Monday, February 18, 2013

Gregg Frazer Responds to David Barton

World Magazine, a conservative Christian magazine, is the latest evangelical organization to raise questions about David Barton's understanding of the American past. 

You may remember that last summer Thomas Kidd  broke this story about Barton in the pages of World and last month the magazine published a forum on The Jefferson Lies featuring Barton and his harshest critics, Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter.

Now Gregg Frazer, author of The Religious Beliefs of the Founding Fathers: Reason, Revolution, Revolution, has turned to the pages of World to criticize Barton's work.  Barton offers a short response in which he tells World readers to check out the revised version of The Jefferson Lies, soon to appear with Glen Beck's Simon & Schuster imprint, Mercury Ink.


Joshua Wooden said...

I had never heard of Frazer or his book, but now think I should read it.

When Barton said, "With so many important cultural battles that desperately need our focused attention, it seems a misuse of time and energy to continue arguing over relatively inconsequential points with those who profess to hold the same common Christian values, so I will now resume my efforts attempting to beat back the secularist progressive movement that wrongly invokes Jefferson in their efforts to expunge any presence of faith from the public square" - I think this comment is paradigmatic for generally understanding Barton, and Barton's approach to history. One thing people need to understand about Barton, as well as many of his followers, is this: it isn't about history. I am sure Barton is very much interested in history, but he is not faithful to understanding people on their own terms, in their own contexts, and presenting them as they would wish to be presented as evidenced by what they actually wrote. For many, this is first and foremost about winning the culture wars ("I will now resume my efforts attempting to beat back the secularist progressive movement"). History? That's only the weapon. Truth? The first casualty of war, relative to the demands of the cause.

Jimmy Dick said...

Barton's response to Frazier's article is pretty lame. Frazier and others have clearly shown how Barton only takes bits and pieces of primary documents to cobble together his work to support his ideology. Barton seeks to rewrite history to support his ideas and fails to do so because the proof does not exist. Instead, he uses sleight of hand to deceive the reader and tells them what they want to hear, not what actually transpired or was written.

What will a revised version do other than sell to the people who desperately seek a fictious version of history? The central thesis of the book is incorrect. It will be nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig. He will dress it up to look better, but it is still going to be a book that fails to deliver proof to support its central thesis.

John Fea said...

Josh: Exactly!

John Fea said...

Jimmy: Barton claims that a revised version will respond to the critics and correct some of the sections in the first edition that were unclear. I am not holding my breath. I am guessing that Barton will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Thanks for reading!

wsforten said...

Mr. Fea,

I would love to hear your thoughts on my response to the first chapter of Frazer's book. It's a bit lengthy, so I can understand if you don't have time for it. If you do have a few moments to spare, you can find my article online at this link: The Founders and the Myth of Theistic Rationalism

John Fea said...

I will do my best to take a look at it.