them.

    • Ron, I do not know why you would be insulted by one making the case that Jefferson was a Christian. Interestingly, I have not even attempted to do so in this post. Although to note, Jefferson referred to himself as a “Christian” numerous times (reference his letter to Benjamin Rush 12 April 1803, also his letter to Charles Thomson 9 January 1816). You or somebody else may think the label invalid, but he clearly seemed to think that he was a “real Christian”. Getting deeper into the complex theological beliefs of Jefferson would require much more ink so to speak, as I will be getting around to in the future. However, again the point of this post was both to expose Rodda’s amateurish “scholarship” (ironically an attempt to do that very thing to another writer), and to show the length her “minions” will go to spam her tainted view of history.

      To say that Jefferson was not influenced by those three men, including Newton, is preposterous. Perhaps you failed to read where Jefferson referred to Bacon, Newton and Locke as his “trinity” of men. That was moreover the point of this article as it refutes Rodda’s weak attempt to refute that very point which was successfully made of Barton.

      Yes Jefferson did not believe that Jesus was divine, though he still thought it was possible that Jesus believed Himself to be “inspired by above” (reference letter to William Short 4 August 1820). It is also true that Jefferson questioned the legitimacy of some of the events recorded by the Gospel writers and other Apostles, yet Jefferson never once said that “all recorded miracles” could have never happened. I see you have brought up Jefferson’s “Bible”, that is his “Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”. Actually, the exact reason why he did not include the instances of miracles was because his desire with this work was to piece together a work that specifically expressed the moral philosophy of Jesus to compare to other “philosophers” in the same manner that Priestly had done. Moreover, his initial desire for his “project” was evidenced by the original title: The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrased [uncomplicated] with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions. He meant this project to be used by missionaries for educating the Native Americans. Have a gander at his letter to Dr. Peter Wilson, Professor of languages, January 20, 1816 as Jefferson talks a lot about the Indians, language/translations and missionary work. As Jefferson writes: “Single words, or two or three together, might perhaps be understood [by the Indians], but not a whole sentence of any extent or construction. I think, therefore, the pious missionaries who shall go to the several tribes to instruct them in the Christian religion will have to learn a language for every tribe they go to; nay, more, that they will have to create a new language for every one, that is to say, to add to theirs new words for the new ideas they will have to communicate… Their barren vocabularies cannot be vehicles for ideas of the fall of man, his redemption, the triune composition of the Godhead, and other mystical doctrines considered by most Christians of the present date as essential elements of faith. The enterprise is therefore arduous, but the more inviting perhaps to missionary zeal, in proportion as the merit of surmounting it will be greater.”

      I think that it would be pretty important for a Christian to accept all of Christ’s words, teachings and records of His life, miracles, death and resurrection. But who I am to think any less of Jefferson if he had difficulty accepting what Christ said about Himself being “one with the Father” when we have Christians who walk around blatantly rejecting other teachings of Christ? As a Christian I can say that Jefferson was wrong about the Bible in many instances, but seeing as he was no learned theologian, I understand why his knowledge and understanding was lacking. Yet that doesn’t give me the right to call him “not a Christian”. All I can say is that Jefferson called himself a Christian and his salvation is up to God’s judgement, not mine.

      But tell me again, who are the “folks” you refer to as being “pathetic”? Are you somehow including me in that group of “folks”? Perhaps you don’t realize that I actually know something “about the writings of the founders”. In fact, I venture to suggest that I know more now then you will ever know in your entire life. Having formally been educated in the field of History, particularly in Early American History, earning a Bachelors and soon a Masters in the subject, I think I’m a little more qualified to speak on the subject than you or miss highschool dropout Chris Rodda. She may claim to have “read them”, but her apparent inability to properly analyze historical primary documents is quite evident.

      P.S. Ron, please refrain from making baseless attacks like “you are pathetic”… that will be a quick way to not have your comments approved. 😉

      • I believe you speak of Jefferson’s assertion that he was a true follower of the doctrines of Jesus, which, considered in context, show that he was clearly comparing himself, who followed the moral philosophy of Jesus, with those that called themselves Christians, those that embraced the religion based on him after his death. You seem to, though, have found a nut (blind squirrel reference) when you talk about his wish to isolate Jesus’s philosophy, as opposed to the religion built on his name. The operative word throughout any consideration of Jefferson’s interest in Jesus is philosophy, moral philosophy, not religion, he had absolutely no patience with the purveyors of that religion.

        • Yes, Jefferson was comparing himself to be a more “real Christian” than others who called themselves Christians. But you are guilty of false dichotomy here in implying that because he was merely “comparing himself”, that means he couldn’t have actually considering himself a Christian. In comparing myself to some Christians, I conclude that I hold to Christ’s teachings better than others. Christ taught against divorce, yet many Christians get divorces. I have never gotten a divorce, therefore in that sense I am a “real Christian” whereas they are not. Now by making a comparison, did I do so because I did not actually consider myself a Christian? Of course not. I most certainly still consider myself a Christian, but simply made a comparison for the sake of making a comparison. Comparing one’s level of “Christianess” is something that can become very dangerous, lest we are start exposing ourselves to be hypocrites.

          Jefferson indeed wanted to isolate Jesus’ teachings on morality and philosophy from the accounts of every recorded event of His life by the Gospel and Epistle writers. Why? Because Jefferson was a moralist. Jefferson, like many others of the time and even today, placed more emphasis on good works, on living a good life of service towards fellow man, and on actually putting into practice Jesus’ moral teachings. Men like him saw less importance in studying subjects like Christology. Jefferson thought it pointless whether or not somebody believed that Christ was God incarnate if they didn’t follow his moral teachings. The Catholic Church and early Christian had for centuries, preached that “good works earn salvation” and this was the same emphasis stressed by many Enlightenment era Christians. People had seen abuses of Christianity that led to oppression, wars and bloodshed over points of Christology and doctrine. Thus is a complete reversal, many just wanted to see Christians be “good Christians”, that is people following the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount as John Adams commonly referred to.

      • As for Rodda, I have read her work, and whatever her education, her skill as a historical researcher is hardly questionable. Her references always link back to historical sources that back up her conclusions, whereas with Barton references often lead to writings that do nothing of the kind, when you examine them in context, strangely similar to your suggestion that Jefferson was actually a real Christian, strangely enough. I wonder why that would be the case?

        • Ron, I have read her work as well. I’m not saying that she has no skill as a historical researcher. I think her methodology in going to primary sources is proper. However, I think many of the conclusions she draws are questionable. To make the statement that Barton’s references “often lead to writings that do nothing of the kind” is utterly fallacious. Comparing Barton’s and Rodda’s endnotes tend reveal the very same references. Just because somebody always links back to historical sources does not mean that they have validly backed up their conclusions, which goes for Rodda, Barton and anyone else for that matter.

          I’ve already explained my “suggestion that Jefferson was actually a real Christian”… actually I never stated that Jefferson “was actually a real Christian”… I stated that Jefferson considered himself a “real Christian”, which as evidenced by the context of the referenced letter, Jefferson believed himself to be a real Christian. I’ve not really made an assert about “how Christian” Jefferson was, but instead simply presented what he said about himself.

      • And please refrain from trying to impress me with your claims that you know more about the writings of the founders than I ever will. The fact that you know absolutely nothing about me, and yet are still willing to assert such a claim as irrefutable fact, tells us something about you that I do not think you meant to reveal.

        • Ron, I’m not trying to impress you. Your previous comments have allowed me to learn enough “about you” to pose that I know more about the writings of the founders than you ever will. Again, you said “You folks are pathetic, to anyone that actually knows anything about the writings of the founders. Rodda at least has read them.” You asserted that I did not know “anything about the writings of the founders” and thus I was pathetic.

          How ironic that you would sit her and ramble about how it was wrong for me to draw a conclusion about you when you did the very same thing when asserting that I did not “know anything about the writings of the founders.” I could easily resort to using your words “you know absolutely nothing about me”, but that would get us nowhere.

      • Not that you asked for this advice, BJ, but I would recommend that perhaps you shouldn’t fail to properly analyze historical documents in a post were you chastise others for doing that very thing. Your citation and discussion of Thomas Jefferson’s letter of 20 January 1816 (to Dr. Peter Wilson) clearly misrepresents his view of native American languages stated in that very letter, and in a fairly denigrating manner. Jefferson was not in any way saying that Indians did not have the capacity to understand “a whole sentence of any extent or construction” as you implied by your careless paraphrasing and ellipsis. He was instead saying that native Americans spoke languages that were only rather distantly related to one another and that those languages were not mutually intelligible beyond a few words here or there. You also made it seem that Jefferson was extending the term “barren” to describe the vocabularies of Indian languages in general.

        From what I can see, these are fairly obvious “amateurish” mistakes made by someone who is futilely attempting to support his own opinions in the face of evidence.

        • Scott, my citation and discussion of Jefferson’s letter to Wilson did not at all misrepresent what Jefferson was saying. In no way was I trying to “denigrate” the Indians. In no way was I asserting that Jefferson was saying that the Indians did not have the capacity to understand “a whole sentence of any extent or construction”. In no way did I even imply that. My use of ellipsis in no way altered the point being made by Jefferson. The part that I removed was “Law, medicine, chemistry, mathematics, every science has a language of its own, and divinity not less than others.” I did so because it was redundant to the general point being made and I thought that I’d save you from having to read an extra sentence when it really wasn’t unnecessary to understand the basic point being made. My paraphrasing and use of ellipsis was not “careless” but was actually well-thought-out and was done with a purpose only for the reader’s benefit.

          What was my purpose in referencing that letter? Again, it was to show the connection between it and Jefferson’s purpose of his The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrased [uncomplicated] with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions.

          In that letter to Wilson, Jefferson talks about a written collection of Native American languages that was unfortunately stolen and destroyed after the thief threw it into the river. Yes as you correctly pointed out, Jefferson mentions the differences in the various Indian languages, that “more than half of them differed as radically, each from every other, as the Greek the Latin, and Icelandic.” He continues saying “And even of those which seemed to be derived from the same radix, the departure was such that the tribes speaking them could not probably understand one another.”

          So what is Jefferson’s point? Communication difficulties. Not only would it be difficult for an English-speaking white man to communicate with Indians in general, but that there was not just one “Indian language”, but several languages, though similar, were still unique to the various individual tribes… thus it would be even more difficult for the English-speaker to communicate to the various tribes unless he could understand them all.

          Then Jefferson moves on to the point that I was focusing on, which was how to deal with translating and communicating to the Indians. The “barren vocabularies” he refers to are that of the Indians. This is not a means by which he is trying to degrade the Indians, but just making a statement of fact. Jefferson says that the missionaries must do more than just “learn a language for every tribe they go to” but must instead “have to create a new language for every one, that is to say, to add to theirs new words for the new ideas they will have to communicate.” Why? Because in the various Indian languages, there were not words capable of being used to represent the exact thought the missionary was trying to communicate. The Indian languages were more simplistic, similar to saying that the Hebrew language was more simplistic to the Greek (which produced difficulties for those translating the Old Testament Hebrew into Greek).

          So finally we get to the whole point being made by both Jefferson and me, that it would be difficult to communicate to the Indians certain ideas that their languages did not contain words sufficient to provide accurate, direct translations. What were those ideas? Jefferson tells us they were the “ideas of the fall of man, his redemption, the triune composition of the Godhead, and other mystical doctrines considered by most Christians of the present date as essential elements of faith.” Do those not sound like “Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions”? Neither he nor I are claiming that “Indians were too dimwitted to understand those matters” but that because of translational, linguistic difficulties would make it a challenge to communicate them.

          But please, by all means tell me again how I made “fairly obvious ‘amateurish’ mistakes” when I had not done so…

      • Oh, and what do you make of Jefferson’s comment that
        “We find in the writings of his biographers … a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”
        – Thomas Jefferson, to William Short, August 4, 1822
        by biographers he is speaking of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John. I venture it safe to say that he’s saying he believes in none of their tales about miracles, you may draw your own conclusions,. . . and will, I suspect.

        • Ron, in this case your usage of ellipsis has altered the full meaning of the original passage you have misconstrued. Here is some of what you deleted and failed to keep in context:

          “We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications. Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed. These could not be inventions of the groveling authors who relate them. They are far beyond the powers of their feeble minds. They shew that there was a character, the subject of their history, whose splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being interpolations from their hands.”

          Jefferson makes two points, one of which you cut out to make it look as though Jefferson was nothing but critical of the Gospel accounts. Notice that while he is critical about parts, he praises others. Does Jefferson say “none of their accounts about miracles etc.” are believable? No. Throughout various of his writings, although not so much in this one, we can see some exact instances of records that he didn’t believe were authentic. However nowhere in this letter nor in any other does he explicitly say “every miracleis false”.

          Also, I’m trying to figure out what your point is in regards to the actual topic of discussion raised by my initial post. As a reminder, it was regarding the impact of Isaac Newton on Jefferson… not the Bible on Jefferson.

  2. Roxy

    I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but Newton didn’t have much of a choice regarding becoming a theologian since he was educated at Cambridge. That was part of the package.

    I note also that you didn’t spend any words on his fascination with alchemy. I have heard the suggestion (no citation, sorry) that Newton’s death was hastened along potentially because of his fooling about trying to change lead into gold. This of course involved a toxic process that included manipulating mercury.

    Makes you wonder about what else Newton might have been mistaken.

    • Roxy, yes that was part of the “package” that came with an education received at a religiously founded institution. Though, once free from this “bondage” of an education “package”, Newton thoroughly maintained his belief in God (from the biblical perspective) as clearly evidenced throughout his writings. Did he have what some might consider unorthodox beliefs regarding the Bible? Yes, in some cases it appears so. Then again, many of today’s “orthodox” Christian groups allow many things that are anti-biblical (to list a few instances: ordained female pastors, homosexual “marriage”, abortion, cohabitation before marriage etc.). When judging one’s level of orthodoxy, it all really depends on the standard being used and can thus be somewhat subjective. Do we set that standard at the Apostles’, Nicene or Athanasian Creed? At the words of a Pope or Council? At John 3:16? We are to remember first and foremost that in terms of eternal judgement, God alone measures us up to His standard (James 4:12).

      In regards to Newton’s fascination with alchemy, I am not well-informed on the matter so I don’t have much to say. In regards to other things he might have been mistaken on, again I cannot say. People make mistakes all the time… that’s unfortunately part of our human nature.

      • Binjabreel

        Unorthodox? Newton probably would have been executed for believing in what was essentially the Arian heresy.

        • Binjabreel, yes some of Newton’s views were unorthodox. Yes, he might have been executed for believing in what was essentially Arian heresy. What is your point? Are you questioning my labeling of Newton to be a somewhat unorthodox Christian? Is that an incorrect classification of him?

          • Binjabreel

            No, I’m saying it’s disengenuous for your sect to try and take credit for the beliefs of someone who, had he shared those beliefs with other members of your sect, would have been summarily shunned and disowned, and possibly tortured and murdered.

            • Binjabreel, first of all the word “sect”. You keep on using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means. Christianity is not a “sect”. It is a religion. In this case, a “sect”, often called a “denomination” in this day and age, would be a sub-group within Christianity, for instance Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists etc. Secondly, who is taking credit for what? So you mean to assert that by my quoting of say, John Adams explaining his belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and Redeemer of the World, or by my quoting of Jefferson saying that he considered himself to be a “real Christian”, that I am taking credit for their beliefs? I’m merely repeating what the things they actually said. It appears that what you are trying to argue is that if a person talks about a Founder revealing himself to be a Christian, it’s as if that person is trying to “add him to the ranks of historical Christian figures” like history is some kind of popularity of “who’s got more members”. I mean, in that same manner could it not be equally argued that an atheist or secularist using (or rather misusing) a Founders’ words in attempts to make them look like a non-Christian secularist be “guilty” of doing the very same thing you have accused a Christian of doing?

              Yes, over the years many individuals who considered themselves Christians, yet held to “unorthodox” beliefs (in the eyes of others), were shunned, disowned and possibly tortured and killed. I’m not denying that reality. But you pointing out said reality in no way adds anything of value to the discussion, or rather argument.

  3. Ken

    Has David Barton stopped banning everyone from his page? I inquired Barton about the explicit references to God and Christianity in the defense of slavery by the hundreds of Texas politicians that signed the 1861 Texas Ordinance of Secession and my answer was… to be banned. I wonder where this conversation can take place when Barton bans those that would provide criticism of his cherry-picking and distortion of history. A few simple facts are devastating to his constructed view and he ensures they never make it to the marketplace of ideas.

    • Ken, I do not know why you were banned from Barton’s page. Seeing as your name was only a few names above Rodda’s, your activity would have been well before I became acquainted with the page. Those who I’ve seen banned were never banned because of posting something challenging Barton or his work, but because of the way they posted. It’s one thing to say “I disagree with you” and provide argumentation to back your point, and another thing to harass people with baseless personal attacks saying things like “you’re a Christian Nationalist piece of crap”. When a person crosses the line between argumentative discussion to being militantly offensive, that’s when I would (and do) levy consequences.

      From what you have given as the reason why you think you were banned, it does seem reasonable to have banned you for posting something like that. But as I only have your side of the story to go off of and no visible history of your posting activity on that page, it would not be appropriate for me to judge whether or not you should have been banned from that page. However since I can control this site, you are more than welcome to post feedback here so long as you don’t cross the line that I previously described.

    • Tracy Freedman Stefanov

      Ken, i too have been banned from wallbuilders and its not because of rudeness. it is simply because bj is an administrator and he didnt like that i was not agreeing with him. he will try and say i was rude, but i have kept all my posts. i just enjoy honest debates. im fine with not being on the site anymore, because ive found other sites that have more integrity and welcome people with all kinds of opinions.

      • Tracy Freedman Stefanov, I wasn’t the one who banned you so please don’t lie about things of which you do not know. That’s quite slanderous of you. To note, I wasn’t even a moderator at the time of your being banned… in fact they didn’t ask me to help as a moderator until well after you were banned. Although, I do remember seeing that you were banned, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because you posted things that I or anyone else disagreed with but because, as I vaguely remember, of your numerous instances of being quite malicious towards other users. Of course you will deny that fact and just repeat your claim that you “kept all of your posts”, which I highly doubt since usually once a person is banned, all of their activity is permanently hidden to everyone but administrators/moderators who actually have to “unhide” them if they want to check on what was said.

        Actually, I do have some evidence that contradicts your claim to innocence that you were never rude. Don’t you remember making these following comments?

        “David Barton… are not an historian. You are not credible”
        “I have no interest in debating you or carrying on a conversation with you”
        “You are a coward”
        “Maybe if you could add something substantial to this discussion….well, never mind. You proven to me you can’t”
        “You are a coward and you have no real desire for true debate or conversation”
        “I have no interest in debating you or carrying on a conversation with you”
        “Not too smart, are ya?”
        “Maybe you should read.”
        “Maybe you should follow the rules and not have a voice in politics”
        “You aren’t a very good historian.”
        “It certainly seems he doesn’t quite get history.”
        “because I don’t want to be associated with people like (David Barton)”

        I particularly remember these two contradicting statements of yours directed at me:

        “I have no interest in debating you or carrying on a conversation with you.” – Tracy Freedman Stefanov
        “I will continue to debate and if you choose to debate with me, go ahead. If not, your loss.” – Tracy Freedman Stefanov

        Anywho, you clearly do not like David Barton and since you’ve apparently found other places to voice your opinions and levy your attacks against him, then your removal should have resulted in all parties being happier.

        • Tracy Freedman Stefanov

          Hi bj. First of all….I don’t recall saying the first bit of things you accuse me of. If I said those things, you post them here put of context. Second, my responses where I “attack” a little bit were in response to your attacks against me. Third, you took, what you call my contradictory words, out of context. That was in response to your plea that I be banned because I didn’t want to give citations to you because I didn’t feel I should have to answer to you. I can give you exactly what I said, but I have a hunch you won’t post it. Here it is, in case you actually post it. Tracy wrote on David Barton/WallBuilders’s timeline.
          “To the administrators on this page. Although I don’t agree with your philosophy, I enjoy a good, honest debate. I have not been rude at all, which I can’t say is true for some people on here. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I don’t respect your opinions. Do you have a policy that says you only want like minded people on your site? If so, I will be happy to leave, because I don’t want to be associated with people like you. If you don’t, then I would be happy to continue debating here. So taken in context I am merely saying that if this site is going to ban opinions that are different from their own, then I don’t want to debate with them, but if they do, then I would love to debate.

          • Tracy, you indeed said every single one of those things. You have all of your posts saved right? If you look back through them, you should find them. And no, nothing was being taken “out of context”. You being “attacked” (which I never recall people actually attacking you… perhaps correcting you, but not maliciously attacking) doesn’t negate or justify your attacking or as you would put it, “counter-attacking”. Your contradicting words are not out of context. You made both statements. Though they were made a few weeks apart, they still contradict each other. At one point you told me that you had “no interest in debating [me] or carrying on a conversation with [me].” I believe at that point you actually blocked me as for a while I was unable to see any of your posts… I knew you were still posting given times when people directed responses at you, using your full name, despite no comments under your name being visible to me. Later you apparently unblocked me as I was able to see your activity again. Then after a spat over something I honestly cannot remember, you went nuts in a thread. It was in that thread that you changed your mind telling me that you would “continue to debate and if you choose to debate with me, go ahead. If not, your loss.” The abusive nature of your posts were not just noticed by me but by several others as well. I believe I made this post to the page’s wall, after which you feeling that it was solely directed at you (which, while you were one of those people, it wasn’t just you… hence why the language was plural), posted your above mentioned “plea” to their wall as well. It is my understanding that shortly after that, you were banned, along with several others might I add (which I discovered a while later once I was given moderator abilities). Yes indeed, you just gave exactly what you said in that particular post. That is not what I was referencing as the reasons which apparently earned you a ban. What I posted was a collection of comments you made throughout various threads that I think it was actually my brother who was nice enough to collect. You actually made those comments. I don’t follow what else you are trying to argue…

            Your being banned from the Wallbuilders’ page has no bearing as to whether or not you are welcome to post here. I have no issue with you posting comments so long as you do so in an acceptable manner and they stay at least somewhat on topic, though I really don’t appreciate you making a false statement like saying that it was I who banned you from the Wallbuilders’ page.

            • Tracy Freedman Stefanov

              BJ…as I am thankful you finally posted my response, I still stand by my previous statement that you quoted the remarks out of context. The link you gave doesn’t have my responses to your brother and the others, who I later found out were your friends. I made statements and you didn’t like them. Period. I was simply trying to state that if you want to debate, I would like to as well. If you want to block me because you don’t agree with me, then fine too. My coward remarks were in response to your posts. I never called anyone a coward until I was provoked. You can go to any site on Facebook and you will see I have never, ever, called anyone a name unless I was provoked, and the worse was me calling David Barton a coward and a liar. I still believe he is, but that is my opinion. He’s a coward, in my opinion,because he blocks people who disagree with him and he doesn’t reply to his critics. He’s a liar, in my opinion, because of his lies he spreads about the founding fathers, specifically Jefferson. If he would address these issues, without further spreading his lies, then maybe people would start having respect for him.

              • Tracy, again you claim that what I quoted was “out of context”. Can you please show how I took them out of context? You said that you saved all of your posts, so it should then be quite simple for you to locate the quotes I gave and provide the surrounding context to show how you allege I misrepresented what you said. Unless you are going to back up your accusation, I don’t particularly appreciate being accused of taking your words out of context.

                Sorry, I guess because you were banned your comments are invisible. Since I was made a moderator I can make them visible, and as such I will post them here for you. You actually only made one response in that thread and it was as follows:

                “Tracy Freedman Stefanov – Considering that none of you are administrators on this site, I choose to ignore you. I will continue to debate and if you choose to debate with me, go ahead. If not, your loss.”

                To note, of those who responded to your thread, only my brother was a “Facebook friend” of mine. I have no connection in real life or Facebook with any of the others (Hector, Prince, Zac). So please don’t imply that I rounded up some type of posse of friends to “attack” you.

                You say you “made those statements”, so yes… thank you for confirming that you made those, or rather in this case, “that” statement. You also say that I didn’t like said statement. Correct, I didn’t like the statement because it completely contradicted one of your previous statements made in another thread in which you said that you had “no desire to debate” me. If what you were simply trying to state was that if I wanted to debate you then you’d like to as well, I’m sorry but that’s nowhere close to what your words indicate. You said that you “don’t agree with [Barton’s] philosophy” and that you “enjoy a good, honest debate”. You claim, though falsely, that you “not been rude at all”. You said that just because you “don’t agree with [Barton] doesn’t mean [you] don’t respect [Barton’s] opinions.” Yet evidenced by your own words, you clearly do not respect his opinions. Please by all means tell me how comments like these indicate any level of respect:

                “David Barton… are not an historian. You are not credible”
                “You aren’t a very good historian.”
                “It certainly seems he doesn’t quite get history.”

                Whether or not I liked that particular statement or any of your other statements is besides the point. The question of your activity that led to your apparent ban was the point. As evidenced by some of the quotes I previously provided, you violated the pages user policy on several occasions and the attitude you displayed towards David Barton and other users was quite mean-spirited.

                If you notice, I’ve have several instances in which I disagreed with something that Barton said. In fact, most recently he gave a negative review of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie on account of profanity and historical inaccuracies. While I personally agreed with him on certain accounts, I did not fully agree with his overall “disapproval” of the movie and carried on a lengthy thread of responses voicing my disagreement. You can read it here:

                Not trying to toot my own horn so to speak, but this was a case where I disagreed with Barton, yet I didn’t maliciously attack him. It appears that some people are able to disagree with him, voice their disagreement on his page, and not run the risk of getting banned.

                I won’t block you because I don’t agree with you. Notice I’ve even approved all of your comments here thus far. Granted, I don’t appreciate you making false statements designed at harming my credibility (for example accusing me of banning you, which I didn’t) but I have no problem with you posting responses and engaging in discussion if it is meaningful, on topic, and not done so in a harassing manner.

                “My coward remarks were in response to your posts.” Thank you for admitting that. Now, can you please apologize for falsely accusing me of taking your words out of context when you just confirmed that you actually made this statement, that it was actually directed towards me and that it was stated as it says it was… that is, an offensive attack on my character. You say you never called somebody a coward unless you were provoked, so you are making an implicit accusation that I provoked you and thus caused you to “counter-attack”. Can you please provide some evidence to support this claim that I provoked you? In not, please don’t make such a false accusation.

                “…the worse was me calling David Barton a coward and a liar.” So, you admit to calling David Barton a coward and a liar. Again, you before accused me of taking your words out of context and yet you have for a second time, confirmed that you actually said the things I said you said. Another apology would be appreciated. “I still believe he is, but that is my opinion. He’s a coward, in my opinion…” so you are still attacking him… pray tell are you labeling his (or one of his staff) banning you to be considered “provocation”? Would not your preceding harassing comments like calling him a “liar”, not a “very good historian”, a “coward” and “not credible” be considered “provocation” giving him (or one of his staff) a valid reason to ban you?

                “…he blocks people who disagree with him and he doesn’t reply to his critics.” Though I cannot speak for every case, in your particular one it is obviously apparent why you were banned. It was not simply because you posted things that expressed your disagreement with him but because, as you’ve denied yet admitted, you called him a “liar”, a “coward” a “not very good historian” and “not credible.”

                “He’s a liar, in my opinion, because of his lies he spreads…” there you go again continuing to dig yourself further and further into your own hole. And at this point, I will have to ask you to refrain from levying such baseless and malicious attacks against him. I realize that this is my website and not his, but I will not have the comment threads on this website turn into another venue for people like yourself to bash away on David Barton. I’m sure Chris Rodda’s Facebook page, blogs, website etc… should suffice.

                “…then maybe people would start having respect for him.” Just because you don’t respect him (didn’t you before say that it didn’t “mean [you] don’t respect [Barton’s] opinions”??) that doesn’t mean nobody respects him. For example, I respect David Barton. I’m disappointed when he makes an occasional mistake. On occasion I find myself disagreeing with something he says. Yet I still respect him for the good that he has done. He has done a better job than any other historian, speaker or writer that I can think of in terms of giving the most overall truthful presentation of the religious nature of our Founding Fathers. Moreover, with all of the garbage, false attacks and down right hatred spewed against him from his critics (such as, at times, yourself), I can’t help but have respect for the resilience he has shown in continuing to do what he loves and work to benefit society.

  4. Ken

    On the subject. “Let’s just cut right to the chase: Rodda calls Barton a pseudo-historian because she doesn’t agree with him or consider his work valid.” – now that’s one of YOUR logical fallacies… called a false dichotomy or “sucker’s choice”. Rodda calls Barton disparaging things because Barton repeatedly lies, despite being provided with factual information. Take Barton’s repeated claim that Congress printed Bibles. I have had many people defend Barton’s gymnastics on this one claim alone, and it is the most simple and clear demonstration of Barton’s lack of integrity… which seems all the more hypocritical (or self refuting) given that his basic premise is that religion is necessary for morality. To the contrary, Barton’s religious enthusiasm is likely what causes his blind-spot… unless someone can offer up a better explanation (perhaps what the founders did know… religion plus politics). And please don’t call people who respect the processes for discovering historical truths “minions” while pretending to be above the fray… it doesn’t look good on you.

    • Ken, my conclusion was not a false dichotomy (either-or fallacy) as I did not present only one solution while eliminating possible alternatives.

      1.) “Rodda doesn’t agree with him [Barton]…”
      2.) “[Rodda] doesn’t… consider his [Barton’s] work valid.”

      Thus she calls him a “pseudo-historian.”

      You say that Rodda calls him as she does “because Barton repeatedly lies, despite being provided with factual information.” Right, so because she thinks Barton lies (she thus disagrees with his conclusions asserting them to be incorrect), she considers his work invalid… meaning that she “doesn’t… consider his work valid” which is exactly what I gave for the reason why she calls him a pseudo-historian. I’m sorry to inform you that there is no logically fallacious about what I said. Please don’t make false accusations.

      “Take Barton’s repeated claim that Congress printed Bibles.” It would not be correct to make such a statement and I am aware that Barton has done so in the past, which I do not defend because Congress never literally “printed” Bibles. However, when Barton speaks of Congress investing time, energy and even financial funding to assist in Bibles being printed, as well as giving their official “stamp of approval” to it, that’s factual information. Barton occasionally does this and I do not know why. All he has to do is make the connection that “Congress was supportive of Christianity/Bible etc. by doing ______” and that suffices to support the argument. It’s as if he’s got four out of five stars in the argument, but really stretches to try and get a clinching fifth star when it’s not needed. In doing so he only provides straws for somebody to pick at.

      Human nature causes people’s “blind-spots”. You assert that Barton’s “religious enthusiasm” is to blame for his mistakes, in the same manner I could blame Rodda’s mistakes on her apparent “irreligious enthusiasm”. People make mistakes for various reasons.

      In regards to the “minions” comment, I am just using the term that Rodda willingly and happily gave to her “followers”. I respect anyone who follows the correct methodology and process for discovering historical truths, but I have no respect for inaccurate claims being falsely propped up as “historical truths”, be them from Rodda, you, or even Barton himself. I do not assert that Chris Rodda doesn’t use proper historical research techniques, but I do assert that her analytic skills and conclusion making regarding what those documents actually say is lacking. Both Barton and Rodda represent two opposite extreme of the spectrum. I assert that the truth tends to lie in the middle.

      • “but I do assert that her analytic skills and conclusion making regarding what those documents actually say is lacking.”

        Dude, you just got down to the truth of the matter. You disagree with her conclusions. Your own Christian bias, it would seem, preclude agreement, no matter what the evidence says, because more often than not, the evidence is clearly on Rodda’s side, not Barton’s..

        • Ron, yes the truth of the matter is that I disagree with her conclusions because…[drum-roll]…they are incorrect. In this particular case of comparing Barton’s conclusion about Newton’s influence on Jefferson to Rodda’s conclusions, Barton is correct whereas Rodda is not. You can make the logically fallacious argument that an argument from bias is a logical fallacy, despite it not being, but that still won’t change the absolute reality that I’m right in my conclusion that Rodda’s conclusion is incorrect. Throwing in the sweeping generalization and supposition that “more often than not the evidence is clearly on Rodda’s side” is itself a red herring as it such a statement detracts from the actual discussion at hand.

          In you are going to debate my conclusions about the matter, please stick to the actual matter and refrain from the side-stepping.

  5. Juxtaposer

    I think Ms. Rodda is more concerned with the fact that David Barton is trying to change history to fit his ideas. I’m sorry, but just because you really want the US to be a “Christian Nation” or you really really think it is, you can’t rewrite history. And while owning a bunch of documents may impress people ready and willing to believe anything that will back up said desires, it doesn’t impress actual historians and scholars.

    Also, it seems strange to me to be so dismissive of someone and her qualifications (such as how you note she is a high-school drop out, or question her professionalism) and yet take what she says so very seriously. I think if you truly thought she wasn’t worthy of consideration, you wouldn’t have devoted so much to trying to debunk what she says.

    Haha I mean DAMN how badly do you NEED something to be true before you start deluding yourself?!?!

    • Juxtaposer, in the same manner I could say that David Barton is more concerned with the fact that Chris Rodda (and people like her) is trying to change history to fit her ideas. I’m sorry, but just because she really doesn’t want the US to be a “Christian Nation”, or her really really thing that is is, she can’t rewrite history. Regarding your comments about Barton and his document collection, I’m a historian by education and I’m impressed with his collection. But by all means tell me again how actual historians cannot be impressed… [insert Ken’s reference to false dichotomy here as it would actually be valid]

      I’m dismissive of a large portion of Rodda’s work because she tends to draw very inaccurate conclusions. I highlight her lack of qualifications to make it a point of showing her hypocritical attacks against Barton. If she doesn’t have a history degree or formal training in the field, then it would be illogical to attack Barton for the very same condition. Yes I point out that she is a high-school dropout because, well, she said she is. What I have provided in this post is commentary on the “battle” between Rodda and Barton. If somebody is going to tear down their opponent on the basis of “qualifications”, then it would only be fair that all parties’ qualifications should be put on the table. I question her professionalism because of her informal, unpolished writing style and excessively malicious attitude taken against anyone she disagrees with. Perhaps some people like her “style”, but I find it very unprofessional to call people a “sack of… crap”.

      I’ve taken Rodda seriously at times, such as this, because I think it is important that truth is defended. Along your lines of reasoning, I could just as well question why Rodda (or you etc.) would take what Barton says so very seriously if she is so dismissive of his qualifications. If she truly thought that Barton wasn’t worthy of consideration, why has she devoted so much (Countless articles and what, two books now?) trying to debunk what he says? See how that argument works, or rather doesn’t work?

      • Juxtaposer

        Sure, but the big difference here is that David Barton IS trying to rewrite history. About the documents, I should have clarified. The collection is impressive I’m sure, and can definitely be something of use. But citing original documents however many hundreds of times itself is not impressive.

        As far as the attacks on Barton’s credentials, I see them to be entirely valid. He makes some very outrageous claims that most critics dismiss. If anything, y’all should be impressed by her meticulous and thorough debunking ;]

        I agree calling someone a sack of crap can be unprofessional, but in this case Mr. Barton seems to have earned it. I can’t speak for her, I know I take what Mr. Barton does very seriously because he has some very influential people paying attention to his garbage, and the thought that said garbage could one day be taught in our classrooms is scary indeed.

        • Juxtaposer, you claiming that Barton is trying to rewrite history would be the same as me saying that Rodda is trying to rewrite history. Moot opinion is moot. It’s one thing to present a supposition that “so and so is maliciously trying to revise history” whereas it is another thing to simple state that “so and so is wrong in this conclusion they make.” Again, I will admit that on occasion Barton tries to make additional stretches that really aren’t necessary to prove a point that he has already sufficiently supported. That is when his critics jump in with strawman tactics beating away on that “stretch” and then run around on the interwebs claiming to their cult-like following that they had “finally dethroned the Christian-nationalist-revisionist-pseudo-historian David Barton”. I see a person like Chris Rodda taking more joy in life at trying so hard to personally destroy David Barton rather than teaching correct history. With Rodda, my perception is of seeing her incessantly jabbing at Barton, declaring a victory that she has not actually won, and then basking in some non-existent personal glory. That is not the purpose of historical research.

          How is citing hundreds of sources not impressive? I think it is highly impressive. In fact, that is what actual historians are trained to do. That’s literally one of the first things you learn in upper-level college history classes: CITATIONS, CITATIONS, CITATIONS. Actually, that’s really something one should have learned before they even graduated high school. I cannot even think of a single research paper that I was ever assigned in a college history class that would be accepted if it failed to meet a minimum requirement of sources and citations. Granted, that is not me promoting “quantity over quality” as the cited material still has to legitimately support your thesis/claims. When in his works, Barton provides hundreds of references it is because he knows full well that if he only cited just a few sources, his critics would be up in arms claiming that he didn’t have enough support, that he failed to mention “such and such” document. Yet even when he provides such vast citations, his critics will find 5 instances out of every 100 that was a “stretch” or even complete inaccuracy (we all make mistakes on occasion) and then claim that because of those 5, that his entire work has been debunked, therefore everything else he wrote has also been discredited because he is not reliable, because he is a lying “Christian Nationalist piece of crap”.

          So you mention credentials, but then don’t discuss actual credentials. Claiming that somebody “makes outrageous claims” is not attacking their “credentials”. Having a history degree is a credential. Being formally trained in the field of history is a credential. Having best selling books is a credential. Being selected to help write history curriculum is a credential. When Rodda levies the attack against Barton that he doesn’t have a history degree, that is making an attack on credentials (rather of lack thereof). Again, by her doing that, she would have to allow somebody to turn around and say, “ma’am, you attack him for not having a history degree whilst you don’t have one yourself… is that not holding a double-standard?”

          If you agree that calling somebody a “sack of crap” is unprofessional, then Rodda’s comment was unprofessional. Regardless as to whether you think that Barton “deserved it” doesn’t negate the fact that it was unprofessional, which you had just admitted… why you admit that it was wrong and then attempt to justify it anyway is beyond me. Then again, you just resorted to calling Barton’s work “garbage”, so I guess you really don’t care about that whole “professionalism” thing anyway, but please tell me that your lack of professionalism is justified because Barton deserved to have his work labeled “garbage”.

          • Juxtaposer

            You’re being disingenuous – I could cite a gajillion sources in some paper I wrote, but when my professor goes to check out said sources and finds that they’re all “original documents” that I hold and don’t let said professor have access to them, well all those citations become meaningless.

            • Juxtaposer, so you accuse me of acting like I know less of something than I actually know? I’m pretty certain my lengthy reply to you regarding citations was quite clear and accurate. Here’s a summary of the single point of that entire response that you decided to jab at:

              “That’s literally one of the first things you learn in upper-level college history classes: CITATIONS, CITATIONS, CITATIONS… Granted, that is not me promoting “quantity over quality” as the cited material still has to legitimately support your thesis/claims.”

              In the last part of your recent response, it appears as though you are accusing Barton of withholding his “original documents” allegedly because he is covering up what they “actually” say. When has David Barton forbidden access to the material that he cites? When has something he has cited not been publicly available for reference? Just because he owns an original document doesn’t mean that one can’t reference a copy or certified transcript of it… the Library of Congress owns many original documents… yet I can still gain access to reference them. The Massachusetts Historical Society owns a ton of original letters written by members of the Adams family, yet after a little work I was able to have a look at a bunch of them to help in the research for my own book on John Adams.

              Not only did you fail to respond to any other part of my initial response to you, but now all you are doing is just levying random, non sequitur attacks against Barton. Again, as I responded to others, this discussion is getting further and further off topic. All future comments that have nothing to do with the influence of Isaac Newton on Thomas Jefferson will simply not be approved… the only exception being Chris Rodda directly responding to me concerning what has been discussed about her and her “role” in this post.

  6. Jeffrey Kramer

    Barton brings up the quote about “the three greatest men” to refute the argument that Jefferson should be seen as a “secular Englightenment” thinker by showing that Jefferson revered men who had a “Biblical worldview.” But if Barton’s logic is that anybody expressing great admiration for Bacon, Locke and Newton must have been more aligned with the Biblical worldview than with the secular enlightenment, it follows that Voltaire must have been more aligned with the Biblical worldview than with the secular enlightenment, since Voltaire also payed extravagant tribute to Bacon, Locke and Newton (“…as you desire to be informed of the great men that England has produced, I shall begin with the Bacons, the Lockes, and the Newtons.”)

    So, whatever Rodda said, or whatever chance there was that Jefferson read any of Newton’s writings on the Bible, I see no reason to take Barton’s basic argument here seriously. One simply cannot show that Jefferson had anything resembling a “Biblical” perspective by pointing to the fact that he admired those three men.

    • Jeffrey, it was not just the “three greatest men” quote that Barton used, but also for instance, some quotes of Jefferson that were highly critical of a writer like Raynal (“a mass of errors and misconceptions from beginning to end”, “great deal of falsehood”, “wrong exactly in the same proportion”). Barton was not arguing that Jefferson should not be seen as an “Enlightenment thinker”. Barton did not argue “that anybody expressing great admiration for Bacon, Locke and Newton must have been more aligned with the Biblical worldview than with the secular enlightenment.” Barton’s argument was that “Jefferson was similarly forthright in his criticism of other secular Enlightenment writers…Such vehement denunciations of leading secular Enlightenment writers are generally not consistent with a Jefferson who was supposedly greatly influenced by them.”

      You say that you cannot take Barton’s basic argument seriously, yet you appear to not exactly grasp what his basic argument is. Barton’s basic argument is that Jefferson had much more of a “biblical worldview” and was more influenced by thinkers who also had “biblical worldviews”, than is typically asserted. A good portion of historians and scholars wish to falsely assert that thinkers who had less of a “biblical worldview”, Voltaire for instance, were the greatest influences on Jefferson whereas Jefferson’s own words clearly state otherwise. Barton doesn’t simply say “because Jefferson admired men who had biblical worldviews, that means Jefferson must have also had a biblical worldview”. His mentioning of Bacon, Newton and Locke are evidences used to support his general claim (which I paraphrased a few sentences back). It should also be noted that this was not the only instance of support Barton provided to lend credence to his conclusion… it just happens that this is one particular area Rodda has decided to pick at.

  7. CM

    BJ, your full quote of the passage still doesn’t support your point. The “Intermixed with these” sentence doesn’t agree very well with protestant orthodoxy nor catholic orthodoxy.

    • CM, full quote of what passage? What point?

      Yes, Jefferson’s quote, “Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence…”, doesn’t agree very well with Protestant or Catholic orthodoxy… not even with basic Christian orthodoxy. I never argued that it did agree with any of the said orthodoxies. I simply quoted what Jefferson actually said to show that he wasn’t completely critical of the Gospel accounts in order to refute the false accusation (implied by Ron’s misrepresenting paraphrase of the section) to the contrary (that Jefferson said the “writings of his biographers” were “a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”)

  8. CM

    Oh [censored], you are one of those….

    • CM, if by “one of those”, you mean somebody who has comments set to “require approval before posting” then yes, I am indeed one of “those”. I choose to do this not because I don’t want people to post or to delay their posts being visible, but because of a few reasons:

      1.) If somebody includes profanity in their comment, like you did for example, then I would rather take care of that before it is made public.
      2.) If somebody posted something completely offensive, off topic or of an apparent “spam” nature, then I’d prefer my comment sections not be cluttered with, well… unnecessary clutter.
      3.) Finally, I like to respond to all comments, especially those that ask me a question, attempt to refute something I said, or levy an attack against me. That way I can respond with an appropriate answer, counter-refutation or defense and not run the risk of missing something, lest I give anyone the opportunity to claim that I’m a coward, that I’m avoiding them, or that I’ve cherry-picked or presented a straw-man argument.

      I apologize if it takes some time before I get around to addressing every comment, but I try to do my best to respond in a timely manner. Responding to comments here is currently not the highest priority on my list of things to be concerned about. As you should be able to see, the website is still quite barren. I have a lot more work to do here, in addition to actual work, classwork, finishing a book, doing more research/reading, family and friends also requiring my attention. I hope you understand.

  9. A few facts about me that Mr. Swearer gets wrong in his blog post:

    The claim that I have “notoriously attacked Barton for not having a formal education in history or a history degree” is utterly false. Yes, there are people who attack Barton for not having a history degree, but I am not one of them. I have on a few occasions mentioned what Barton’s education consists of, but only when asked if I know what his education is, or when it was necessary and relevant to a particular situation in which a person’s credentials do matter. For example, when Barton is presented a “professor” and/or called “Dr. Barton” in a way that misleads by implying that “Dr.” means he has the educational credentials to be a professor of history, will point out that he only has an honorary doctorate, and not an earned doctorate in history. That is far from the attacking you very wrongly claim I have done, but I guess you have to falsely claim that I’ve “notoriously attacked” him about this so that you can bring up that I don’t have a history degree either and accuse me of having a double-standard, right?

    I am very up-front about my lack of formal education, and the reason I am so up-front about it is that I’ve had to correct people who have assumed from my work that I have a degree in history, and I don’t want to mislead anybody. So, I’m honest about it, unlike Barton who allows people to assume that he has credentials that he doesn’t have by letting people call him a “professor” and “Dr. Barton.” There is no “further investigation” necessary. You have not found some sort of “smoking gun.”

    And, yes, my books are self-published, but so are all of David Barton’s books (with the exception of briefly having his Jefferson book published by Thomas Nelson). The only difference is that I publish my books through Amazon’s publishing service, and Barton publishes his through HIS OWN Wallbuilder Press publishing company. These are just two different forms of self-publishing. If you are going to imply that my books lack credibility because I self-publish them, then you’ll have to say that all of Barton’s self-published books lack credibility for the same reason.

    I “attack” Barton for one reason, and one reason only: He lies about history to make it fit his agenda.

    • Chris, first of all I’d like to thank you for promoting this post. Granted, I realize that the majority of the visitors to this page and views I received over the last few days likely came from your friends and followers who only came here with the intent to scoff at or argue with me, but as the old saying in the business world is “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. Also, since you were technically the subject of the piece, I’ve no problem which you commenting on anything that you felt the need to do so as that would only be fair.

      “The claim that I have “notoriously attacked Barton for not having a formal education in history or a history degree” is utterly false.”

      I can think of at least one occasion in which you made it a point to harp on Barton’s lack of having a history degree. You can argue that my use of the qualifier “notoriously” in reference to said occasion was an embellishment (though I don’t really think so) but to deny that you had never levied an attack against Barton’s lack of a history degree and that my claim to the contrary is “utterly false”, would be… well… not quite true either. Before I get to that, I don’t think my use of “notorious” to really be invalid. The article in which you attacked Barton has been referenced and linked countless times by your fans and critics alike. I would say that this instance was “notorious” because it was one of the few times you actually attacked him on this point in such a direct manner. If you would prefer me to remove the added qualifier “notorious” from this post, then I would no really have any issue doing so.

      The following has to do with your article found here

      Your entire article is essentially a tirade about how you think people are guilty of “idiocy” for appointing Barton to assist in reviewing Texas social studies curriculum. Pertaining to the topic at hand, let’s just focus on the fifth full paragraph beginning with “Now, getting back to Barton’s credentials, or lack thereof”. You do a good job masking your real point by making it appear as though you are just attacking his credentials to allege a lack of qualifications. However, I notice how you subtly did something with this paragraph that you’ve asserted in many of your other critiques of Barton, which is that Barton’s Christian educational background is the underlying cause for his “Christian-nationalist-revisionist lies”. Essentially, you make an argument to bias, i.e. that Barton promotes the Founders to be “more Christian” only because Barton is himself a Christian, and thus his conclusions can’t be credible. The problem is that an alleged “argument to bias” isn’t actually a logical fallacy in and of itself. Say I work at McDonald’s and I make the statement that “you should eat a Big Mac instead of a Whopper because Burger King’s Whopper is more unhealthy.” Just because I work at the competitor of Burger King doesn’t mean that my statement is biased, or false. The fact of the matter is that the Whopper has more calories (670-540), more carbs (51g-47g), sugar (11g-8g), fat (50g-30g) and sodium (1020mg-1010mg) than the Big Mac. My statement is correct. By the numbers, it would be healthier for you to eat a standard Big Mac over a standard Whopper.

      Now, I realize that you didn’t explicitly say “David Barton has no history degree, therefore he cannot be considered a credible historian”. But by saying that what bothers you “far more than his lack of a history degree is his pumped-up bio” you are still showing that you consider that lack of a history degree in a negative light, though not as much as what you allege is his “pumped-up bio”. If you are “far more” bothered by the “pumped-up bio”, then you’d have to be bothered by his lack of a history degree… it is impossible to be “more bothered” by something without being “bothered” by whatever it is you are comparing.

      You may think it to not be important, and you would be right to say that you’ve not focused as much on Barton’s lack of a history degree as much as other critics of his have, but you clearly consider his lack of a history degree to be an issue to the point of it “bothering” you. This is more the point that I was trying to make. Though I personally hold a degree recognizing my formal educational training in the field, I still have an issue with anyone saying “one cannot be a historian unless they don’t have a history degree”, and even though you don’t directly say that, your comments certainly don’t help diminish such a claim.

      Regarding Barton being given the title of professor, I cannot say that I’ve ever seen anyone refer to him as such… not to say that it hasn’t happened, but that I’ve not seen it. If anyone, including Barton himself, would call David Barton a professor, I would not approve of said title being used because to my knowledge, he has neither taught at any college or university. In regards to the title of doctor, again I’ve not seen this happen and even if it’s an honorary doctorate, I would also disagree with the title of “doctor” being applied. You say Barton let’s people get away with inappropriately calling him “professor” or “doctor”, but again this is news to me as I’ve never seen any instance of the sort. Should I see a case of this happening, I’d be more than happy to address it.

      As to my bringing up the reality that you do not hold a history degree wasn’t solely to attack you, though I do think it was important to point out that you hit on this issue before and that you viewed Barton’s lack of holding a history degree in a negative light. I think more my purpose was to simply raise the point of argumentation because many of Barton’s critics, as well as many of your so called “minions” (again, I’m just using the term you use to describe them) bring it up so often. Perhaps you might consider passing it along to your “minions” that using such a poor argument just opens the door for a Bartonite (don’t know if I just made that up or not, but you get the point) to retort with “well Chris Rodda doesn’t have one either, so ha!” Nevertheless and again offering, if it would make you happier, I would be willing to revise the aforementioned section of my post concerning the “lack of history” bit.

      I respect that you are honest about your educational background, especially because as I said before, it isn’t right for anyone to use the attack of “so and so isn’t formally trained in such and such field” or “doesn’t hold a degree in such and such” so therefore they are not credible. When it comes to the social sciences, we are all historians, philosophers, theologians etc… granted, some of us are better than others and some of us go the extra lengths to earn pieces of paper to “qualify” us as such. But this qualification should still be evident in one’s work. At times, I’ve personally questioned the huge emphasis society places on schools, degrees and educational backgrounds because it favors those who can get a piece of paper rather than always those who are simply more “intelligent” or “skilled”. A rich kid can have his parents pay for him to go to college and get straight Cs, yet he still passes and “earns” a college degree, whereas a less fortunate youth might be just as smart/capable if not more but cannot afford the costs of receiving a higher education. While a formal degree or higher level education should be considered a good indicator of what to expect from an individual, their work still needs to prove itself.

      From a person who holds said formal training and degree to one who doesn’t, again I give you credit for right in the instances that you are and being “good” at researching history when you are. In the same manner, I think the same should be said of David Barton. My problem with you is that you hardly, if ever, give any credit to Barton for his work, that is when he is right. All I see from you is “Barton is wrong”, “Barton is a liar”, “Barton is just a Christian-revisionist-pseudo-historian”, “Barton hates puppies and small children”… okay, I made that last one up. You repeatedly make the claim that Barton only sees from history what he wants to see. But in all honesty, I must pose the same thing about you because in many instances, you appear to only see things from history that you want to see. You blame Barton’s “Christian evangelicalism” for blinding him whereas he could just as equally blame your apparent “atheist* secularism” for blinding you (*I say that because that is what seems to be the case). I mean take for instance, your claims that nothing about Newton’s Principia was theological in nature. This bizarre idea that theology ≠ science, or that “science” (and by that I mean physical, observational science) cannot stem from or “mingle” with theology is what seems to present the foundation for so many of your problems. If you truly studied several of our Founding Fathers, I would expect you to learn a thing or two about how they felt concerning this issue. Now, maybe you just disagree with them, but they still said the things they did, which you apparently are unwilling to admit.

      In regards to the “self-publishing” bit, there is still a difference between a publishing company (which Wallbuilders Press is a licensed company) and a person publishing an ebook via Amazon. I was not trying to assert that your book was less credible that Barton’s solely because it was self-published and not done so by a “company”, but I thought that it should be pointed out that while Barton has does have an established company with a pretty decent reputation (at least in the minds of some), and also numerous publications, many of which did receive various awards, you do not. You like to place an emphasis on credentials, so considering these are credentials, would it not be fair to reference them? Again, if you are so highly offended by this particular passage, I would be more than willing to consider revising my words.

      “I “attack” Barton for one reason, and one reason only: He lies about history to make it fit his agenda.”

      Here-in lies my problem with you. All you do is attack David Barton. It’s as it your entire life-purpose is to bring down that “liar” David Barton. Your rhetoric and actions are almost borderline paranoia. “Liar” this, “pseudo” that, “Christian Nationalist” David Barton “man I hate that guy”… I mean have you ever stopped to consider that people could equally say the same thing of you? Why do you write about what you do? Why do you attack David Barton? I would argue that in many cases, you misrepresent things said by certain Founders and present incorrect conclusions about history. Why do you do that? Is it not because you have an agenda that you are also trying to fit history into?

      My agenda is simple: tell the truth about history; the good, the bad and the ugly regardless as to whether or not it suits my liking. I don’t normally allow myself to get into the middle of spats between other parties (ones I don’t even know personally), and part of me is disappointed that I let myself “stoop to your level” so to speak in dedicating an entire post to criticizing you. No matter how much of your work I find to be incorrect and no matter how much it annoys me to see you conduct your addictive, obsession filled crusade against David Barton, it does nobody, especially me, any good to waste time with petty personal attacks. With that said, my offer still stands to revise those mentioned portions to which you feel were unwarranted. But I’ve had my fill with this thread, with this post, with being concerned about you, your work and your minions. I’ve got more important things to focus my time on 😉

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