Jefferson’s Good Friday Note

What does Good Friday look like to a deist?  Thomas Jefferson’s bible is a good example (you can find the whole thing online in a few places).  Here’s how he ends his cut-and-paste NT which he called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (it’s from 17:62-64).  (Side note: I wonder if they mention this “text” in the camouflage edition of “The Patriot’s Bible“?).

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein man was never yet laid.  There laid they Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

The end! Finis. Telos.  El fin. Het eind.  Jesus died; sigh…he was such a good moral teacher.  Well, all good things come to an end.  The important thing is that Jesus lives on in our spirit of morality.  That’s the gospel according to Thomas Jefferson. And so, in a letter to Charles Thomas in 1816, he called himself “a real Christian.”  In god we trust; welcome to America.

I’ll take J. Gresham Machen:

“Why is it, then, if the evidence is so strong, that so many modern men refuse to accept the NT testimony to the resurrection of Christ?  The answer is perfectly plain.  The resurrection, if it is a fact, is a stupendous miracle, and against the miraculous or the supernatural there is a tremendous opposition in the modern mind.”

“But is the opposition well grounded? It would perhaps be well-grounded if the direct evidence for the resurrection stood absolutely alone — If it were simply a question whether a man of the first century, otherwise unknown, really rose from the dead. There would in that case be a strong burden of proof against the belief in the resurrection. But as a matter of fact the question is not whether any ordinary man rose from the dead, but whether Jesus rose from the dead. We know something of Jesus from the Gospels, and as thus made known He is certainly different from all other men. A man who comes into contact with His tremendous personality will say to himself, “It is impossible that Jesus could ever have been holden of death.” Thus when the extraordinary testimony to the resurrection faith which has been outlined above comes to us, we add to this our tremendous impression of Jesus’ Person, gained from the reading of the Gospels, and we accept this strange belief which comes to us and fills us with joy, that the Redeemer really triumphed over death and the grave and sin.”

(Machen quotes taken from “The Resurrection of Christ” found in Machen’s Selected Shorter Writings).

 shane lems

sunnyside wa

3 Replies to “Jefferson’s Good Friday Note”

  1. “I’ll take J. Gresham Machen”

    Me too! 1 Corinthians 15 – he appeared, he appeared, he appeared, he appeared. Paul repeats it as if saying, “check it out. I dare you.”


  2. For some reason, this work by Jefferson doesn’t show up in the various mailings I get from “Vision Forum.” Wonder why.


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