The Religious Beliefs Of America

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In his book, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders, Gregg Frazer attempts to break apart the debate going on today about whether or not the founding fathers were Christian. In the preface of the book, Frazer states, “I want to force extremists on the Left and Right to make a case for their vision… this book is an attempt to allow [the Founders] to defend themselves through the written record of their words.” In his book, Frazer makes arguments that eight of the most prominent Founders were not Christian or Deist, but rather they were “theistic rationalists,” a term that he uses countless times throughout the text. Frazer examines the eight key Founders as well as important theologians and ministers of the time. He defends theistic…show more content…
They usually thought highly of Jesus Christ, but didn’t consider him a god. Theistic rationalists also believed in a revelation and an afterlife of sorts, but only if that revelation was reasonable to them. They thought of religion as less of a set of beliefs and more of a tool to promote a moral society. Readers are able to pick out what constitutes theistic rationalism fairly easily through Frazer’s choice of words and easy-to-follow writing style. They can also tell that Frazer has done much research about theistic rationalism through his choice to quote other scholars’ opinions of it, like Conrad Wrights opinion that, “[theistic rationalism] was so widely accepted, across denominational lines, that one might justly call it the great ecumenical theology of its age.” One mistake that Frazer makes is defining theistic rationalism in such a broad manner. His definition allows him to claim that the Founders were theistic rationalists, but readers may question whether this category is too broad to be effective in his argument. Even though his definition of theistic rationalism is loose, he defines Christianity and Deism in strict ways. He says that all denominations of Christians share, “common belief in the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, a God active in human affairs, original sin, the Virgin Birth, the atoning work of Christ, eternal punishment for sin, justification by faith, and the
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