Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson An Exposition of Galatians 1:11-24 -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 10:2 (Summer 2001)
Article: Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson An Exposition of Galatians 1:11-24
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson
An Exposition of Galatians 1:11-241

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. *

[*Lewis Johnson regularly ministered the Word at Believers Chapel in Dallas for more than thirty years. From 1950 to 1977, he taught New Testament and systematic theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He later served (1980–85) as professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.]

Introduction

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and drafter of the Declaration of Independence, in the minds of most Americans was a great president, but he was an eccentric and unorthodox theologian.2 He admitted that he was not a total follower of Jesus Christ, because Jesus took the side of “Spiritualism,” while Jefferson was a “Materialist.” He admitted that Jesus preached the efficacy of repentance for forgiveness of sins, while he, Jefferson, required a “counterpoise of good works to redeem it.” After these damaging admissions, the religious mountebank of Monticello added a few words about the gospel authors. “Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [i.e., Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture,

as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, the roguery of others of his disciples.” According to Jefferson, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were “stupid” and “rogues.”3

The words that follow are the most amazing of all, for after delivering himself of the diatribe against the disciples, Jefferson offers this assessment of the Apostle Paul, “Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.”4 Well, well, we shall see just who is corrupt, but that ultimate decision awaits the opening of the books at the Great White Throne Judgment. In the meantime I am content with the conviction that Paul shall be vindicated and Jefferson devastated.

Jefferson’s views were not original with him, nor have they been confined to him. The statesman has a large company of fellow-believers, many of them outstanding contemporary ...

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