Friday, August 31, 2012

American Vision: "Skip Barton's Book Altogether"

American Vision is a non-profit organization with a mission "to restore America to its biblical foundation--from Genesis to Revelation."  The organization has strong ties to the work of the late Rousas John Rushdoony, a Christian Reconstructionist who taught his followers that Old Testament law should be applied to modern American society.

The president of American Vision is Gary DeMar, an outspoken defender of the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.  I discuss (very briefly) DeMar's work in chapter four of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction and situate him as part of a group of Christian nationalists who make similar arguments.  The chapter focuses on the views of David Barton and Wallbuilders, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Tim LaHaye, D. James Kennedy, Vision Forum Ministries, A Beka Publishing, and Bob Jones University Press.

All of these individuals and groups believe (or believed--Kennedy and Marshall are no longer with us) in the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation and that God has providentially led the United States to greatness and a position of exceptionalism in world history.

I am sure there have always been subtle differences in the way that these organizations and individuals interpret American history, but after a recent blog post at the American Vision webpage those differences are no longer subtle.  In a very thorough piece written by Joel McDurmon, the organization's "Director of Research," American Vision makes it abundantly clear that it will not support Barton in his fight to reclaim his reputation in the wake of The Jefferson Lies.

Here is a taste of McDurmon's piece:

Sadly, with the level and degree of error I have found in just the chapter I reviewed, I cannot recommend this book to the average Christian reader. While a book like this needs to be written vindicating Jefferson from much liberal nonsense, the reader nonetheless will need to fact-check nearly every claim Barton makes for accuracy. And this is way too much to ask of the average reader. If that is to be the task, it would be better to skip Barton’s book altogether and go read all of Jefferson’s papers directly, because that what the reader will have to do eventually anyway.

For those with the patience and access to at least some of Jefferson’s papers, feel free to venture through The Jefferson Lies, though not without a critical eye. There is much to be gained here, but it will all have to be vetted before believing it.

In short, sometimes those revising the evil revisions need good revisionists of their own. Christians should be at the forefront of both admitting and solving these problems.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

FTR, my position all along. We at the American Creation blog have an old fundamentalist friend who gets the interpretation of most everything wrong, but is a helluva bird dog, uncovering which dunghills even have diamonds in them.

Mostly, I haven't read Barton, but find interesting stuff in his critics' refutations---despite themselves.

[For instance, the treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, by funneling money through their missionary priest albeit for secular purposes, was still the first "faith-based initiative!"]

[Heh heh.]