First Things on David Barton’s Errors

This article by Greg Forster is an absolutely devastating critique of David Barton’s writing on John Locke. Forster leads off:

I’m not a scholar of Thomas Jefferson, but I am a scholar of John Locke. Barton has an article about Locke on his website, so I thought I’d weigh in with my opinion on whether it matches Jay’s description of Barton’s methods. It does, and then some.

I should note for the record that I’m not only a conservative (both theologically, as an evangelical, and politically, as a Republican) but one with a track record of defending Locke against claims that he was a deist or that his philosophy is antithetical to Christianity. As providence would have it, just over a week ago Ipublished an article on how Locke’s Reasonableness helped me come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet Barton’s attempt to fit Locke into his larger historical narrative forces him into numerous distortions. Moreover, the article contains a number of incidental facutal errors that don’t even advance his thesis, indicating that his inability to write reliable history stretches beyond ideological cheerleading and into outright incompetence.

Then Forster launches into very specific points of correction to Barton’s writing on Locke. Well worth the read. We considered saying more about Barton’s treatment of Locke in our book but we simply could not address all of the issues we found.

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  • Jon Smith

    But Mr Forster provides no source materials to corroborate his assertions. Where is his source material?

  • I’ve discussed John Locke with Dr. Forster before. Ask him for the source materials, I’m sure he’ll be glad to provide them for you.

  • Kristin

    John Locke started as a Calvinist but was a Socinian later in life. His essay on “Human Understanding” is considered an important contribution to deist thought.