What can be learned from the David Barton controversy

John Fea posted a must-read article on Patheos this morning about what can be learned from the debacle over The Jefferson Lies. He brings together many threads and items of relevance to the entire controversy. I hope those who still think criticisms of Barton’s history are only coming from Alinsky-inspired liberals will read this piece.

The truth is out there. The effort to paint us all as academic elitists and liberals is just a way to try to change the subject.

Go read Fea’s post; it is very well done and on target.

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  • ken

    I loved Fea’s closing line:

    “Barton seems more suited to be an editor and compiler of a book of quotations than a writer of history”

  • Ken!!! How did YOU get here? But you’re right, of course.

  • Lynn David

    Can’t believe the Disco’ ‘tute came out against Barton. That’s like the ultra-dogmatic foresaking the dogma.

  • TxHistoryProf


    The dog biting his tail ? Lol

  • Lynn David

    An apt analogy I would say…..

  • ken

    Byron Harvey says:

    August 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    “Ken!!! How did YOU get here? But you’re right, of course.”

    I’ve been here quite some time (probably longer than you have). It was through this blog that I found yours. (so you can blame Warren for that 🙂 )

  • Dona Becker

    When trying to decide who to believe in a disagreement, I look at what each side believes about God and His Word. If a side believes in the one and only true God, I believe that side because they realize that God holds them accountable for everything that they do and say. That is a fearful thing.

    This is from the Patheos “About” page: “Patheos is a resource for all belief systems and does not support, endorse, or promote any one religion.”

    Jesus Christ is the truth and the only true God. If Patheos doesn’t promote Christianity but sees all religions as the same, then they are not in the truth and shouldn’t be listened to. If this blog posts articles from Patheos, then whatever you have to say is suspect too. Please look to Jesus because He is the only truth. He doesn’t want us to combine belief in Him with any other religion. (Deut 16:21-22 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the Lord your God, and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.) The Christian God is the only true God and He is a jealous God and wants our full loyalty.

  • Hi Dona,

    I hear your concerns .. However .. you might consider that dialoging with people of different faiths is a great way to witness to what we believe and a great way to follow the commission of Jesus Christ .. to go into all the world and share His gospel with everyone. I suspect many people who post on this blog are not Christians. So, they also get a chance to see a different Christianity than what Baron and company are presenting.

    Let me take this a bit further .. You are making distinctions based on who people associate with. I would propose that you make distinctions based on the quality of Chrisian character expressed by people who claim to be Christians. Over in Barton’s camp .. there has been a lot of slander (calling people “liars” and “like Hitler” and so forth) against people (some they don’t even know) based on disagreements on the scholarly merits of a book. Allow me to point out that whether Thomas Jefferson was a Christian or not or whether a man-made book is accurate or not is an important discussion .. but it is hardly a biblical imperative about which people should get all bent out of shape.

    So .. I think you should prayerfully consider which most represents Christ…. Alienating people by demonizing them or having respectful dialog with people of diffrent faiths. Staying hidden in our own safe space with a ‘bunker down .. the world is an enemy mentality’ .. or going out into the world with open and respectful dialog repesenting Jesus Christ in both our walk and our words.

    I believe a careful look at what Jesus did will inform your decision of which is better.

    God bless,


  • Dona Becker

    Hi Dave. Thank you for your gracious answer to my post. I am glad to have a discussion with you on this. I love the exchange of ideas and do not believe that I have all the answers so am happy to learn from someone else.

    I agree with your first paragraph. I do love to dialog with people of every faith and love to witness to them about the truth of Christ. As to your second paragraph, yes, I do look at who people associate with. Christ tells us that He is truth. If one person is getting their answers from an organization who does not believe that Christ is the one true and only God, then they are getting misinformation. When a person is born again, their heart is changed, their mind is renewed, and their worldview changes. Patheos doesn’t believe that Christ is the only way to God, they are happy to discuss every religious belief out there and to let people choose the one they want. They are helping spread untruth and leading people to hell. They have a worldview that is contrary to God. So, yes, anyone who says they are a Christian, and hence should be looking for truth but instead are listening to Patheos, is suspect to me.

    Now on your point about Barton’s camp calling people liars, sometimes the name does fit and needs to be said. I don’t know if it is appropriate in this instance because I haven’t read the book, which I am going to do, so I don’t know the facts of the controversy. As far as the other names, I don’t know what they are except for “like Hitler”, because that’s all you mentioned, but it may be valid too. I don’t know. It is a good way to warn others of what is going on. Sometimes a spade needs to be called a spade.

    Yes, dialog should be respectful, kind and gentle, always pointing to the truth. And I may be wrong but demonizing people may be a fact of life. Christ did say that people are either children of God or children of Satan. Not that it’s necessarily helpful in the conversation to be saying that to someone but it is truth. People are on one side or the other, never neutral. Bunkering down would be nice but would not be obedience on our part. Christ told us to go out and be salt and light and that’s what we are to do. The world is the enemy because it is against Christ but we are to love our enemies and share the truth with them. Yes, we are to be representatives of Christ in all we do and say.

    I do also know that we are each doing the best we can to make sense of a sinfilled world. It’s hard because everything Christ calls us to do is counter to what the world says. We have role models who model the incorrect way teaching us constantly and seldom have models showing us the correct way. We have the Bible to guide us but people have so messed up this sinful world that right and wrong seldom follow nice, neat strands but more often have to be unraveled like a twisted ball of twine. So, in my efforts to distinguish Christ’s truth from the lies of this world, I start with Christ and work from there trying to find the other end of the thread. That has been the best way I know to get to the truth in a situation.

    Thank you for the conversation and I wish you all God’s best.

    In Christ,